by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Dies irae ?
With its fifth episode, Dies irae solves one long-standing mystery by serving up another one. Yes, Marie (aka Marguerite Brueil) did indeed lose her head to the guillotine, but the scar around her neck appeared long before that; she was actually born with this scar under the veritable shadow of a guillotine when her father substituted for the executioner as she was being born. Probably she's meant to be possessed by the spirit of the guillotine, as she went around singing the guillotine song everywhere and innocently lops off people's heads if they touch her. Certainly she's beloved by Mercurius, who sees her practically as a goddess, and now that Ren's powers have advanced to the Formation level, she can now physically manifest as a buxom blonde girl, because this series has been so desperately in need of more harem hijinks.
While we do get some standard harem comedy as Kasumi becomes involved, and Marie does look neat once they get her dressed up, things take a much weirder turn in the second half when Ren's old “friend” Shiro – the one he had a fistfight with back in episode one - suddenly shows up. I was under the impression that he was a high school student, but apparently in the couple of months he's been gone, he's somehow gotten set up in a swanky room in a club as a stylish boss-punk. Not surprisingly, he seems to know something about Ren's current situation and who he's facing, partly because his girlfriend's family has been connected to them for generations. This series has been in a no-holds-barred battle all season with King's Game for the wonkiest logic, and this isn't really any more egregious than any of its other stunts, so whatever. It does look like Shiro's going to be a regular member of the cast, since he's shown dramatically coming to Ren's rescue (sort of) in the final scene. The only question I actually care about seeing answered at this point is if any of the bad guys actually know about Marie.
At least the harem aspect of the series somewhat makes sense, though it still seems to exist much more for comic relief than any actual characterization or narrative purpose. This time around, it's not Rea messing around with Ren but Marie, who takes to flawlessly mimicking Kasumi in arguably the funniest scene of the series so far – Kasumi either fails to notice she's being mocked or just doesn't care. I almost think that the series might work better if it played more as a harem with its dark plot as a sidebar. After all, since the serious parts are pretty silly anyway, why not just stop trying to be grim and play everything for camp? It still wouldn't be a good series, but it might be more entertaining.
Dies irae is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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