91 Days – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: July 8, 2016 to ???
Synopsis: When Avilio was but a boy he witnessed a horrible sight: The death of his family. Returning to the town of Lawless years later, Avilio sets about infiltrating the Vanetti family, the ones originally responsible for the death of his parents and brother. Avilio works his way into the Vanetti family all in hopes of bringing down retribution on those who took everything away from him.
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: 91 Day’s animation gradually moves away from the higher quality seen in its early episodes and eventually becomes inconsistent. While the first episode does indeed look great, that higher quality dips, particularly as we approach the middle of the season, with character art that lacks definition in close ups and design works that feels bland. Perhaps its the visual representation of 91 Days’ deeper problems that begin to crop up in episode four and continue to undermine the series through episode six.
Linny: The animation dip in quality may not necessarily be a detracting or even noticeable issue for you if you are a more casual viewer (like me). Sure, there are instances of animation quality issues but if you are going to have issues with this show, they’ll more likely to center on the story or the characters rather than the animation itself.
Tom: Angelo doesn’t get any significant development, and that’s fine as characterization isn’t the focus here, but rather the tension for when Angelo is going to strike against his targets. However, Nero, one of Angelo’s targets for revenge, gets plenty of screen time and growth, in what seems like an effort to make the audience wonder, ‘when will Angelo kill Nero?’ While the question of ‘will he kill Nero?’ is perhaps serviced by these developments, it’s undermined by how willing Angelo is to divulge his thought process to a friend, freely giving away that he won’t kill Nero, not until he’s closer to the other people behind his families’ murder. This undercuts the “will he won’t he?” tension, making the following episodes more like padding until Angelo finally decides to enact his revenge.
Linny: Angelo is rather single minded and focused on his ultimate goal, which could drive away viewers who like more fleshed out characters. He seems to be using his best and only childhood friend, Corteo as a means to his revenge, exploiting his friend’s hard work and even putting his life in danger repeatedly. Angelo gets some humane moments, and we do see his tragic childhood but the show moves so fast and spends so little time on them that they fail to be as impact laden as they could have been. When it comes to the rest of the characters, there are so few that truly get decent screen time and development thanks to the sheer size of the cast and the fast paced story telling. This might be a show you watch for a single character or for the sheer novelty and charm of the premise. It’s not an under explored topic by any means but it still provides a break from the onslaught of shonen we receive every season.
Tom: There’s one character that unfortunately damages much of my enjoyment and 91 Days’ dramatic tone. Introduced early on as a bit player, Fango, the wild and almost certainly insane Son of a local mob boss, grows in screentime as we approach the middle of the season. Fango is a frustrating character. While on the one hand, his manic insanity can add a spark of personality to proceedings, he appears all too often and grows more and more insane as the series continues. Fango is in your face and his absurdity gradually dominates the proceedings to the point where 91 Days loses its grounded atmosphere that felt so appealing in the first place. Fango helps the series veer into territory that’s all too hammy, contrived and tonally forced that it ruins 91 Days more natural, honest feel. It’s not to say that 91 Days was perfect, indeed certain shots of Angelo reeked of this over the top persona, but the elements existed in much healthier doses.
Linny: Fango is definitely going to try the patience of those who enjoyed the more subdued and sombre tones but may amuse those who wanted something more lively on screen. His random and crazy violence makes him unpredictable and helps set him up as the wild card which does help inject some tension and excitement. However, he is a LOT to take onscreen compared to literally every single other personality and stands out like a sore thumb, leaving quite an impression for better or worse.
Tom: Fango isn’t the sole detractor however, as the series itself veers away from its original, grounded, almost brooding tone in favor of more jovial proceedings around episode four. There’s a few lingering questions to distract from these changes, such as who sent Angelo the letter, but 91 Days doesn’t present them with nearly enough weight to make them feel more powerful as a distraction to outweigh the damage of its shifting tone and over the top characters.
Linny: The show draws on popular cultural and media conceptions of the mafia depicting violence towards women, marriages made for alliances and the classic uneasy alliances between mafia families that’s littered with drama and betrayals. There’s nothing groundbreaking and original about its depiction of the mafia family and it might feel a little too much of the same old, same old for those who are huge mafia fiction fans and have read and watched a lot of it. Thanks to the large cast and various factions at play, the story can get a bit confusing especially when there’s a marked lack of exposition. It might even be at risk of boring those who will find the lack of thorough build up and character-audience bonding scenes causes them to struggle to become invested in the story and the future of its characters.
Tom: Boy can 91 Days get confusing. The show deals with multiple mafia families, traitors, double agents, internal drama and more. Less vigilant viewers will find themselves becoming a bit confused not only as to who is on whose side, but what sides even exist. Rather than making for thrilling viewing, causing the audience to constantly guess who is perhaps double crossing who, it leaves you bewildered and keeps 91 Days difficult to follow without some sort of character guide.
Linny: If you’re tired of watching yet another anime about overpowered teenagers, 91 Days proves to be a welcome break. It’s not perfect though and could have really benefited from letting the audience bond more with the protagonist in order for them to feel a lot more motivated and invested in watching Angelo exact his revenge.
Tom: Original Anime are hard to come by, although next season does seem to have a far greater number than usual. There’s an argument for watching 91 Days purely based on showing support for Anime that isn’t a marketing tool for manga or light novels, as many Anime seem to be these days. 91 Days is also a drama, a rare genre in the Anime medium. These are worthwhile arguments, as without support, Original Anime dry up much faster than the adaptations, but like The Lost Village, without quality to back this up, it makes it difficult for me to argue in favor of keeping 91 Days around purely for showing support. If you’re interested in supporting the anime industry, or don’t find any of the issues we outlined above to be dealbreakers, then 91 Days might be worth a shot. But based on what I’ve seen so far, I’ll be retracting my original recommendation.
Linny: 91 Days was one of our most anticipated shows of the season thanks to its uncommon genre and topic in the medium. However, that anticipation might be partly to blame for our ensuing disappointment. There’s enough to be said in its support that warrants a watch such as its theme and it being an original creative work. However, its actual execution has issues with setting up characters and the show moves at such a rushed pace that it might overwhelm some. It’s still well worth a try if the show piques your curiosity in any manner as long as you are fine with the issues pointed out or take to the characters themselves.
91 Days is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.