The Summer of Love: High School DxD Born Episodes 1-5: The Summer Vacation Arc

The Summer of Love continues again this week! We are now approaching the back half of the summer season, which means we are starting to reach the end! We’ve already looked at the first two seasons and today we start our look at the controversial third season! I’ve already made my thoughts on the changes in seasons 3 and 4 clear, so today we are going to dive right into it! Join me after the cut as we take a look at the first story arc of High School DxD Born: The Summer Vacation Arc!

Related image
I was gonna call it the “Akeno Arc” or “Koneko Arc” but this name sums it up better.

The best way to sum up the first arc of DxD Born is “comfortable.” By this point the show has gone on long enough that most of the heavy lifting in terms of introducing characters, the world, and the rules of that world has already been done. This in turns allows the show to just jump right into the action which BoRn does. However like the previous second season, DxD Born also suffers the same problem that it had.

Like before everything that involves Issei and the core main cast is excellent, and this story arc gives is a twofer in providing closure for Akeno’s story arc involving her father, and finally (FINALLY) giving Koneko some time in the spotlight. This is especially important for Koneko because she remained (at this point) the only character among the A-tier harem (more on that later) who hadn’t got any real development. While her story arc is spread throughout the five episodes and unlike Kiba’s isn’t the central focus, it does it’s job in explaining how she fell into Rias’s service and finally giving her unique powers and adorable cat ears. This also finally makes Koneko fall in love with Issei as she was the only member of that A-tier that had yet to do so.

Related image
Koneko’s new cat form and mannerisms work really well in the story going forward, rounding out her personality and she fits well into the harem dynamic.

Koneko’s arc also introduces to the series her big sister Kuroka, and while she does fine in these episodes, it does introduce a problem that comes with adapting a long running light novel series. Since Kuroka ends up becoming one of the main supporting characters and joining the harem in later novels, having her own story arc, her appearance here is only to help Koneko along, and foreshadow her role in the later story. A story that will probably never be fully adapted into anime. Now it is not a major problem, but Kuroka (and later Le-Fay in season 4) both feel like characters introduced for the purpose of getting to them later, and for an anime that makes feel a little under-cooked. Again it is not a massive problem, but knowing that she comes into major focus later feels a little disappointing.

Related image
Kuroka is the first member of the ‘C tier’ harem to show up in the story, and she’s great, but most of everything is being held back for later novels.

Akeno’s arc meanwhile works exceptionally well and helps show again how Issei is a good man despite being surrounded by a bunch of women who want to fuck his brains out. The foreshadowing work done in season 2 with Akeno and her father comes into full force here as she has to reckon with the misplaced anger she has at her father, and shame of being a fallen angel. It is not the central focus of the story arc, taking more of a secondary (even third) place among the rest of the story, but the final episode that addresses remains probably the best ”serious’ moment in all of season 3. The scene where Akeno, overwhelmed with anger and grief over her father attempts to force herself on Issei who, realizing that this is not the thing she needs right now is a great moment. This does wonders in helping viewers see that again, Issei is more than his oppai obsession and that he genuinely cares for these girls.

Image result for akeno high school dxd born
Like all of the girls, Akeno’s backstory isn’t anything mind blowing, but these moments with Issei are great for both characters, and again, it’s the best scene in season 3.

As for the major part of the story arc itself, High School DxD Born does fine with its training arc. All of the characters are paid attention to and they get little moments where they focus on their own skills. I am so glad that three seasons in that Issei’s oppai obsession and pervy traits aren’t just regulated to jokes, and they remain a key factor in both his training and powering up, directly responsible for him finally achieving balance breaker. I laughed my fucking ass off when in the midst of his fight with Kuroka, he has to poke Rias’s nipples and everyone pretty much plays it straight, or thinks it’s completely insane. That is in the essence of what makes DxD such a great show: it completely commits to the concept of perverseness being the source of his power. Three seasons in DxD is still proud of what it is and refuses to run away from it’s core fan-base and you have to respect them for that.

As for the villains? Well once again they aren’t anything special. Like I said in my review of the last season High School DxD shines when the focus is on the main cast, but suffers greatly in having any real long standing baddie. Loki doesn’t even really feel like a threat, and again is more of barrier that the cast has to get over. What is better though is the introduction of (and off color) Sairaorg Bael who will act as the next major fight for Issei to have in the series. He, like Vali, is more of a friend than a villain, but in a series that has a massive problem with it’s antagonist, Sairaorg getting some time in this season does well to help set up his presence next time around. The other major baddie in this season comes a bit later, so we’ll just hold fire on him right now.

Image result for dxd sairaorg
Sairaorg is also our first character who is introduced with the wrong color scheme! We’ve made it guys!

Overall the first story arc of High School DxD Born is a solid addition to the story, moving the characters further along their story beats and giving neglected ones like Koneko a little time in the spotlight. Characters are introduced and foreshadowed, but not the mile a minute pace that made the last story arc suffer. Issei’s power ups feel earned and thankfully hold true to the spirit of the series, and the animation is nothing to scoff at either. While I still believe that DxD Born is the weakest of the three seasons, it so far hasn’t been as weak as I feared it would be. I’m sure i’ll be changing my tune next week, but for now I’m still massively enjoying this ride.

Additional Observations

  • I didn’t forget you Rossweisse! Her introduction rounds out the cast of the “B tier harem” and she is a great character with the funny trope of being the “older woman who can’t get a boyfriend,” but yet again she is a character who has an entire volume dedicated to her in the light novels. However both here and season 4 she plays a fun supporting role and is a welcome addition to the secondary cast. Plus she’s hot as fuck.
  • Saji and the Sona group get a bit more development here, with Saji showing off more of his powers. I also loved how they hint that Kiba might have feelings for Tsubaki (the long black haired girl always following Sona around) who seems to return them.
  • This season has more foreshadowing and groundwork laid for the Rias/Issei conflict that dominates the back half of season 4. Her conversation with Akeno on why he calls her by her name but now Rias is wonderful to have. I’m really impressed on how much work over multiple seasons is going into setting up that story beat.
  • The scene where Issei “dies” and then is perfectly fine by the start of the next episode is dumb, like really dumb. Especially this happens AGAIN in the light novels and is treated with far more gravity and weight.
  • Plenty of boobs and fanservice in this season which pleases me greatly, but we haven’t had a single monologue where a girl is half topless. I suppose you don’t miss something until it’s gone!
  • The first scene of the season brings Raynare back into focus and she remains a lingering thought for the rest of the season. Considering it leads to the best moment in all of harem history, I am glad that both Issei and the story haven’t completely forgotten about her just yet.
  • Akeno’s date with Issei and having all the girls stalking him is a great bit of comedy that I wish had happened more often up to this point. Koneko dressed up in wrestling cat mask was fucking adorable.
  • Again, Akeno with her hair down makes her look so much like Raynare that I am shocked it hasn’t been brought up, but that might be because of the animation style, as Akeno is probably the one most changed by the switch.
  • While it hasn’t caught on with me compared to the last opening. The opening theme is decent, I’ve made my thoughts on the music clear in another post.
  • Like I said in this post. The girls of High School DxD can be neatly divided into three different harem tiers, which are as follows.
  • A Tier: Rias, Akeno, Asia, Koneko
  • B Tier: Xenovia, Irina, Ravel, Rossweisse
  • C Tier: Kuroka, Le-Fay, other light novel characters I can’t remember off the top of my head.

 

2 thoughts on “The Summer of Love: High School DxD Born Episodes 1-5: The Summer Vacation Arc

  1. “I didn’t forget you Rossweisse! ”

    I should hope not! I can’t help but like her.

    “The scene where Akeno, overwhelmed with anger and grief over her father attempts to force herself on Issei who, realizing that this is not the thing she needs right now is a great moment. ”

    Hands down, Akeno is my favorite character. She reminds me a little bit of Urd from Ah! My Goddess. Much more powerful, sure! But cut from a similar cloth.

    I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say about season 4!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s