The setting: the prohibition era. The place: the city of Lawless, Illinois. Alcohol bootlegging operations are run by several mafia families, with blood running through the streets as a common thread. Angelo Lagusa, a young man whose family was murdered in a mafia dispute, seeks revenge against the Vanetti Family, particularly its don, Vincent Vanetti. After seven years of hiding, Angelo, now under the name of Avilio Bruno, has decided to get closer to the Vanetti family by befriending the don's son, Nero. Will Angelo succeed in his plans for revenge?
91 Days is a stylized prohibition era masterpiece, much along the lines of what Baccano! was during 2008. However where Baccano! was more of a Tarantino fever dream of sorts. 91 Days is more at home with the works of Martin Scorcese and is in the same vein as that of Goodfellas, and it is impressive more-so because of it.
In fact, this series feels less like an anime and more of a art house crime drama.
However, where it takes from some of the things fans love about anime, it is stronger for not falling prey to them.
However, show them a bit of this series and those arguments will dissipate for the following twelve episodes. 91 Days does not tell us what is going on, it shows us and with the poignancy and tight pacing you could ever ask for in a story, animated or otherwise. One does not watch 91 Days, one absorbs it and breaks down its plethora of visual queues. Dissecting what happened in this-scene-or-that-moment, possibly taking something away with each viewing that the watcher could have potentially missed. This is the hallmark of good storytelling.
The action is terse, but meaningful, impacting, like a swift kick in teeth. Beneath the veneer of somewhat stylized (albeit subtle compared to other anime riding the same bus) action lies some ingenious moments of sheer crime-politics intrigue. Half of the story showcases the characters making full use of their wits, plotting and planning their big move in regard to the next 'deal' or who they are going to 'whack.'
Yes, those words are used throughout 91 Days. Another strength of this series is that it encapsulates the vernacular of the quintessential depression era gangster. It is the humble opinion of this reviewer that most anime is best left in its mother tongue. However, the 91 Days localization team did such stellar work with the dubbing that the feeling of actually living in a blood soaked era of American history would simply not be felt by keeping the voice track in Japanese. In fact, the audio quality is outstanding in general. Everything, from sound and dubbing, to the powerful yet subdued soundtrack is on point. Sub-only fans will more than likely be given a run for their money when they shout the subs and only subs platitudes ever again.
91 Days is the kind of series you show someone who believes that anime cannot be a sophisticated art form. If the reader even has a cursory interest in mob movies, art house cinema, or just loves intricate story lines with stylistic characters; than you, dear reader, you owe it to yourself to this true work of art.
Five strong stars for this stellar series that demands the viewers full attention by bringing out the best in what anime has to offer in drama. — Dallas Marshall
Recommended Audience: While being a slow paced series at times, there are some moments of break neck violence, disturbing themes, alcohol usage, and some sexuality that get the 17+ train rolling.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
91 Days © 2016 Shuka.
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