by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 4 of
91 Days ?
After spending three weeks gradually unfolding its first act, 91 Days proves that it's also capable of some powerful episodic storytelling. Following the blow-up in Vanetti-Orco relations, Nero and Avilio have gone on the run together, and they're both starting to get to know each other as travelling companions. Unfortunately for Avilio, it turns out that Nero is a pretty affable guy, when he's not murdering people's families. He likes kids and dispenses valuable advice on how to properly eat pancakes. A feeling may be blossoming in Avilio's icy heart, and it threatens to interfere with his vengeance. In the meantime, he and Nero must work together to take down a hulking hitman sent by the Orcos. During all of this, Avilio learns that there were actually four people at his family's assassination, while his letter only named three. Someone has misinformed Avilio, and there's no telling why.
It's always nice when a show finds exactly what I thought it needed. Prior to this point, my primary complaint about 91 Days had been Avilio's emotional inscrutability, but that turned out to be a deliberate prelude to his defrosting while on the lam. Before this, Avilio was in his element. He'd spent the past seven years eschewing human connection, dulling himself in the strictly mercenary and transactional world of crime. Now, however, he's on the low-down with a close companion, and it's harder for him to suppress his emotions. For as cold as he seems, there's still a piece of the sweet little kid alive within him, and his secret target, Nero, just happens to be good at drawing that stuff out of people. Speaking of Nero, it's clear that he's had the warm family life that's Avilio was denied. That'll be his weakness. Since he's used to becoming buddy-buddy with people, he doesn't suspect that someone will use that to get to him, so he lets Avilio get close to him without the proper vetting. Nero's comfort has been built on the ruthless eradication of other people, and it looks like he's about to get a taste of that same medicine.
It helps that this show is still profoundly cinematic in the way it relays information. It knows how to use stuff like camera movement, racking focus, and complex framing that are rarely employed by most anime. Avilio remains mostly monosyllabic, and most information about him is relayed through his behavior and body language. He eats the pancakes quickly because he didn't have a stable food source, living on his own as a kid. He's probably used to illicitly scarfing down food before someone can catch him. (This also explains Avilio's talent for pickpocketing, if you recall the first scene of the first episode.)
Perhaps most surprisingly, this episode reveals that 91 Days can be funny. It's basically a series of great character moments and gags as our leads set out on their road trip (or "bro'd trip," if you prefer). I liked Avilio's poor driving and how it became handy for taking out the Goliath. That character in particular feels like something out of a Coen Brothers' film, as much of a running gag as a threat. 91 Days also continues to be on-point with his bible references – notice how Avilio turns the tables on the Goliath by slinging a can of pineapples at his head. While the central conflict is still very serious, I think that 91 Days does a good job integrating the drama with some goofiness on the periphery. At the very least, every hired assassin should now come with an adorable beagle puppy.
More than a film, 91 Days currently reminds me more of prestige television dramas like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos. This episode comfortably inhabits its 20-minute runtime, providing an important emotional high point to what I'm sure is headed squarely into the realm of bloody tragedy. This relative levity will make the eventual conclusion hurt that much more. Poignant and entertaining, 91 Days continues to be a standout show for mature audiences.
91 Days is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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