The food at Ottimo
Orco Fango may only be not bad, but 91 Days is absolutely delicious.
If this season is anime’s last creative explosion before what could be a long dry spell, it’s going out with a bang. 91 Days is a gem – a marvel of careful and smart plotting and fascinating character dynamics. What it’s not is especially anime in nature, but I think that makes the series that much more interesting. A quintessentially anime show like Mob Psycho 100 that could never exist in any other medium is undeniably a great reason to love anime, but no more or less than a universal story like 91 Days. That thematic diversity is one of the best things about anime as far as I’m concerned.
As we reached and passed the halfway point this week, 91 Days began to take on a lot more clarity in some respects. It’s not as though the matter was ever in doubt, but the sheer brutality of the mob world is starkly on display here – this is a battlefield in which life is traded very cheaply indeed, and family means something entirely different than it does to normal people. I think the show established pretty clearly with this episode that sentimentality is going to be a bit player at best, both internally and in terms of the writing. Inside or out, this is not a place for the faint of heart.
Angelo/Avilo has undoubtedly placed himself in a perilous position here – even as he bides his time to revenge himself against Nero, his fate is very much tied to the older Vanetti brother. That means nowhere in Lawless is a safe haven – it goes without saying that Fango has no loyalty to either of them, and once their usefullness has played out they’ll be wholly expendable. Nero is a Vanetti, and there are clearly those inside that family still loyal to him (or at least kindly disposed towards him), like his Uncle Ganzo (Amada Masuo, who really looks the part). But Frate is nominally in charge now (and their father is nowhere to be seen), and Ronaldo Galassia has convinced him that it’s kill or be killed. There’s no refuge there – but it’s clear that doesn’t bother Angelo one bit.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing that’s come into focus is that Angelo is, for all intents and purposes, the villain of 91 Days. He has good reason for his vendetta, but he’s gone far past the point where his actions can be justified. He’s caught up countless others who have no connection to his family’s death in his schemes, and casualties are mounting on all sides. He’s become something of a Svengali to Nero (the moment where the latter openly asks him for advice is a telling one) and he’s the one moving the chess pieces on the board. To an extent Frate is being manipulated by Ronaldo (with drugs as well as psychology), who’s exploiting Frate’s jealousy of his brother to accomplish his own goal of turning the Vanettis into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Galassias. But ultimately, it’s Avilo who’s stoking the fires of war to suit his own long game.
Caught in the middle of all this is Fio, who’s hiding her pregnancy from her family. She genuinely wants to see her brothers reconcile even if it means the Vanettis losing their empire altogether, but both Frate and Ronaldo are determined to see Nero dead and Angelo is determined to prevent peace from breaking out. He talks Nero’s loyal man Volpe into an attempt on Ronaldo’s life and then takes Volpe out himself, and concocts a scheme that has Fio shoot Ronaldo before Ronaldo can take out Nero. But it’s the final act of this play that’s especially vile, the way Avilo orchestrates Nero killing his own brother. Frate was already a lost soul by that point, it’s true, but Nero never lost the desire to see his family reunited. He’ll never be the same after shooting Frate – and that, cruelly, is exactly what Angelo had in mind.
Because it serves Angelo’s interests for Nero to return to power for now, the epilogue here is that Angelo uses this deadly family drama to restore Nero’s reputation with the Galassias, by making it seem as if Frate had killed Ronaldo, and Nero taken his brother out in retaliation. But I have to wonder if Nero isn’t getting relatively close to figuring out some piece of the truth about Angelo – there have certainly been several clues dropped along the way where someone as sharp as Angelo himself might have picked them up. But if Angelo has emerged as the villain, Nero has emerged as, if not a hero, at least a tragic figure of sorts. He’s as straightforward a figure as there is in 91 Days and the one around whom pathos gathers, a plain-spoken and direct fellow who, I suspect, missed the fleeing Angelo on purpose and has regretted his role in the events of that fateful night for the rest of his days.