Hello and welcome to a very unusual Anime Chop Block
Why is it so odd? Well, today, I will be reviewing both seasons of High School DxD.
High School DxD was originally a still ongoing light novel written by Ichiei Ishibumi and the first four novels have been adapted into two anime seasons running from January 6 to March 21 of 2012 and from July 7 to September 22 of 2013.
Yes, I’m well aware of my normal stance on fanservice and harems but I got prodded by a friend to watch it and the results are interesting to say the least.
Before I start, one major change; the character section is now going to be compressed into the writing section since they are essentially the same thing and I’m having a harder time keeping them apart.
The basic premise is that Hyodo Issei is a student enrolled at the formerly all-female Kuoh Academy and is also a massive pervert who loves breasts and panties. One day, he is suddenly asked out on a date from a girl named Yuma Amano and is taken to a park. Issei is then killed by Yuma, really a fallen angel named Raynare. Issei is revived however by Rias Gremory, a student at Kuoh who is actually a devil and makes Issei a servent of her household.
Time to address the elephant in the room: Issei’s perversion. Issei is a protagonist that, unlike a good chunk of harem leads, is completely and utterly lecherous. As soon as he’s revived, he wants to be the harem king and constantly thinks about Rias’s figure along with the bodies of every other female character in Ria’s household. This is even extended to the combat as he still thinks about the opponent’s attractiveness in the middle of combat and even has a move called Dress Break, which I will not spoil but I think we have a general idea of what it does. Surprisingly, the show actually walks a decent line with it. Issei, while perverted and the type to think about breasts all the time, also is genuinely compassionate about the people around him and is able to put aside his lust to help people in need. In addition, the story takes a different turn with the ecchi humor; instead of playing boke and tsukomi with it all the time, it goes along with it. Rias and one other person literally offer their breasts for a job well done at times and most of the time, Rias sometimes sleeps naked with Issei, and the entire world itself seems designed by a perverted old man from slimes to attacks ripping clothes to some of the characters’ powers causing orgasmic effects. Even if we do get a tsukomi moment, Iseei’s lust is played to it’s breaking point before it’s stopped leading to more of a punishing experience for our perverted lead and more schadenfreude for us. The issue comes from the fact that Issei does the perversion thing in combat. While the physical actions are standard for the genre, the fact that Issei still thinks about breasts in the middle of big fights can be grating at times though most of it is played for laughs so the sting is blunted.
Despite the perverted nature though, this show actually has story arcs. The arcs involve everything from a conspiracy to steal a magical power to an arranged marriage to a conspiracy involving Excalibur and more. The big issue I have is that they could stand to be longer to allow for the characters in each situation to develop more but that’s a more personal thing and the arcs themselves are very serviceable for moving the plot along while developing Issei and the side characters.
Speaking of characters, Iseei is fairly different for a harem lead. He’s perverted and aggressive in terms of pursuing breasts but treats the girls around him as actual friends and comrades and is willing to give up an arm and a leg to both protect them and improve himself in service to them. The other characters are very open with Issei in terms of their feelings with Rias being less Tsundere and more noble class president even in the nude and all of them in some way like Issei and react differently. The Relationship between Issei and Rias in particular is a well-executed romance with very clear and strong connections between them. In terms of story though, they never develop past the initial tropes that they are established as but the show does enough with the initial cast themselves as to not have an empty character. Characters introduced in the second season are not so lucky and don’t have any development though this is partially an issue of adaptation due to the nature of light novel adaptations.
The world itself is derived from loose adaptation of Christian concepts like fallen angels and demons while adding in elements of magical items and special abilities. It’s quite an interesting world but sorely underdeveloped in the anime itself mechanically. Read the novels if you want more of that stuff.
As expected of a show like this, the majority of the budget went into the fanservice scenes. Studio TNK puts a lot of detail rendering the butts and chests of those involved, even for those who are not forefront in the scene. Art outside of that is still good though with vibrant colors from bright yellows to bloody reds. Male character designs suffer a fair bit with Issei looking overly stereotypical for a protagonist but the female designs are all varied and attractive in distinct ways. Animation is middling; while the jiggle of breasts is given an undue amount of attention, the fights and general idle animation are given a mediocre effort
Voice acting is fairly top notch particularly with Yuki Kaiji voicing Issei and Yoko Hikasa voicing Rias. Kaiji gets Issei’s maniac perversion down to a t while still being goofy in the less perverted moments and determined in combat. Hikasa nails Rias’s noble women affectation and calm demeanor while still being able to act the character’s age when called upon.
Music is actually very strong for the show with the background music taking cues from orchestra and classical instruments to provide tension for the action scenes while also providing uplifting whimsical notes for the comedy. The openings and endings are also on top form with the openings providing heavy beats to pump the viewer up for the action while the endings being happy poppy tones to help distress from the action and tension of the episode.
Two things are needed to be known before watching this show. First, as expected of this type of show, there are a lot of breasts, skin and butts in full view especially in the uncensored version. If you have younger people around you, are in work, or just not a fan, I would not give this a shot.
Second and not really mentioned in the review is that the show, due to it’s nature of taking Christian mythology for it’s setting, does a lot of altercations to the religion including one twist in season two that would piss a lot of Christians off. If you are a very devout Christian or don’t like seeing extreme altercations to your religion of choice, be wary.
A show that has a surprising amount of story, character and heart behind the rampant perversion, it’s well realized world, memorable characters, and altercation of the normal harem formula makes this show a much easier entry point into ecchi and harem comedy. Fans of the genre will find this one of the better shows of this type while people not so inclined might have an entry point as I had.
High School DxD can be found censored on Funimation here with uncensored dvds and blu-rays for sale.