Dies Irae was a lot of things. It had an… interesting episode 0 and it ended with episode 11 with no indication that it would actually end. Can I even review Dies Irae?
Only partially because of the story. Episode 0 introduces the series’ villains and I’m going to save you time: All of the villains are one-dimensional Nazis with super powers, the main villain is Reinhard Heydrich.. .yeah right. Though I don’t really see the reason why we needed an episode 0, it doesn’t add anything and everything established here gets reintroduced later on, as episode 0 doesn’t even establish these characters as villains. What was the point? All it did was create confusion among viewers without giving any real context. Yes, you can do that in a series like this but then make it worthwhile for me and have a focus you want me to put my attention on, maybe to throw me off the loop later on.
So let’s skip episode 0. Unfortunately summarizing the story is also a little tricky due to how rapidly events unfold. We start off with our protagonist Ren in a fistfight with his childhood friend Shirou. Ren ends up in the hospital and the worst character of this show, Kasumi, appears. Ren, as a solo protagonist, is already bland but I prefer that over the terrible character that is Kasumi. I wanted to see her die starting from episode 1 but the series failed me in that regard.
So more characters are introduced, Ren gains his own power in episode 2, there’s also a harem, though not for the banging reason for half of the harem girls. One of these girls is Marie, a blonde, busty goddess who connects herself with Ren to give him his powers. The problem is just that neither Marie, nor Ren, nor Shirou (who is the most interesting alongside Mercurius so far) can ever develop themselves to a point where I can even begin to care. This applies to every single character in this series and Ren, as the protagonist, would have the chance to shine more brightly than everybody else… if he wouldn’t be a walking anime cliché throughout the show. As I said, the only character I was interested in by the end of episode 11 was Shirou and he doesn’t appear for most of the series.
The story continues with the villains trying to open mystical swastikas by sacrificing human souls and Ren will try to stop them. This is not a bad plot but the execution is all over the place.
At too many occasions, Dies Irae appears to do this or that because A) it’s what all the modern series’ do and it tries to be cool or B) it has to without wanting it. Dies Irae is a mess of constantly changing the pace at the most unfortunate of moments and it fails to tell a captivating story. Even if the characters would be more than what they currently are, the basic foundation with which you try to tell your story is heavily under-explained. You can still understand what is going on but here is where Dies Irae makes the second big mistake: Having a lot of things happen at once and so rapidly that you can’t divide your attention at all. Thus you have to keep paying attention and the many moments, where the series just goes nowhere and usually stumbles trying to bring you character relationships, feel even longer due to the otherwise quick progression.
This series has no idea on how to properly tell a story in form of an anime.
Everything is topped off with an insulting cliffhanger IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONFLICT at the end of episode 11 and it all comes down to a trash series. One that is a lot of fun to watch with friends because nobody understands what’s going on and one that isn’t good enough to watch it alone because the high attention span, that is required from the viewer, isn’t rewarded at all.
Which brings us directly to how this anime looks. It has some few scenes where it looks pretty good, though nowhere near modern high-animation level. Sprinkled throughout the show are fights that have a ton of action and high energy, and fights where the show just falls on its face and keeps on crawling. However, the fights usually end before you even notice it. The CG effects are also annoyingly different from the drawing style, though Dies Irae has many moments where the CG works to some degree, usually when dealing with Heydrich. This is no series to watch for the spectacle.
I enjoyed the soundtrack but the only really memorable songs were remixes of classics and the rest was just there. Sometimes the music is placed really effectively but usually the music is weirdly out of touch with Dies Irae. With that I mean the audio in the episode, like how the music supports the scene and how they use the music to set the expectations of the viewer. Dies Irae must have skipped that class. I get a kick out of the opening and ending though, they’re catchy and I listened to them each time but I’m not sure if I like it enough to listen to a full version.
Dies Irae is what could be called trash. As with any medium, the source material and/or other adaptions don’t have to be on the same level of quality but this show is bad. It has its highlights but only to end in the middle of a pretty high-tense situation just like that was… insulting, considering I kept watching and this felt like a hammer to the face. I remotely enjoyed the series but I can’t recommend this to anybody. Dies Irae fails the viewer’s expectations and it isn’t smart enough to use that as an advantage.