Welcome to our 2017 Fall Anime Reviews. We’ll be tackling a few of the new shows airing this season in fairly brief reviews. The reviews will only cover the first episode of each series unless one catches our eye.
Well, this season has really disappointed me so far. Not because the shows are bad. It’s the opposite in fact. I want that same rush I got from absolutely tearing apart Battle Girl High School last season. Even King’s Game, which is the epitome of mediocrity, wasn’t absolute garbage. I’ve been feeling dissatisfied. And then this show comes along.
Dies irae (Day of Wrath, in Latin) is a show I had not even heard of when I went to watch it. It popped up in my sidebar on Crunchyroll. I shrugged and said, “Sure, I need to procrastinate some more,” and that was that. Granted, this episode is listed as Episode 0, so perhaps I can expect more from this series once its official Episode 1 airs. The promotional material looks far different from what this episode gave us, so the show may change drastically in the coming weeks. With any luck, that’s what will happen, because this was just a mess.
Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Imagine – you’re in wartime Germany, 1939. Citizens possess brightly colored hair and inexplicably rely on swords in combat despite the weapon falling out of favor in the prior decades outside of self-defense use. But it’s an anime, so let’s try to ignore historical logic. After all, it’s historical fiction, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be that accurate.
(Let’s also ignore the Nazi glamorizing that goes on here with the show’s totally-not-Nazis. I’m cool with including historically accurate depictions in order to set an appropriate background or tone for a narrative, and I’m also fine with showing a sympathetic side to individual characters who happen to be Nazis (or the equivalent). But Dies irae does neither of those things, and it seems to go out of its way to integrate real-world Nazi figures and propaganda without really delving into any moral grounds or even using the events to set up the story. It’s a very gray area to tread that could easily and justifiably ruffle some feathers, because it really does not seem necessary to have this story take place in wartime Germany. While the episode never goes too far with it to the point of radicalism, it’s definitely something to consider when deciding if this is a show for you, as it does go far enough to make some viewers understandably uncomfortable. Not to mention the main guy, a reimagining of an actual person in Nazi history, is depicted as some all-powerful godlike being. I want to give the show the benefit of the doubt and assume he is going to be an antagonist, but the show isn’t doing itself any favors by combining such glorifying imagery with one of history’s worst atrocities.)
Okay, down to business. I was following the show for roughy 3 minutes before I just got totally lost. One moment everyone seems to be talking totally-not-Nazi politics, but the next people are displaying brute punching force that might give Saitama a challenge. And let’s not forget the psychotic killers who randomly seem to be fighting in the middle of a city for no discernible reason. Not to mention the montage of magical powers toward the end that occurs with absolutely no explanation, performed by characters I’ve never seen before in my life. Oh, and how could I forget Busty Lady and Sick Priest? Yeah, none of this tied together in a coherent manner at all. Some bumpy scene transitions don’t help the show make more sense either. Again, it’s an Episode 0, so I’m trying hard to give the show a little leeway, but wow was this episode messy.
I really can’t say I’m enthusiastic to continue this. I may try to give Episode 1 a fair shot, but I can’t see myself sticking around for long. The animation is bland, the characters are boring, and the narrative is all over the place. I can tell there’s a story wanting to be told here, but it’s going to have to dig itself out from underneath the weight of all these problems first.
I take back what I said. Give me some more good stuff this season. This one isn’t even fun to trash because it is just frustratingly confusing and tedious more than anything.
Full disclosure: I researched this a bit afterwards. This is based on a video game, one known for its complicated narrative. Apparently this is a prologue, and the rest of the story does actually occur in the modern day, so rejoice! But that still does not excuse how poorly executed this prologue is.