The Summer of Love: High School DxD New Episodes 1-6: The Kiba Arc

The Summer of Love continues this week with our first look at the second season of the series: High School DxD New!

I was surprised, happily so that the first season of High School DxD held up so well, being extremely well paced, full of great moment and just everything I hoped it would be. I must admit though as I went into the second season, would that feeling hold up? Some anime when they get that oh so rare season 2 can often find themselves cutting corners and trying to cash in on success. Would DxD suffer the same fate?

Well we’ll have to see, because so far the excellent ride has been continuing. After the cut let’s dive into the first arc of season 2, the third story arc overall: “The Kiba Arc!”

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Time for some Sasuke angst

 

Before I get into the second season proper though, it is important that I talk about the focus of this story arc, and the kinda sore thumb of the series: Kiba.

The second of three male characters in the central cast, and a servant of Rias Gremory. Yuto Kiba’s role in the story is…strange to say the least. Very much a supporting character in the first season and falling back to that role in the third and fourth, Kiba’s place in the story has always felt just weird. Instead of being played as a comical rival for Issei, or a Sasuke-like foil to overcome, Kiba is just kinda there. He shows no sexual interest in any of the girls, or any inkling of interest aside from viewing them as friends, and that is quite strange considering that Kiba has been around Rias and her crew a lot longer than Issei. Is that bad? No, Kiba doesn’t damage the series at all, providing some comedy, cool powers and a non-girl person for Issei to talk to. However it does feel at sometimes that Kiba could have been something more, provided a bit more depth to Issei’s relationship with the harem, but was abandoned and just left around to be window-dressing. That is no more clear than this arc where Kiba starts (and I’ve coined this term) Sasuke’ing himself: in which the other male lead starts having series moments of angst that drives him away from the core group.

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Kiba’s arc feels very much like an attempt to cash in on the “Sasuke craze”, but got cold feet and stopped halfway through.

Thankfully this is all wrapped up in these six episodes (again paced very well), but considering that Kiba sticks around and pretty much reverts back to his by-stander status after this, it is just weird. Again it is not bad by any means. The story arc presented does great work in expanding the world of DxD and it is just adding more of what makes DxD great, but I just needed to bring it up, because again, Kiba’s place in the story is just weird.

Anyway, after the previous Raiser arc which very much was Issei’s big step-up to heroism moment, the Kiba arc concerns itself (aside from the Kiba story) with the repercussions that action had among the core group: namely how Rias and Asia now view Issei. I was thrilled that the first episode dove straight into this, having Asia and Rias start to comically fight over him. This I found helps show that the actions of last season have a massive effect on Rias and has transformed her opinion of Issei completely. Instead of just seeing Asia as a servant and friend, she now views her as a rival for Issei’s heart (and if we are being honest, the only real serious one for a long time). This will come up more in the second arc of the season, but I am so glad it was addressed right out the gate, because the changing dynamics of the girls helps illustrate the significance that Issei has and continues to have on them.

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Having scenes like this in the first episode show that the group dynamics have permanently shifted.

And it is not just Rias, we also get hints this arc of Akeno’s deepening feelings towards Issei. While still played for laughs and seen as just aggressive flirting, it is again more prove that DxD is not afraid to shake up the status quo that it established for itself in the first season. In fact, by taking it’s time to have each of the girls fall in love with Issei instead of all at once, we get to see that Issei has to earn the affections of his harem, not just given to him because the plot demands it.

However DxD New’s first arc also introduces new characters, the most significant being Xenovia Quarta who, at the end of this arc becomes a new member of Rias’s peerage. I’ve spoken about Xenovia and her partner in crime Irina before and do still believe they should have been merged into a single character, though I was surprised to see how fun and bubbly Irina was in these first episodes, especially in contrast to Xenovia’s more serious business like attitude. Now this completely changes in the following episodes, and Irina begins to take a back seat (and pretty much does so for the rest of the anime), but I was happily surprised that there was a bit more to her than I remembered. I really like Xenovia as a character, (as do many of the DxD fans), but right now she is still very “under-cooked,” having only just joined the cast. Thankfully though that changes and I can’t wait to get into that later this month.

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Man, a lot of what I want to say about Xenovia comes later but she provides a great counter balance to the other characters, especially Asia who she shares a great relationship with.

Finally, we are given our first real full tease of Vali, the White Dragon Emperor who serves as Issei’s battle rival and counterfoil. While he will be far more important in the next batch of episodes, his arrival in the story I think comes at the right time for Issei’s character growth, giving him another long standing barrier to overcome and an in plot reason for him to continue getting stronger, aside from his harem wanting dream. Again I love the dragon armor and the tease is great, but much of what Vali is seems to be held off for the next story arc.

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Eternal rival, white dragon emperor, professional cock-blocker.

High School DxD New’s first story arc is a great addition to the story, but it also very much set up for the back half of the season, in which the over-arching story of the three way conflict between the fractions comes to a head. The first half though is excellent in returning and examining the changing group dynamics, having a lot of laughs and upping the fanservice and ecchi, which now that they’ve got a season under their belt has no issue with going hog wild on the titillation and oppai goodness. While I do not think this arc will remain on any top lists of the overall story of DxD it does a solid job of moving the story forward, introducing new cast members and helping set the stage for more to come.

Additional Observations

  • Again, almost every fucking time there is a dramatic moment, one of the girl’s boobs are out. This is a fucking stupid running gag and I love every moment of it.
  • The fanservice really steps it up in this second season, as if they were relived to go “OK, people like this, let’s finally go full force into the booby time”
  • The Kiba Arc also establishes a sort of running theme throughout the rest of the anime, in which one story arc revolves in some way around a main character and their relationship with Issei. Season 2 is Kiba, Season 3 is Akeno and Koneko, and Season 4 is Rias. I enjoy this quite a bit, because it allows each of the girls to fully shine instead of just being hangers on (a common problem found in many harem series)
  • Vali completely fucking cock-blocks Issei and I love that the story went all in on it. He get so fucking pissed that he can’t suck Rias’s tits. I burst out laughing once I saw it.
  • High School DxD REALLY fucking loves its foreshadowing. It is just everywhere you see and thankfully almost 99% of it is always paid of relatively soon.
  • I’ll get into Kokabiel later, but he is a kinda crummy bad guy. Freed however is a great baddie and he seems to be the perfect balance of creepy, funny and evil for the series, especially in the early days.
  • The Akeno finger sucking scene is that To-Love Ru type of Ecchi that I love to see, and fucking great, but also done for plot reasons! DxD never does waste a scene it seems!
  • Saji and the Sona peerage are also shown a bit, and again they are OK. Saji does some cool things though.
  • The reveal that the God from the bible and all the leaders of heaven and hell were killed in the last war was a pretty shocking thing, and completely devastated some of the main characters. It also helps explain why so many humans are becoming devils, again showing that DxD takes the time to explain and build it’s world.
  • Xenovia’s body suit fucking amazing in all the right ways. I can’t remember if it sticks around, but I hope that it does!

2 thoughts on “The Summer of Love: High School DxD New Episodes 1-6: The Kiba Arc

  1. “t is just adding more of what makes DxD great, but I just needed to bring it up, because again, Kiba’s place in the story is just weird.”

    Do you think Kiba’s place is weird from a harem genre perspective, or a plot/character mechanics perspective?

    I remember being pleasantly surprised when Kiba didn’t follow any cliche routes from the genre perspective. Kiba doesn’t do any of the usual things in wider literature, either, like interfering with Issei’s pursuit of his harem or trying to help him.

    The closest thing I can think of is along the lines of your observation that Kiba is “a non-girl person for Issei to talk to.” It kinda reminds me of a scene from Farscape where the John Crichton, the MC, is talking to Bialar Crais (a Peacekeeper who started as an enemy). He mentioned that sometimes, he just wants to talk to another man.

    I’m really enjoying how your unit of analysis is the arc instead of individual episodes.

    Loved the screen caps, too!

    Like

  2. Honestly it’s a bit of both.

    The thing is, Kiba doesn’t really have a personality aside from his Sasuke moment which starts and ends before an entire season is done. He pretty much spends the entire rest of the series being a wallflower. He doesn’t really have a bro moment with Issei and is completely absent from the season 4 moment where the girls help Issei come to terms with his trauma involving Raynare. If anything, he really just feels like he’s there to show how much of a impact Issei has on these girls.

    Again, that’s fine. Kiba doesn’t damage the series at all, but he also doesn’t really do anything to help it. He’s really just “there” (I would argue Gasper is too, but he’s lovable and cute) It in a sense goes back to my major hangup with shows like Food Wars, Fairy Tail and Shinmai Maou: wasting opportunities to take its story genre in fresh new directions. Yet is that a fault of the story? Or just a personal hang up? Perhaps that’s what the author wanted? I don’t really know.

    Either way, i’m glad your enjoying the posts so much. Please by all means re-tweet and share them, I’d love to see more eyes on them.

    Liked by 1 person

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