In Dies irae Episode 3, “The End of the Nightmare Is a Beginning,” Rusalka Schwägelin, in her sweetest schoolgirl voice, makes it clear to Ren Fujii that he needs to live up to her expectations, or his school — and a lot more — will suffer her wrath. Later, Kasumi Ayase takes kendo practice way too seriously and discloses a secret that Fujii finds almost as unbearable as it is catalytic.
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s In This Post
3 Favorite Moments
- Despite her flippant attitude and youthful appearance, Rusalka can be dramatic and threatening when she wants to be. She also seemed to give Fujii an important clue (1:23) when she said that she and her “friends” haven’t just been waiting for something to happen; they’re going to make something happen. That’s way more dramatic than waiting around for prophesies to be fulfilled! They suspect Fujii might be part of it, but they’re not certain. It’s interesting to me that even Rusalka and her compatriots aren’t sure about Fujii. Her threat to level the school in 10 seconds at the end of the scene seemed to clarify the situation for Fujii. The pressure on him is growing scene by scene.
Ayase’s really good at kendo. But she’s not that good — she obliterated the practice dummy and the sword (5:45). Seemingly triggered by Fujii’s increasing strain, her attacks leave slice marks in the dummy and the walls. Big, wide slice marks. This scene came on the heels of Ayase’s desk splitting down the middle (4:58), almost as if it had been sliced. Like by a guillotine? Has she been the one murdering people in the night by cutting their heads off? The show’s doing a good job of keeping me guessing!
- At first I thought Fujii was afraid Ayase had perished in the conflagration (12:40). But I think I misunderstood. As we learned from Kei Sakurai, Ayase was the one who was behind the beheadings. I think that Fujii had come to suspect that, so it’s not fear that Ayase wouldn’t answer the phone that kept him from calling (13:02). It was fear she would answer. Ayase’s emotional plea that she wanted to help Fujii (9:55) was part of the setup for this scene. These didn’t constitute one of my favorite moments, though. My third favorite moment of this episode was when Fujii finds his friend Ayase, covered in blood, the music of her cell phone’s ringtone (15:33) playing in the background.
The horror of the dead bodies surrounding her, her dazed expression, and her body backlit by the fountain, rain blanketing everything, was beautiful in a macabre way. Ayase so wanted to help Fujii that she was willing to go to terrible lengths, even abandoning her humanity. I’m a little unclear as to the mechanism she used — did Karl Kraft/Mercurius intervene to give her the ability? But I thought the scene was powerful. Fujii’s desperation to keep Ayase out of whatever’s coming added to the emotional impact.
May I share a concern I have about Dies irae? It was something that worried me when I decided to review it for the Fall 2017 season. The animation looked great, the world felt wide and engrossing, and the conflict seemed epic. Sounded like a natural fit for this site!
But think about the times we live in. In the United States, we have people standing up and marching under the Nazi flag, while one of the major political parties looks the other way.
Also, look at Europe: far-right candidates just won elections in Austria. In Austria! World War II hasn’t been over that long. You’d think it’s lessons would still be fresh.
So what’s my concern? It’s not that I think Dies irae is overtly celebrating one of the darkest political movements in human history. It’s more subtle than that: the show’s most interesting characters all wear red armbands (figuratively, in some cases) and have the best toys! Just look at the intra-dimensional ship from episode 0! It’s hard to watch this and walk away without thinking the bad guys got the most attention during the character construction phase! It’s almost presenting these characters as laudable.
Am I imagining things?
I really hope so. I hope this has all been to build up the baddies while Fujii remembers who he is and gets a handle on his powers. There were signs this episode that this might be coming to pass.
Even if that’s the case, I’d still like Fujii to have some allies who were as intriguing as his enemies. Where’s Fujii’s answer to Rusalka, the adorable vampire schoolgirl who can single-handedly destroy a school in under 10 minutes? The overpowered and arrogant white-haired Wilhelm Ehrenburg who hates the touch of humans? The reserved yet insanely capable Sakurai, who almost seems tsundere? Or even the big baddie, Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich, the humble officer who’s nearly a god? These are all interesting and quirky characters!
I don’t want to sell Ayase short, since I like her character, but it seems like she just got sidelined. Should I hold out hope for Rea Himuro?
Do you think I’m being too sensitive? Or is there something going on here? Feel free to let me know in the comments?