91 Days – Episode 7: “A Poor Player”

All in the family…

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91 Days outdid itself this week, zeroing in on the Vanetti siblings in an episode packed to the rafters with layered characters, conflicts political and personal, and a tense, rapidfire chess match of scheming from the shadows. Most impressive of all? About half of it happens outside of the dialogue, through subtle (re)actions or off-screen entirely, leaving us with a snapshot of our cast that’s both dense and loaded with uncertainty.

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orange – Episode 7

Guess we’ll be putting out those birthday candles with a steady stream of tears, then…

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It’s Birthday Week on orange, and with it comes a mess of conflicting emotions, much like the holiday itself. We tend to think of birthdays as a celebration of life, marked with parties and packed with presents and frosted goodies, and they often can be. But there’s also an undercurrent of sadness and uncertainty to them, as they’re both a reminder of what’s passed and what might be waiting ahead. Life and death are as intertwined as the past and the future, and orange‘s birthday story line is painfully aware of that.

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91 Days – Episode 6: “To Slaughter a Pig”

A bitter pill lasagna to swallow.

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We can talk all day about craft–character development, narrative tension, dramatic irony, visual motifs, conflicts both intimate and social–and don’t worry, I’ll touch on pretty much all of that during this post, both positive and negative. First, though, because I tend to get excited about all the analytical stuff and forget to mention the personal stuff, can I just take a moment to say how incredibly start-to-finish entertaining I find this show every week?

It’s a totally personal thing, I know, which makes it hard to write about and not all that valuable to others when it comes to recommendations. But as I went through my episode notes and found comments like “Nero is so chill ❤ I LOVE HIM” and “WHOA ANGELO WHAAAT” snuggled up next to “old guard vs new guard” and “this ep is all about food (decadence/gluttony?),” I realized that I am 100% fully invested in this story, not just as a blogger but as a fan, too. And, a few pulpy over-indulgences and weak characters aside, that’s a seriously great place to be halfway through a series.

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orange – Episode 6

Getting by with a little help from your friends.

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When you say “shojo,” a lot of people’s first thought is probably “romance,” but what drew me to the genre as a kid and what continues to bring me back to it is that it’s as much about the many kinds of relationships that can develop between people as it is about falling in love. orange carries on this tradition, showcasing Naho and Kakeru’s growing love story side-by-side with the positive, easygoing friendships that tie The BFF Sextet together.

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91 Days – Episode 5: “Blood Will Have Blood”

The best-laid plans of mobs and men…

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Happy to prove that it can keep balancing tangled gangster intrigue with character-focused drama, 91 Days returns us to Lawless and pours a potful of plot (a plotful?) all over us. Statuses shift, allegiances realign, and just about everyone tries to put one over on somebody else. And you thought your family was complicated.

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orange – Episode 5

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.

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After watching Naho and Kakeru’s relationship almost fall apart last week, this week we slide back into the comfortable, content group dynamic and steady progress from before. That doesn’t mean it was a completely uneventful episode, though: Mixed into the relaxed slice-of-life festival story are small changes for Naho, a renewed focus on the supporting cast, and a science lesson that adds an important layer to orange‘s premise.

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91 Days – Episode 4: “Losing to Win, and What Comes After”

The mob acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.

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I know I joked last week that 91 Days was going to turn into a road trip buddy comedy, but. I mean. I didn’t think it actually would. Our tense gangster drama lightens up this week, taking time off from crime family intrigue to meander across the lakes region of the U.S. and flesh out its two central characters along the way–and by “flesh out,” I of course mean:”make them endearing as heck.” Those felonious scamps.

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orange – Episode 4

Relationships are hard, y’all.

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Friendships, romances, family ties–no two are the same, and they all take different kinds work. I’m not sure there’s ever a time when relationships get easy, but like anything else, experience does help. That’s why high school relationships can be such a muddled minefield, because for many people it’s the first time they’ve had to not only figure out How To Significant Other, but also how to balance different kinds of relationships in a healthy way. And boy, do Naho and Kakeru walk right into that minefield this week.

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91 Days – Episodes 2-3

♪ I’ll be spending Friday nights writing ’bout a gangster’s paradise… ♪

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91 Days had possibly the best premiere of the season, and two episodes later it continues to dig its hooks into me with twists, turns, mysteries, and conspiracies. You read or watch enough stories and you start to get a feel for where a narrative’s heading, but 91 Days has kept me on my toes with speedy escalation, a chessboard full of briefly glimpsed players, and a camera that just loves to build tension through canted angles and wide shots of empty rooms. I’m not sure where it’s all heading, and I love that about it.

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orange – Episodes 2-3

I’m not sure if I’m happy or just relieved.

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Adaptations can be a minefield, but orange has so far met my expectations, endearing me to its cast and sucking me into its story all over again. It’s easily one of my Top Three favorite shows of the summer (nestled right alongside gangsters and puppets, go figure), so I’ve opted to cover it for Anime Evo this season. Also, sorry it’s a little late–I had a busy travel weekend and couldn’t find the time until today.

I’m in a unique position with this one where I’ve actually read the entire manga, but anime newbies can rest assured that, while these posts do assume you’ve seen the episode(s) under discussion, this is a manga spoiler-free zone. So viewers and readers can read on free of worries!

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