High School DxD review

aka One Hell Of A Show

aka Better The Devil You Know

aka The Devil’s Due

aka Rias Gremory Makes Work For Issei’s Hands

No opening video this time, due to uncensored boobles, so you’ll have to make do with the ending credits.

High School DxD is the story of Issei Hyodo, second year student and lecherous pervert at the recently co-ed Kuoh Academy. Issei spends most of his time hanging out with his equally perverted friends, peeping into girls’ locker rooms and generally being a hopeless idiot loser.

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“Damn straight!”

One day on his way home from school, a cute girl asks him to go out with her (I know, right?). And then she turns into a demonic creature (a fallen angel) and straight up murders him. So that sucks.

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Luckily for Issei, the only thing that comes to his mind in his dying moments is Rias Gremory, red haired busty beauty and leader of the school’s Occult Research Club, which as far as last thoughts go is pretty pleasant. Even luckier for him, Rias is a devil – and not just in the kinky sense. Like, actual literal demony devil. Fo rizzle.

…What was I talking about?

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“…Idiot.”

Oh yeah! So Rias, summoned by his dying thoughts of her, revives Issei and brings him back to life as a devil, to serve as part of the Occult Research Club – or more correctly, her family of devils. They’re a colourful bunch, with unique personalities and strengths.

Akeno Himejima is Rias’ right hand. Also known as the Goddess of Thunder, she’s a powerful element manipulator, who is kind and gentle outside of battle. Inside of battle, well…

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I believe the word is ‘sadist’.

Koneko Toujo is ‘the petite one’. You know the type. Small? Check. Ridiculously strong? Check. Flat chested? Check. Generally quiet and stoic, but quick to anger? Check, check, check.

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Then there’s Yuto Kiba, who Issei hated for being the school’s resident pretty-boy girl magnet, but is actually a decent gent. He can summon swords of any type at will, and was created by writer Ichiei Ishibumi to appeal to the female audience.

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A character’s appeal value to ladies is directly proportional to the number of sparkles they emit when they walk into a room.

Anyway, Issei is quickly put to work seeking contracts from people who call upon devils for services. He’s not very good at it, can’t use teleportation circles and so has to ride his bike to each summoner, and seems to get the weirdest clients in town. Worse yet, these summons sometimes put him in contact with extremely dangerous individuals like flamboyant priest Freed Sellzen, who sidelines as a ‘stray exorcist’.

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And as a total freaky weirdo.

Devils, naturally, can’t be near holy objects like Bibles and crosses, or say prayers. This causes problems for Issei when he meets sweet, innocent nun and healer Asia Argento, who strikes up an immediate friendship with him. Though he is forbidden to see her by Rias, she accompanies Sellzen on one of his exorcisms and defends Issei. This eventually leads to her kidnap by Issei’s murderous ex, who is seeking to obtain her healing powers.

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But Issei, having awakened his devil power Boosted Gear – a sweet armour gauntlet that amplifies his power – crashes their little crucifiction party and punches his ex straight to Hell. Sadly, Asia dies having had her powers taken from her, and everything is very sad…

…until Rias brings her back to life, because she did that before, duh.

What I just recited is the first arc of the High School DxD storyline. Why did I do that? Because that means High School DxD fulfils the most basic requirement for any series. IT HAS A PLOT!

NO half-written crap about hating your own country, NO pointless killing time till the last two episodes before bringing up the plot. We’re saved! Cast from the fire straight into the safe bosom of…

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Oh, that’s right.

Therein lies the trade off – in exchange for having a decent plot, High School DxD loads practically every frame with lascivious amounts of fan service. Getting healed? Getting naked.

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Issei gets a new power? It’s the power to make someone naked.

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Dialogue scene? It’ll probably cut to someone getting naked.

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Putting on the ad bumper? Oh, you better believe someone’s getting naked.

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Now, as you know from my past reviews, I don’t have too much of a problem with fan service. Hell, I gave a show that literally had a character shooting milk out of their nipples like a fire hose a reasonably positive rating. On a side note, that also happens in High School DxD. But with acid.

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NO.

But there’s no doubt that it will be a problem for some people, so it only seems fair that I mention that yes, it is a thing. A big thing. A big, bouncy thing. A big, bouncy, soft…

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Where was I? Oh yes. In many ways the amount of fan service is almost appropriate, as it fits with Issei’s perverted personality – it leads to many fun situations where’s he’s SO close to fulfilling his lusty desires before being distracted/stopped/punched, as well as some great English dub dialogue.

The dub was written by experienced voice actress Jamie Marchi (who you may remember from Sekirei, Mnemosyne and Borderlands), who is also the voice of Rias Gremory. The dialogue clearly doesn’t take itself seriously, and features a surprising amount of swearing, which usually makes conversations much funnier. A great example of this is changing the Freed Sellzen line “Are you for real?” to a simple “I’m f**ked.”

Marchi is joined by a mixture of relative newbies and fairly prolific actors and actresses. Jad Saxton (Faris from Steins;Gate) is absolutely hilarious as the terse Koneko, Tyson Rinehart (Daru from Steins;Gate) is at his wacky, pop culture spewing best in the minor role of Issei’s friend Matsuda, and I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t at least give a passing mention to the surprisingly amazing Ben Phillips as Freed Sellzen. I see great things ahead of him if he’s able to make characters so memorable in the future. Promising new actresses Teri Rogers and Felicia Angelle respectively play Akeno and Raynere, Issei’s fallen angel ex, with suitably psychotic and sexy overtones. I look forward to their performances in Funimation’s Senran Kagura dub later this year.

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Also, this totally happened.

Visually and aurally, High School DxD has all the hallmarks of a high budget production. Music is catchy and well mixed, the voice acting is clear and doesn’t get swallowed up in sound effects and music (a problem more common than you might think), and the animation is high caliber all round. Fight scenes in particularly are filled with colourful neon flashes, sparks and creative angles.

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So, what are we up to? Well written dub, likeable characters, good sound and visual production, and a plot that actually extends to two full arcs over the 12 episode season. This one’s a no brainer.

NOT GUILTY

While the humour employed might not be the most sophisticated, and the series is practically built on fan service, likeable characters and an enjoyable plot, combined with a decent dub showcasing some of Funimation’s brightest young stars make High School DxD a show worth watching. Just remember to hide it from your mum.

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Seriously.

 

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