by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Dies irae ?
Episode 9 of Dies irae opens with a very relatable problem. Ever have one of those days where you find yourself giving birth to a son who ages to adolescence as he crawls out of you? Maybe it had something with the father being either unconscious or dead when you consummated your love on that stone altar.
I definitely have to give the series credit for inventive gruesomeness, which is about the most positive thing that I can say about this episode. Frankly, most of this is not making much sense. Clearly the flashback-filled prologue focusing on Riza Brenner (the nun) involves the bloodline matter that the priest introduced last episode, but it's not clear whether the scene with the super-powered children who die after bleeding out from their eyes is meant literally or just as Riza's nightmare, and what it has to do with anything is still unknown either way. The whole birth scene involves the twin son that the priest referred to, but there are contradictory implications that he may be hidden away in some deep dungeon and bears some connection to Kasumi, but maybe Rea/Theresia shares that connection instead. And why is the priest so intent on pursuing this matter to the point of picking a fight with Riza? Likewise, is the series trying to say that Riza fathered her children by Heydrich? If so, then why would he have been in that situation? If not, then who is that guy on the altar? There's also the matter of Ren now flashing back to the memories of a German soldier who was an executioner's son, presumably to indicate a deeper connection to the guillotine, though how that fits into the picture isn't clear either. Once again, I'm left wondering if a lot of necessary context is missing because I'm not familiar with the source material.
Beyond that, the rest of the episode's problems are just standard poor performance from Dies irae. Ren's conversation with Marie on the roof is meant to show Marie's character development, but it winds up being dull rather than sweet. Ren's exchanges with Kei, who fights him in place of Riza, also lack spark. (Although interestingly, this scene is a reversal of the “you go on ahead, I'll take care of this guy” scenario commonly conducted by hero groups.) Portraying Kei as insane because she wants to kill thousands to realize her wish of resurrecting some family members comes off forced and cliche, and her elaborate transformation sequence merely results in her becoming sheathed in flame. It's a truly disappointing power-up, although it does produce a new flavor of challenge for Ren. Sadly, the action between them is too limited in both animation and staging, but that's nothing new for this series. The priest's ruminations on love with Riza also don't make much sense and aren't worth the drama that the music tries to give them. A good musical score can lift otherwise-dreary material, but there is a limit and this series has found it.
At least by the end of the episode we finally know how the flaming giant shown in the opener comes into the picture, as Scarface (aka Eleonore von Wittenburg, one of the Valkyries who pledged herself to Heydrich in episode 0) appears to slap Kei down so she can fight Ren instead. Why Ren's words to Kei impressed her is a mystery for the moment, but at least fighting a mecha-sized flaming skeleton holds more promise than Kei with flames around her so I'll let that one pass. After all, giant fighting skeletons are one of the very few points of enthusiasm that the series can offer at the moment.
Dies Irae is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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