The Summer of Love continues this week! We’ve got two seasons of High School DxD in the bag and next week we’ll start our look at the third season. However before we do that, I need to take some time to discuss a rather controversial aspect of the series. No, not the fanservice, but rather the changes made during the third and fourth seasons that are still a bone of contention for some. Let’s not waste anymore time and get into it after the cut.
I’m going to divide this post into two separate sections, and we’ll talk about season 3 first cause frankly it has the problem that has mostly already been fixed. Though it does remained connected to the second issue.
Season 3 going Off-Canon
While I remember a lot of good coming from season 3, I also do feel that it is the weakest of the four so far. This can be attributed mostly because the last three episodes decide to follow that long held tradition that many anime series have, and produce an “anime-only” conclusion. Simply put the final batch of episodes in High School DxD Born are not related at all to the light novels which (as of this posting) are still on-going.
I may as well get this out of the way right now, but my overview of the third season of High School DxD will not be covering those final three episodes. It’s not because they are “bad” but that they do not represent any canon material, and I believe it is only fair to judge the show based on adapting said material from the light novels. I will very well return to those final three episodes at a later date to give you my thoughts, but for the sake of The Summer of Love, and the fact that Season 4 is full canon, it is frankly too much of a detour.
I also think I need to be brutally honest here: it is nothing short of a holy miracle that High School DxD has had four seasons. The show is popular yes, it sells DVDs and (most importantly) the light novels, but any anime fan whose been around for a while know that series getting a second (or even a third) season is extremely rare. It’s all about how many copies of the Blu-rays and DVDs you sell, which trumps all else. The fact that High School DxD has lasted this long is absolutely shocking, and if by the end of season 3 they (as I did at the time) thought that Born was gonna be it, then they probably wanted to tie everything in a nice bow as best they could. It is important to remember that there is a three-year gap between seasons 3 and 4, and I don’t think ANYONE was expecting it to happen. Also remember that season 4 has a whole bonus “episode 0” devoted to fixing the mistakes made by the final three episodes, and season 4 takes us right back to the main story, so this problem pretty much has been solved completely. I still feel it needed to be addressed.
Alright, let’s get to the big one.
Season 4’s Animation and Design Change
I like the new animation better.
Yeah, I said it, I know. Yell and bitch all you want, but I’m sorry it’s just better.
When season 4 debuted last year, it was created by a completely new anime studio and all the characters and animations were redesigned, bringing it in line with the artwork from the light novels. You can probably tell that people were upset, and that is understandable because it is very noticeable.
Now I’ve said it before, but I have never been a huge fan of the animation of High School DxD. It is enjoyable, done well, and my re-watching of the first two seasons has made me respect it more, yet it just feels…. basic.
Everything about the first three seasons in the way they are made just screams “standard” to me, as if the show was created using a “do it yourself anime kit.” That is not meant to be an insult at all, but I just feel that High School DxD’s first three seasons really doesn’t have anything to set it apart from the hundreds upon hundreds of other anime and harems. It just feel factory made. The fourth season however feels wholly and completely unique, with the characters all a bit smoother, a bit rounder, and the colors popping way more. High School DxD Hero honestly looked like nothing I’ve seen before, and gave the series much more of an identity and feeling that it lacked beforehand.
Yet I understand completely why people do not like it, and honestly, making such a late in the game animation shift probably wasn’t the best idea, however fan anger over the mistreatment of season 3 caused the author to demand a studio switch and therefore the change in animations. I have been told that the new style is very popular among the Japanese readers who prefer it being closer to the light novels, while English and TV only viewers preferred the old style. I do hope this animation sticks around as again, I feel it gives the series more personality, but I also wouldn’t really care if they go back to what they had before. I bring this up mostly because I am not going to be talking about it during my review of season 4 as there is honestly far more important things to discuss than how the show looks, which has never been a thing I care in anime unless I have to (Looking at you My Sister, My Writer)
I’m really looking forward to seasons 3 and 4. Both seasons have some of the best moments in the series and season 4 also contains what I believe is the best harem/ecchi anime scene ever put to page or screen. However I wanted to take the time to address these two concerns because they are a regular source of discussion when talking about seasons 3 and 4. I hope I’ve made my thoughts clear and you can see my point of view. Either way, The Summer of Love continues next week with our first look into High School DxD Born!