[Review] Dies irae – Amantes amentes

dies irae-rm

setsuna

https://vndb.org/v548

You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to write this review, but finally, here I am. Ironically coming straight after a post about one of the worst samples the medium has to offer, this review will now take an in-depth look at the other end of the spectrum. That is, the ‘not-shit’ end. There are so many things I want to say it’s probably gonna be a nightmare to organize it all without spoiling too much, so, as you may imagine, I’m already feeling sorry for my future self who will have to write all that. Anyway, you can probably already guess the outcome of the review — no sane man would attempt to translate this many excerpts of a VN he doesn’t adore –, nonetheless, do hear me out.

では…

今宵のグランギニョルを始めよう!

Opening (Amantes amentes):

Opening (Acta est Fabula):

If you need a bit of an introduction, Dies Irae is a visual novel penned by Takashi Masada, the same guy that later went on to write Kajiri Kamui Kagura (which, I’m told, is somewhat of a sequel to Dies Irae) and the freshly-released Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin. He’s pretty much known for his fairly complex, over-the-top writing style that makes his work very difficult and yet very satisfying to read at the same time. Dies Irae really is a prime example of this: it has all the mind-blowing fight scenes you could ask for, coupled with memorable, fleshed-out characters that are a joy to quote (and I’ll give you plenty of quotes between paragraphs, trust me), and poignant lines that stay with you long after you’ve already finished the game.

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己が一生が、すべて定められていたとしたら何とする?勝者は勝者に。敗者は敗者に。なるべくして生まれ、どのような経緯を辿ろうとその結末へ帰納する。この世界の仕組みとやらが、そのようになっていたとしたら何とする?

それを口惜しいと――思うか否か。覆したいと――思うか否か。

The tale starts in 1945, Berlin, in the final days of the Third Reich — a small group of supernatural, inhumanly powerful soldiers known as the Longinus Dreizehn Orden, spearheaded by former Gestapo commander Reinhard Heydrich and his right hand man, the enigmatic Mercurius, carry out a mysterious ritual amid the flames of the fallen capital and soon disappear, never to be seen again. You know how it is, though — never say never. We jump to 2006 and Japan, Suwahara City to be exact, and as you no doubt already know, “they” make a return and turn Fujii Ren’s — the protagonist’s — peaceful, everyday life upside down. And the rest is for you to discover.

The version I read, subtitled “Amantes amentes” could be considered the definitive edition of the game — well, unless you *really* want H scenes. It’s basically an all-ages version of the game’s 18+ original Acta est Fabula, except it actually adds a number of extra stories and epilogues that were not present in Acta, at the cost of censoring some of the gore and removing the H scenes. It’s a good trade, if you ask me, because I personally loved the extra content, they really do make the experience feel more complete. (the initial release of the VN is subtitled “Also sprach Zarathustra” and based on what I’ve read online it’s shit and you shouldn’t bother with it.)

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In many aspects, Dies Irae, I feel, must have been influenced by Fate/Stay Night at least to a certain extent, in the sense that it basically revolves around a vicious battle royale being carried out in a quiet Japanese town, and a seemingly random high schooler who gets caught up in all of it and ends up fighting for his life. There are more similarities actually, to the point where I even felt like certain characters in Dies had their FSN counterparts — Sakurai Kei being Rin, the tsundere rival that teaches Ren the basics; Tubal Cain as Berserker (also fully controlled by their masters); Trifa would be Kotomine and Reinhard is probably the closest to Gilgamesh, while Ren wielding Marie reminded me a little bit of Shirou and Saber in a way, just to mention a few. If I had to put it somewhat crudely, I’d say the VN is sorta like the love child of FSN and Hellsing with a bit of extra oomph tacked on for good measure, and lots and lots of solid characterization.

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私は罪人だ!永劫償い続ける劫罰の虜囚──!ゆえに罰。私は永劫苦しまねばならない。救いなど要らぬ。祝福は遠ざかっていけばいい。たった独り、何処までも、歩き続けるのだ、永遠に。

But this post isn’t about FSN, so let’s not dwell upon it too much. As I’ve just implied, characterization is indeed the name of the game in Dies, and Masada managed to completely blow me away by the sheer amount of personality he breathed into his characters. If you did some research about Dies you’ve probably heard that it has a greatly diverse cast of characters, each with their own way of talking and their own little differentiating characteristics, ideals and such. And that’s pretty much true. It gets to the point where the storyline becomes secondary (in fact it’s fairly cliché if you think about it), with the reader pretty much just waiting for the next big “oh shit” moment to hit so that the most memorable characters can finally take to the stage and do their thing. And even by the end, what will stay with you isn’t necessarily *what* happened, but rather how each character played their part in the grand opera, each with their own motivations, aspirations and ideals that define them. Not entirely unlike in Muramasa, these goals and motivations may seem ridiculous at times, but you sort of have to roll with it and adopt a certain mindset to fully appreciate the game.

わたしはまだ、生きています。前を向いて、光の中、再びあなたに出逢いたいと願っていたから。ただの一人の女として、駆け抜けた刹那に追いついたと思いたい。

わたしは今、心だけ少女に戻って――

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The VN itself has a line that goes like this: では一つ、皆様私の歌劇を御観覧あれ。その筋書きはありきたりだが, 役者が良い。至高と信ずる。In one of my old translations you can find somewhere here on the blog, I TL’d this as “Dear ladies and gentlemen, if you would be so kind as to behold my finest opera, now in the making. Its script is the height of cliche, I am forced to admit, and yet… its actors are of the finest fold; beyond exquisite. As such, I do believe it will be a dance for the ages.” And that couldn’t be truer in the case of Dies, a story that doesn’t necessarily build upon its crazy, unpredictable twists, but rather creates a fascinating universe and populates it with well-developed, iconic characters you simply cannot take your eyes off of — the stage is set, the players play their parts, and the reader is spellbound. Where the story might or might not go is not *too* difficult to predict, anyway. No, the more important part is how much it can all grab you, and Masada’s enchanting writing is very much responsible for that. The entire game starts out with a lengthy but nonetheless powerful monologue by Mercurius, and every word of it is basically magic. It makes you think, it makes you want to find out more, it pulls you right in. The prologue plays out in a similar fashion: when Reinhard finally makes his first appearance and explains his objectives, it really does feel like there’s sorcery in every word he utters — what I’m trying to say is that *this* is how you set the mood and establish your charismatic antagonists. Antagonists that will ironically be the real stars of the show, but we’ll talk about that later.

The VN has four routes corresponding to the four main heroines, so let’s talk about them for a bit.

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The first one belongs to Ayase Kasumi, Ren’s childhood friend — the heroine no one seems to like and the route everyone tells you to skip. Well, I’m going to tell you not to skip it. Oh, and I actually like Kasumi — as a side character, not necessarily as a route heroine, but putting that aside, I thought she was fine. When she first popped up on-screen she reminded me of MuvLuv’s Sumika in a way: she’s quite the tomboy, has an obvious crush on Ren but despite all the abuse she gives him, she does have a loving heart. In a cast full of freaks, she remains pure and simple, the representation of Ren’s normal life — and like Ren in her route, I also did appreciate her as that special, sunny corner of the mundane. Nonetheless, she still ends up feeling more like a side character than a main heroine and overall doesn’t have too much a role in the VN as a whole.

Her route is easily the weakest out of the four, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s horrible — it’s just fairly average. In fact, neither Reinhard, nor Mercurius actually make an appearance in this route. The final boss ends up being someone less important, and the ending of the route is also somewhat of a major downer. Still, it gives you access to the backstories of Trifa and Lisa early on, which — to me personally — made digesting future routes and events a touch easier. So keep that in mind. It also includes a very cool scene at the end involving Kei (who, at that point, is by far the most interesting heroine), a scene that, I might add, will come back in Kei’s own route later on, although somewhat altered.

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私は馬鹿なりに、いつも懸命に生きてきました。岐路に迷って、間違って、後悔しながらも諦めず。そうしてここに立っています。それを誇りに思っています。私は最後までそうありたい。

The second route is Sakurai Kei’s, the girl who actually starts out on Reinhard’s side but ends up inevitably falling for Ren. The scene where she finally, uh, “confesses” to him (in her own way) is quite possibly the most memorable scene in the route and in general my favorite romantic scene in the VN, even if romance itself is hardly ever the main focus of any of the routes. Kei is… an interesting heroine, most definitely. She appears very strong — and *is* very strong, actually –, but she’s also extremely emotional and vulnerable. If you enjoy tsundere heroines that are all tough and strong most of the time but can still be embarrassed and get all blushy blushy by the silliest of things, you’ll *love* her character. (and I do, personally.)

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It helps that her actress has the sexiest voice ever. Trust me, it does. They’re sort of exact opposites with Ren, which makes them all the more entertaining as a couple, as their interactions often boil down to “I hate you! I hate you too! ……SHUT UP AND KISS ME” sort of antics. This is the route where shit starts to get real, but just before it could really explode, it backs down and quickly decides to roll the credits. It’s understandable, as the VN intentionally holds itself back until the final two routes (and especially the final route) where all hell breaks loose. Kei’s ending is decent if you like her as a heroine, but it’s still pretty much a non-ending.

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The third route belongs to none other than Marie, the mysterious blonde girl Ren meets early on in the game. As she’s the girl in the opening movie, I believe it comes as no surprise when I say that Marie is quite possibly one of the most important characters in the game, considering the role she has to play in all this. At first she starts out as somewhat of a child-like airhead who knows nothing of the ways of the world, but in her own route, she changes and develops feelings of her own. I won’t go into specifics, but she basically becomes a proper character at that point. Her sudden change in personality both in her route and Rea’s is really quite interesting to witness, and she pretty much personifies a lot of the things I enjoy in a VN heroine: she’s kind and loving, stands up for Ren in the face of danger, and never really becomes a damsel in distress (I mean, she *is* the guillotine princess after all, which probably makes her the most dangerous heroine).

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Also she’s kinda-sorta ridiculously cute. Her route is the first “proper” ending of the VN, and one that — especially if you read the Amantes-exclusive after story as well — will leave you quite satisfied and possibly cursing your onion-cutting neighbors in the vicinity. I talk from experience. In the end, if I had to pick the best characters out of *only* the four main heroines, Marie and Kei would probably be my favorites, by the way.

The fourth and final route, by process of elimination, is Himuro Rea’s, an older girl that Ren befriends at school. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like her very much as a heroine. Not because she’s a bad person, but rather because she’s sort of… bland? She does have a very odd sense of humor and likes teasing others, which felt refreshing as comedic relief, but as a love interest, she kinda falls flat. There’s just… no chemistry between her and Ren, to the point where I genuinely had trouble believing these two were really in love. If anything, I found the relationship between Rea and Trifa far more interesting.

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The route itself, on the other hand, is quite possibly the best one in the game, as the major themes of the VN, as well as the ideals of its major characters are fully crystallized here, plus it has the craziest fight scenes of all — the only downside I can mention is that for me, Rea’s extra epilogue wasn’t quite *as* good as Marie’s. Again, this could be up to personal preference, though.

In Amantes amentes, there are also a total of five extra stories to consider, and each of them are quite interesting in their own right, giving you extra background information, fleshing out certain characters further or simply showing you important events that happened in the past, years before the main VN even starts. The first two can be read after Kasumi’s route; the third one after Kei’s route; the fourth after Marie’s and the fifth after Rea’s. Some are better than others, but all are worth reading if you enjoy certain characters (flashback story with Beatrice) or want to see some more closure to the story (epilogues).

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ちゃんと分かっているつもりだった。理解しているつもりだった。何事も永遠には続かない。いつか終わるということは、いつ終わっても不思議じゃないということに。

Time to talk about the characters a bit, and I suppose it’s customary to begin with the protagonist. Interestingly enough, Fujii Ren is at the same time among my most favorite and least favorite characters, in a way. I know that sounds weird; he himself isn’t a character I feel especially strongly about, but the ideals he comes to represent (see quote above; the beauty of the fading moment) in the VN lead to some of the best moments in all four routes, and in general it’s something that resonates with me very strongly. It’s really such a simple thing, one that we all must have felt or thought about, and yet the script expresses it with such elegance and power that you can’t help but want to applaud it. Ren’s best friend, Yusa Shirou, is actually a far more interesting character and is even responsible for one of the best fight scenes in Rea’s route during which his bromance with Ren is taken to its absolute, testosterone-filled limits.

I’ve already mentioned the four main heroines, so let’s skip them. Time for the show-stealers. Indeed, Dies is one of those games where the antagonists end up being far more memorable than most people on the good guys’ side.

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あなたに恋をした。

あなたに跪かせていただきたい、花よ。

Karl Kraft, Mercurius, Hermes Trismegistos, Alessandro di Cagliostro and a million other names he goes by — if you think of Dies Irae, you think of this guy. He is by far the most enigmatic and most fascinating character to appear in the VN, and is the entire reason I initially took interest in the game in the first place. It’s hard to talk about him without spoilers so I won’t go into details, but needles to say, Mercurius will be the constant shadow in the back of your mind, the puzzle you’ll desperately want to solve and the man who will command all your attention during every single second he’ll be on-screen.

私は思う。万象、すべてにおいて何もかもが予想の範疇に収まる人生など、何の意味があるのだろうかと。退屈だ。飽き飽きして、眠くなる。だが、見る夢すらも予想がつくゆえ、寝ても覚めてもつまらない。

His monologues are probably the hardest to interpret in the entire VN, but every time he opens his mouth, you genuinely won’t be able to stop reading — the way he talks, the way he pronounces things is almost as if it was some form of nonsensical verse of poetry. It really is like nothing I’ve ever read in VNs before; he’s an entity of his own and you have to just experience him for yourself.  Words won’t do him justice.

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His one friend, the commander of the Longinus Thirteen, is Reinhard Heydrich, the so-called beast of gold and monarch of destruction. I *loved* the way his character was built up over the course of the four routes, and can even understand why he did not make an appearance in Kasumi’s route. At first, you only hear the stories of his prowess. Even members of the LDO that could otherwise destroy an entire city without really breaking a sweat tremble in fear when even a faint shadow of Reinhard appears. He’s basically a guy that shits supernovas and eats civilizations for breakfast.

私に出来ぬことも、成れぬ地位も、倒せぬ敵も、落とせぬ女も、得られぬ財もなかったが、余人であればたとえどれだけ小さな山でも、越えたときに感じるだろう歓喜、興奮、胸の高鳴り……それが私には欠落していたと気付かされた。

In many stories you’ll get the “late villain appearance” syndrome where the final boss sort of just shows up without warning in the end and the heroes sort of just beat him and call it a day. And there’s really no sense of accomplishment. Not in Dies, where the tales of how utterly powerful and terrible Reinhard is permeate the entire script. The reader ends up fearing and anticipating him as much as the characters, so when he *does* finally show up, you know shit has really hit the fan. What’s more, he never, ever shows any signs of weakness or faltering — and I mean that in the way some villains go from being full of confidence to “h-how could this be?!” when the hero gets the upper hand. Not Reinhard. He’s always in control, always knows what to say. His monologues and way of thinking are truly among the highlights of the VN, much like Mercurius, making him one of the most quotable people in the entire story. Whenever he’s part of a dialogue, you can’t help but anticipate how he’ll respond — claiming that Reinhard is charismatic is a colossal understatement, as the reader falls for his otherworldly charm as much as his own followers in-game. And you know you have something special when a VN can achieve that. He’s basically a male femme fatale, if that makes sense.

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立ちたまえよ少年。勇者ならば無理を通せ。常識を超えてみろ。無から振り絞れるものがその人間の真価だ。

I probably won’t go over every single character one by one, but here are some of the ones I really enjoyed. From the female cast, my all-time personal favorites ended up being Beatrice and Eleonore (Samiel), whose relationship I greatly enjoyed in the flashbacks. First off, Eleonore is the very avatar of a strong, no-nonsense female character, her lines can be harsh but there’s a certain something about her that you can greatly respect and admire. A cruel opponent but someone who values her pride as a warrior — an Einherjar — above all. There’s a bit more to her than what the harsh exterior reveals, and the more you find out about her and her innermost desires, the more evident –and interesting — it becomes. As far as badass quotes are concerned, she is second only to Reinhard.

And now we come to Beatrice, who’s actually just a side character and doesn’t have as much screen time in the main scenario as I would have liked. Still, she does make an appearance in the side stories/epilogues which develop her a bit further, so there’s that.

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Alright, so I’ll be blunt, she’s pretty much my favorite character in the game. Like, the entire game, out of all routes and all side stories, despite her reduced involvement compared to others. I suppose you can chalk that up to my sheer enjoyment of characters that can be both serious and laid-back or outright ridiculous at the same time, never becoming pure comic relief and still maintaining an air of gravity when the scene calls for it. And that’s kinda what she is. I found her scenes and lines to be the funniest in the game, while her relationship with Eleonore and a certain man (elaborated on in one of the side stories) as well as Kei makes for some really solid drama. I happen to also have a ponytail fetish but th-that’s not i-important right now.

And before the fans lynch me, yes, Rusalka deserves a mention as well. Strangely enough, I vastly preferred her normal, everyday persona as opposed to her LDO self — some of her best moments are in flashbacks.

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In any case, there’s several other characters to talk about, but I’d be here all day. I’m sure there are other things to say, but this post has already gotten long and surely I’m not the only guy to have reviewed this VN, haha. The point I’m trying to make by listing all my favorite bits and listing half a dozen quotes, is how much of an effect Masada’s script had on me, and how brilliant of a job he does creating a truly iconic cast that no doubt will be remembered as one of the very best this medium has to offer. I doubt this needs to be said, but on the audiovisual front, there’s really very little to complain about — some less important fight themes may get repetitive, but the soundtrack very much makes up for it via its variety of other tracks that fit the mood perfectly (Walhall, Uber den Himmel and Einsatz being my personal favorites, once again prepare yourself for onion cutting). And naturally, G Yuusuke’s artwork is solid all around, but the screenshots are here to help you decide.

The VN itself is tremendously long and as such, has some pacing issues, but I felt it was more than worth soldiering through the more uneventful bits to get to the parts that move you, the ones that truly leave you in awe. There’s an epicly long buildup, much like in Muramasa, but when the time comes to write something truly fantastic and memorable, Masada nails it. I mean, the fact I inserted so many quotes in the review should be evidence of that — and I had to seriously consider which ones to include and which ones to leave out. No doubt you’ve all heard how the Japanese in the game is pretty hard, ranging from “this is not too bad” to “what the fuck”, but the reward is absolutely worth it. However, it is once again my duty to say that the game is still not for everyone. If you’d rather read a complex, twist-filled story and aren’t really interested in falling in love with a great cast of characters, this might not be your cup of tea. And like I said above, you do have to be in a given mindset to be able to just roll with some of the stuff that happens in this. Still, despite *all* that, I do believe Dies irae is a VN classic that every reader of Japanese visual novels ought to at least give a chance, once they’re ready for the fairly meaty reading experience it provides.

marie s

 これにて歌劇は終幕。 これにて新世界へ始まる物語。飽和する神威三柱を包むように、女神の覇道もまた流れ出す。その渇望は万象の慰撫にして…

 「Amantes,amentes――Omnia vincit Amor」

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36 thoughts on “[Review] Dies irae – Amantes amentes

  1. While you are certainly correct in your assertion that Dies is, at its core, focused on the characters (and perhaps more importantly, the themes they embody), I feel that the plot itself does have a surprising amount of depth that may simply not be apparent on first glance.

    I’m about to use a word everyone hates here, but hear me out – my interpretation of the actual plot of Dies is that Masada intended many of the events and setting details to be, yes, a deconstruction of shounen manga tropes and methodology.

    Nowhere is this more apparent than with Ren’s character. Ren is broken from start to finish, something he readily admits – his 渇望 is one that will bring true happiness to no one, and he’s all too aware that ascending to the 座 is the last thing he should be doing. Taking this into account it is deeply, deeply ironic that Ren was, indeed, CREATED solely for the specific purpose of fulfilling the role of “protagonist” in the battle royale setting Mercurius had devised as part of his grand opera, his tribute to Marie.

    And when you consider the fact that it is this very role that corrupts Ren from the start… I really can’t help but feel that Masada was trying to expose the warped ideology that lurks beneath the surface of similar plots and settings. This line in particular makes it hard to deny that Masada intended this reading to some extent: http://i.imgur.com/EJNkvCV.jpg

    More generally… Well, 万象、女のための舞台装置。 is the description of Mercurius’s reign as the 座 from KKK. It may not be too clear from Dies itself, but the entire method of fighting with 聖遺物 and such is an arbitrary creation devised for the purpose of that iteration of multiverse; Paradise Lost and KKK don’t work the same way. Coupled with Ren’s character, I can’t help but feel that Masada’s goal for the basic setting and plot of Dies were to demonstrate the arbitrary, even warped nature of shounen tropes while at the same time singing their praises, both literally and figuratively.

    I just feel that Masada is very aware of what he is writing, and it is this awareness of genre conventions and tropes that helps him elevate a simplistic battle royale premise to the heights that Dies achieved. Of course, it’s backed up by sheer talent and vision; as works like Totono prove, just knowing the tropes exist isn’t enough to make something compelling, but I suppose I digress…

    Anyway, I absolutely love Dies and can’t stop appreciating it more and more the more I read up on it and talk to people about it, it’s great to see a new fan. Now you can move on to KKK, the Dies irae fandisc!

    (And re: Senshinkan… I feel that Senshinkan is a pretty experimental work in a lot of ways and that many plot points and other aspects of it don’t really play out in the way the audience was expecting, but it’s a great demonstration of Masada’s ideas and vision and head and shoulders above your average eroge regardless. He’s writing a sequel to it at the moment, so I’m interested to see where he takes it. Play Senshinkan too!!!!)

    • Very interesting viewpoint, it makes sense once I see it written down like this. I remembered that line now that you linked to it, I recall going “he’s right, that *is* pretty fucking strange for an average person”.

      At first I couldn’t believe KKK was a sequel/FD-sort-of-thing to Dies since it just looks so… different, but I guess I’m curious how they end up tying the two stories together. As for Senshinkan, I only have the prologue to go by, but that initial monologue by Mizuki that kicks off the game really grabbed my attention (not as much as Mercurius’ opening monologue but to be fair, you can’t out-monologue Mercurius), so I’ll have to see how far the VN takes that train of thought.

      • Yeah Dies Irae isn’t considered a battle opera for nothing, it’s literally a stage created for Marie.
        Personally I thought the way it played with the tropes introduced by Mercurius himself in Marie and Rea’s route was pretty neat, the characters are literally pined by the curses/roles given to them by Mercurius.
        Marie’s route play it straigth with the characters all acting their roles while Rea’s route have them breaking way from it, which culminate in Ren himself who step down from the protagonist seat (not in the new ending introduced in AA but this one is pretty much just fanservice).
        There was definitely a lot of thought put into the story and thematic, much more than you’d think at first glance.
        Really an amazing game.

        And good review by the way though I don’t really agree with the FSN paragraph, I mean FSN definitely influenced Masada, and most eroge writer after it was released, even if unconsciously, but some of the comparisons you made are a bit far-fetched. You can already see a lot of what Dies Irae would become in Paradise Lost anyways, a title that was released before FSN.

        Personally the only complain I have about DI is that I felt that it had some left-over noises from the 2007 version, it’s mostly apparent in Kasumi’s route and the first part of Marie’s.

    • I think this interpretation coincides very well with the fact that one of the central themes of Dies Irae is 既視感 (deja vu). I got the impression Masada was also trying to express his dissatisfaction with the predictability and outright copying that is widespread within the genre.

      However, what made me perceive Dies Irae as more of a literary rather than genre fiction was that Masada embraced this predictability and made an example of it instead of trying to create something to contrast that design (i.e. Muramasa). Dies Irae is at times painfully predictable and probably intentionally so. It struck me really odd how Masada tries to sabotage the tension of his own work with lines like “Protagonist always triumphs in the end, didn’t you know that?” on my first reading. Or that he tends to structure his plot in a way it’s usually in the intention of the villains to actually lose the fights (and you know they will, as without these Swastikas Reinhard won’t be coming). Unfortunately, while it makes it all so easier to relate to Mercurius’ laments, it also makes the plot less interesting to follow on a more superficial level. At times the plot becomes almost redundant compared to what it symbolizes and works only to express a plethora of themes and ideas through its characters instead of actually trying to tell an exciting story.

      At least that’s the impression I got when I read through the novel a second time. A reading which I ironically enjoyed more than my first one. 🙂

      “Where the story might or might not go is not *too* difficult to predict, anyway. ” – GareJei

      I think the decision to deliberately sabotage one of the basics of genre fiction writing (unpredictability) is both worthy of respect for its literary merit and frustration. It could have turned out to be an even more exciting work had Masada decided to contrast 既視感 instead of embracing it.

      Then again, maybe he did it all unconsciously. Anyway, while I have mixed feelings regarding some decisions, I too hold Dies Irae as one of the finest visual novels ever written. It’s a shame not many in the west have a chance to enjoy it.

  2. Well, I see someone has finally finished Dies after taking nearly a year. I swear– the better the game, the longer it takes you to play it. I kinda get it. I didn’t really want Dies to end either.

    One of my favorite things about Dies is the way the powers play into the characters, how all the Briah’s are representations of a characters inner-most ‘craving’. From Kei’s constant wish to have something to fight for–to always ‘burn’ (情熱を絶やすことなく燃やし続けたい)–to Wolfgang’s desire to never be touched again– to even Reinhard’s desire to ‘love’, the fighting in Dies is not just a battle of who has the biggest canon, but who has the strongest will. In essence, who really ‘craves’ it more. And there’s quite a fun amount of detail, in all that painstakingly hard to read masada text, about how these desires interract with eachother.

    It’s a bit small, but I feel like alot of the time powers are just some sort of giant ‘weapon’ that is given to someone without any thought. It’s cool to see powers actually manifest and have their own personalities.

    • Yeah, I don’t even know why it took this long. That’s what I get for taking long breaks between each route.

      I also liked the way 渇望 were presented in the novel. I had this weird thought that in your average shounen the hero does actually often prevail because of his willpower, or the power of friendship or some other stuff. But with 渇望, the entire thing is suddenly “legitimized” in a way and becomes a part of the whole system the battles are built upon. Just found that aspect of it pretty interesting.

      (Btw I personally liked Trifa’s 別人になりたい quite a bit)

  3. Another mind-blowing post, fantastic! Ahh…I weep . So much text and mental heroics standing in between here and understanding Dies Irea. Even if I can read most of the *sentences* fine, I have no idea how you guys comprehend the characters and distill the themes out. WTB: critical reading skills.

  4. A fantastic review. Thank you very much for shearing your thoughts about Dies Irae. Your writhing has galvanized me to read the whole thing again, thank you very much for restarting my Dies Irae passion.

  5. Dies Irae with it’s easy user interface and foreign words and influences is about the easiest of the visual novels by Light to read. Kajiri Kamui Kagura is way harder not only is the text right to left vertical script like in Muramasa but so are the menus. Said menus also are not even in katakana, ‘save’ and ‘load’ are even written in Kanji. That really makes things way more trouble for someone of my level of Japanese.

    Reminds me that Dies Irae really deserves to be adapted to another media. The manga just fizzled out after two chapters however these games sell pretty well and Dies Irae was released four separate times and turned a profit each time. Surely that shows that an anime adaptation would do well?

    • Not sure what you’re asking there. I haven’t read KKK yet so I’m not fully familiar with Hajun and what he does. As such, if there was any reference to him or KKK in Amantes, it probably went over my head.

  6. It’s really freaking good that you’ve managed to read Dies Irae in its totality. I’m myself reading it and it’s been really tiring, as I normally have to descompose sentences and interpret them. Plus, due to lack of time and of what I have mentioned above, I’m painfully slow at reading. I have not even reached the part in which Kasumi’s route begins, and I want to read them all in order.

    As a side note, any advice on reading Shirou’s dialogue? I’ve found myself unable to make sense of what he says (I have an easier time reading Mercurius’ lines than Shirou’s). Does he become particularly important later on?

    • Yeah, this VN is quite the beast to tackle, haha. Uh, Shirou does kinda have his role to play I guess, but he’s not exactly one of most important characters in the story, as far as I remember. He has a pretty important scene with Ren in Rea’s route, though, and also does something completely ridiculous(ly awesome) in one of the other routes.

      Hm, really dunno what to say regarding trying to understand his lines. Maybe copy-paste some problematic bits into Google, if you’re having difficulties with some kind of slangy expression or whatnot you might find some helpful dictionaries online. But I get what you mean, I do remember him going really slangy and weird in his dialogue, pretty sure I had my problems with it, too.

      • So yep, I made progress. Finished Kasumi’s Route like three weeks ago, right now reading Die Morgendammerung so I can jump straight into Kei’s Route (I already have a file ready for this route. I accidentaly entered it by choosing a different option than I should. I later felt stupid, it was so damn obvious). Kasumi’s ending has only left me with hunger of more Dies Irae, and I hope this doesn’t get anymore tedious… cause RL can be a bitch about time.

  7. Hey Can i play This Game Using Translator but not Atlas, i’m gonna use Jpras to train my Japanese in this VN as well

    Is it good for me to play using that tool ?

      • No its not Machine Translator, its kind of E Dictionary, it just turn Kanjis into Romanji and when you click the word it show various Word

        So still no good ?

      • Oh, I might’ve misunderstood you, then. If you know Japanese and just need something to look up new words with, then sure, go for it.

      • Sometimes I need to click everyword In One Text Because it has many Kanjis.
        My Friend Finished DI With This method too, he says it’s good for People who want to learn Japanese, That’s why I want to try my friend Method

        Thanks For The Answer Mate

    • Not wanting to intrude here really, but you already read VNs in japanese before?
      Picking DI without much experience with the lenguage it’s not a good idea.

  8. Pingback: [VN Review] Kajiri Kamui Kagura | gareblogs

  9. Pingback: [VN Review] Dies irae – Interview with Kaziklu Bey | gareblogs

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  11. Pingback: [Review] Dies irae – Interview with Kaziklu Bey | VN Reviews Hub

  12. Dies irae sounds very cool, but I’ve seen some people describe it as literary. How do they mean that? Would you recommend it to someone who dislikes a lot of literary fiction (I’m a genre fiction person, aside from a few classics) but finds the premise of Dies irae intriguing?

    • I wouldn’t really call Dies literary. I feel that’s a bit of a misunderstanding in the community. It does reference and draw from various operas, for example, but it’s not like you actually have to read those operas to understand Dies irae. (I didn’t, and I understood it just fine). So with that said, if you found the premise intriguing, then yeah, you might indeed enjoy the story.

  13. Pingback: Something different. – Rakudai Kishi no Eiyuutan Translation Blog

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