Anime Review

Dies Irae Episode 0 Review: The Dawning Days

What the fictional Nazi hell happened in this episode? I guess that things will make more sense when Episode 1 of Dies Irae airs this week. In this prequel, we were bombarded with characters, golden flying cities, and an awesome soundtrack, but I am not sure I understood what happened. The only thing I did get is that we saw the birth of a leader and the creation of his superhuman team of believers and wackos.

Japanese Title: 黎明

What is this Anime about

Based on a visual novel with such a dedicated audience that the anime was funded through them, Dies Irae was unveiled right after its successful crowdfunding campaign in December 2015. It premiered this week on 7 October with this prequel episode. It is produced by studio Genco. The script supervision is handled by the game’s designer, Takashi Masada. The anime will have 12 episodes with 6 extra for a total of 18. The opening theme, ‘Kadenz’, is performed by Yui Sakakibara, and the ending theme is performed by the voice actor unit Phero Men (Junichi Suwabe and Kousuke Toriumi).

Dies Irae can be watched legally through Crunchyroll.

Plot

I need to repeat myself at this point. What the alternate universe World War II happened in this episode? In an alternate 1939 Germany, a young military officer (was he a general? He probably was a general) called Reinhard Heydrich recruits a German seer called Karl Krafft to help him rebuild the losing Reich. Episode 0 was the introduction of the villains, as Reinhard contemplated the meaning of life and the existence of déjà vu as he recruits more wackos: A group of women called the Valkyries seem too eager to help him rebuild the world. An odd crazy couple (Was that wolverine bitch a girl of a boy?) who just happened to fight each other with no justification at all. A priest-cum-mad scientist and his red-haired companion who enjoy torture a little too much. There are also more characters whom I know nothing about. One with a giant sword and a kid that is bonded to the castle (?). Together, they took their gold city in the clouds and they are probably heading to our world to meet our protagonist in Episode 1 of the series.

Episode Highlights

Floating Gold City: I can’t wait to learn more about the castle. It looks so cool that I really want to know how and from whom it was built.

Themes & Trivia

Dies Irae: According to the episode, Heydrich wants to escape an existential déjà vu that he calls ‘dies Irae.’ Now, according to the net, Dies Irae means Day of Wrath and is a Latin hymn that dates from at least the 13th century. The poem of trochaic meter describes the last Judgement and is best known from its use as a sequence in the Requiem. Even if you can’t recall the tune, you have probably heard it in your favorite pop culture moments, from Star Wars and Lion King to the Lord of the Rings.

Crowdfunded: The anime project was crowdfunded in July 2015 after raising ¥96,560,858, 300% up from its initial ¥30,000,000 target.

Visual Novel: The anime is based on a visual novel developed by Light. The series has three versions because until the third, the game was released unfinished due to problems in development: The first version was released in 2007 for Microsoft Windows with the subtitle Also sprach Zarathustra. The second version has the subtitle Acta est Fabula and was released in 2009. The game was completed with the third version, Amantes amentes, which was released in 2012 the PSP. A new PSVITA and Windows version was released in 2017. A game of mobile devices is scheduled for 2017. It is called Dies Irae Pantheon.

Nostradamus: I am sure you already know about Nostradamus, but since anime clearly love to bring his name in all clairvoyance instances, I feel I need to say one sentence about him. His real name was Michel de Nostredame and he lived around 500 years ago in the mid-1500s. The French physician believed that he could predict the future and thus published a collection of prophesies that are as vague as the Latinization of his name, Nostradamus. Many people credit him with predicting many major world events. If you read his prophesies, hell, I could credit him with most of my family’s events. That’s how vague his prophesies were.

Battle Opera: What with the title being Dies Irae, fans already describe the game as a ‘Battle Opera.’ Except many references to various operas, hymns, poems, myths, probably Christian passages as well.

Comments

Unlike other what-if fantasy scenarios, the only thing that seems inaccurate historically, deliberately, is the exclusion of the swastika from the uniforms and the inclusion of a weird fantasy symbol, because in all other regards, these are the Nazis of our World War II. Even the name of the main villain is the name of real historical figure Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich, a high-ranking German Nazi official during World War II, and a main architect of the Holocaust, one of the worst war criminals of our time. You also have the reference to the Aryan race, a concept that disgusts me. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with referencing real-world events and people. World War II is still a very sensitive subject that we are, understandably, still struggling with. Fascism and right-wing populism is rising worldwide and some believe that making an anime with such a reference is irresponsible and offending. It might be, but I firmly believe that people have the right to say anything about anything to anyone and not be persecuted about it, a right that goes both ways, as those who criticize must be ready to be criticized as well.

What do I seek? What do I want? What do I wish?

I will repeat myself for one last time; I am not sure what happened in this episode. I think we saw a Nazi leader creating a team of supernatural freaks who then boarded a flying gold city and entered a wormhole that will bring them to our time so that our protagonist can kick their fascist bottoms. That sounds about right.

NEXT TIME: Twilight Girl (黄昏の少女)

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