Final Review: High School DxD

High School DxD aired during the Winter 2012 anime season and was simulcasted and licensed for US distribution by Funimation Entertainment. A story that tells about Issei Hyoudou being reincarnated as a devil thanks to Rias Gremory. The show leaves an initial impression of the typical “ecchi romance comedy” title close to that of the recent Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi, and even Kaibutsu Oujo given its similar setup. However, only by watching the full show does the “truth” of the show reveals itself.

Story wise, the show lacked much of a direction overall. This is likely due to how short the anime is and the amount of setup time required for the show thereby only covering the “beginning arcs” of the source material. Pacing wise, however, it does fine job with nothing notably rushed and it actually keeps the ecchi material “relevant” rather than pointless for the most pat.

Animation wise is very solid. TNK is the same studio who worked on Kannazuki no Miko, Busou Shinki Moon Angel and School Days. The studio definitely has come a long way since they began. Crisp and fluid motions along were evident though character designs felt overly repetitive. The biggest flaw in animation was in the final episode where Issei’s arm should have been “claimed by the dragon” yet he still had his normal arm in the epilogue. Not sure if this was due to poor explanation regarding the contract or whether this was just poor animation.

OP was a good theme overall but I preferred the ED theme much more featuring the new seiyuu idol group StylipS. Study x Study is a great catchy theme even though it felt out of place from the rest of the show. It created an “interesting” ED video though if you must given the chess theme throughout the entire show. Seiyuu wise was pretty average for this show. No one really stood out.

Enjoyment? The show started off as a typical ecchi romance comedy title, which provided me little incentive to really watch this. It took a while for this show to get its act together and “get serious. In the end, this show ended up being a lot more interesting than I had gave it credit for. While jumpy, it had a much more interesting setup than many of its recent predecessors. It also managed to strike a proper balance between ecchi and action, something that many shows of the same genre fail to do. If I recall correctly, I don’t think there was a single ecchi scene in the main episode of the finale (less flashbacks and epilogue).

Overall, the show is by no means a gem but it was certainly far better than anticipated. It’s not exactly a title that must be rewatched but it at least recommendable to fans of the genre.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Chess references were interesting. Angel/Demons rivalry is typical as is the whole lecherous demon boy seeking out a harem stereotype.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): It’s rare to see mutual affection between the “harem” girls and the protagonist.
  • Character Development (1/2): Rias and Asia got the most development as the two main arcs focused on them but everyone else mainly got shafted.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1.5/2): Cast is relatively small and focused, thereby maintaining memorability. Chess references also helped with maintaining the usefulness and memorability of the characters. Raiser’s pieces don’t count…The other cast members in the beginning of the show lost their usefulness
  • Pacing: (1/1): The show does fine by covering two arcs of the source material. It’s a short series that has a source material so there’s really not much to say here. Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary here that required significantly more development.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1/2): Issei getting powerful in such a short time isn’t exactly what I call reasonable as they never fully explained the mechanics of the Sacred Gear (even in general). The show was at least reasonable in making Rias’s team lose in the battle against Raiser, which thereby makes it a more atypical result. The fact that Issei also had to sacrifice his arm to become more powerful was at least logical though.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Not exactly the best ending, but certainly decent. It felt a little bit rushed and a little too much stereotypical shounen but at least events were logical. Issei didn’t suddenly become “magically” powerful after being unconscious for two days which is a good thing.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Plain and nothing that was particularly striking. Nothing out of the ordinary though that makes it terrible. The final episode battleground had some nice symbolism but one episode alone isn’t enough to be carrying the weight.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Fine for the most part, but it is evident that the base for the character designs are all identical making all of the look incredibly repetitive and to some extent identical.
  • Fluidity (2/2): Good fluidity all around. Facial expressions felt off but actually weren’t due to the context they were being presented in.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Well done overall except a flaw in the epilogue regarding Issei’s dragon arm. It would appear in one scene and then disappear in the next. Note that this is after that he had sacrificed his arm to the dragon.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (2/2): A big step up from TNK given how few shows they do.
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): OP/ED were both good. Preferred the ED theme a lot more. ED theme didn’t fit the context of the show.
  • Background Music (1.5/2): Not entirely memorable but certainly a strong score overall with a few notable tracks.
  • Sound Effects (1.5/2): Same as background music.
  • Seiyuu (1.5/3): Pretty average overall. Nothing really stood out.
  • Total: 7/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Not that good to start.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Again, it took a while for this show to get its act together so the anticipation wasn’t really that great.
  • Presentation: (1/2): Presentation was fine for the most part but could have been better. It requires one to sit through the first 4-5 episodes before events really got interesting.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): A little bit I guess. The highlight of the show is really the Raiser and Rias Rating Game, which I had hoped to be a bit longer.
  • Recommendation (1/2): It’s obviously a NSFW title so you can’t just go around recommending this title to anyone. However, it’s a title for fans of the genre. As said many times before, it’s a fairly decent watch for a short 12 episode series.
  • Value (0/1): To be honest, unless the show gets a sequel to continue on a variety of issues mentioned in the finale, the value of the show is almost negligible at the end of the day. It’s a decent short watch but not something that could be considered a gem both in the long-run let alone of Winter 2012.
  • Total: 4.5/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 6/10

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