After getting hospitalised by his best friend, Ren Fuuji (Toriumi Kousuke) returns to a normal school life. Fortunately for him, he has a childhood friend in Kasumi Ayase (Fukuhara Ayaka) who persistently checks up on his condition, while an aloof senpai called Rei Himuro (Nabatame Hitomi) teases him on the rooftops. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting something too outstanding from a self-insert visual novel protagonist, but I still felt underwhelmed. Ren’s personality is flat, something I consider to be the adaptation’s fault, since he was entertainingly wry from what little I played of the visual novel. That said, they did nail his fear of blades, and a quickly passing frame makes it quite obvious where it originates from – a traumatic experience where either he stabbed someone or got stabbed himself. What’s more, he lost consciousness in front of the guillotine, though that probably has more to do with his spiritual encounter rather than phobia.
Now, I’d imagine the guillotine will become a focal point of the series. Ren’s dream was extremely visceral, and it was uncomfortable to watch him madly squirm as the blade descended upon his neck. Cue the audible gasps of shock when his head cleanly came off, leaving a trail of spurting blood. Makes me really appreciate the fact I wasn’t born before the French Revolution. Thinking about it, Dies Irae has set up a huge obstacle for its protagonist to surpass. If Ren is going up against this seemingly magical guillotine, he’ll eventually have to overcome his fear of blades, which puts him in a nice spot for some character development. At the most crucial moment, I’m expecting him to find willpower and motivation when it matters. The only question will be if people can be bothered to stick around till then, because so far, the series has been sluggish in its inspiration.
I really liked how we were hinted towards an aspect of the Longinus Dreizehn Order and their powers. Most of the members had red skulls flickering over them towards the end of the episode, and their arrogant smirks conveyed some magnitude of the evil we’re about to deal with. If I had to guess, they were the ones behind the murder that occurred, and that probably doesn’t scratch the surface of the nefarious schemes they have in mind. Valerian Trifa (Narita Ken) delivered a chilling speech which highlighted how despicable these people are, his words sounding like the prelude to a genocide. He literally sanctioned killing, despite being a religious priest. Talk about a farce! And the way in which other officers eagerly lapped up his frenzied zealotry makes me lose hope in the idea that these people can be reasoned with. Bloodshed and huge power struggles are about take place in this quiet and unassuming city, and what can I say. Who could have guessed that magical and maniacal Nazis would find their way into 21st Century Japan?
Last week, I tabled my initial expectations for Dies Irae, which haven’t changed much in anticipation for the real start. However, the previous animation and storyboarding were definitely a cause for concern. Not only did the action scenes run on budget animation, but the sequence of events set during WW2 Germany were mostly inexplicable. In comparison, things calmed down a lot this week, so it’s quite difficult to run comparisons in those specific areas. Though I don’t think it met a high enough standard, we certainly got off to a better start.
We finally received solid introductions to a few characters, and I really liked Rea in particular. Kasumi was quite annoying, but her antics were quite amusing. Although Episode 00 fell short in many aspects, at least it left me expecting chaos and action further down the line. A premise based upon mystery has also been established, regarding the twilight girl from Ren’s dream and the murderer. However, I think that these conceal the bigger stakes to be had. From the lack of Reinhardt and Karl, I can only assume that conditions have not been met for their return to the corporeal world. I wonder if Ren can stop the Longinus Dreizehn Order from being fully revived, and save his loved ones from the guaranteed destruction that these Nazis will wreak.
If you’re still not sure about continuing but find yourself invested in the premise, there are other avenues you can turn towards. Dies Irae started life as a visual novel and incidentally, the common route is currently free to play on Steam. I haven’t played it myself, so I can’t really offer any words of wisdom regarding how good it actually is. However, I’ve been assured by people that it offers a better and fairer representation of Dies Irae. Unfortunately, I won’t be blogging this show anymore. Perhaps if I had more free time, I might have considered it. But I’m currently very busy, and have other anime from this season that are higher on my list of priorities. That’s it from me, and if you happen to be more familiar with the source material, let me know what your thoughts are!