Review for High School DxD Season 3 [Dual Format]
You might vaguely recall my review for High School DxD, and you might remember that I toyed with the idea of starting off with ‘Tits’ and then proceeding to list every synonym and slang term for the female thoracic region, and simply leave that as a review for this fan service harem comedy. Here we are with Season 3, and not only do I begin with an accurate descriptive of the first scene of episode 1, and most of the rest of the show, but it serves as an exclamation of for frustration as well. Just last month, Anime Limited brought us Free! Eternal Summer, without the first season Free! Iwatobi Swim Club having been released in the UK. This month it’s Funimation who bring us the third season of High School DxD, following Manga Entertainment’s released of the first season, but the second season remains MIA at this time. Annoyingly, you’ll have to have seen High School DxD New to be up to date with the story and the characters for High School DxD Born, and guess which streaming service was locked away from UK viewers when it was simulcast... Of course if you shell out for a subscription, you can now watch it on Funimation NOW. But still... Tits!
Issei Hyodo is the hapless pervert in this show, one of the 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.
In the intervening season, Issei’s harem has apparently grown even further with a fallen angel named Xenovia trying to make babies with him, and a cross-dressing half-vampire named Gasper, although technically he’s not in the harem, he’s in a cardboard box in the harem.
12 episodes of High School DxD Born are presented in this Blu-ray DVD combo release. I only had the chance to view the DVD check discs, and the episodes are distributed thus.
1. Summer Break! Off to the Underworld!
2. Young Devils Gather!
3. Cat and Dragon!
4. Interception, Commence!
5. The Last Day of Summer Break!
6. Second Trimester Has Started!
7. The Night Before Battle!
8. We Will Save Asia!
9. Dragon of Dragon
10. The Occult Club Disappears?!
11. I Will Fight!
12. Any Time, For All Time!
High School DxD Born gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic NTSC transfer progressively encoded on these DVDs. 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. Although this third season certainly ups the game when it comes to action sequences, and the visual effects applied to the magical and supernatural moments. But, you have to admit that the breasts are magnificently, if unrealistically animated. Hypnotic is the word. Incidentally, the font that Funimation choose for their end credits is completely illegible unless you’re around 12 inches from the screen.
The images in this review have been captured from the DVD, and aren’t representative of the Blu-ray.
High School DxD Born gets the usual Funimation treatment when it comes to audio choices on DVD, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround English, and Dolby Digital 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. It’s worth noting that the lead actor was replaced for this third season for unfortunate reasons. The subtitles are accurately timed and free of typographical error.
The discs present their content with static menus and jacket pictures. Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Funimation NOW.
Disc 2 starts off with a trailer for Maria the Virgin Witch.
You’ll find the textless credits on this disc, a couple of promo videos (video 2’s Boob Dragon polka is fun), you get the BD/DVD promos, and the US trailer.
There are further Funimation trailers for Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign, Harmony, World Break, Attack on Titan Live Action movie, Blood Blockade Battlefront, and Absolute Duo.
The big extras (fnar) are the Maximum Titillation OVAs, listed as thus.
Rias and Akeno’s Womanly Battle? (3:18)
The Church Trio’s Underwear, Amen! (3:10)
Koneko’s Healing Sage Arts, Meow (3:43)
Levia and So (3:29)
Steamy Grayfia (3:23)
Rossweisse’s True Teaching Story! (3:07)
They are short, comedic bursts of breastacular fan service, with nothing as crass as narrative weighing them down.
I need context! I need back-story! I need to know what the hell is going on! With some shows you can get away with missing chunks out. Some particularly long running shows like Bleach or Naruto require that you actively miss out chunks just to maintain your sanity. But there are shows where if you miss an episode, half an episode, or even look away from the screen for a minute, you can lose the entire thread. With High School DxD Born, we’re missing out a whole season of the show, and that is a real impediment when it comes to enjoying the story. When we left High School DxD, Issei had died, been brought back as a devil, had discovered his dragon powers, and was gradually amassing a harem in a world where devils quarrelled with other devils, fallen angels and angels.
At the start of High School DxD Born, it seems the devils, angels, and fallen angels have all made up and are on the same team now, the real villains of the piece are the Chaos Brigade, and there are a whole bunch of new faces that we are supposed to have prior experience with, not just the new members of Issei’s harem. Most of what happens in season three builds on what has apparently occurred in season two, and this isn’t a long running shonen show that will kindly include half an episode of flashback to get you caught up. Even the new developments in the third season, the arrival of a new faction, the gods of the Norse pantheon, all happen in the context of the ongoing story. For High School DxD Born, the overarching narrative is incoherent with knowledge of High School DxD New.
What are left are the smaller story arcs, which even without knowing their context, still work as stories. You may not know how the current detente between factions came about, but you can appreciate Rias Gremory’s household returning to the underworld for more training. You can appreciate Koneko’s troubled past and the reappearance of her sister, you can appreciate Loki’s antics and the effect they have on the underworld, or Diodora’s obsession with Asia, and the trauma that results from his actions, as well as Rias’ disappearance, and Issei’s determination to get her back. You do get the emotional weight of the story arcs, even if you don’t know how they fit in the big picture.
What you can appreciate about this show, without context or narrative, is the fan service, and the mounds of mammaries that go ‘Boiyoiyoiyoing!’ at the drop of a bra. Issei is the quintessential virginal pervert, who is happy to bury his face in breasts until his oxygen runs out, who loves to grope, poke, fondle and fumble, and inexplicably wakes up every morning surrounded by naked girls. And he never has sex. Ever! The minute one of the girls will come onto him, he’ll suddenly turn pure as the driven snow, or will faint from lack of blood due to a nosebleed. He’ll be shy, stumbling, incapable of actually contemplating the act of sexual congress, and every single girl that meets him, will melt for his dubious charms. In terms of giving fans what they want, High School DxD is one of the better harem comedies, and this third season continues that standard.
Without High School DxD New, this is a difficult show to rate, or even fully enjoy. True, you can get a subscription and watch it on Funimation NOW, but then why bother getting the discs for any of it. If you are going to collect High School DxD on home video, then it goes without saying that you’ll want the second season. Assuming you already have the first, I’d suggest buying this, and putting it to one side until the second season is released; at least that way the story will make sense. And as so typically happens when I write these reviews, they’ve only gone and announced a fourth season of High School DxD is in production...