Review for High School DxD: Complete Series Collection
You know, I was seriously tempted to go through the urban dictionary, and cut and paste every synonym and slang term for breasts there, and just leave that as a review. I’d actually started on the first paragraph, and made it as far as funbags and hood ornaments before I felt a little silly and just pressed delete. Silliness abounds in High School DxD (the x is silent, leaving just DD), although the story takes itself seriously, a battle between heaven and hell, between devils, angels, fallen angels, stray priests and the like, with a poor hapless pervert of a high school student caught in the middle. But let’s not kid ourselves. This show is about breasts, humongous breasts at that, given the kind of animator attention that has you worrying for their eyesight and the hirsuteness of their palms. These are independently animated breasts, breasts that jiggle and bounce in unexpected and wholly illogical ways. These are breasts that have their own theatrical agents. And yes, this review will be written by someone with a select form of Tourettes, who will have the tendency to yell out ‘Titties!’ at the drop of a bra. It’s going to be one of those stupid reviews. What do you expect with a show as stupid as High School DxD? But once in a while, the stupid shows are more fun than the smart ones; naughtiness is funnier than highbrow, and kettle drum players have to be kept in clover somehow. Tits!
Issei Hyodo is the hapless pervert in this show, one of few boys that attend Kuo Academy, a girls’ school recently turned co-ed in the hope that his odds of getting a girlfriend will improve. He and his friends Matsuda and Motohama are too perverted for that to happen, but then a girl named Yuma from another school asks him out. His first date as a red-blooded school boy also turns out to be his last, when Yuma kills him. She’s actually a Fallen Angel named Raynare, who wanted Issei dead for the Sacred Gear that he harbours, a secret power dangerous to celestial beings.
But Issei’s dying wish is granted when he wakes up the next morning next to the president of the school’s Occult Club, Rias Gremory. She’s naked, and he’s naked too. Did he really die, or did he graduate to manhood without knowing it? No... He died. Rias Gremory and her fellow club members, Kiba, Koneko and Akeno are actually devils. Issei’s dying wish summoned Rias, and sensing the power within him, Rias decided to bring him back to life and recruit him as part of her retinue. Incidentally, Issei’s a devil too now, and the whole naked snuggling is how Rias healed him. He’s in a whole new world of hurt, where a conflict takes place between devils, angels, fallen angels and stray priests. It’s a rapid learning curve and Issei’s behind the curve. Especially as Raynare is still about and plotting mischief, and there’s a fallen priest named Freed Seltzen hunting devils, and Issei only goes and falls for his apprentice, a cute Sister named Asia Argento.
Series 1 of High School DxD (High School DxD New was broadcast recently in Japan) is presented across two Blu-ray discs from Manga Entertainment thus.
1. I Got a Girlfriend!
2. I’m Done Being Human!
3. I Made a Friend!
4. I’m Saving My Friend!
5. I Will Defeat My Ex-Girlfriend!
6. I Work as a Devil!
7. I Get a Familiar!
8. I Pick a Fight!
9. I’ve Begun My Training!
10. The Showdown Begins!
11. The Acclaimed Battle Continues!
12. I’m Here to Keep My Promise!
High School DxD gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p resolution. It’s the fan service and potential audience reach that warrants the HD presentation, the animation not so much. It’s a fairly run of the mill bit of animated naughtiness, the budget spent mostly on the action sequences and the boob physics, while background art is unremarkable, character designs are generic and the animation does what’s expected of it and little more. While the credit sequences and the mid episode eye-catches make the most of the HD resolution, the actual episodes come across as soft, prone to banding, and rather unimpressive. The image is clear certainly, a step-up over SD resolution no doubt, but it doesn’t have the depth and colour richness that higher quality anime Blu-rays can offer. No doubt this is one of those shows that were animated at less than full HD and then scaled up. But, you have to admit that the breasts are magnificently, if unrealistically animated. Hypnotic is the word.
The images in this review are sourced from the PR, and are in no way representative of the final retail release. In this case, it’s probably a good thing that I can’t screen-cap Blu-rays, as the mammaries would distract from the text in the review bigtime!
High School DxD gets the usual Funimation treatment when it comes to audio choices, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with translated English subtitles and a signs only track. I went with the Japanese audio and enjoyed a set of predictable but enthusiastic performances with the voice actors conforming to their characters’ archetypes. I gave the English dub a quick try, and as you would expect, the 5.1 audio does spread the action around a bit, and while the voice actor performances conform to the average from Funimation, I did feel that the script adaptation was better than usual.
The subtitles are in a nice, legible white font, accurately timed, and free of typographical error.
These are the Funimation discs ported over to the UK, hence the non-UK trailers. The discs present their contents with animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays a trailer for Haganai, but the sole extras on the disc are two commentary tracks.
The first is on episode 1, and features lead writer and voice of Rias Gremory, Jamie Marchi, along with newcomers to the Funimation voice actor ranks, Felicia Angelle (Raynare), and Teri Rogers (Akeno). It’s a commentary about first times and boobs; at least I think it is, as I fell asleep halfway through. Sorry Funimation voice actresses, but your comments bored me.
The second is on episode 7, and has voice actors Jad Saxton (Koneko), Scott Freeman (Issei), and Tyson Rinehart (Matsuda), and it’s one of those stoopid commentaries! Interesting aside; Anime Limited ran a worldwide Kickstarter for Mai Mai Miracle. One of the stretch goals was left to a vote between an audio commentary from anime meister Jonathan Clements, and some inconsequential trinket. The inconsequential trinket got the most votes because the majority of US backers voted for it. Most US fans’ exposure to anime audio commentaries is through the rubbish that Funimation add to fill up space on their discs, and quite understandably they’d shy away from anime audio commentaries as a result. Which is why we can’t have nice things with Mai Mai Miracle.
Disc 2 autoplays a trailer for We Without Wings, another dose of sauciness coming to the UK this month, courtesy of MVM. Disc 2 is also where the good stuff is.
Fantasy Jiggles Unleashed comprises the show’s OVA episodes, six in total running to 22 minutes. Here you get sauciness, naughtiness, nakedness, all without any of the pesky storylines or characters getting in the way. This is presented in 1080p, Japanese with subtitles only.
New Material from Ichiei Ishibumi Fantasy Full Blast Gentleman’s Disc Club Promos are not really worth getting excited about, just 9 minutes worth of character promos for the show presented in 1080i and in Japanese.
You get 2 minutes worth of Promo Videos and 1 minute of Commercial Collection, both in 1080i.
You get the textless credits in 1080p, especially the pole dancing, jiggly end credits. Normally textless credits are just a space filler, but in this case... thumbs up. Good job!
Finally you get the US trailer for the show and further HD trailers for Is This A Zombie? Of the Dead, Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail, Michiko and Hatchin, Heaven’s Lost Property Forte, Guilty Crown, and The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
In case you missed the implication, High School DxD is a whole load of saucy fun. We’re in the anime equivalent of Benny Hill territory here, an ineffectual and unthreatening pervert of a main character, surrounded by a bevy of animated beauties, distinguishable by breast size, shape and bounce. It’s not the most original of anime. I’ve lost count of the times that a main male character dies at the outset only to be resurrected by the central female character, and adopted as some kind of servant/pet/ally. Whether it’s Shakugan no Shana, Princess Resurrection, or Buso Renkin, it’s something of a recurring theme, a rebirth into a new life.
Here, Issei Hyodo moves on from his mundane life as a teenage pervert to a new life as a perverted devil. An eternal virgin, his days consisted of hanging out with his friends, and trying to snatch a peek at the majority of female students in his school in some compromised position, or a state of undress. The end result would invariably be his friends escaping, leaving him to suffer a punishment beating. Naturally, he’d leap at the chance of actually dating a girl, but that proves to be his downfall when a girl from another school asks him out. She’s actually a fallen angel, and she has sensed that he has mystical potential within him that could be used against her and her kind. Of course her pre-emptive strike serves to activate the power of the Sacred Gear when the head of the school’s Occult Club, Rias Gremory brings Issei back to life as a devil, and recruits him to her side.
Of course when the resurrection and subsequent healing requires naked skin to skin contact, Issei has a warm welcome into his new life, and the promise of more certainly makes him an enthusiastic if naive member. Especially when he learns that as well as the buxom president Rias, the occult club also comprises of the even more buxom vice president Akeno, the petite but outrageously strong Koneko, and later on they recruit the former nun Asia Argento, also perfectly formed, into the ranks of deviltry. And there’s also Kiba, but he’s a guy and doesn’t really matter.
Issei gets a quick introduction to his new life as a devil, and learns that he lives in quite a complicated world, where Devils vie with Fallen Angels and Angels for position on Earth. It turns out that the devils aren’t really all that bad, not compared to the Fallen Angels who have betrayed heaven, and do really bad things like killing humans they suspect of harbouring Sacred Gears, and recruiting psychopathic ex-preachers to their ranks to help them hunt devils. The first arc in this show follows Issei and his new friends as they deal with the Fallen Angel Raynare who killed Issei in the first place, and the ex-priest at her side, Freed Seltzen.
The second arc concentrates more on the devil side of things, explores devil society, when we learn that Rias is betrothed to something of a narcissistic scumbag. Naturally she wants to get out of the engagement, which results in a high level duel among devils. It’s here the structure of a high ranking devil and his or her servants really comes into its own. It’s based on chess pieces, with the king, in this case Rias or Riser Phoenix (her intended), served by ‘pieces’ of varying strength, queen (Akeno), Knight (Kiba), Rook (Koneko), Bishop (Asia), and Pawn (Issei), all with their particular skills and powers. It might see humiliating for Issei to be a pawn, but his ultimate power up is promotion. It makes the action and fight sequences in this show really quite interesting and well thought out.
But really this show is about the light comedy, the perversions of Issei, and the inevitability that one or more of the females in the show will wind up in some form of undress, and that boobs will bounce. That becomes a certainty when Issei learns what his special devil powers are. Akeno has lightning at her command, Kiba can generate swords, Koneko is super-strong, Asia has healing... Issei becomes able to strip women naked at a touch!
High School DxD is juvenile fun to be sure, but it’s a show that has its heart in the right place, never letting its obsession with the naked female form become nasty or exploitative. It maintains a sense of humour about it all, which makes it preferable to other shows of its ilk. It doesn’t quite use its premise all that well, with the interesting aspects of a three-way battle between Devils, Angels and Fallen Angels forgotten to focus on Rias’ potential marital problems. I’m reminded of another such supernatural harem comedy show that makes better use of its premise, Rosario and Vampire. But High School DxD is fun, and apparently it served to be popular enough to warrant a second series in Japan. Hopefully the bawdy antics of High School DxD New will also make it to the UK.