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High School DxD NEW Review

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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 DxDyou 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.

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This looks awkward out of context

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.

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Posted on September 23, 2013, in Reviews and Impressions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I love the light novel series, and I hope you’re reading it. The light novel series is as awesome as the anime, if not more so. I’ll really recommend it to anyone who’s looking for fun light novels to read.

    And two words basically sum up this episode for me: BALANCE BREAKER!!!!
    By the way, the light novelist, Ishibumi Ichiei, admitted that Balance Breaker was the product of him wanting to insert something cool like Bankai (from Bleach) into his series, so you’re not far off from saying that High School DxD is a fanfiction of sorts that kind of throws every idea into its universe for the fun of it. And you know what? It works! The light novel is selling well (I think they have about 15 volumes out now) which in turn led to two seasons of anime (and possibly a third if it continues to sell well). Goes to show that you don’t need a deep plot, complex characters or award winning literary styles to be popular. Just have fun, be fun, and let the readers enjoy the story, humor and characters, and you have a bestselling series!

    • Well said! I remember I first watched the anime eager to make fun of the whole “loltits” thing and now I legit watch High School DxD for the plot. It’s too irresistibly fun, you know? I’m planning to pick up the novel now that the anime is over – I’ve already ordered the first couple of volumes and will be devouring them as they arrive :D

  2. I don’t enjoy it when harems and ecchi anime get all pretentious and try to be deeper and more compelling than what it ought to really be – shallow but enjoyable. Probably why I enjoy DxD a hell lot more than Monogatari though I liked Shinbo’s visual style (it’s starting to get a bit too gimmicky now though)

    • Agreed. High School DxD >>>>>> Monogatari. Although at the same time, I would argue that High School DxD isn’t shallow per se – it still has messages and you can still read stuff into the character relationships/plot events/etc. It’s just very straightforward and honest about its storytelling, so it feels refreshing rather than SODEEP.

  3. yes i defo agree i think their going to make a 3 season why wouldn’t they. they got so much more to put in with that ending i think tho that they should make it as essei and rias should be marrid as the last episode

    • Issei and Rias marrying? Isn’t that escalating a bit too quickly? XD And what about Issei’s dream to become the Harem King?

      I have to agree that they could have put a lot more in that ending, though. Third season can’t come quick enough :)

  4. tell me about it. yeah i didnt say a bit to much lol jsut injoid it to much cant wait till the 3 season comes out plz ppl when it gets anounced plz put it on here so i know

  5. I started the anime with low expectations – what started out was just an anime with ecchi AND plot turns out spectacularly well. I do agree the plot isn’t particularly strong, in fact, it’s outlandish, and almost directionless, yet it uses such style to it’s very advantage. It does seems like the author is just throwing any ideas he like into it, like you said, and it works well. The number of mythological parodies and references skyrocketed by New (who would had thought they would even include a mythological being from the Chinese?) I’m wondering now if I should just go further with the light novels now or to wait for future seasons, which seems likely to be continued at this rate. The anime I believe still had a lot of materials to cover, since if I’m not wrong, the second season only reached volume 4.

  6. i started the anime was thinking. wow such anime, such main character, much girls. but then the bewbies started to come in. i was like woohoo, much bewbs, such girls, so cool, wow.
    then new girls started to come in and the bullshit started to storm in.

    FIRSTLY I WAS WATCHING IT FOR THE PLOT, I SWEAR.

  7. Like the bitches in the show but fucking have a seething rage for issei because he gets all the nice horny hot bitches when he looks like twat faggot dipped in steaming shit with a hippos ass for a head and isnt even fucking fit! Issei if yourl listening hope you know your a little bitch cock sucking piece of shit asshole!!

  8. I’m thinking of buying the complete series collection of High School DxD because it was released in the UK here today, and you sold it to me with “nipple lasers” haha! I was a little put off when I heard it was all fan-service, fan-service, fan-service – but the plot and the characters sound interesting – although I see someone doesn’t like Issei much at all – so I think I’ll give this one a go!

  9. Pop fluff intended for kids stuck between Dora the Explorer and Gossip Girl. Consider it a bonus that it’s tolerable, if not fun, for the rest of us as well.

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