by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Dies irae ?
NOTE: Due to my busy holiday schedule, episode 7 is unlikely to get a separate review. It will instead be covered with episode 8 in two weeks.
One of the lingering questions about Dies irae is how much budgetary constraints factor into its lackluster action sequences. Episode 6 firmly demonstrates that the series is at least trying to be thrilling, as it ups its game substantially on the visuals and provides some generally strong musical accompaniment. It also provides some of the most elaborate and extensive action sequences to date for the series, battles focusing on Ren and Shiro. Some of these are even somewhat thrilling. But at almost every turn, it feels like the action has some kind of limiter on it, some combination of limited budget and mediocre choreography. Even at its best, Dies irae still can't hold a candle to most better action series out there, like Yuki Yuna is a Hero season 2 which airs on the same day.
The episode does manage some neat visuals, however. The full extent of Ren's transformation with his CG blade-producing capability results in an almost spider-like form that's hampered only a little by looking so cartoonish. Sadly, he doesn't get to do much with that form, but at least there's an immense golden skeleton that can crush a whole bridge in its hand, leading to one of the episode's sharpest-looking sequences. The guy that Ren was starting to fight last episode also looks more impressive with his CG-enhanced ultimate form, and Kei just generally looks good. Shiro also gets in on the action, proving that the superhero-esque wardrobe from last episode wasn't just for show.
Shiro's combat capability does bring up a whole boatload of questions though, and not necessarily in a good way. This episode explains that for much of his life he has possessed a déjà vu-like ability which keeps him from getting killed and effectively allows him to react with superhuman agility against attacks, something which he finds so annoying that he throws himself into danger just to see if something can overcome this power. While that is fairly neat in execution, allowing him to compete against foes who should otherwise be way out of his league, I have to wonder why the fistfight he had with Ren in the past was even competitive enough to hospitalize him if he's always had that kind of skill. The shots of the woman providing him support also suggest well-funded tactical support, but where does all of his apparent money come from if he's still a high school kid? He looks like a character who was thrown in to act as the cool contrast to Ren's ordinariness rather than someone whose role was integrated well into the story.
Oh, and Heydrich finally makes an appearance too, establishing his credentials as the Head Honcho Villain. Apparently the number of mystical swastikas that get opened is directly tied to his power level, which means that, in the classic shonen action tradition, he is still stupidly powerful despite using only a fraction of his full power. Ren's recent rapid advancement still isn't anywhere near sufficient to challenge Heydrich, but anything more than that at the halfway point of the series would be unexpected. What happens with Marie at the end of the episode gives us a significant cliffhanger, and combined with the visual high points make this episode slightly better than usual. It's still not enough to make this a good series, though.
Dies Irae is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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