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High School DxD: Asia & Koneko’s Secret Contract!? Manga Review

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High School DxD: Asia & Koneko's Secret Contract!? Manga Review
High School DxD: Asia & Koneko’s Secret Contract!? Manga Review

This one comes shrink-wrapped and with one of those “Parental Advisory” warnings on it. I wonder what sort of things our former holy maiden and petite devil are going to get up to?

Creative Staff:
Story/Art: Hiroichi (comic), Ichiei Ishibumi (original creator), Zero Miyama (character design)
Translation: Caleb D. Cook
Lettering: James Dashiell

What They Say:
Can this duo of devilish darlings really grant any wish?!

The naturally clumsy Sister Asia and the taciturn cutie Koneko form an unlikely pair as they head out to answer summons from humans with requests, but…can they really fulfill every desire?! These two little devil beauties get down to work in this spin-off of the megahit High School DxD!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Looks like we get to spend some quality time with the two cute girls of Issei’s harem.

Technical
The cover art, front and back, is clean enough (nothing more than a little suggestive and salacious), though there is that Parental Advisory: Warning: Explicit Content label staring at you on the front cover below a picture of Asia and Koneko, seemingly about to do something naughty. A cute addition to the English version of the logo is turning the hole in the final O of Koneko’s name into a cat’s paw. On the back there is the catalogue copy as well as full-sized pictures of Rias and Akeno, though the boys are reduced to chibi versions. There are two color pages inside, the title page with another large shot of Asia and Koneko and a small. jokey four-panel comic next to the table of contents. There are two more short four-panel comics at the end, though they are in black and white.

The binding is quite sturdy, the paper quality is pretty good stock for manga, the printing is crisp, clean and clear. Sounds effects are kept in their original kana, with both small transliterations and English translations provided next to them. Shading, screen tones, linework and lettering are all sharp and the ink does not run after subjecting it to the thumb rubbing test. The translation reads smoothly, with no obvious errors or misprints. In the back of the volume is a short list of translator’s notes for a few terms that might not be generally known, though most long-time anime/manga fans will probably be familiar with all of them. From a production quality standpoint, this is yet another solid example of Yen Press’s high standards.

Hiroichi’s artwork presents the characters with a softer, more rounded look than the anime designs by Junji Goto, the version with which I am most familiar. In general, Hiroichi has a minimalist style with faces, keeping to major features without filling in too much of the fine details. Screen tone is applied judiciously in places. Finer, more highly structured linework is there in spots (especially thinking of the close-ups of the lace on the headbands of Asia and Koneko’s French maid-style waitress uniforms in chapter 6, or the lace fringes to their regular school uniform skirts when shown in tighter focus), so the lack of fine details in others parts appears to be an artistic choice.

Story
I am going to take it for granted that people reading this review are more than familiar with High School DxD. If not, then a lot material that assumes your familiarity with the characters’ personalities and traits, often referencing common visual gags and recurring jokes from the main series, will make little impression upon you. In terms of story, however, this volume is just a collection of slice-of-life vignettes, so there isn’t much in the way of exposition offered, but very little is necessary to understand what is happening. There is no real plot.

In something of a rewind from where most people will be with the main timeline, events are focused on Asia back when she first became a devil in the service of Rias Gremory. We see her early training in granting clients’ “requests” under the tutelage of Kuroneko. The first one turns out to be far less risque than Asia imagined, as this regular client of Koneko’s is just a cosplay otaku who summons her to wear outfits he has made and wants to take pictures of with a suitable model in them. It does turn out to be tiring work, however, for Asia.

So what requests do the cute little duo have in store for them and what kind of content should a reader expect? Panty shots. Swimsuits. Skimpy Cosplay. Obsession over breast size. Panty thieves. Children’s stage shows. Poorly run restaurants. Most of the material is frankly absent of much in the way of questionable material. A few of the short chapters are little more than slightly titillating. There is some anatomically unspecific nudity in one story which likely earns the mature rating, though there are no details so it’s tame in the extreme. The average episode of the anime (the part of the franchise I’m most familiar with) has more ecchi content and outright nudity in just about any installment. The humor, though, is pretty much in line with the light comedy of the main story. If you come into this expecting lots of explicit sexual material involving the two more petite members of Rias’s group, you will be largely disappointed.

At 158 main text pages, this is just a short collection of fun little side trips with Koneko and Asia which are for the most part tame in terms of content. If it wasn’t for the very short two pages of child’s doll nudity, I doubt this would have been rated any higher than 13+. Your ability to get any enjoyment out of the work, however, is pretty much solely dependent on how much you like the two featured characters. Nothing happens here which affects the central plot of the franchise, but if you have not invested in the characters at least a little bit beforehand, I can’t quite see someone coming into this cold being able to get much entertainment out of it, since it plays off directly from the personalities established in the main series. It is definitely not a standalone work of any sort. For fans of the property, it will matter which characters you like the best. If you’re a Koneko or Asia fan, this might be a pleasant little treat to enjoy on the side. If you like Rias or Akeno, they’re little more than background presences, along with Kiba and Issei. This is pleasant enough, but utterly forgettable.

In Summary:
If you are a big fan of Koneko or Asia from the High School DxD franchise, you might find some pleasure or entertainment from this mostly tame collection of short side-stories focused on the “cute” section of Rias Gremory’s devilish club. If your interests lie elsewhere, including the other characters or the much more copious and explicit fanservice offered by the anime, you will probably be better off turning to that material. That is not what is provided here. Cute and pleasant, but hardly memorable.

Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B+
Package Rating: B+
Text/Translation: B+

Age Rating: Mature-LNSV
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 16, 2014
MSRP: $13.00

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