Dies irae Episode 9: Riza’s Reckoning and a Blur of Secondary Characters
In Dies irae Episode 9, “A Mother’s Sins,” Riza Brenner reflects on the two sons she gave birth to in years past. She hopes her secret remains hidden, but Valeria Trifa has considerably different hopes. Kasumi Ayase is unconscious in the hospital that’s about to open as a swastika, and Ren Fujii is trying to defend her against Riza’s attack. He’s horrified to discover that Riza’s not alone: she brought Kei Sakurai. Can Fujii defeat her in time to save Ayase? Will he have to defend against even more enemies?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s In This Post
3 Favorite Moments
- Marie is this powerful supernatural being who grants Fujii amazing abilities in battle. She’s the spirit of the guillotine and has witnessed hundreds or thousands of deaths. Some of those deaths were even by her own hand! So what does she want to do with her life? She wants to hang out on the school’s roof with Fujii and his friends (7:10) (bonus points for adorableness because she’s standing on her tip-toes as she says it). And what’s upsetting to her? Fujii doesn’t smile since she showed up, and she thinks it might be her fault (8:29). She’s been through a lot, so maybe her having such a poignant desire to be close to Fujii is understandable. In this scene, she seemed sad and vulnerable without losing any of her inherent power, and that appealed to me. Whatever criticism I may level at this show, it can still produce moments like this.
- Since we first met her, I’ve had a feeling that Sakurai didn’t have quite the same level of dedication to evil that the others of the Black Round Table had. Maybe it was because she was so young, as Rot Spinne suggested. Whatever the reason, the wish driving her to this life of murder was to bring her lost loved ones back to life (19:11). That would have been more dramatic had she been more of a main character (see Thoughts, below). Be that as it may, this desire set her up for Fujii’s true attack: an assault on her self-confidence by saying (19:58), “Don’t you realize what you’re saying? …Your ‘great deal’ lowers the value of the things you love!” It might be just a little cliche, but I thought it was in keeping with both of their characters, and it was one of Fujii’s rare victories. Of course, he didn’t do it alone, as we see in my third favorite moment…
- It looks like Eleonore von Wittenburg has arrived (20:47). It an act of supreme badassery, she swats Sakurai aside as being so weak. After all, she fell for Fujii’s psychological attack. Stepping from the flames of her giant avatar as it towers above the burning hospital, she throws down the gauntlet to Fujii (21:21): “I will judge the blade offered to Lord Heydrich. Know that if it is dull, not even your bones will remain.” This is how you present a villain: supremely powerful, utterly confident, and completely lethal. No hand-wringing. No self-doubt. I only have two objections, and neither has anything to do with Eleonore herself. First, it’s episode 9. Why haven’t we seen more of her? Second, it’s the last moments of the episode. There are several scenes in this episode I would gladly have cut if it meant we got to see more of her!
I’d like to talk to you for a moment about main versus supporting characters. You probably already know what these mean, so I beg your indulgence as I set the stage.
Let’s say you have a niece that lives nearby. She’s fallen and injured her leg. Though she’s recovering comfortably, she’s going to be unable to walk for a while. Let’s also say that there’s another girl, about the same age, living in a war zone on the other side of the planet. She just lost her parents and has experienced severe wounds due to a chemical attack. There’s little hope she’s recover fully.
To which little girl will you send a get-well card? Which little girl are you likely to visit?
If you’re like most of us, you’d dote on your niece. Why? Because you know her. She’s family. You’ve spent a lot of time with her, so she’s dear to you.
In other words, she’s a main character. It’s natural that you’re emotionally invested in her. It’s not that the other little girl’s need isn’t greater. It’s not that you dislike or hate her. You just don’t know her! In the story or your family, she’s not even a supporting character. So there’s no emotional investment!
Just like in this episode.
We’re in episode 9. There are two episodes left, according to My Anime List (MAL). And what does Dies irae do? It tries to drum up sympathy for Riza and Sakurai! Yeah, I get they could be interesting characters. But until now, they’ve been solid supporting characters. If the show was going to focus on any villain in this episode, it should have been Eleonore! I already like her. But imagine how awesome it would have been if the narrative had taken more time to build up her power and merciless dedication to Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich. Can you imagine how much more terrifying that last scene could have been for Fujii?
How much more emotionally effective it would have been for us? That didn’t happen, and it’s a terrible loss.
That feeling of loss has started to define my reaction to this series.
Do you think I’m on to something here? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit discussion of episode 9
- Manga Tokyo: Dies Irae Episode 9 Review: A Mother’s Sins
- 100 Word Anime: Dies Irae Episode 9: Disturbing
This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)
- Dies irae Episode 0: The Dawning Days
- Dies irae Episode 1: Twilight Girl
- Dies irae Episode 2: The Claws and Fangs of a Beast
- Dies irae Episode 3: The End of the Nightmare Is a Beginning
- Dies irae Episode 4: Spider
- Dies irae Episode 5: Reunion
- Dies irae Episode 6: Golden Beast
- Dies irae Episode 7: Swastika
- Dies irae Episode 8: Promise
- Dies irae Episode 10: Einherjar
- Dies irae Episode 11: Self Destruction Factor