High School DxD Volume 2: Our Boy crashes an Engagement Party!

Our look at light novel version of High School DxD continues! It’s been a bit since we got back into this beloved series, but I’ve finally wrapped up the second entry and I want to talk about it! Will this installment continue the good will established in the first, or does the anime do things better? After the cut let’s take a dive into the second volume of the series: The Phoenix of the School Battle! and find out!

Covering the second half of the anime’s first season. Volume 2 concerns itself with the first rating game of the series and the confrontation with its first “bad guy” in the form of Riser Phenex. With news of Rias’s engagement to a member of another high-class demonic house. Issei and his fellow club members train themselves to fight against the Phenex group in order to win their master’s freedom. There is much training, much fighting and as expected, much ripping of clothes.

Kiba gets some nice time with Issei and helps sets him on the path for the next volume where he takes center stage.

As I said in the last post, the big worry about reading the light novels of High School DxD was the fear that the series, stripped away of its voice cast, animation, music and yes, even some of the fanservice, wouldn’t work as well. That those things added from the anime were integral to the series enjoyment. I said in my last post that the prose and writing thankfully filled in the gaps, and I am happy to say that the same can be said here. While I do prefer the anime for all the above reasons, the written word remains a very enjoyable and fun read that has all the heart and greatness of the series. The first person perspective gives Issei a lot more depth and perspective, furthering the fact that this is a good guy who just needed a chance. He wants to save Rias because he wants her free, not because he wants to get her into bed. And even when he makes those classic proclamations of horniness, they come with inner thoughts of his shame and embarrassment. He wants to be a badass, but he also can’t help being horny.

The villains have always been the series weakest point, but Riser serves as a good ‘one and done’ baddie to give Issei something to punch.

It is a surprising layer of depth, and one that helps make the series even better. Placing him against Riser Phenex, a sort of representation of what Issei thinks he wants is a great move at this stage in the story. It allows him to break through the pre-conceived notions of what both the reader (and Issei himself) think he is going to be. As I have always said, this is a good man, a really good guy who has been given the opportunity to show it, and when called upon, always does the right thing. A horndog? Sure, but when the rubber hits the road, he is a man who always has your back, and cherishes his relationships with his friends. What I loved even more was that the series also quickly changes to Rias’s perspective at one point, showing her feelings towards Issei and how she values his safety more than her freedom. Stepping into the shoes of the other characters was always something I wish the series did more off, and I hope we get to see more of that as the novels carry on.

Issei and Rias maintain good chemistry, their master and servant relationship already starting to show signs of something more.

For the rest of the story, it follows all the beats shown in the back section of the first season. The chemistry and development for Kiba, Akeno and Koneko is all there, but remains in the wings until their respective character arcs come along. There is plenty of foreshadowing for both the White Dragon Emperor and other events in the future. Ravel Phenex, someone who will join the main cast in the future, has a few small scenes and she rocks them all. The training scenes are well written, and the action is quick, to the point and full of those shonen and mecha trappings that you expect. Ishibumi clearly wears his love of mecha and shonen shows on his sleeve, and has a talent and bringing those scenes to life for people who have experience in those genres. I think this will end up being the light novel’s secret weapons, because as much as he may love his ecchi fanservices, Ishibumi can also write ‘normally’ as well, and has a gift for homage to those classic moments.

Ishibumi will pretty much take anything and throw it into a fight scene, showing off his love for all things anime and action. Chainsaw Lolis!

High School DxD’s second volume: The Phoenix of the School Battle! is another solid entry into what is becoming a surprisingly effective light novel series. Those dedicated to the anime may find it is just liking reading the script, but there is a good amount of depth and perspective added that enhances the story without overwhelming it. Every time I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down and I’m eager to see what happen next as we enter into the second season’s novels and what may or may not have been omitted. I’m sure I will have plenty to say when we get to that point, and I hope you’ll take a look! For now, if you love High School DxD as much as I do, make sure to support the official release and pick this volume up! You’ll probably have a good time.

I always knew saving the princess would get you a kiss!

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