Director: Tetsuya Yanagisawa
Writer (of original light novel): Ichiei Ishibumi
Animation Studios: TNK
Version Watched: Subbed
[Warning: High School DxD is an ecchi anime. It features partial nudity at regular intervals. This review, however, is SFW, and I don’t think you realize just how hard it was to keep it that way while including pictures.]
I always find it odd when demons are portrayed as being…well…non-demonic, though the idea that demons can be more or less normal people is one that seems to pop up quite often in anime. In any case, High School DxD follows some of the nicest demons I’ve ever seen and tells an entertaining story at the same time. While the ecchi aspect rears its ugly (or not-so-ugly, I guess) head at least once per episode, the series most definitely has more to offer than just that. If you can see past the fan service, High School DxD presents risqué comedy with a splash of epic adventure that is probably worth your time.
Hyoudou Issei is a normal, albeit a tad perverted, high school student who is completely over the moon with joy when he is asked out by a girl he’s never met before. Unfortunately for Issei that girl is a Fallen Angel who wants him dead because of the artefact hidden inside him known as a Sacred Gear. Certain of his death, he is a little surprised to find himself alive the next day and very much surprised to find himself sleeping next to the idol of his school, Rias Gremory. Though Issei hadn’t known it, the Gremory family is one of the three remaining great Demon clans and he has been scouted to become a part of it. Issei sets out to support his new family, master his Sacred Gear and…become the Harem King of the world…
In a time where Heaven, Hell and Fallen Angels are all at each other’s throats, however, that isn’t going to be easy.
You can probably guess that High School DxD’s plot isn’t particularly deep. However, if you’re after a good action/adventure/comedy romp that doesn’t think too hard about what it’s doing then this is the series for you. While the fan service shows up regularly – there’s a lot of it, guys, consider yourselves warned – it is far overshadowed by other, more entertaining aspects and isn’t so ridiculously overt that it affected my viewing experience negatively. In fact, because High School DxD is more adult-oriented it is able to set up hilarious situations and make jokes that other anime simply wouldn’t be able to. Will DxD show you something you’ve never seen before? I don’t know; it’s not the sort of show I usually watch. What I do know is that it had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions and I was never bored while watching it.
The story itself is also fairly interesting and something I hadn’t encountered before. While I mentioned that it felt odd earlier, the fact that none of the three major factions are painted as completely evil was somewhat refreshing. The concept of Sacred Gears being implanted in some people at birth was also quite novel although it’s not used to its full potential, even if the Gears possessed by the characters are varied and interesting. While the action itself is fun to watch and the outcome of each battle isn’t always obvious, the “the stronger your will, the stronger you become” trope is a little overused. Because of the overall relaxed tone of the series, however, I think I can let that slide.
Given the nature of High School DxD one might expect a number of stereotypical characters but, thinking back as I write this review, I can’t say that’s the case. The characters are all very well designed and remain consistent throughout the series, while at the same time growing as individuals. Issei is probably the most predictable of the lot, however, being pretty much average fare for an action/harem anime main character. He’s serious and noble when it counts, but as soon as the battle is over he’s back to lusting after every girl he sees…wait, scratch that; I don’t think he ever stops thinking about women. Despite ticking all the boxes for his character archetype, though, Issei certainly isn’t unlikeable and plays the role set out for him well.
Visually, High School DxD is very easy on the eyes (no, I’m not implying anything here…shut up). A lot of effort has gone into both the character designs and combat effects. There are some very well selected background tracks and as per usual for anime the voice acting is superb. I also quite enjoyed the OP and ED music.
Summary – While not amazing, High School DxD is a lot of fun to watch. The ecchi aspects, while not a draw in themselves, allow for potent comedy that many anime aren’t able to explore and the action as well as the story and characters come together to form a very enjoyable experience. I’m most definitely looking forward to the third season. The only excuse you might have for not watching High School DxD is if the fan service just rubs you the wrong way, which it very well might.
Score: 7.5/10 – Enjoyable