The Wandering Witch – Joins the Family

Posted on Sep 21 2016


Welcome, all, again. I’ve decided to make good on my threat, so I’ll be reviewing 91 Days, one of those often-referenced-but-seldom-seen “instant classics.” That’s right, they really do exist!

And not since Usagi Drop have I had to choose between so many superlatives just to describe one show. The craftsmanship of this series is unrivaled, with breath-taking artwork giving life to a deeply felt, delicately nuanced story of love, loss, loyalty, and vengeance. Set during Prohibition, this series explores the intertwined family and business sides of La Cosa Nostra. It is painful; it is violent; it is emotionally disturbing. And it is immensely entertaining! As I first mentioned two reviews ago, this could very well prove to be the anime equivalent of The Godfather. This show’s got the goods–do you, as a viewer, have the moxie?


Like so many tragic tales, this one begins in violence. Young Angelo Lagusa is the sole survivor of a mafia hit on his family, forever marking him for death. Although he escapes into the night, he already knows that his old life and identity died along with his parents and younger brother. If he is to live, it must be as a new person–but he’ll need help, first. He finds it from a family with whom his mother has been especially friendly, welcoming their son Corteo into the Lagusa home as he became best friends with Angelo. Corteo’s family hide Angelo after the murder and help him escape, after which Angelo disappears for seven years. (It is touching to note that upon their reunion, one of Angelo’s first questions to Corteo is about the latter’s mother.) Angelo’s self-imposed exile is eventually brought to a sudden end by his receipt of a mysterious letter identifying his family’s killers. The implications are clear: he is not so well-hidden as he thought, thus meaning that he is at continued risk; and, an opportunity to avenge his family has been offered. Taken together, these circumstances demand action, and Angelo is ready to oblige.


The letter received by Angelo implicates the Vanetti Family, one of the two main mafia factions in the aptly named town of Lawless, Illinois. And so the Vanetti organization gains a new recruit in Avilio Bruno, the name used by Angelo as he infiltrates his enemies in order to enact his vendetta. This will prove a long and involved process, especially since Angelo (now Avilio) means to not just kill the killers, but to tear down their organization and destroy their family even more thoroughly than they destroyed his own. His survival was their mistake, and he doesn’t plan on making the same one. But in returning to Lawless, Avilio has made himself extremely vulnerable. Before he could even approach the Vanetti, he would need help; it was actually to Corteo that Avilio went first. And it was with Corteo’s bootleg liquor that Avilio introduced himself to the Vanetti. Thus Avilio involves his only friend in his plot for revenge, foreshadowing greater tragedy in both their lives.


Still, Avilio is not alone in trying to bring down the Vanetti. Their hometown rivals, the Orco Family, are busily making inroads into Vanetti territory, eating away at profits and manpower. Meanwhile, the powerful Galassia Family of Chicago continually interfere in the machinations of both the Vanetti and the Orco, knowing that neither organization is strong enough to resist. In his own recognition of this humiliating fact, the Vanetti Don sacrifices his only daughter Fio in marriage to Ronaldo Galassia, nephew to the Galassia Don, hoping that the union will grant the Vanetti a little more autonomy to pursue their own affairs. The actual result is the immediate insertion of a Galassia executive into the Vanetti ruling echelon–Ronaldo is obviously and openly playing for the other team, but no one can touch him because he’s joined the Family. Avilio’s efforts could almost be lost amongst the attacks of stronger enemies. Almost. But he’s just a bit too clever for that.

91 Days has been a wild, passionate ride so far! In truth, this story’s creeping darkness and unflinching presentation of violence remind of (of all things!) Myself; Yourself. And as with that 2007 tour de force, 91 Days is predicated upon violence and regret, both of an extremely personal nature. Vendetta is the vehicle of Avilio’s needs, fueled by his love and loyalty, and the sacrifices he is willing to make in pursuit of vengeance will terrify. If there is a certain beauty in loss and pain, then this series is an emotional masterpiece. But it is likewise particularly gorgeous in its visual artwork (with sepia tones echoing the story’s melancholy), while the musical score is masterful, bringing the era to life. 91 Days is bigger than its genre and deeper than its pain. This show truly deserves its praise.

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  • Kayarath October 19, 2016 at 10:27 PM

    It sure sounds interesting to say the least!

  • moonhawk81 October 21, 2016 at 1:01 AM

    Very interesting! And it’s a great period piece–some real film noir. But, like the Godfather movie to which I keep comparing it, it is also rather weighty and introspective. It’s definitely not something that I’d try to marathon. . .

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