When taking up the job of checking out every anime season you really can starve for something different. Variety is the spice of life and yet the entertainment industry seems determined to give us more of the same. So in the sea of average high school students gaining superpowers and harems I see an anime promising a classic Mafia drama and say sing me the hell up. The story is of a boy called Angelo, who joins the mafia to enact a plot of revenge against those who murdered his family. As the likes of Joker Game and Gangsta proved, doing something different does not automatically make it great. I will say that 91 Days succeeded in avoiding the failures of those respective series but sadly the result is a decent anime. While great to some this story does seem alright despite it really feeling like it should be more. It has it’s good moments, even some great moments and it makes no major missteps in it’s delivery. This is a solid series without doubt but I sadly never got as invested as I really should have been.
Part of the reason for this could be to the nature of the storytelling which goes the opposite route of most anime by having characters thoughts not be narrated by monologue and instead shown through actions. Certainly a fresh take but sadly the series tends to keep the audience too much in the dark about what is really going on in people’s heads which makes the finales emotional climax fall hollow as the characters actions don’t really convey the depth of their intentions or feelings. Another thing is the story’s tendency of foreshadowing developments moments before being revealed. Whenever a character gets development or focus it often means they are about to be removed from the plot entirely or are the focus of that episode’s twist. A police chief is introduced decides to take on the mafia one episode but in that very same episode he is scared off and hereby removed from the remaining plot. This kind of thing happens numerous times through 91 Day’s run and as a result the characters that remain end up being those we have the least attachment to. There is also the matter that this show is a slow burn that continues to the end here it finally fizzles out instead of exploding. Our main character is far too stoic to really relate with and thus like him the audience is equally unmoved by the events that unfold before him. Only at times when the perspective changes to another more relatable character does this show start to shine.
Studio Shuka managed to avoid major quality drops in the animation and art of 91 Days but it does remain a show that couldn’t really be called visually impressive. The greatest strength of this series is it’s ability to evoke the mood and atmosphere of classic mafia film to which it references and homages quite a bit. I consider this series to be a unique identity within anime but sadly not an outstanding one. Depending on your taste you could come to love this series and with a Baccano style dub it could gain a cult following, however I am afraid it didn’t quite hit the notes for me. It has merit for being what it is and I applaud the choice to try such a novel concept in animation but it never quite reached the potential it could have. In truth this proves that one can copy the style of Mafia movies but without the heart all you really have is something temporarily charming but fundamentally hollow. Much like every movie gangster feels when it’s his time to bite the bullet.