English Dub Review: Dies Irae “Swastika”

All that stuff they weren’t explaining before? Time for the writer’s to barf it all over you.

Overview (Spoilers)

Marie falls down in the water after being struck by Heinrich. After falling deep into the abyss, she wakes up in a ballroom. Heinrich dances with her, claiming that Karl Kraft called her a goddess. Looking around, however, she sees the ballroom, and all of Shangri-la, for what it is. Every ounce of the golden city is made from the souls of the dead. In the meantime, Ren remembers the earliest parts of his life: a genetically engineered construct in a tank. He understood that he was destined for something terrible, but just wanted a normal life with his friends. When he wakes up, he finds himself chained up in a dungeon. Rea comes in to release him and reveals that she also felt the oncoming dread and tried to ignore it. She also asks him to get in her pants, but she quickly takes it back and runs off. Confused, Ren uses the keys to free himself, only to have Father Valeria arrive to escort him. No, they aren’t going to hurt him. Heinrich merely wants to talk to the boy. The psychotic despot projects his image into the room and proceeds with an exposition dump that lasts the rest of the episode.

Here’s the jist: The universe is stuck in a time loop. Karl Kraft was the first person to realize it, but this was the source of the deja vu feeling that both Heinrich and Shirou experienced. In an attempt to break free of it, Kraft and Heinrich created the Longinus Order. They killed everyone in their Berlin, using their souls to escape into an alternate dimension. However, this has no effect. Now, they intend to return to the real world and reshape it to their will. In order to do this, the order will commit mass murder eight locations around the city. This will create enough power for Heinrich to manifest. If Ren wants to prevent the deaths of innocent, he must kill the members of the Order. Their built up energy from their relics will bring Heinrich over. So, he presents Ren with a choice: Give them the war they want, or watch as the city becomes a bloodbath. Resolved, Ren demands Marie back. He’s gonna fight!

Courtesy: Funimation

Our Take

I’m starting to see a pattern of my Tuesday night anime. Tonight, they both sat there with unending exposition, pushing their respective stories along to the final battle. Both of them have artificial humans as main characters, which are created just so the bad guys can enact their horrible plot, and a form of time travel. Both of them are poorly written. It may have been how tired I was, but I felt like this episode was putting me to sleep. When half of the episode is devoted to Heinrich, his backstory, and his plan. You know, all that stuff that could have been revealed bit-by-bit earlier on, and made us less confused. The first point where I realized the writing was going to bother me was as Marie floats down in the water. She cries, and we see her tears zip up away from her like a bubble. In seawater, nobody can see you cry. It’s water. Water in water. Have you ever seen water floating around in the water? No? Me neither.

I’m guessing Rea has something to do with the endgame, since every time she shows up, someone tries to thrust her upon Ren. Normally, it’s Valeria trying to convince Ren to bump the nasties with her, but this time, she tries to encourage the boot-knocking. If this is a manifestation of the time loop, then Rea is a reincarnation of Marie. After all, we’ve already seen the Ren is the new Karl Kraft, and Shirou is the new Heinrich. She already mentioned not feeling anything, which Heinrich says is a trait in his true goddess during his dance with Marie.

I wish I could say that the episode had great animation. The art was pretty good, but there wasn’t much more to this episode than talking. Not much of a chance to show off their animation chops. There are some dramatic angles and shots here and there, but most of the cinematography is straight on with a slight tweak. The most dramatic shots are designed to stare down Marie’s cleavage, but one shot of Heinrich was pretty well composited as he glowed with a golden outline.

That only leaves us the voice acting to talk about, and I has an unhappy. I could not understand most of what Marie (Jad Saxton) and Heinrich (Dave Trosko) said during their dance. Their fake accents were so bad and so thick that none of their words left their mouth for me. In an episode that was all about one guy talking, nothing he said was fully intelligible. Add in the fact that Heinrich sat there spouting off a bunch of jargon, and you’re set for an episode where you wish desperately for a subtitle option. I know they are locked into this accent now, since they’ve been using it all series long, but it just doesn’t sound good, and even starts to breach into an annoyance for me.

Score

Summary

Poor choices in writing mix poorly with the bad accents in the dub work, and are made even more obvious by the lack of animation. I give this episode five wannabe magic sigils out of ten.

5.0/10

Marshall Daley

One part best-friend/philosopher, one part creepy mad scientist. Shaken, and sprinkled with geeky factoids, quirky humor, and a major case of skepticism towards the world and you might just find a cocktail that changes the way you see... Everything!

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