91 Days is an original anime developed and produced by the same new studio that was created to bring us Durarara!!x2, Shuka. The anime is directed by Hiro Kaburaki and is 12 episodes in length + 1 recap, and has a 24 min. duration for each episode. 91 Days started broadcast in Japan on July 9, 2016 and ended on September 30, 2016.
Sorry Angelo, this isn’t exactly going to be a Happy Birthday…
Due to my love of history, western settings, and drama in an anime, when I saw 91 Days on the chart for Summer 2016, my first thought based on the visual they gave us was that it would turn out to be pretty good. The fact that there was some crazy humor thrown in sparingly was a nice touch to lighten the mood at times. Also, it’s a given that it’s going to be a tragedy and I love a good tragedy that is executed well. Does that make me strange?
Also, be thankful I didn’t use a screenshot of Avilio’s slasher smile in the beginning of Episode 1 above, that was my first choice. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
“During Prohibition, the law held no power and the mafia ruled the town.
The story takes place in Lawless, a town thriving on black market sales of illicitly brewed liquor. Avilio returns to Lawless after some time away, following the murder of his family in a mafia dispute there.
One day, Avilio receives a letter from a mysterious sender, prompting him to return to Lawless for revenge. He then infiltrates the Vanetti family, the ones responsible for his family’s murder, and sets about befriending the don’s son, Nero, to set his vengeance in motion.
Killing brings more killing, and revenge spawns more revenge. How will the 91-day story of these men guided by a tragic fate end?” (Source: Crunchyroll)
Based on the synopsis it sounds just like your typical, generic revenge story, right? Well, they all do these days. However, I feel that it doesn’t really matter, so long as it is executed properly and done right. If done in a unique way you can turn a generic story into a potential classic. By no means am I saying that 91 Days is a classic, that would be biased of me and something that the fan-base would decide. However, I will say that the story has potential for it.
For the most part, this show is indeed a drama, but in the earlier episodes you can find some bits of light comedy mixed in, then later everything goes to bloody hell. By no means are they out of place, but rather they give you a way to connect with the characters and bond with them. To the very end this show has kept me on the edge of my seat and desperately awaiting the next release; as any good drama should, it keeps you wanting more. While some moments have you feel that you can easily predict what’s to come, you are then shocked with the events that unfold. Personally, I do believe that this show suffers from being too short, and I think some can agree with me on that one. While 91 Days didn’t NEED to be, it would have been better if it were a 2-cour, 23-24 episode long series at most. Though, I think it did pretty good for 12 episodes with the story it has to tell, but around 24 would have been better. It would have given us more time to bond with the characters and would just give an even greater impact on us in the end. Either way, this show did great at executing the plot and the ending was quite fitting. I must say, it has been a fun ride.
Good sir, here’s your wallet. I found it in your pocket.
91 Days brings us some interesting characters. Throughout the series you end up growing attached to some, and some you may not end up liking at first, but will probably end up rooting for in the end.
So let’s talk about Avilio Bruno, our protagonist. Avilio is quite the chess master, or depending on which side you choose, the manipulative bastard. He’s pretty much less of a protagonist and more or an anti-hero. How you view him can be quite complex; you either love him or you hate him. He’s now practically #1 on my favorite character list, so that tells you which side I’m on. Over the course of the series, you can’t help but feel sorry for what the poor guy has become as a result of his desire for revenge. He’s willing to do ANYTHING to see it through, which brings in the majority of the drama, he’s practically the one stirring up all the mayhem. Some view him as a hypocrite, sinking to the level of the Vanetti family, but revenge isn’t a pretty thing and is done out of hatred, so naturally he isn’t going to be viewing everything from a justifiable standpoint. One thing I love about Avilio in his conquest for revenge, he isn’t that easy to read. Like anyone good a manipulation, he has everyone dancing to his tune, even us viewers don’t entirely know what course of action he’ll take next.
I limited the characters to just the four of them, as they are the most common and significant to the story line as well as being the easiest to talk about without any major spoilers.
Avilio Bruno (aka Angelo Lagusa):
Our main protagonist/anti-hero. He’s out for revenge against the Vanetti Family for them killing his parents and younger brother seven years prior to the start of the story. He befriends Nero Vanetti in order to get close to the family and execute his revenge.
The son of Don Vanetti, and is one of Avilio’s revenge targets. A pretty likable, fun-natured guy who tends to do things his own way. He cares very much about protecting the Family and will use any means to do so.
Avilio’s childhood friend and surrogate brother that doesn’t like the mafia. Corteo is skilled in making good liquor and, albeit reluctantly, helps Avilio with selling it to the Vanetti Family as a way for Avilio to get close to them. He’s against Avilio’s revenge and tries to talk him out of it.
The Don of the Vanetti Family, and is one of Avilio’s revenge targets. Vincent, along with two other men, showed up the night of Avilio’s birthday seven years prior to the start of the story and killed his parents and younger brother.
Art & Animation
As my father would say, it’s a “shoot ’em up, bang bang” show.
The animation tends to drift back and forth between being good and bad. There are moments where the art is just deformed and/or sloppy with little or no detail, and of course, inconsistencies. This isn’t completely noticeable, or should I say ‘as bad,’ until later episodes when it seems to be picking up. In some way, I understand: this is a new studio, maybe they don’t have the best budget since this is their first show after Durarara!!x2… but I do not completely know how studios work, so I’m just going to shut up on that topic. Sadly, they never ended up fixing any of these for the Blu-Ray.
Now the art isn’t that bad, trust me I’ve seen worse. For the most part it is pretty decent and at times it can be really good. There are maybe only a couple of episodes where the art is very noticeably… amiss, but mostly it shouldn’t be too distracting or anything. On another note though, the character designs remind me of Durarara!!. Understandable, given the studio.
91 Days’ music is truly outstanding! Below I discuss the themes, original soundtrack, and the voice acting in depth.
Opening Theme: Signal by TK from Ling Tosite Sigure
Signal’s music does a very remarkable job with capturing the atmosphere of the series. It’s dynamic, but it’s also filled with anguish. Perfect with a series full of action, betrayal, and tragedy. The lyrics also do a wonderful job on describing Avilio’s contradicting feelings towards his friendship with Nero and his sorrow of the past that he has carried with him for the past seven years of his life. This song is so addictive that I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve listened to it. If you are a fan of Ling Tosite Sigure and TK, you’ll love this song!
Ending Theme: Rain or Shine by ELISA
ELISA always brings about gorgeous music, and Rain or Shine was certainly no exception. This light and beautiful song was nicely used as the ending theme. The music is very light and delicate, quite peaceful. This fits nicely, especially when things start getting dark, as it kind of acts as a cooling down and soothing moment after all the events that have transpired over the course of the episode. It also changes it’s tone a bit in certain episodes. During really dark episodes where a lot of mayhem occurs, it changes to an even lighter mood than before. It can sometimes come off as the calm before and/or after the storm. Rain or Shine doesn’t have any actual lyrics to it, except in the full version near the end which isn’t in the ending sequence. But the lyrics in the full version are very fitting, discussing the tragedy and betrayal in Avilio and Nero’s friendship. Even without the lyrics, the regular scat in the song is perfect as is; it gives an even more peaceful feel to the song, as words are not always necessary to give an impact.
Original Soundtrack: Composed by Shougo Kaida
I’ve always been on the fence with Shougo Kaida’s music. I do think he’s a good composer, but I don’t completely love his work as much as other composers I thoroughly enjoy. However, he did a splendid job on 91 Days! He captured the feel and atmosphere of 1920’s America quite well. Granted, I’m in my 20s, so naturally didn’t live through the 20s, but nevertheless the music is pretty much what you would associate it with. Especially Melancholy Mike’s blues and Examine the trombone, to name a few. And the darker pieces are also enticing. There is one complaint I do have, however. Some of the darker tracks are a little similar. There are some elements in them that set them apart from each other, but I still have a little bit of trouble remembering the individual tracks from one another. Overall though, the original soundtrack is gorgeous. I mean, I did buy it for a reason, after all. I’m obsessed with listening to Miseratio, it’s eerily gorgeous!
The voice acting was very nicely done. There really isn’t that much to comment on here, all voice actors fit their roles perfectly and do a great job bringing their characters alive. Takashi Kondo does a wonderful job at making Avilio sound cold and calculative and Takuya Eguchi’s light-hearted and fun voice is perfect the carefree Nero. Not to mention I also think that Kenjirou Tsuda had a hell of a fun time voicing the crazy bastard Fango.
In regards to the English Dub, it’s actually really good. I started out watching only English Dub in the past, but eventually transitioned to Japanese audio. It’s not like I dislike English Dub, but rather most of the time, the original Japanese audio tends to just be better, in my own opinion. This mostly stems from me watching anime as it airs now, so I get used to the Japanese version and so watching an English version seems weird and I can’t get used to it. The exact same applies to anime that I’ve watched in English first and thus can’t get into the Japanese audio, so it works both ways. Needless to say, it takes a really good English Dub to make me enjoy both versions if I started out watching the Japanese version, and 91 Days has just that! Perhaps it’s the lack of accents that the Japanese audio doesn’t have that the English Dub does, or perhaps it’s the fact that the English Dub borrows more phrases and terms from the era portrayed than the Japanese audio. Regardless, even if you don’t normally watch English Dub anime, at the very least it does deserve a mention and is worth checking out. Either way, both Japanese and English versions of this series are really well done, props to all the voice actors!
It’s been a heck of a fun ride. When I first decided to add the anime to my list on MAL before it started airing, I never imagined it’d become one of my all time favorites. But it has easily wedged it’s way into my heart and I tend to find myself re-watching this anime a lot and honestly, I’ve actually lost track of how many times I have. I actually started writing up this review as it was still airing last year in Summer 2016, but I halted posting it for a couple of reasons. First off, I’m still hung up on how it ended. And I’m not the only one, there are still some people on other social media that haven’t gotten over it either, given how it ended. The other reason is because I have been waiting for the upcoming “Episode 13” that has been revealed to be a series of side-stories. I was waiting thinking that if it were to continue where Episode 12 left off, than it could change a few things in my review. Even though it’s been revealed to be a side-story, it still could depending on what is shown, but we probably have another month or so to go before anyone is able to watch it, so I figured that it is about time to post my review. This wait for the last episode/special has been very agonizing, but since Episode 13 was first mentioned, I was immensely excited. This wait may be torture for me, but to me the wait is well worth it for more 91 Days. That just goes to show just how much I have enjoyed this series, I wish there was more! I don’t think I’ve been literally hung up on an anime this long before, it’s been almost a year since it first aired.
Honestly, I will admit that I didn’t like the ending. To me, it wasn’t what I had wanted or imagined would transpire. But even so, it was probably for the best. The fact that the anime took a turn in a direction that most weren’t anticipating was great. They took what you’d thought would be a typical ending to this revenge story and turned it into something better. I can’t discuss this further due to it being a major spoiler, but I will say that the lack of a certain conclusion was for the best. This anime is now one of my all time favorites. I looked forward to each week for the next episode of this anime and it managed to smash my heart into little pieces, as you all should know how I love my heartbreaking dramas. To say that I have enjoyed this anime to the fullest, is the understatement of the century.
91 Days is an anime worth trying out. If you love thrillers, dramas, and especially mafia based anime, 91 Days is definitely up your alley. Even if you aren’t that big of a fan of it, but don’t dislike those genres, try it out. Who knows, you just might like it. This is one of the few anime that I will always recommend to others, regardless of their preferences. I’ll also mention that almost every time I’ve recommended this anime, those I’ve recommended it to have really enjoyed it as well.
While 91 Days probably doesn’t compete with Baccano!, another mafia anime set in the same era that is very popular and though serious, is a little more comedic than 91 Days, it is still a very good mafia anime in it’s own right.
And guys, I’m even more broken after this series ended than I was after I read Harmonia! My poor little kokoro can’t take this heartbreak, and me listening to the original soundtrack while typing this up, doesn’t help mend it either. Like I said… it’s been a fun ride.
If after watching this anime you feel like you need a little something more, I suggest listening to the Drama CD that was released with Volume 2 of the Blu-Ray discs. It’ll give you a much needed laugh. Be sure to also check out translations of the Light Novel that came out, they give insight on Avilio’s thoughts and feelings during some scenes and even gives more of a backstory to a certain side character. I’ll list links below the review’s rating to all of those I mentioned.
Anime Rating: 8
Very good. Everything was portrayed nicely, but it gives off a feeling of something missing. Its considered entertaining and one can get enjoyment from watching it.
I used this screenshot anyway. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)