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Highschool DxD Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read

Highschool DxD
Highschool DxD
When Issei dies and comes back as a devil, he’s one step closer to getting his harem.

What They Say:
A war between heaven and hell is raging on Earth – and a hot mess of hormonal fury is raging in Issei’s pants. The guy is dying to get some action. Which is funny, since his first date ever turns into a winged monster and tries to kill him. Fortunately, ridiculously curvy redhead Rias comes to his rescue. She’s president of The Occult Research Club, a club that doesn’t actually research the occult. They ARE the occult – and Rias is a Devil.

Rias takes Issei as a more-than-willing slave and begins training him to use magic in battle against the Fallen Angels, the long-time enemies of Devils everywhere. If Issei can improve his mystical skills, he’ll be able to help his hotter-than-hell master and her scorching supernatural schoolgirl friends defeat their foes. Even better, he might end up with a few sexy slaves of his own.

This limited edition includes an artbox! Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is fairly standard fare for FUNimation as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language mix gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that has a very good mix of action and dialogue to it so that it gets to shine on all counts. The action scenes work well in both mixes where it uses the forward soundstage well as it goes big and has a variety of effects that come across clearly and with a lot of good impact. The 5.1 mix brings a bit more to the rear channels and overall creates a good design to things where the show works well. The dialogue is generally well placed and and there are some good scenes with depth of placement to help set the situation well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally broadcast in 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs with nine episodes on the first and three on the second along with the majority of the extras. Animated by TNK, the series has a really strong look to it overall which is good considering so many of the scenes are darker in nature and there’s a lot of red material, which can be problematic at times. The high definition transfer has a very solid look to it throughout with only a few areas that has some minor noise to it. The big action scenes are ones that hold up quite well without any problems in breakup during it. The color design is important here since it uses a lot of flesh tones and a lot of red when it comes to Rias’ hair and the end result is a show that really does shine and all the fanservice comes across beautifully, which is hugely important here.

Packaging:
The limited edition release of this series gives us a really fun and good looking heavy chipboard box that holds two Blu-ray cases, one for the DVD release and one for the Blu-ray release. The front of the box is designed like a book cover to some degree and we get issei along with all of the other devils of the group, sans Kiba, and it looks great with the colors, the brightness of it and the detail of the character designs. The back cover does similar overall but it focuses more closely on just having Rias and Issei together with her chest hanging out on top of his head. The series logo is one of the more adorable aspects of the design and one that really does show off the nature of the series well compared to so many other bland logos out there.

The two cases are done in a similar overall layout and design as the box itself but changes up the artwork nicely. The DVD case has a really great image of Rias as her outfit is being torn off with her having a surprised look to her. The case for the Blu-ray discs has a really cute image of Asia and Koneko together as they lay on the bed in their normal clothes, which again looks great and plenty detailed. The back covres have a fairly bland background to it where one has an image of a half disrobed Asia that’s cute while the other has Koneko without her shorts as she’s in an action pose. Each one breaks down the episode numbres and titles as well as the extras, though it doesn’t indicate which discs have what. No show related inserts are included but both cases have artwork on the reverse side which shows off Rias on one and Asia and Akeno together, all three of which are naked for them.

Menu:
The menu design for the release us pretty simple but works nicely as we get a piece that largely uses clips from the show with some really nice images of Rias in particular that makes for a striking transition at times. The look of it is pretty good and the static aspects includes the navigation along the bottom which has a red and black checkered piece that fits the color design of the series nicely. The middle center of the menu uses the series logo with the volume numbering on it which is definitely cute and sexy in its own way. Submenus load quickly and easily and navigation is a breeze with language selection that’s not locked and can be changed on the fly.

Extras:
There’s a good bit of extras to this release which is just plain fun. The first is that we get the six OVAs, which run three minutes or so each, that just allows the animation team to have fun with over the top fanservice and sexuality in a cute way that fits the characters. We also get a set of character promotional videos that deals with the different types of girls that populates Rias’ side that run a couple of minutes each. In addition to that, we get a number of the standards here such as the clean opening and closing sequences, the promos and commercials.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series of the same name by Ichiei Ishibumi which began back in 2008 and has fifteen volumes to date, Highschool DxD is a twelve episode series that marries together action and fanservice in a way few shows really manage to do well. When the series first aired, it played up the sexuality a lot since it obscures the nudity with some cute widgets and that was something that frustrated a lot of people during the simulcast. What helped was that while the show does deal with a lot of nudity, it also deals with a lot of story as well and that made it easier to deal with. Thankfully, with the home video release, there’s no self-censoring going on here and we get the beauty of the sexuality, the story and the fun of the characters as well. While Highschool DxD could have been just another silly and fluffy show, it manages to really shine here by doing some non-standard approach material.

In a school that has few men overall, Highschool DxD revolves around the character of Issei, a young man whose life is like many young men who just want to get some hands on time with women. With this school being weighted towards a lot of women, and a lot of foreign exchange students at that, it’s like having a massive harem at your fingertips but not being able to really take advantage of it well. So when you get a pretty boy or two in the mix, the girls are definitely drawn to them over your usual average guys, which is what Issei and his friends are all like. Average in a lot of ways, but very above average with imaginations as their views of what women look like under their clothes is pretty varied and detailed.

While Issei’s life has its fair share of troubles, such as when he alone gets busted for nearly peeping on some girls, he does have a bright spot when a girl named Amano asks him out on a date. Cute, bright and outgoing, she’s all for getting to know Issei and doesn’t mind that he calls her his girlfriend from pretty much the first minute, which is comical since she’s so cute. The date the two go through is just a lot of fun as it covers all the usual trappings of such things while bringing in the buxom nature of Amano, his leering ways and the potential for something more blossoming. Getting a show that leaps to the handholding in the first episode may not seem like much, but others spend their whole run trying to get to that point. Of course, this series wants to do something different, which is why Amano ends up trying to gut him with a magic sword after transforming into a skimpy outfit that reveals her wings, among other assets.

This brings Issei into full contact with a bigger world, one that begins with him getting killed by Amano. Amano is a pretty small part of things overall, but because of her, Issei gets saved by the beautiful president of the Occult Research Club of the school, Rias, who heads the Gremory household that is one of the few remaining major houses of the Devil world after a war that happened years ago. There’s a big big of back story that comes into it over the course of the series and Rias and her family and the whole Devil aspect builds up in a really intriguing way since there’s a sense of history about it, but also a sense of change since there was so much fallout from the war. But it’s also all kept very personal as we deal with Rias as she revives Issei and turns her into one of her pawns as there are a few chess analogies used throughout the show.

Bringing Issei into this life is something that the show focuses on a good bit as we see how he tries to do all the right things for her – all while lusting after her as well of course – and there’s a lot to like there as he gets involved in different situations to do the low level missions of a new devil, get acquainted with the workings of everything and the others in the club that are part of her group and are just as bonded to her as he is now. They all figure in decently, with the powerful right hand woman in Akeno, the tough as nails knight in Kiba and the feisty rook known as Koneko. Issei also has a lot of power that gets explored across it as it progresses as we learn that even though he’s “just a pawn”, she sacrificed all her pawn potential in him. When we see another competitor later on, they have multiple pawns to fight but they’re weaker. For Issei, he has to learn to unlock his power over time, which is also made intriguing by his Sacred Gear, a red dragon style piece of armor on his left arm that has a sentience about it and also has an expansive and intriguing back story that helps bond him even more.

The series has a few different arcs to it, and they each deal with different aspects of the mythology they want to build here, but there’s also a lot of time spent in just building up Issei and his interactions with everyone else, which works well. The one thing the show does that I really liked is that while Issei really does want to build his own harem, and can do so over time by bringing other devils in under him, the first one that he really gets to do this with is with a servant of god that he helps save from being abused by a member of that organization that was using her as a weapon of sorts. Asia, a cute little blonde girl, ends up being converted to a devil and has a real affection for Issei though she sees herself competing with Rias. The fun is that while Rias does have certain feelings for Issei, and Issei lusts after her, you see more real emotions and connections between Issei and Asia than anything else.

Highschool DxD does have a good bit of standard material here with what it does in how it builds the scenarios, the general character archetypes and the structure of it all. But it also goes above and beyond and draws an engaging story across it as well, which is a big plus since so many fanservice shows spend all their time being silly. Issei here is serious a lot of the time and is doing what he can to grow and change to serve Rias. The story, truly, is what kept me as engaged with the series as I was throughout it and wanting to see where it was going to go. The fanservice doesn’t hurt, and getting it clean and clear here really does make it all the more fun. I didn’t find the censoring during the simulcast a detraction, I was more amused by it, but getting it all in its exposed glory here just works beautifully. It’s fun, it’s sexy and it adds nicely to the story and the nature of the characters.

In Summary:
If there’s a phrase I’ve stopped using recently, it’s guilty pleasure. Highschool DxD is a pleasure to watch and it works well across the board. Though it may get a lot of attention for its fanservice, nudity and nipple action, it’s also got a solid and engaging story, really fun characters and some striking animation at times. The colors are wonderful, the presentation draws you in all the more and the series as a whole really fires on all cylinders throughout with what it does. This was a surprise show when it was broadcast and won me over week after week. Getting it in marathon form, seeing how the bonds of the series tie together more strongly in this form, reinforces what a solid show it is and one that I definitely can’t recommend enough for just plain fun with a big dose of sexy.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Select Episode Commentaries, Fantasy Jiggles Unleashed 1-6, Fantasy Full-blast Gentleman’s Disc Club Promos, Textless Opening and Ending

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: August 20th, 2013
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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