Sometimes a series can start so strong that you hold nothing, but high hopes for it. This was the trap that 91 Days found itself caught in.
With an absolutely exceptional first three episodes, 91 Days set itself up to be a dark and thrilling drama that delved heavily into its lead character, Angelo, and his desperate search for revenge.
While that thirst for revenge didn’t diminish in the episodes following, pretty much everything else that made the start of the series so compelling faltered.
Following the story of Angelo Lagusa, now going by the name of Avilio Bruno, as he works towards achieving his revenge for the murder of his family, everything is set up perfectly for a grim and dramatic tale set during the Prohibition era of the United States.
It’s a period piece that is far different from what animation studios and teams attempt in Japan, and the first two episodes were spectacular. Introducing us to a wide collection of fascinating characters, and the underlying revenge drama that will follow through the story, we’re given plenty of time to get used to the world that we’re being thrust into.
From Angelo’s first encounters with both Nero Vanetti and the antagonistic Fango, to his first murder on his quest for revenge – and subsequent conundrum when he is almost caught in his lies – was paced perfectly and was done spectacularly.
From there things started to fall apart. While the next two episodes are far from horrible, there’s a noticeable loss of the oppressive atmosphere that had made the first two episodes stand out, and an indulgence in goofiness that has given me a bit of tonal whiplash.
Episode four suffers the most as it jumps into Nero and Angelo’s road trip, which consists of some good character building, but an utterly horrible villain-of-the-week with their nearly undying giant of a foe.
While levity can definitely hold a place in darker stories, the scenes at the auto camp with the children were wonderful for character development, the ridiculousness of the goliath-like monster was completely unnecessary.
Thankfully the series doesn’t seem to have remained there, as episode five delves back into a more similar tone to the first three episodes, but it still feels lacking compared to the earlier ones.
That said, the gang politics going on in the background and Angelo’s plans all continue to make this an enjoyable experience.
However, the dip in tonal quality of the story was not the only issue that was present. Sadly, after some pretty nice animation throughout the first two episodes, everything starts to take a dive from the third on.
Characters are consistently off model, or just poorly animated, the action is nowhere near as fluid as it had been, and the overall package just seems to be struggling.
It’s really disappointing as the series started out so strong artistically in the first couple of episodes. The murder of Angelo’s family being an extremely well animated sequence, as was his fight against Fango in the second episode.
The audio, on the other hand, does a lot for the benefit of the series. Whether it’s Tk’s impressive opening theme, or the voice work – which has been quite compelling despite the fact that this is one of those series that really needs a dub – this has been a definite highlight of the series.
Overall, 91 Days is an impressive, if not completely consistent, series so far. These first five episodes have been great at building up suspense, and making sure that this world feels like there’s plenty in store for our protagonists as the story progresses.
Episodes 1 – 5 Rating: 8/10
91 Days streams new episodes Fridays on Crunchyroll.