Reviews: High School DXD
The universe this series sets up is one of the best you could hope to have for an action-oriented series of any stripe, and inherently creates numerous and potentially fascinating questions that the series could explore. It then proceeds to ignore this wealth of potential and focus on an unlikable protagonist and tedious, unfunny harem antics mixed with pointless fanservice. The series tries to mix a serious story with harem comedy elements and fails spectacularly, just like every other attempt in all of history. The action and harem elements fail to combine; instead, they attack each other. Dx D switches between a serious story and harem comedy-esque elements with an almost audible thunk, and Issei being one of the most grating protagonists Iíve ever witnessed in any medium doesnít help. Ninety percent of Issei's personality is him being lecherous for way too long, and itís not funny or endearing in the slightest; in fact, it starts to come across as rather creepy after a while. And of course he gets tons of beautiful women falling in love with him for increasingly shaky reasons, culminating in one character literally having their entire personality rewritten off-screen and falling in love with him. The antagonists, invariably, are about as interesting as stale bread. Most of them have little to no backstory to speak of or a believable motivation. Maybe, if Ishibumi had done something radical and spent time fleshing out said antagonists rather than wasting time on harem elements, they could be fascinating. Combine with terrible writing decisions and a complete lack of explanation of how a lot of things work (not to mention some outright contradictions that are never given a whiff of explanation) and you have a series with enormous potential thatís basically squandered. And this would have to be the series that attracts even worse fanfiction than usual. TL;DR: Great universe, terrible execution.
I heard little snippets about this anime, but was never really interested in it at first. But after watching all three seasons of the anime, it turns out to be a lot more fun than I anticipated. Not many are probably gonna agree with me, but I kinda liken the series to Bayonetta: A series with lots of Camp and Fanservice on the surface, but lots of Hidden Depths underneath. Pros:
- The animation is quite good and pretty to look at.
- The female characters, who at first seem like your token harem girls, are gradually revealed to be deeper and more complex characters as the series progresses. Even the male characters like Issei (who I wasn't really fond of at first) and Kiba become more interesting as the show progresses.
- The action scenes are well choreographed and very fluid.
- The English dub has some surprisingly talented voice actors.
- Because each season has 12 episodes, the pacing of each season feels rushed. As a result, some of the fight scenes are quite anticlimactic.
- The villains of the show aren't exactly interesting, mostly because they either don't get enough screen time for me to care about them, or because they end up being lecherous perverts who are designed to make Issei look better by comparison. The only exceptions to this are Loki (Because he's one of the few villains not to be interested in sex, and he reminds me of the Avengers Loki), Kuroka and Vali (For being effective Evil Counterparts to Koneko and Issei respectively).
- Likewise Kuroka and Vali don't get enough screen time and I hope that is rectified in Season 4.
Fanservice: The series
Disclaimer: This is for the three anime seasons of Highschool Dx D already out at the writing of this review. I also haven't read the light novels (yet?), so I am looking at the anime on its own merits, for better or worse. I am not going to bore you with descriptions (you can read the main page yourself), so let's jump right into the middle: This series is entirely fueled by blatant and unashamed Fanservice... which is not a bad thing by itself. In fact the way the camera keeps casually focusing on the girls' naughty bits and the story taking every opportunity possible to have naked assets swinging around somehow warps the entire concept to the point where what should have been creepy and annoying instead becomes strangely endearing. However this only applies to the slice of life and comedy scenes. There, after a while, the naked girls and nipple-shots and various flavors of consensual groping becomes part of the scenery and the reader can easily enter a sort of Zen state about it. Using the same kind of fanservice logic in actual life-or-death situations on the other hand, such as the countless deadly shounen battles that erupt during the series, is just Mood Whiplash inducing to the point of nearly ruining most of the action climaxes of the series. That said, there is still a lot to recommend. The heroines are interesting and the lack of overt jealousy (or over-the-top violent tsunderes, if we are at that) is a welcome breath of fresh air in the onslaught of Harem Genre series produced in recent memory. The action is also really good (if sometimes undermined by the forced inclusion of some fanservice/comedy, which tends to kill the mood of the scenes), with the protagonist being a Hot-Blooded Determinator or par with Kurou Daijuuji, with a similar penchant for spontaneous powerups as well. Overall it is a series that gets better with each arc, has a lot of likable characters, over-the-top battles and some cute harem romance with a Harem Seeker male lead and girls who just don't mind it. The fanservice, as weirdly Zen as it can become after a while, is still prominent to the point of getting the the way of the actual storytelling, but if one can overlook that (or finds it fun even), this can be a very entertaining series.