Whatever else you might say about High School DxD, at least let this be known: You’ll probably never see nipple lasers, giant robots, horny nuns and fallen angels with cyborg arms all in one anime – hell, any other form of entertainment, full stop.
Note: This post is Safe For Work and contains no ecchi images.
Overall Series Review:
If you’ve been reading my weekly reviews of High School DxD, you might have picked up on the subtle fact that I like this anime a lot. I make no secret about my fondness for unpretentious “fanservice” anime, but for what it’s worth, it’s one of the shining examples of its genre. It is what it is, but don’t let that be a barrier towards your entertainment.
High School DxD is probably not an anime series that should work as well as it does. Yes, there’s the blatant nipple exposure, which is guaranteed to scare off so many of its potential viewers. This is the second season, so the debates about DxD‘s style of fanservice are no longer new. But the real problem with this anime arguably isn’t in the ecchi: it’s a hodgepodge of fantasy and action cliches that constantly wavers back and forth between earnest execution and self-parody. The story is ridiculous, it knows it, but at the same time it plays its cliches so straight one does have to wonder in what sense you are meant to take it. It’s not unlike Infinite Stratos, another by-the-books harem anime that indulged in a cheeky, exaggerated sense of humour, but High School DxD is much less calculated, much more outlandish and ultimately much more self-indulgent. Its formula works so well probably because it is so amateurish – it allows for a genuine heart and sense of enjoyment to shine through the writing that one doesn’t generally feel in harem anime.
You see, for all the labelling High School DxD gets as a harem romcom, I really see it as a fantasy ‘chuunibyou’ anime. There’s a sweeping, epic feel to the fights and to the worldbuilding, but it’s scripted like a fanfiction, as if the author simply lifted a bunch of elements he thought were cool and worked them into the story. And it works: there’s boundless creativity to the plot, possibly because you just don’t know what kind of mythological influence the series will draw from next. “When in doubt, try harder” is a theme that’s explored prominently in the actual storyline, but you could just as easily say that’s the theme of the writing itself.
As for New, I think it’s fair to say that with this season, the plot of High School DxD has really hit its stride. It’s taken the foundations laid out by the first season and really fleshed them out with much more focus and precision. Where in the first season, only Issei, Asia and Rias got much screentime, nearly every main character had some introspection or some meaningful interactions with each other here. Rather than building all the relationships around the harem lead, New focused on carving out the group dynamic. The new characters it introduced were especially likable and compelling, particularly Azazel and Gasper. Because of this, New became an experience greater than the sum of its parts: the relationships have more meaning and relevance here than they did before, and there’s a distinct sense that Issei makes up only a very small part of its world. His heroics take on a much greater emotional significance than they would have otherwise.
There are missteps, however. The politics, factions and even general groups in DxD become much more difficult to follow here than in the first season, where the story was simply about the adventures of the Occult Club. Now we have a story about an impending war and the major players include angels, demons, half-angels, half-demons, fallen angels, dragons and humans. It still boils down to a very simple coming-of-age story and it still paints its stakes with broad emotional strokes, but the devil (pardon the pun) is in the details, and some of the buildup to the climaxes feels like needless exposition that complicates the picture more than it needs to. Above all, this season feels like a bridging chapter, and the final episode ends on a completely unresolved note, promising more things to come. It’s frustrating, to be honest.
Still, this is a good show and for my money a worthy adaptation, so anyone who’s watched the first season of High School DxD and liked it even marginally should definitely check NEW out. It’s more of the same, but not only is that not a bad thing, it also outright surpasses itself. I quite liked it, and to those who also watched it, I hope you did too.
Thoughts on the Ending (Spoilers, obviously):
I am flabbergasted. I could not believe High School DxD would outdo itself so thoroughly. But holy crap did it ever exceed my expectations.
The confrontation between Issei and Vali was really surprisingly, insanely intense. Yuki Kaji exerted the full range of his vocal chords with his screaming here, but it felt so fitting in context. The fact that Vali would go far enough to actually threaten to kill Issei’s parents is a dick move of epic proportions – and Issei reacted just as I would expect him to. He just went batshit insane and punched the ever-living crap out of Vali. No wait, my mistake. That happened after Issei realised the oppai of his precious club members would be harmed.
“This is for Koneko’s loli breasts!” he says. Really, Issei?
I just couldn’t stop laughing! Also, just as expected, Azazel cracks me up. Not only does he nonchalantly chop off his own arm and OHKO the enemy, he later on just rocks up to the clubroom with a CYBORG ARM.
So now Azazel is the Occult Club advisor, which is REALLY COOL, because everything becomes badass when he touches it. Also, the story ends with the prospect of Issei and the others having to undergo more training. Now that Issei has a formidable rival in the form of Vali, he has much more incentive and a clear goal to work towards, not just being a harem king.
Oh, and all the girls move into Issei’s house in the ending. Yeah. Why did they have to do it right at the very end with only like a minute to go? Cop out. I want more DxD. Why does this series have to end?
UGH WHEN IS SEASON 3 COMING OUT?
Aaaaand that’s it for my High School DxD NEW coverage. This was the first series I managed to blog from beginning to end. It’s also the first series I watched entirely raw. I’m not sure how effective my writing was – there were certain nuances I might have missed without subtitles – but on the whole, I managed to have a lot of fun watching this series and writing about it, and that’s the most important thing.
Now that I’ve finished covering this series, there are a couple of things I want to say. First of all, in the coming weeks I’ll be editing out the NSFW content in my other posts. If you want dirty images, you can find them in much better resolution by now on websites like Random Curiosity. My motive for this is that I need to conserve space on my blog’s uploads and make it more kid-friendly, and I don’t think what I do with my other posts will be such a big deal at this stage anyway.
Other than that, there’s not much else to say. Thanks for sticking around and reading my posts! Hope you had as much fun watching this series as I did. See you in my next blogging project! Also, don’t forget to vote on the poll on the sidebar to the upper right if you haven’t already so you can decide which series I’ll be blogging. See you when the new season starts!
My Coverage of High School DxD New: