Fuck, it’s good to be back.
That was my feeling the moment I started watching the first six episodes of High School DxD. After almost three years since I first loaded this show up, I’ve come back to the anime that (along with ReZero) brought me back into the genre. I’m six episodes in and it’s been a wonderful ride. Expect more text than pictures this time, I got a lot to get through. Let’s get into the series and it’s first story arc “The Raynare Arc” after the cut.
I must admit I was hesitant in a way to return to this series. I was afraid that my love for the series had been effected by nostalgia and the fond memories it has given me. What if I watched it and found out that it wasn’t that good? That I had over hyped a show that was actually bad? Thankfully that will have to wait another time because so far, High School DxD has been an absolute riot.
It’s hard to review the first season of successful show, because without this first season you have nothing. You can be as critical of Star Wars: A New Hope as you want, as subjective as you can be, but it doesn’t really matter because it was the movie that birthed Star Wars, you have nothing without it. The same can be said about High School DxD and it’s first story arc which is vitally important in setting up the stage for what is to come.
One of the things I noticed this time around was that our lead character, Issei Hyoudou is able to strike the perfect balance between “guy with a heart of gold” and “pervy idiot” quite well. The first episodes are excellent in setting up that Issei is a bit pf a loser, focused more on wanting to see girl’s breasts than anything else (it’s literally his first line in the entire series). What helps drive this point home is that his first scene where he sees Rias has him sitting in the darkness, a lower level, looking up at the window where she is looking down at him. This scene and the few that follow in these first six episodes are a subtle illustration at the relationship between the two of them. With Rias as the high borne noble, and Issei the lowly commoner, and that cultural and class divide is one of the key parts in understanding how they developed in the next four seasons.
The second key part is the villain of this first arc: Raynare. While her part in the story is rather short and more to serve a plot point: killing Issei so he can be saved by Rias, and kidnapping Asia for the same reasons. Raynare’s place in the story is actually one of massive significance to the development of Issei’s psyche. While I will get into this more with Issei’s character dive in the coming months, it should be said here that Raynare’s ruse as Yuma, asking Issei to be her girlfriend and then mocking and shaming him, is the most important part in who Issei is. It must be remembered that Issei is still a teenager, a horny kid whose first girlfriend is frankly the most important thing that’s ever happened to him. Seeing it fall apart like it does gives in story weight to the reasons Issei never sleeps or really gets with any of the girls, and the payoff in later seasons remains Ecchi and Harem’s best moment to date, but that’s for a later time.
The first six episodes also serve as an introduction to Asia Argento, who is very much the key “secondary” member of the harem, and is quite frankly, the only real serious rival for Issei’s affection. While the bond they share is nothing new by anime standards, it done well enough. Like most characters in DxD, Asia fulfills the archetype of the “nice girl,” but the series thankfully does more with her as the story goes on, especially when Rias and the other start falling hard for Issei. For now though, I was surprised at just how close both Asia and Issei are at the start, and I’m looking forward to how it affects Rias going forward.
Speaking of Rias, I again noticed, and this was to great pleasure, that she is not in love with or even holds romantic feelings to Issei at the start. In fact views herself more as his big sister and master. There are moments where she is harsh with him, but beneath all of that there is a clear sign of friendly affection and view of potential. I am really glad that DxD doesn’t jump the gun too fast with Rias’ feeling for Issei and instead letting them develop naturally from one of her servants to seeing him as something much more. While the boobs are there from the start, I am glad things are going to be earned more than just given, which is a fault of several harem anime.
Finally (finally!) when it comes to the Ecchi, I have to concede a point to fellow blogger Cactus Matt, yes the ecchi here isn’t as in your face as I remember. While High School DxD has #nipsfordays, it’s ecchi and fan service are not as over the top (so far) as I remember. In fact six episodes in I would be so pushed to called High School DxD’s use of ecchi to be “pg-13” at best. It’s not the over the top sexy silliness of To Love Ru, or the raw sexuality of Shinmai Maou no Testament, or Valkyrie Drive Mermaid. What I will say though is that High School DxD does have (and remains it’s hidden strength) a great story and compelling characters that pull you in right from the start.
What else can really be said? Probably a lot more, but there are still six more episodes left of this season and I want to save those thoughts for then. So instead I’ll leave you with some of my stray observations below. Thank you so much for reading and tune in next week for a post on the English Dub of High School DxD!
- The animation for this first season is a lot cleaner and nicer than I remember. Yet it still feels very “basic” but is still effective. I prefer the new animations myself, but watching this again reminds me how good of a job this did.
- Akeno Himejima’s pretty much is the creator of the “Ara Ara” meme. You want to play a drinking game? Try taking a shot every time she says it in these first episodes, say goodbye to your liver.
- I’ll be getting into Kiba’s character in season 2, but he’s pretty much fine here.
- Koneko (the best girl) also does just fine in these first episodes, and she is actually the second girl to show up on screen. I also love how the series has her always eating.
- The world and class system is explained quite well, and the world building should be given credit for giving more depth to the DxD world. I remember it getting a bit overboard in later seasons, but now it’s fun.
- I can’t fucking STAND Issei’s two guy friends in the English dub, but they are bearable here.
- Clearly the High School DxD world never figured out how to properly create a bra. The nipples are pretty much always poking out through the shirts in every scene. #nipsfordays.
- I love during Asia’s “death” scene, she’s got a boob hanging out. Made me laugh at the sheer silliness of it.
- The villains of DxD have always been a weak point, but Freed the crazy exorcist is a perfect balance between funny and frightening.
- Issei gets impaled by a spear like five times this arc. At least someone gets penetrated AMIRITE?
- There has been some good foreshadowing of the upcoming arc and Rias’s feelings about marriage.
- So far the story even in it’s “filler moments” doesn’t waste time developing the characters and their relationships which is proof of good storytelling in my books.
- I love how Issei calls Rias by her name (yes I will get into that dub mistake) when they first meet, but almost instantly switches (and sticks) to calling her President from then on. This is a massive plot point in later seasons and I’m glad it’s done early on here.