「Night of the Murder」 (Satsujin no Yoru)
“Night of the Murder”
Thrilling, stylish, ominous, cinematic—91Days’s debut has well exceeded my already heightened expectations. And I’ll end it there. Seriously, watch the episode first before continuing reading this SPOILER-FILLED post. I usually don’t do this but this one is seriously worth going in with as little knowledge as possible. Don’t worry, I’ll give you minute. La la la. Done? Okay, let’s continue.
First and foremost, the show’s setting is entirely unique to anime. 91Days takes place during Prohibition—an era of early-twentieth century American history when the production and sale of alcoholic beverages was constitutionally banned under the eighteenth amendment (which was subsequently repealed in 1933). As such, alcohol began to be distributed and sold through illegal, underground means. This marked a rise in Mafia power and activity, which quickly came to dominate the majority of the market. A young man named Avilo (Kondou Takashi), witnesses the brutal murders of his parents and younger brother at the hands of the mafia. He subsequently sets out to seek justice—getting wrapped up in all kinds of trouble and danger—stopping at nothing to make things right.
Anime is rarely if ever set in America—let alone during past historical eras—let alone during an aspect of the twenties so rarely covered in popular fiction as prohibition. This allows for scenery and atmosphere that’s unlike anything I’ve witnessed in anime. The sweeping early industrial America vistas are absolutely stunning, the activity of streets densely packed with capitalist aspirations (too much? sry lel) breathes life into every scene—to see such American hallmarks and landscapes blended with absolutely dynamite quality Japanese animation is something incredibly exceptional. This is a vibrant world, brought to life by a gorgeous, muted color palette, wonderfully animated visuals, and stellar sound design. God damn I love America.
Not only this, but the show’s overall tone and presentation is far more cinematic than we’re used to seeing in television. The stylized roll of the opening credits, the slow subdued pacing, the swelling orchestral background tracks—I feel more like I’m being treated to a feature presentation than a televised anime show. 91 Days completely breaks the mold of anime shows. This really feels like a high-budget production, and is the perfect way to frame the action-packed, emotionally rife narrative.
We haven’t even gotten to the actual events of the episode. I went into this show as blind as I possibly could, and it seriously paid off. Every emotional and dramatic beat hit profoundly for me. Avilo’s character motivations were admittedly catalyzed in distinctly Bruce Waynian fashion, but the guy has emerged far thirstier for vengeance. He’s a fascinating character because he seems for the most part stable and in control of his emotions—remaining calm during life-threatening situations. However, the show’s cold open presents him as far more unhinged. He balances precariously between rationale and insanity. No matter how composed Avilo may seem, we can’t forget that it’s heart-tearing anguish and grief which drives him. It’ll be interesting getting to know his character more and more as he will no doubt be thoroughly tested on his quest.
That being said, not much really happened in the show’s debut. Aside from the protagonist’s backstory and a brief action sequence, the episode was primarily concerned with exposition. But that’s absolutely fine. 91Days seems to have no problem in taking its time and organically building the elements of its plot. Instead of being concerned with overcrowding its debut episode with a rushed plot setup and character introductions, the show is not afraid to provide just the right amount thrills and narrative details to keep you enticed and wanting more. There’s an overall sense of mystery and intrigue befitting of a crime thriller—one which will keep you pondering
Furthermore, it manages to skillfully exposit details of the world, its status quo, and its inhabitants without launching off into explicit monologue. All pertinent information is relayed through subtle dialogue—teaching you about the world without you even knowing it. It’s a testament to the strength of the writing and the skill of the writers. At no point does the show make it apparent that I’m watching a show by reeling me back into reality through blatantly functional exposition. I feel like I’m really watching this guy’s story unfold.
In conclusion, an amazing opening for my most anticipated series of the season. I was a little biased going in, sure, but I was not expecting the level of quality which 91Days’ debut provided. From a rich and dynamic setting to an engaging plot and protagonist, the series shows us in just twenty-three minutes why it will be worth sticking around for.
ED: 「Rain or Shin」 by (ELISA)
This one’s easy. Solidly good opening episode. Just sit back, watch & enjoy. No “3 Episode Rule” needed here. I’m in.
I was waiting for someone to blog this, and I’m so excited to see your post Jig!! I went into this blindly too and I am now totally hooked! Hope you’ll be able to continue blogging the show 🙂
The entire atmosphere of the show filled me with literal chills. This is a period piece anime done right, not unlike Rakugo and Joker Game. This one is automatically a keeper.
I know no one is set on blogging any new anime at the current moment, so let me just say: It’d be awesome if you blog this show Jig 🙂
The only think which irked me was the murder of the wife and child. Mafia–especially Italian mafia–were uptight to the point of pretentiousness about keeping family and “business” separate. Guy needed to disappear? You did it where his family couldn’t see. Wasn’t a hard and fast rule (as can be argued regarding how it played out here), but it certainly was ubiquitous enough.
Other than that personal nitpick, this was fantastic. The emulation of period films was especially amazing, I haven’t seen any anime yet that have given the credits in such a format. Without a doubt I fully expect this to be what Gangsta should have been from the get go.
The setting’s more European-looking than American, like a drab Italian city.
Although, it’s likely Studio Shuka’s aiming for a general Western-looking setting for its audience over something specifically American.
Shuka’s largely made up of ex-Brains Base employees, which previously animated Baccano. They’re likely reusing their experience with animating Baccano for this one.
I was thinking the same thing. As Lawless is the name of the last movie we have had about the Prohibition-era I was like. O___o That’s not Virginia. lol
“What brings you to Lawless, Mr Bruno?”
Avilio’s Brain: Don’t say revenge, don’t say revenge…
Avilio’s Brain: That’s it, I’m getting outta here! (brain is heard stomping away and slamming door shut)
-Customs officer ticks off ‘Revenge’ on list-
Definitely looks to be an interesting ride.
Wonder if we’re going to be seeing an increasing rise in (more abstract) “historical”-style anime with Joker Game previously, now this and even a moe history-based anime this season, lol. Previous history-based stuff, that I can recall anyway, was largely either (alternate universe versions of) Romance of the Three Kingdoms or the Sengoku period.
FINALLY a show full of male cast that’s not blatantly try to appeals to fujos.
Poor sod. Go back to your cute girls doing cute things.
The first episode was not good. It was a SUPERB VIEWING PLEASURE! And the ending was outstanding, as I have never saw that coming. Will look forward for more!
It looks so promising. This episode definitely makes me have high expectations of the show. This episode has many good parts. The following are some of them.
(1) Much more natural, realistic dialogues between characters than those you often see in many other mainstream anime.
(2) film noir vibe done right.
(3) Plain and straightforward story premise – (A boy came back for revenge)
(4) A likable supporting character (MC’s best friend)
(5) Absence of many formulaic scenes (such as ‘Oishii!!! (delicious) moment acted by a female voice actor with a forced, artificial high pitched tone as if she is one the way feeling an orgasm, combined with highly exaggerated facial expression.
(6) No school setting with not so interesting a male MC. Absence of boring moe girls (Even Mumei of Kabaneri – No moe anime – could not be free from forced moe. Remember she often takes a unnatural-nonsense silly gesture and pose to look moe to Japanese Otaku audience?)
Since I’m bandwidth limited for the next couple of weeks and can’t afford to impulse download, I have two questions;
1. Does the main dude use “ore” or “boku” to refer to himself?
2. Does he sound like he mouth-sexed a helium can, like 99% of anime protagonists, or does he actually sound like a dude?
Whether I pick this up of not depends on the answers.
1. He refers to himself as ore.
2. He’s not a trap.
Thank you. Downloading now.