The Summer of Love: High School DxD Episodes 7-12: The Raiser Arc

And that’s season 1 done and dusted!

12 episodes in, and I am already loving being back in the World of High School DxD and enjoying rediscovering parts of the series for the first time. Now that most of the pieces have been set in place, the show is ready to jump in with the first real baddie of the piece. Once again we got a bit to go through, so after the cut let’s take a dive into the second half of season one and the second story arc: The Raiser Arc.

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Blondie Strikes

 

If there is one really big flaw with High School DxD as a show and series, it’s that the villains are rather forgettable. Four seasons in and there really hasn’t been a single stand out baddie that doesn’t feel like just a roadblock for Issei to push through, and those that do (Vali in Season 2, Cao Cao in season 4) are either not used to their full potential, or end up becoming frenemies. Raiser Phoenix, the nominal bad guy for the season is effective for what he is, but he is not so much a bad guy as he is just an obstacle for Issei to overcome, but I’ll get to that a bit later.

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I love the phoenix cry every time Raiser teleports somewhere.

Upon finishing the second arc of the series and the last half of the first season, I came to realize just how excellently paced DxD has been so far. Anime has been known for either taking too long, or rushing through important points just to get to an ending. Yet never once in the back half of the series did I feel like anything was being rushed or dragged out. There was one moment near the end where it came close, Issei rushing to crash the engagement party, but things are actually explained enough that it makes sense.

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This episode could have been one of those “bad fillers” but I am amazed at how well DxD makes use of it’s run time. It’s really impressive, nothing feels wasted this season.

The first few episodes also thankfully do not go straight into the Raiser story line, but take the time to develop the characters and Issei’s relationship with them. Both the familiar getting story, and the little squabble with Sona Sitri (the other demon girl on campus) are full of great humor that allow for some great world building and the characters to shine. It is not all fun and games though, as these episodes also do some great work at seeding some future plot points around. We get some hints on Kiba’s backstory which will be important in season 2, we get Vali name-dropped in everything BUT his name, and a bit more development for Akeno and Asia that will be also be expanded upon. In terms of the world-building, this turns out to be another hidden strength of the series, giving weight to the events around Issei and the realization that he is literally just a “pawn” in a much larger world of demonic politics. This really comes to the forefront with Raiser and his engagement to Rias which brings her character to the forefront.

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Sona’s group and Saji are very much “second string” characters, but they’re alright.

Rias at this point is starting to warm slowly up to Issei and by episode twelve it’s clear that she has fallen in love with him. It’s not hard to understand why, as Issei clearly admires Rias for who she is, and not her famous last name. The scene where Rias tries to offer her virginity to Issei felt like an attempt to secure her own future, and I am glad that this isn’t the only time that event will happen (it plays a major factor in the last half of season 4). Issei himself fares quite well in the back half of the season as well, starting to come into his own with this power and creating his signature (and hilarious) move “Dress Break” which is actually given a reason to exist and a place in developing Issei’s powers. It’s actually brilliant.

But of course, there is Raiser who serves as the standard foil to Issei: owning a harem of beautiful women, but treating them like playthings. While Issei at first thinks Raiser is everything he strives for, he soon turns sour on the idea after it is clear that Phoenix only seems his girls as notches on his belt, and not real people. This clash of personalities, while not groundbreaking in anyway helps illustrate, what I think, is the main through-line of Issei’s character: that his coming into Rias’s world brings out the good and heroic qualities he always had, but never had a chance to show. This is something that I’ll be bringing up more as the story arcs go on, but it’s good to see it on display so early, and provides more than enough reason why someone like Issei: a perverted horny teenager is able to earn the affection of so many girls.

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I love this suit, but it is a little TOO busy.

Overall the back half of season one is excellent, and paced really damn well. I was afraid that after the initial thrill of being back in this world the cracks would start to show but the first season of High School DxD is an all around magnificent piece of ecchi anime. While the fanservice is plentiful, it is still rather tame compared to other shows, but DxD more than makes up for it in it’s characters and world-building, providing a solid viewing experience that I didn’t want to put down. I am really looking forward to getting into season 2 and seeing if that feeling holds up. I am sure it will, as we are going to start getting some more of the (comedic) infighting between the girls over Issei, which I am all for.

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The knowledge that there are three seasons of development left makes a lot of what happens here just table setting, but in the best way.

And that’s all for now! I’ll leave some additional thoughts down below, but please join me next week as I discuss the music of High School DxD!

Additional Observations

  • Once again, there is a moment where one of the female character is having a big dramatic moment with a boob hanging out. It’s fucking stupid and I love it.
  • Akeno getting defeated off-screen is a trend that keeps going, the poor thing.
  • Asia’s jealously is starting to come more to the forefront, which is going to be a big thing of comedic drama in season 2, bring it on.
  • Ravel Phoenix is not really used much in this season, despite becoming one of the harem in the later light novels. I thought she was around a lot more, but this is kinda it. Cute though.
  • The introduction of Sir Zechs (a confirmed Gundam Wing homage!) and Grayfia are welcome and help flesh out the world a bit more. They come into more focus in the later seasons, but I did love how Sir Zechs already sees great potential in Issei and arranged everything in his favor.
  • The action scenes in DxD are nothing mind-blowing, but they are nothing to scoff at either. They are crisp, to the point, even if they are little basic in their action. It very much serves a purpose and does it well.
  • I forgot how early on Balance Breaker is given to Issei, even if it is only for a few seconds of power. I really loved the design of the suit.
  • The conversation with Rias and Issei on the balcony is a great understanding of their relationship and how Rias is starting to really feel something for him.
  • Issei actually says Rias’s name TWICE at the end of the season, both for dramatic purposes. I might start keeping a tally on how much he does it considering how important that is for the second half of season 4.
  • Kiba getting slimed in the face was fucking hilarious.
  • Koneko and Akeno again serve the plot well as pretty much supporting characters, and thankfully their time in the spotlight is coming real soon.
  • I like the idea of the Ratings game and the whole chess piece theme, still feels kinda out of place for devils and the underworld though. Did someone think chess was a satanic game at one point?
  • The two chainsaw wielding lolis in their fight against Issei was sheer brilliance and I laughed out loud when I saw it.
  • This show really does love its foreshadowing with things like the holy water, Asia’s bible, and Vali. It’s like they knew they were getting that second season. 

 

3 thoughts on “The Summer of Love: High School DxD Episodes 7-12: The Raiser Arc

  1. I always got the feeling that chess is just something that’s considered edgy in anime. Like the “1000 iq” villains are always playing chess by themselves, as opposed to shogi.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “there is Raiser who serves as the standard foil to Issei: owning a harem of beautiful women, but treating them like playthings. ”

    I hadn’t given that much thought, but now that you mention it, that makes perfect sense! And it sets up this idea:

    “This is something that I’ll be bringing up more as the story arcs go on, but it’s good to see it on display so early, and provides more than enough reason why someone like Issei: a perverted horny teenager is able to earn the affection of so many girls.”

    This just might be the core idea that makes this series the preeminent harem anime.

    Yeah, Issei is perverted (by “normal” conventions). But he willingly puts his life on the line to fight beside them. And he wouldn’t dream of mistreating any of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is true, and while he has always been a good person, it is only Rias’s bringing him into her world that allows Issei to have those personality traits fully emerge. As for Rias, her taking him as a servant changes not only her life, but everyone she has in her life. I’ll be getting into it later of course, but it is clear to me in the story that Rias never expected Issei to have that much of an effect on her. Same with Akeno, Koneko and the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

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