Everybody’s dead Avilio. Everybody’s dead.
What’s the Story?
Avilio’s happy life was shattered when a mafia feud cost him the lives of his parents and younger brother. Seven years later he receives a mysterious letter giving him the names of those responsible for the slaughter. Avilio returns to the town of Lawless during prohibition to exact his revenge and he starts by convincing his childhood friend to sell his homemade alcohol to the mafia and befriending the Don’s son. It will only take 91 days for Avilio to complete his revenge, but vengeance can be a bloody business so the only real question is, will anyone be left alive by the end of it?
I haven’t seen that many gangster animes and if you’re a fan of the genre then I highly recommend this one. There are plenty of stories about gangsters blowing holes in one another and people seeking bloody vengeance out there and I don’t think this series brings anything particularly new to the table, but its told with such confidence and style that it is still definitely worth your time. I have to admit I sometimes have a weird back and forth with gangster stories, especially gangster stories set around prohibition, they are inherently bloody and violent (and this series is no different, the bounty count has to be knocking on three digits by the end). It’s not something that I particularly need to see. I can put up with it as long as it doesn’t go too gory or be gory for gore’s sake. Yet at the same the ones set in prohibition times are by historical necessity set around the 1920s, which stylistically is one of my favourite periods. I love the architecture and dress sense of that era (I partly blame Batman the animated series for this by influencing me at such a young age), so for me it’s great just to sit back and soak in the surroundings.
It’s also a great help that this anime is so gorgeously animated. Colour wise it sticks to a lot of browns and darker shades giving this whole series a very shady feel that perfectly suits the seedy world this show is putting on display. What really works is how the animation captures motion, it’s all the little details, the hesitation as a finger inches closer to the trigger or the way a throat moves as it gulps down some Lawless Heaven. I want to marry this animation sometimes. I also have to give credit to the directors, there are some really beautiful and well constructed shots throughout this anime and its always interesting to watch whether its two character going on a buddy-buddy road trip or an all guns blazing shootout in the streets.
The story as well is also really well written and just because it’s using the standard elements, it doesn’t mean it’s predictable. There are some great twists and deaths along the way that I really didn’t see coming and even when I did they still played out in spectacular fashion. I lot of the tension comes from just having Avilio and Nero sat in the same room together, you know at some point this whole revenge scheme is going to lead up to Avilio trying to kill Nero and you’re just waiting for the gun to go off. Avilio is a really smart guy though, sometimes a little too smart, always one step ahead of everyone else and manipulating all those around him into doing exactly what he wants. There are only a couple of times when he actually trips up and those are when the series is at its most tense because if Mr. Calm and Collected is in trouble then I really have no idea what’s going to happen next.
I suppose the most tragic part of this whole series is that, if it weren’t for the twisted joke fate was playing on all of the characters, I could see Avilio and Nero being really good friends. They have a great deal of chemistry and you believe the friendship that develops between them, if it weren’t for the fact that Nero was apart of the group of men that killed Avilio’s family, or Avilio’s blind obsession with revenge, then these two could go far together. It’s not even worth it in the end, Avilio’s revenge doesn’t bring him any kind of piece of mind or a reason to live, all the death and destruction he brings about and it accomplishes nothing except said death and destruction, in fact Avilio has considerably less after his revenge than before he started it.
You care for all of these characters even though most of them are murdering psychopaths; they feel like ordinary people, people you could laugh or cry with. You get what drives most of them, even if you can tell that it’s not going to end well for them and it is sad to see the majority of them go. Spoiler alert, but I was really upset when Fango went, I mean he really had to go, the man was two sacks of crazy inside a suitcase full of crazy and had it coming to him, but he was just so much fun to watch. Maybe some people would think he’s a little too over the top with his lunacy, but every scene with him in it was a joy because you just never knew what he was going to do.
91 days is stylish, smart and beautiful. As a story of the mafia and revenge, it doesn’t really bring anything startlingly new to the table, but the characters are all relatable and interesting in their own ways and the story itself is so well written and enjoyable that that doesn’t really matter in the end. I recommend this to everyone, not just fans of gangster shows, it’s a great series, just be prepared for a high body count and a tragic end.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.