In Dies irae Episode 4, “Spider,” Ren Fujii struggles to keep his friend Kasumi Ayase away from his terrifying new world. Part of his plan involves Fujii declaring that Kei Sakurai is his new girlfriend. Sakurai was as surprised as Ayase! Despite that, Sakurai begins training Fujii, because the battle’s only worthwhile if her opponent’s strong. Later, Fujii faces his first test against Rot Spinne, who decides to try to use Ayase as bait. Can Fujii control his new-found powers and save himself, much less Ayase?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s In This Post
3 Favorite Moments
- Exposition for the win? If you’ve read very many of my reviews, you know that I’m not a big fan of exposition. But this week, I welcomed Sakurai’s info-dump on Fujii (starting around 4:02). Dies irae‘s taken a, let’s say, circuitous route to plot development, so Sakurai plainly spelling out that Mercurius started this conflict back in World War II, that all of the supernatural beings he created are fighting so they can have a wish granted, and that if Fujii has any complaints about this, he can take it up with Mercurius (6:35) was welcome! Maybe you figured out most of this stuff before — and I think I did, too — but the confirmation helps me focus on the story.
- Two points for exposition? Sakurai leads Fujii into a classroom and continues the conversation. She explains that Mercurius granted them the ability to make contracts with weapons, most of which were cursed. It’s because they’re cursed that they feed on human souls (7:25). That explains Ayase’s murder spree last week! It explains the cause of the massacre in episode 0. Talk about raising some touchy moral issues!
- Have you ever been so angry that you tore off your own arms and legs (17:45)? Fujii gets points for sheer determination of will in that scene. Apparently, he’s learned to use his skills to the point where he can reattach his limbs. That’s a handy power to have! He gets additional style points for transforming his leg into a blade and using it to slice off Spine’s arm (19:00). Now, I have to say I was a little disappointed that Fujii learned his skill so quickly or to such an extent. I would have preferred some foreshadowing, like maybe showing his arm fluctuating between states when he first talked to Sakurai. To be honest, I easily forgot all of that when Fujii killed Spinne with a little help from Valeria Trifa. I don’t know what game that “priest” is playing, but seeing Spinne destroyed has been the high point of the series so far for me!
May I ask you to try a hypothetical question? Let’s say you wake up and find out that bad guys are coming to destroy the world. They have powers that are fueled by human souls (sound familiar?). You discover you have a weapon, too, but like their weapons, it needs human souls to work. Meaning, you have to kill people or allow them to be killed so you’ll have a weapon powerful enough to defend the world. What do you do?
I know I just described Fujii’s situation, but I wanted to put it in a way that focuses attention on what I think is the show’s moral dilemma. Fujii doesn’t seem to have pursued this situation; he doesn’t seem to have a wish he wants granted or an unnatural lust for battle and killing. It seems that he just wants to live a normal life (though the way this show’s going, I wouldn’t be surprised if my perception of Fujii changes over time). He can decide not to fight, in which case his friends and probably a lot more people die. Or he can fight, killing humans to power his weapon, to prevent Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich’s army from running rampant across the world. He has to make a terrible choice.
I wouldn’t want to make a painful choice like that in real life!
But it’s also a dramatically interesting choice to force on a character! Fujii has to do something he hates in order to avoid a consequence he hates even more! That’s something that makes the story very interesting to me. If I had to quibble, it’s that the narrative hasn’t make it more clear that the choice is literally between saving the world and watching it die. I think it’s been implied, but I’d like it even more if Dies irae was crystal clear on this point. It might just be me, but I want to watch a series with a protagonist I can root for.
And that means pulling for a character like Fujii while he has to make the best choice he can in a terrible situation.
What do you think? Did you like Fujii’s power up? Enjoy seeing a creature like Spinne removed from the world? Let me know in the comments!