As a child living in the town of Lawless, Angelo Lagusa has witnessed a tragedy: his parents and younger brother have been mercilessly slaughtered by the Vanetti mafia family. Losing everything he holds dear, he leaves both his name and hometown behind, adopting the new identity of Avilio Bruno.
Seven years later, Avilio finally has his chance for revenge when he receives a mysterious letter prompting him to return to Lawless. Obliging, he soon encounters the Vanetti don's son, Nero, and seeks to befriend him using the skills he has quietly honed for years.
Set during the Prohibition era, 91 Days tells the story of Avilio's dark, bloodstained path to vengeance, as he slowly ends each of the men involved in the killing of his family.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold."
This is the cornerstone expression that drives 91 Days. An expression that it lives and dies by, down to the very fabric of its being. One that we're quickly made aware of from the opening act that plants us into its world.
The arms of the clock tick in reverse, as we travel back to the days of the prohibition era. It's a cold night in April, and our young protagonist, Angelo Lagusa, enters frame. In the warm glow of his household, behind the thick wooden walls that push the harsh cold out, he's at ease with the comfort
of his family filling in the spaces of his living quarters. Cushioned by a blanket of security, Angelo and his little brother, Luce, awaits their father's return, hiding away in anticipation for the moment he walks through the door. It's a brief hallmark moment, the siblings' father cheerfully calling out their names, waiting for a likely response to ring out from within the closet. But little does Angelo know, that everything he's known up to this point is about to come to an end with the sudden knock of a visitor at the door—dun! dun! dun!—... and so it begins.
Three burly figures draped in thick trench coats steps inside. And just like that, the warm radiance that once filled the house is immediately sucked out. In its place, the thick stench of malice creeps in, seeping through the floorboards, suffocating the very air around them. Something is about to happen, and every beating heart in that room could feel it coming. Angelo's father lounges forward, blade in hand and his little brother bolts out the 2'x8' coffin to come to his parents' aid before Angelo could even react. Stifled by the linen hanging behind him and the fear of what he's witnessing in front, our young protagonist is left frozen to look on, powerless to take action against the chaos looming right outside his hiding space. Peaking through the wooden panels of the cramped closet, he bares witness to a sight that will forever haunt him. Bullets leave their chamber, the thunderous clap marking their departure, as they tear through the flesh of what he once called family.
This is it. This is the event. This is the anger that fuels him. This is the removal of normalcy. This is the motivation that keeps him going. This is the beginning of something sinister. This is the landmark moment that will forever pave his path with blood stains of burgundy and the sulfuric stench of gunpowder. "Revenge is a dish best served cold" and Angelo is determined to deliver it, even at the cost of innocent bystanders that are oblivious to his vendetta. The cost of him ever living a normal life. And at the cost of what little shred of humanity was left during that cold winter night. When he goes through with this, there's no turning back. No one to turn to. No one to pray for his godforsaken soul. And so we depart with him, down the topsy-turvy course of trust and betrayal, with a hit list in hand and a determination that refuses to yield. He begins his journey; the first steps are taken, day one begins.
Bearing a similar tone and structure to projects done by movie heavyweights Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, 91 Days plays out like a love-child of these two worlds being brought together. This is immediately felt with the sultry musical backing, soft piano keys being carted off by bellowing brass instruments, stylistically cropped with titles cards and blood-curdling violin strings, as the camera slowly pans across the landscape. Traversing the fledgling stages of a city aiming to shoot their infrastructures towards the heavens, we're made aware of this place that's aptly named Lawless; a nesting ground for those trying to carve out a living for themselves, as well as the mafia families that make up the seedy underbelly of the booming alcohol smuggling trade. After laying low for seven years, Angelo makes his return to this city, reborn under the alias Avilio Bruno. Here he set the plans in motion for his revenge, enlisting the help of his childhood friend, Corteo, using his talents as a brewer to get closer to the crime syndicate that massacred his loved ones on that cold night in April.
And as his plans begin to unfold, everyone is slowly entangled within it. A sprawled-out web that's inhabited by family feuds over the dominion of the city and pretexts made at a moments notice to insight altercations. A breeding ground for mutual partnerships and calculated backstabbing, with Avilio fanning the flames whenever he sees fit. These warring family factions include the Vanettis, Orcos, and Galassias. All of which participate in this codependent dance of charades that are set to the music of a zero-sum game. With lots of twists and turns scattered along the way, every chapter adds a new piece to the playing field. This, combined with the brisk, yet methodical pacing, made 91 Days a title that constantly had you wanting to see what would happen next. There were no guarantees on who will live or die, only the falsehood of plot armor that's immediately revoked when two opposing parties meet.
This became one of the show's greatest strengths; suspense backed up by tangible results.
Revenge stories that slowly taper off as it pushes forward aren't uncommon. There have been many examples of this occurring across several storytelling mediums, with the usual morality message regarding the perpetual state of hate being the star attraction set on display. Thankfully, 91 Days isn't another statistic. It sets the stage early on and delivers on its promise from beginning to end. There aren't any trade-offs made to extend anyone's relevance, if they're ensnared in a situation that they can't walk away from unscathed, they receive their just desserts like everyone else. There are still explicit messages regarding the cost of revenge, as well as themes that come default with these scenarios, but the story doesn't bend at will to adhere to the warnings of it. Revenge isn't just worn as a shiny badge before flipping the script to see the apparent wrongs of the actions being taken, no, in 91 Days, revenge is carried out without compromise. And nowhere is that made more prominent than with the cutthroat mentality adopted by the main lead, Angelo "Avilio" Lagusa.
If Angelo were summed up with one word, it would be merciless. An empty shell that lives solely for his objective, Angelo knows nothing else, adjusting his life around the need to make his targets pay. He isn't just satisfied with merely killing them; he wants to crush everything that they stand for. Dismantling the very foundation of their family's name by orchestrating events that will see them tearing each other apart. He's determined to see his plans through to the end, becoming another cog in the machine without so much as flinching at the prospect if it benefits his cause. Step by step, he draws closer to his end goal, the phantom resemblance of a smile just below the surface as bodies begin to fall. It's an obsession that borders on madness.
And it's this same obsessive state that gives birth to paranoia among all camps of the conflict. Men hunched over in their local speakeasies, glancing over their shoulders in fear of other families taking them out. Restless faces marked off by bags under their eyes, dispatching hit men before someone else gets them first. And standing in the cross-hairs of this chaos is Nero Vanetti, a man deeply devoted to his Don and father, and the extended crime family, and unfortunately, another name on the checklist to be snuffed out. Where Angelo is driven to dismantle everything around him, Nero is committed to keeping it together, who, like Angelo, is obsessed with his cause, but instead of being duty-bound to some vendetta, he instead wants to maintain the integrity of his family's name. A task that proves nigh impossible with Angelo offering a handshake in comradeship, while the other hand carries a pistol erected in his direction. A give-and-take relationship where one man stumbles in the dark, oblivious to the others malicious intent.
But not everything in 91 Days compliments this gripping narrative. For one, the art direction and presentation often fell short of expected standards. Instead of becoming an animated series that could go toe-to-toe with the giants it patterns itself after, it only manages to measure up by the skin of its teeth. By no means should anyone approach this work expecting something on Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino's level. When I said, "similar tone and structure" that was the extent to which I think this anime achieves when pulling from its influences. At best, it's a slightly better rendition of the 3rd movie in the Godfather franchise, which admittedly isn't much of an accomplishment, but still, I'll give it credit for where credit is due. Regarding general scriptwriting, cinematography, and fully developed personalities, 91 Days remains an imitation of these great creator's works, but still a gripping imitation nonetheless.
The lack of eye-grabbing textures, unique shot compositions, color saturation, or other presentation nitpicks could be ignored if you're invested in the story. Although, some aspects might stick out far too often to turn a blind eye to. Such is the case with characters like Fango, who might have been an honest attempt at creating a sadomasochistic individual, but ended up resembling an off-brand Joker villain instead. Where every character involved aimed for an early Film-noir performance set in the 1920s, Fango came flying in like a man transported straight from the 1970s; complete with the general attire and appearance to boot. And as detracting as his antics were at times when placed in a setting not meant for him, after awhile, his role in the story meshed in more effectively. May have been too late by then, but at least the effort was there to course-correct the problem. There are also a few character dynamics that could have benefited with a bit more time dedicated to it, like Angelo's connection to his childhood friend Corteo, which felt too much like an afterthought at times, only there to get his foot in the door and serve as a catalyst for certain events to happen. With a bit more meat to their relationship, pivotal narrative moments could have become emotionally gripping ones as well. There's an excellent storyboard there, just not enough attention-to-detail in-between plot points make it moments with long shelf-lives in the collective conscious of the viewership.
And despite this list of shortcomings, 91 Days remains a welcomed addition to its niche genre appeal, because when everything is said and done, the self-respect in which it carried itself made it far easier to forgive where it may have stumbled. We've had a fair share of mobster-inspired works before this, from the more character-centric ones like Gungrave and Gangsta to the rule-of-cool beat-em-ups of Darker than Black and Baccano, but there's never been a more faithful rendition of the traditional mafioso story in anime up to this point. Where those titles are riddled with supernatural occurrences that are dipped in the flourishings of the mobster lifestyle, 91 Days trades this in for a more grounded approach, containing characters that draw closer to real-world personalities than the more zany ones found in some of its contemporaries.
It may not have the energy of Baccano, the fully developed characters of Gungrave, the well-choreographed fights of Darker than Black, or Gangsta's—... oh wait, Gangsta sucks. But what it does have is an appreciation for the classics that preceded it and the commitment needed to see its vision through.
No, it’s not a show that spans for 91 episodes, a Baccano’s second coming, or in fact anything like that at all. On paper, 91 Days is a revenge story, a show about a guy named Avilio Bruno (real name: Angelo Lagusa) who seeks vengeance against the Vanetti Family. Why? It’s because they ruined his life many years ago when he was a child. His family was murdered (or more precisely, double crossed) by the mafia. This all happened during the Prohibition Era and it’s hard to imagine at the time what Avilio was going through. Simply put, 91 Days strives to prove itself as
a successful crime-drama thriller; one that hopes to make it memorable as for you as it can for itself.
As an original series, 91 Days isn’t being held back by any adaptation hindrances or an established fan base. However, the show is hardly anything original either. Picture this. It’s the Prohibition Era and mafia, gangs, and mobs rule the street. Liquor is like gold while the police force is anything but useful. Organized crime is almost everywhere you see and so common that it’s practically accepted. At the top of the food chain are the mafia organizations that controls the system. The Vanetti Family is one such mafia that emerged as a powerful group led by a man named Don Vincento. He also got a son named Nero who he hopes will protect his family’s treasure. Avilio is able to get involved in this family’s affairs as a subordinate while others remain oblivious to the fact that he wants to destroy them from within. Sounds quite appealing right? It’s almost sounds like a revamp of a gangster story from the 80s or something out of a James Bond movie.
Even judging by the promotional poster itself, the show can feel intimidating. You literally got two guys standing on opposite ends of each other while pointing a gun with the intent to kill. They are Nero and Avilio. As a story about crime, revenge, and murder, there’s also a lot that goes beyond that. 91 Days starts off by making its intentions pretty clear. Mafia really are like Gods in their world who plays by their own rules. Unfortunately, Avilio’s family were killed and the laws never delivered justice for him. It’s why he wants revenge. At the same time, Avilio is a clever man. He’s been hiding himself for almost 7 years until the moment he has the chance. On surface, Avilio is someone that is hard to approach. He hides his emotions and not easily befriended. His friendship with Nero is one of the most interesting dynamics in the series as they are very different. Nero is the one with the bright personality and also has full of pride for his family. We learn that Avilio lost his family already so there’s not many people he can turn to besides his childhood friend Corteo. So in his head, we got Avilio who tries his best to carry out vengeance that being transformed from a sweet kid to this avenger. At the same time, Avilio’s intentions aren’t just revenge. He wants to bring pain and suffering to his enemies so death sometimes may not be enough to satisfy. Talk about intense feelings. Living in pain may feel even worse than death itself.
I have to admit, cleverness alone isn’t just what describes Avilio as a character. The people he wants dead are often planned out in his head like a chess game, where he anticipates the moves of his opponents. In this game, Avilio uses tricks until he catches his prey off guard and goes for the kill or make them suffer. It’s like an assassination except Avilio does more than just carry out his mission. He wants the most out of them and even manages to get other people involved in such dangerous affairs when they weren’t to be. Remember, this is a society where trust is an obscure word. People have to rely on themselves and family feuds are pretty evident. The most noticeable ones are between the Vanetti, Orco, and Galassia. In the meantime, the show makes some families look like hypocrites, especially with they celebrate events. In essence, there’s really no sincere character coming from the families as they all seek to make themselves look good. One of the most noticeable characters in the show is Fango, someone that viewers will see as a psychopath. It’s pretty evident that he has murderous tendencies and really doesn’t care much about anyone but himself. The mind games you see he plays with others also makes him a manipulative individual as well. Perhaps Fango is a bit of extreme example but the point is that there’s pretty much no character in the show with a pure heart.
Among all the antiheroes and crime, the story itself is pretty much a dark thriller. It’s obvious already in the first few episodes so expect nothing less throughout the rest of the season. There is actually one breather episode that connects the friendship more between Avilio and Nero. However, most of the season is tainted with bloodshed, murder, and tragedy. Death is quite real and really, no one is safe. There may even be a few plot segments where you’ll feel like experiencing the unexpected. Every episode builds on the overall story and characters more whether they are from extravagant revelations or small pieces by pieces. The show is about revenge but the characters in them are more than just chess pieces in a board game. Sure, each of the have their roles to fulfill but most of the character also has a purpose. In the meantime, the comedy of the series is portrayed more as dark humor. The violence is portrayed as real. The crimes are lawless.
Animation wise, I was initially somewhat worried. The show is adapted by studio Shuka who is only known for their recent work, Durarara!! sequels. From a technical perspective, the show looks decent and portrays the dark thrilling mood quite well. The best parts about the show is the character emotions as we see how they show their feelings – hatred, sorrow, pity, regret. 91 Days portrays character expressions at their best when they are in conflict. The historical background settings of the Prohibition Era also has fine details although not as emphasized as the violence. Expect graphic violence especially during death scenes and murder. It’s a dark story after all.
The soundtrack makes sense in most respects with the eerie atmospheric setting. Even the OP and ED theme songs are haunting with a soft paced beat. Character voice mannerisms in the show is also a positive with Avilio being a believable character with his quest of revenge. However, my biggest impression of the character voice mannerism is Fango. His eccentric speeches, crazy personality, and psychopathic tone reflects exactly how 91 Days’ society can be so unconstitutional. And his voice is pretty damn good at showing that.
91 Days is a show that goes beyond the mafia wars, revenge story, and crime. Every now and then, we get a gangster story of violence. Some of them really is nothing more than pandering fans with fan service. Others really portray how dark humans can be while there’s a society without laws. 91 Days is the type of series that show the darker side of humanity. I must say…that is something to watch out for.
You don't need a reason to live,you just live-Nero.
In today's generation we strive for more fan favorite genre shows and it's not often we get to see something different, "91 days" is one of those work which isn't made to target all viewers,some may find it immensely out of their regular taste while others will take a great interest in it.
The story is set in the early 1900s during prohibition,it start with Avilio Bruno (The main character) receiving a letter and going back to the flashback of his past, when his family was brutally murdered by Vanetti Family and he was the sole survivor,running away
for 7 years he's finally back in his hometown to seek vengeance,with the assist of his father's friend who sends him the letter earlier.
It's a anime with a much darker theme and things like violence,gruesome killings,fast pacing are inevitable so it may not please all but with each episode,the story gonna progress and gets really compelling.
We won't get to see too many distinctive characters but more or less,each one will have a salient role in the development of the story and Avilio Bruno is a man on a journey,he'll make friends,enemies and will rise from dirt.
The art is pretty much decent,nothing out of the ordinary but still it befitted with the setting of the plot, so nothing to complain.
All the OST got some nostalgic old age feelings, this is something that makes you change the outlook.
I'm glad that we got something unusual this summer and being a fan of Baccano, this is the absolute work I was waiting for.
It got all aspect to make it a worth watching,give it a try.
91 days was a genuine surprise. After finishing their splendid anime adaptation of Durarara!! they managed to make a true mafia story. Its inspiration's become apparent the moment the show begins and no time is wasted to let the story go in full throttle.
91 Days is a revenge story through and through but still manages to keep the viewers on their feet. It is best to take breaks between episodes to let the suspense set in as almost every episode ends in a cliffhanger.
Sadly the animation is inconsistent. The fact that the studio had to suffer through budget constraints becomes apparent half way
through the show. However that is also when the show increases tension and thus still manages to keep the viewers engaged. The sound, music and voice action is spot on at all times.
A revenge drama is nothing without its characters. The main cast and important supporting characters manage to have multilayered personalities.
This show was one heck of a ride and is my 3rd favorite anime of the season after ReLIFE and Mob Psycho 100.