91 Days (Summer 2016) – The Act of Killing

The market doesn’t always flee with the fans’ own requests whether they will work on sequels or others. Anime is also not exempt from Japanese settings and Otaku cultures such as moe, idol, and others. This makes some original anime or other new anime always covered. They always play safe with themes that have proven successful. Apparently, they try to play outside the zone but fails at the beginning. However, “91 Days” is one of the proven titles that they can still play outside. Indeed, there are so many original anime that have also proven their success. They were “Code Geass”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “AnoHana”, “Gurren Lagann”, and others. However, Shuka successfully illustrates the Lawless-style concept with great inspiration title card from “The Godfather” and “Scarface “.

Shuka previously worked on “Durarara!! x2 Ten” where both have almost identical visuals. It’s just that “91 Days” is a dark anime about tragedy and revenge. Lawless is a fictional city in America in the 1930s. The Prohibition era prohibited a liquor at its time. The title comes with Angelo Lagusa’s revenge with the Vanetti family which took 91 days. Angelo is the son of a member of a mob group. Seven years after watching his family being killed when he was a child, Angelo got an unknown letter. The letter contains the identities of who killed his family. And this goes back to the Vanetti family. Under a pseudonym, Avilio Bruno assembles a chess game in the psychological plan of his mind. He must, first of all, build trust especially Nero Vanetti, a potential Don to his father.

This show seems like one of the best mafia anime along with “Baccano!” However, the promotional poster seems to tell everything at the end. Two guys, Angelo and Nero, pointing the gun each other in a final showdown. It seems like they have told a spoiler. Regardless, I also know it will end up the same as on the poster. In a different case, that is not true. “91 Days” often keep its information. You are trying to guess what happened for the next 10 minutes or even 30 seconds.

The show is about revenge, coupled in Avilio’s head after knowing that this is a high consequence and responsibility. There is so much complexity on its characters. You don’t try to find out what’s inside Angelo’s head. They take you into these rooted characters then connect them directly. The characters are not just memorable or less expensive, but they have a purpose why they were there. Just like the city name, this anime is lawless. There are no rules for the game and no sympathy.

“91 Days” emphasizes a “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” As “The Godfather”, you could not believe anything. Both of them almost have a similar connection from conflicts between siblings, the wedding, and whatsoever. But, “The Godfather” franchise focuses more on matters of family, trust, betrayal, and tragedy. On the other hand, this anime is also the same. But, it’s the tone and character that makes both feel different. This anime takes a setting where transformation, death, and role change can occur anywhere, anytime. Then, it keeps happening repeatedly.

A lot of people feel that this anime is very, very boring because of the pacing. However, this doesn’t apply personally back to the taste problem. Pacing here is really effective, developments continue to emerge, and we don’t see anything in common. Certainly, there will be some who die either sooner or later. However, it happened in a surprising yet twist way.

Avilio is a cold-blooded character and has many things in his mind to take revenge. It doesn’t mean everything goes with all because not infrequently his murder plan sometimes fails. Created an unexpected event that attracts attention and is very stressful. That’s also an interesting point because we see how Avilio has to deal with someone who suspects him. As he entered the lion’s cage, he was just a cat with his intelligence. Ready to stack them from behind.

On the antagonist side, or there seems to be no pros or cons, there is Nero Vanetti. Nero is the eldest son of the leader of the Vanetti family and one of the Avilio’s revenge targets. Even though it’s about revenge, they sometimes look like friends who carry out missions and work together. We see them both from a different point of views. Not only from one dimension, but there is also another reason why Nero killed the Lagusa family that day. Here, the emotions faced Emilio that was quite doubtful whether he will pull the trigger or not.

There is Corteo as Avilio’s best friend. Avilio is like Fredo Corleone from “The Godfather”. Corteo is one of the most innocent characters but he understands very well his circumstance. He is a brewer and being one of the best. He really hated the mafia after what Vanetti had done to Lagusa. Corteo helped Avilio a lot since he was a child and continued to help him. But, he was sick of Avilio who was increasingly plunged into his mafia world as Avilio, no more Angelo. Besides Corteo, there are still many other supporting characters. There is Fango, another antagonist from this show. He first appeared as a group from the Orco family, Vanetti’s rival. Fango is a wild, crazy, but masochistic character. He doesn’t care too much whether there are rules or not. At the end of the day, “91 Days” has likable, complex, but really interesting characters.

This show, besides having a powerful story, leaves a cool visual. There was some minor lack of quality that wasn’t too visible and not too flashy. Very gripping animation makes this is not a happy end story. It’s quite clear that the selection of dark and gloomy colors and noticeable cinematography are great. The concept of opening and ending theme songs are so haunting as well. “91 Days” has the impression of a Hollywood-style TV series. Especially, the majority of them really likes a show like this. This show comes out from its Otaku culture and own market. There are no very “anime” characters, unfortunately, it’s also a fact that this anime is very underrated at the season. That season, we got “Mob Psycho 100”, “Food Wars” second season, “New Game!”, The bad sequel of “Berserk”, and “ReLIFE”.

The soundtracks are just amazing incredible. “Signal” by TK from Ling Tosite Sigure strikes again with such alternative rock music. A haunting theme song I never skip through, but the visual tells a lot of information from beginning to end. However, a great concept in representing it. The voice acting does what is best, especially Kenjirou Tsuda as Fango. He seems to have brought his character as an insane psychopath. Apparently, his character very carried away even he also enjoyed it. The ending theme song is also very catchy, haunting, and nice. Both songs are very memorable. “Rain or Shine” by ELISA did what this show actually told and it worked.

This anime doesn’t have a lot of killing or action scenes. As before, it’s leaving the impression of an American drama TV series that focuses on the complexity between characters. “91 Days” is a show about the tragedy, revenge, mafia-like “The Godfather”, and a criminal piece of gangster and violence. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for a show like this. One of the strong anime in representing how the mafia was. I love the ending with an impression of ambiguity and open-to-interpretation. The impression is not a cliffhanger and I’m grateful that there are no sequels from this series.

Obviously, I don’t want them to answer such ambiguity. I would rather leave it without forcing the original story to run smoothly. The show is about the dark side of humanity, a study of character, transformation what if life doesn’t mean anything. And like that, criminals don’t leave anything, don’t pay anything, nothing. A very ambitious production and still shines. Expect the unexpected!

4 out of 5 stars.