Dies Irae – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Ren Fujii is a normal student who just had a fistfight with his former best friend, leading him to break off their friendship. But with the help of his childhood friend, Kasumi Ayase, and upperclassman, Rea Himuro, he’s gradually returning to his normal school life. Then a series of brutal murders in which the victims are decapitated begins to strike their city. Strangely, at the same time, Ren starts to have terrifying nightmares of being beheaded by a guillotine. But these are just a prelude to the painful and terrifying battles to come. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode* Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
*This Review is based upon Episode 0, as Episode 1 airs next week.
Tom: This isn’t going to be a proper review. Dies Irae aired this Friday with a special Episode 0, preceding the, apparent, actual start of its televised run. But this Episode 0 is near impossible to talk about. What happens here is entirely confounding, wholly confusing, and impossibly unapproachable for general audiences. Part of that’s because Dies Irae is based off a Light Novel, and we’ve been chucked right in the ‘middle.’ So to speak anyway. The larger issue is that the series starts off with a side story, meant to be experienced far later in the events of the series. That means you have little idea who any of these characters are, what they want to accomplish, why they’re fighting, along with any significance any of this actually brings to the table. It’s an unstoppable mess.
Linny: The episode keeps jumping from person to person and location to location with zero explanation about what time period, place or people we’re looking at. Without any prior familiarity with the Dias Irae visual novel game, it’s near impossible to tell exactly who is who and what role they play in the entire saga unfolding on your screen. It’s like you’re being shown random moments in random people’s lives with no proper context to tie them all together or make sense of their significance. Ultimately, any newcomer to the series is going to be left baffled and confused about every single minute of the episode. Thus, Dias Irae Episode 0 is extremely unfriendly to newcomers and makes us less than hopeful about the rest of the series. We do plan to check episode 1 out as it would be completely unfair to write an entire series off based upon an episode zero. If we end up changing our minds thanks to what Dias Irae does with its true first episode, we hope to update this preview with a mid season review. But for now we’ll have to leave it without a proper score.
1st Episode Review Update:
Tom: Dies Irae’s first episode is much easier to follow, but still doesn’t give me significant hopes for it being anything other than typical Visual Novel fair. We’re treated to a much easier to follow opening that flows much in line with the synopsis above. The trouble is the series can’t decide on a uniform tone. On the one hand it wants us to take things with a grim seriousness. Murders are happening, our main character is having horrific nightmares and suffering a tiff with his best friend who’s now gone missing, but in the middle of that is some forced, cliche fan service, and flirty hi-jinks that feel at odds with the rest of the show’s tone. Not to mention a rather odd sequence about Ren Fujii and Ayase having made a hole between their apartment rooms so that they can sneak through should they need each other? It’s these elements that wholly detract from the otherwise brooding atmosphere. It’s not to say comedy need be avoided, but much of what’s here is too out of sync with the rest of Dies Irae’s content. As a final compounding element the series dives right into its more supernatural elements at the drop of a hat, with little set up or fanfare. Quickly audiences will find themselves overloaded with German names and supernatural terminology that’s just a tad too much for anyone still trying to ease themselves into this world. It’s meant to be a tease of what’s to come, but is too lengthy and thick with unfamiliar terms and names to do its job effectively. All said, Dies Irae isn’t awful, and is actually much more watchable than its frustratingly obtuse Episode 0, but it still fails to impress.