I think what I love best about 91 Days is its relentlessly upbeat tone and optimism about humanity.
That 91 Days subjected us to a recap episode is rather unfortunate. They’re never a good thing, certainly not when we’re 7 episodes into a one-cour series. Does this mean we’re looking at a disc-only release for the finale, or will the series simply wrap up its story in twelve episodes? Was this planned, or the result of production delays and/or budget problems (for the record, this episode looks fine)? We often never hear the official answer to the second question, and the first we’ll only know when the time comes, presumably. But it’s a certainty that the anime calendar was poorer for not having this stellar crime drama as a part of it.
Like many mob sagas, 91 Days seems to fall more under the category of “tragedy” than “suspense”. It’s not theoretically impossible for this show to end well, I suppose (apart from for the characters for whom it’s already ended poorly), but realistically it sure doesn’t seem likely. It’s not as if justice plays a major role in this world, but over and over we’re seeing cosmic justice dispensed on those whose conscience weighs them down. And Angelo has surely added himself to that list.
One of those characters who’s remained more or less untainted is Corteo, and indeed we’ve seen him grow more and more aghast at the changes that have come over his friend. Of course he’s one of the people who could, certainly, have sent the letter to Angelo – it’s a fairly popular theory, though it never struck a note of truth with me. Corteo was never enthused about Angelo’s path of revenge, and certainly never relished being part of the world of organized crime. He knows what they did to the Lagusa family and he hates them for it, but not so much that he wanted to become like them. He’s been acting on Angelo’s behalf, but the divide between them has been widening for quite a while.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back is the arrival of Delphy (Touchi Hiroki), a straight-laced G-Man who’s taken the corrupt Scusa’s place at the head of the Bureau of Prohibition. He arrives in Lawless verbal guns-a-blazing, stating his intent to bust both the Fango and Vanetti families and bring order and peace to the streets. There’s some support for him on those streets, but neither Nero or Fango seem too worried – they’ve seen his type come and go before. But Delphy proves more persistent – and tougher to buy off – than most, and manages to stick his nose into places the Vanettis are none too comfortable having nosed.
We’re nor privy to the true details of how the hit on Delphy’s wife and daughter went down. My read was that it was Barbero who staged it as a non-fatal event, but that could have been pure luck. Irrespective, the irony that Angelo of all people should have been willing to sign off on it is inescapable, and it’s the moment when Corteo finally realizes he can go no further on Angelo’s chosen path. But Corteo is not a natural at this – he’s not cut out for this game, and in selling out Nero to Fango – cheaply – he plays his cards rather poorly.
Corteo looks to be just another victim of this brutal and bloodthirsty world where life is traded so cheaply, and very likely he still will be. Both Barbero and Angelo seem to have put the pieces together on who the traitor is, and Fango has managed to get Scusa (who slithers back into his old job with Delphy having been cowed into complicity) to steal the recipe for Lawless Heaven. But Corteo’s end won’t come at the hands of Fango himself at the very least – the latter seems to decide it would be too boring to off Corteo outright, so decides to sell him out to Nero as the more fun option. But Corteo doesn’t give him the chance, and it’s one of the most shocking and depressing killings in 91 Days – not because of any affection for Fango of course and not just because of how brutal and graphic it is, but because it was Corteo – one of the gentlest souls in the series – doing the killing.
However Corteo’s end comes – and I suspect it will be at Angelo’s hands – his downfall is just another brick in the wall of grim despair 91 Days is building. There’s nothing redemptive about this world – it’s a foul, rank place full of terrible people doing terrible things. As far as I can tell there’s only one escape from it, and in the end, I suspect that will be the route for both Nero and Angelo. It may not come as much of a surprise, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be tragic.