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91 Days First Impressions (Episode 1: Night of the Murder) [Spoiler‑Free]

Due to your request from the poll we had, I will be reviewing 91 Days. Thank you to those who participated!


Another entry in the summer 2016 anime lineup is 91 Days! My curiosity was piqued upon reading that the show was set in the Prohibition era. Over the years, we have seen a few mafia-type anime such as Gangsta or Baccano, but 91 Days‘ focus on the Prohibition is something that isn’t done often.

Story & Characters

91 Days First Impressions: Avilo's Tragedy and the Acts of Violence.

The story takes place in the 1920’s during the Prohibition era, and includes elements such as illegalization of alcohol and extreme acts of violence taking place. The drama of the show is portrayed through backstory, showing off bootlegging (the act of creating, selling, or distributing illegal goods), and mobsters controlling the surrounding territory. While the first episode only does so much for the progression of the story, it sets up enough to leave you wanting more.

91 Days First Impressions: Avilo Bruno's Lust for Revenge. 91 Days First Impressions: Corteo, the Maker of Illegal Moonshine.91 Days is a mafia crime drama, so characters and their actions are important. Their interactions and what takes place during them advances the story. So far it is based around the main character, Angelo (who goes by the name of Avilo Bruno), and his history with the Orco and Vanetti families. Due to his tragic past, Angelo harbors a deep hatred for the Vanetti family. His childhood friend, Corteo, is a genius at making alcohol from his apartment flat. It will be a pleasure to see the characters evolve from their interactions and the intense situations they will be placed in.

Art & Animation

91 Days First Impressions: The Making of Illegal Alcohol, Bootlegging.
Corteo’s homemade distillery in his apartment

I find the art and animation for this series intriguing, based on the staff producing it. 91 Days is being produced by studio Shuka, which was founded after a few members branched off from Brains Base in 2013 to continue Durararas anime adaptation after the first season.

Any aesthetic this show has is filled with the atmosphere of an anime set in the 1920’s. The art backgrounds by Ogura Hiromasa, who previously worked on From Up On Poppy Hill, contain a rugged, yet mafia setting one would see in the time period. To show this, rough utilization of coloring and shade on the backgrounds are used.

91 Days First Impressions: Another Act of Violence Due to Mafia Drama.
Mobster with brass knuckles

The character designs done by My Little Monster’s Chief Animation Director, Kishi Tomohiro, fit the tone 91 Days is going for and resemble Kishida Takahiro‘s art style used in Baccano. They appeared realistic and rough, giving them that touch of intimidation, which fits the mafia theme 91 Days has. Every single art style used blended well with the backgrounds and made 91 Days that much more enjoyable.

The animation tended to stay simple except in moments when the action was taking place. When someone took a drink or smoked, the movement remained calm. The fluidity is improved to display action and intensity during violent scenes. The animation didn’t always need to be spontaneous to work well either. The production of the show displayed this in light gestures such as hand waving and eye contact, which only need the limited movement to show character interaction.

Music

91 Days First Impressions: Vanetii Mobster Shooting and Killing Bystanders.With this being the first episode, there were no signs of an opening theme. Although the ending theme, “Rain or Shine” by ELISA, was fantastic. It sounded like something enchanting you would hear at a nighttime jazz club and I loved it. If you are a fan of jazz music, you will love the soundtrack of the first episode. Shogo Kaida, who also did the music for Special A, composed the soundtrack. It has that smooth feel jazz can have, yet it can pump out loud vibratos (vibrations) in moments of intensity. The addition of a symphony orchestra is excellent. The combination of jazz and the orchestra helps moments become both calm or intense, which shows the mastery of Shogo Kaida. It blended well with 91 Days and I am excited to hear more of the soundtrack.

Final Thoughts

I am happy you guys voted for 91 Days. It looks like a great show with interesting characters, plot, and production. The music is essentially a love letter to my heart since it has my favorite genre of music, jazz. I am excited to see how it will deliver since shows like this one tend to mix action and drama well. If there is any worry I have, it lies in the animation. Durarara‘s animation quality wasn’t terrific and had moments of being choppy. I do hope that Shuka keeps up the momentum with 91 Days because with a great first episode like this, they have something fantastic going on.

I am looking forward to more from this season’s summer anime lineup. Feel free to discuss anime with me in the comments or follow me on Twitter if you want to see me ramble about anime. ‘Til then, I’ll catch you all later! 

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