Contrary to what you may think, I wasn’t making any sort of statement with holding off on Dies Irae. I mean, I wasn’t really looking forward to the show but I was actually just waiting for the actual first episode to air. The “Episode 0” gimmick is very much what the name implies; it’s a prologue and not strictly speaking, the real start of the show. Thus, it makes more sense (at least to me) to wait for the actual premiere of the show and then cover both episodes in a single First Impressions post. That said, spending an extra half-hour on the show really didn’t do it any favors.
Nazis are always a tricky subject to depict in media; perhaps more so in 2017 as it has sadly become apparent that there are still a lot of people who believe in what the Third Reich advocated. In the case of anime, I find the medium to have a tendency to either make them too humanistic or admit that they were evil but still make them “cool”. Dies Irae seems to fall under the latter; its cast of Nazis are clearly the antagonists but it still opts to infuse them with all sorts of whacky superpowers and character designs. And look, there’s nothing wrong with portraying Nazis as this supernatural or technological menace; it’s been done before and in some cases, done really well. But if you’re going to go that route, really emphasize how frightening that would be if the Third Reich really had that kind of power. Dies Irae only pulls that kind of tone in one brief montage at the end of its prologue and even then it can’t help but make their Nazis do a bunch of flashy fight moves and mug silly faces at the camera. Simply put, it’s not smart enough to pull its shtick off.
But you know what the funny thing is about Dies Irae? The Nazis were the least of the show’s problems when considering just how fucking boring this show is. I’ve seen people compare this property to Fate/stay night and that is such an apt comparison. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought Dies Irae was a spin-off of Fate. You got boring characters spouting clumsy exposition and pretentious speeches, living in a world that’s hardly explained to you, fighting a war that just exists for flashy action sequences. There is somehow plot everywhere and yet none of it is comprehensible let alone intriguing. And don’t give me that “well it makes more sense in the visual novel” nonsense. If a story fails to be cohesive in a new medium, then the adaptation shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
So as obvious as it sounds, I’m not bothering with Dies Irae. Frankly, if I wanted to watch Fate, I’d just watch Fate (preferably Fate/zero because that’s the only Fate anime I actually like).
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