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High School DxD BorN Complete Collection UK Blu-ray Anime Review

12 min read

high-school-dxd-season-3-uk-coverBeen a while since the world of High School DxD came over here – and continue to wonder why my dice have been replaced by another type of fanservice…

What They Say:
The babes and boys of the Occult Research Club are Back! Lovable loser (and bust buff) Issei and his clan of bewitching beauties return for a new season of supernatural tussles and sexy shenanigans featuring old friends and new enemies! Now that all the girls live in Isseis home, life seems like nothing but fun and scantily-clad lounging for now! Join Rias, Akeno, Koneko, Asia, Xenovia, Gasper, and everyone’s favorite Harem King Issei as they fight, fumble, and fondle their way through their demonic high school lives.

Contains the complete season 3 on Blu-Ray and DVD with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio has a 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched half of it in English and Japanese to compare – and with the Japanese release I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – a good dub (there was controversary as one of the original voice actors got sentenced due to involvement with child pornography so the voice of Issei was replaced) and a fantastic Japanese track make this a treat to enjoy in either language.

Video:
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via the AVC encoding in 1080p with the show combining animation with some great colours with the brightness of the characters and their designs/outfits (when they are wearing them ^^) –with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release – though was a rare occasion of some shading when pausing – not out of focus but looked duller than when watching it normally. Strange but noticeable.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release.

Menu:
Menu on both discs was the same – a particular of the ever popular Rias on the left hand said in a seductive pose, set on a white patchy background with black bars on the top on the bottom with your selection just above the bottom bar – options are Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on disc 2 Extras – I like the fact that unlike a lot of releases you can manually select subtitles so you can remove them in Japanese or put them on in English (good to compare as the dub does take a few liberties considering the material) which is good when reviewing to see if the subtitles are in sync overall – nothing special with the design or set up but works fine both as in-menu and via popup menu.

Extras:
A lot of traditional extras – we have the textless opening and ending, two promotional videos, the Blu-Ray/DVD Promotional video (all in Japanese), the US Trailer and trailers for the following shows; Seraph Of The End: Vampire Reign, Harmony, Attack On Titan Live Action, Blood Blockade, Absolute Duo and World Break.

The fun extras is in the 6 short OVA episodes which is basically what I call ‘O.K, we got away with this level of fanservice in the main show, so for the extras we’re gonna crank it up even further (the fact it is called the Titulation Shorts should give you more than enough indication what they are going to be like). They are very short but range from basically Rias and Akeno cosplaying as a teacher and a wife in apron to see how Issei reacts, the Church Trio comparing underwear, Koneko’s bed treatment of the carnal arts, Serafall and Sona having some magical girl hijinks, Grayfia catching Issei in the hot spring and Rossweisse trying to make Issei pass his exams but every moment could lead to a fanservice situation causing ‘distraction’. They are as silly and fanservicy as they sound – a bit stupid to be honest and it is ridiculous, but still a unique extra.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I reviewed the first High School DxD quite a while ago and thanks to one of my friends did see the 2nd season as well so it is easy to get into this guilty pleasure of a series again. On one hand, it is a harem-esque show with a times likable lead and other times not so likable with the usual clichés and weaknesses you get with this type of series (porn without plot, double standard comedy). On the other hand, the concept with the demon girls, the chess motif, the battles and combination with other history (Norse god mythology is used in this season for example) means this is definitely one of the more interesting ones out there and certainly not the worst – of course, fanservice is still the selling point but there are more moments that say this is worth watching.

The first 2 minutes give you the immediate contrast – Issei, our lead, is having panic dreams about his first girlfriend which of course led him to being killed…and as he wakes up panicking…he panics more to see Rias, Akeno and Asia in bed with him mostly naked. So basically his harem kind of shares him even though Rias is kind of the first choice yet he goes through a lot of dumb stuff – both others and his own doing (such as his parents getting a huge override of their house which somehow they didn’t notice till the morning) – and with their teacher Azazel involved in training in the underworld, Issei’s training seems to be to utilise his…knowledge…of the female body to his advantage which as the show goes along, tends to actually work…but of course give excuse number 124 for more fanservice.

After Issei is resting (with Asia and Xenovia – who amuses me with her wanting to make children gag but sadly isn’t in it as much as most of the gang, though her friendship with Asia is very sweet), he training with a former Dragon King to try and get his Balance Breaker but fails initially, but maybe it is due to noticing Koneko being more quiet than normal (she doesn’t even react to his perversions with her usual snarky comments which is very rare for her) as it looks like her animal style nature is being called out to her – this gives her plenty of back-story via Rias which is good as she was the one character of all these seasons who didn’t really get any, and more so when we meet her sister Kuroka, and their history as we get our first major battle whilst a party is going on, which will lead to a fair more characters crashing so to speak…

I like the addition of the Norse gods in the demon world as we get classic Odin (as a powerful but perverted old man) vs. Loki (a very traditional god of mischief and objecting to Odin trying to make deals with demons which will stop Ragnarok) – the Chaos Brigade returns with Loki as a powerful member which Koneko is also part of – and basically a lot of stuff then hits you at once. Along with Koneko’s past, we see Akeno’s issues with her father come full circle, Kuroka’s partner is none other than Son Goku (insert Saiyuki or Dragonball reference here), and to save the day Issei has to tap into his power by…

…well, touching Rias’ breasts. Yes, after all the intensity and back-story, it still comes to that. Granted, it does give him his Balance Breaker powers and save the day, but yeah…

So with Loki now a problem, we get more new characters helping out, with Irina returning to help out Rias-tachi which gives a nice dynamic with Asia/Xenovia and also the introduction of one of my favourite new characters in Rossweisse, a rather beautiful woman but apparently is Odin’s daughter and Odin’s main concern with her is that she can’t get a date – a running gag yes but this one does amuse me more considering the harem nature and the fact Rossweisse is genuinely funny and attractive – Loki continues to be a pain though getting Fenrir and its children, but the training is working as the guys begin to fight back, but Loki is still too powerful so Odin sends his last resort, Mjonir, a.k.a. the hammer of Thor to Issei (and even more famous faces when King Arthur himself helps out!) – they manage to defeat Loki but he gets in a curse on Issei…which after all the intense battles what happens afterward?

Go on a date with Akeno. ^^ In fairness though, this brings more of Akeno’s back-story and why she has had issues with her father, and despite the fanservice when she tries to take advantage of Issei, he now can hear the true thoughts of the person by sensing them…in the chest area.

O.K, whatever works to make the fanservice actually relevant. ^^

However all these little powers do become prominent by the end of the series especially as the second half begins with probably the one character that Issei really does struggle to deal with emotionally – Asia. Not because he doesn’t like her (she’s probably only just behind Rias in terms of popularity for him) but because she is a former nun, his perverted thoughts around her he feels much worse and seems to care for her protective wise as much as her pretty and nice persona. So we get an old acquaintance of hers when they are out shopping named Diodara who was the devil that Asia rescued back in Season 1 before she got killed and brought back as a devil. He seems to be completely in love with her and proposes to her but Issei is either jealous or suspicious of him. Whilst comic moments are abound (Issei’s new form used as a toy much to his Breaker’s disgust especially the name they give it, the sports festival saga and of course the classic trapped in a gym trope with Asia and Xenovia – with Irina getting the completely wrong reaction ^^), Diodora continues to be quite the stalker and reveals his true colours with his insulting to Issei, setting up a Rating game between the two – where even former enemies in Kuroka (who seems to be warming up to Issei) are wary of him. Indeed, when they get to the Rating Game, much more devils appear and it is indeed a trap, which Diodora kidnaps Asia and leaves the rest to die…

Team Rias do catch up to him (and Issei’s new techniques actually being helpful, and the rest of the team including poor Gasper, who sadly isn’t in as much but thanks to some training is much more confident with people and helping in battle) and with some strategy (Koneko getting Rias and Akeno jealous which increases their power ^^) and some minor issues (the return of Freed for example seems like a big deal…and is killed in one hit by Kiba, who again seems to have been off the radar this season) – Diodora’s plot with Asia seems to be simply kill and bring her to his side, and then pretty much kill the others, depressing her whilst he takes advantage of it. This does not go well with Issei and he utterly destroys him with rage induced power – but looks like Asia still is killed when Beelzebub appears, sending Issei into a shock related status.

Of course, things aren’t that bad as Asia was saved (via deus ex machina) and Issei’s curse which wasn’t really explained well is also removed and it leads to a mirror match as Beezelbub manages to infiltrate and have another Issei steal Rias from the household, so the real Issei is going full tilt, which leads them requiring help from former enemies, and Issei having to battle Rias to get her back. It is surprising intense which is only slight ruined by the silly moments at the end (though the addition of Rossweisse as the final Rook means Rias now has her full chess set setting up additional sequels…).

So the series definitely has its ups and downs to say the least. It combines serious and silly, tries to use fanservice as a weapon in terms of Issei’s abilities (the series didn’t really need any more reasons to add fanservice though so used it as a plot device) and you do really need to have seen the previous two seasons to enjoy this, as the characters are very rushed so you need to have known them from beforehand to know what their moves, powers, personalities etc, are like. And considering of the main group, you get bits of Akeno, Asia and Koneko, and lots of Issei and Rias, and little of everyone else PLUS the addition or re-addition of new characters and old friends, there is a lot to take in so you will need to get up to speed.

Issei’s character as always is hit and miss – he is definitely an interesting change to a typical male harem lead, but that always isn’t the best thing as you don’t know if he is going to be the nice, protective one (usually when Asia is involved, occasionally Rias, Koneko and Akeno get this as well) or if his perverted nature can come across too annoying which in turn makes the girls looks like shallow or idiotic as well. It is still very clichéd as well despite the demon girl motif so a lot of typical tropes do appear, and you can predict a lot ahead of time.

Rias, easily the most popular character of the show, again changes from mentor character to love struck puppy (which is what nearly screws her and Issei over in the final couple of episodes) – there is a part where she is discussed how good she is as a leader to the team, but you can also tell there are moments where she is concerned and/or jealous – which is strange as she tends to share Issei around (especially strange when concerning Asia as the two are quite like sisters despite Asia probably the biggest ‘threat’ to her if wanting to ‘win’ Issei) – the two leads are basically up and down with their positives and negatives throughout this session.

What it does well though is good – the battle sequences are for the most part excellent. The Koneko sub-arc near the start leads to the Loki appearance and a lot of colour, characters and techniques show and make it flow to a symphony or art (when the show turns down the fanservice at least) – seeing lots of figures from history both Norse, British, Japanese – it stands out that this is a world of the underworld, and the stories told when told are done well (Koneko and Akeno in particular have their issues). The Diodora arc was quite dark to be honest but the fact it held plot from the first season shows that the work and revision is done, and makes you root for Issei to punch his lights out – becomes very satisfying. The addition of Rossweisse as well despite not being a major part of the show was one of the times the comedy was spot on and yet she being the daughter of Odin is a badass herself so hopefully if a fourth season happens or the light novels do come over here, we get to see more of her in action.

That said, the core of this show is the harem nature, and one where they mostly all accept Issei, all are different types of character and mostly get along with each other (sometimes Rias and Akeno get a bit jealous, or Koneko is a bit more snarky but otherwise they get along) – the core audience will be the fanservice, which it delivers in spades. But it tends to be one of the better ones due to the sub-arcs and decent characterization. This feels a little weaker in terms of the new characters being rushed, but also good in the arcs it does deliver and the climax. So definitely one that may appeal more than you expect…

In Summary:
High School DxD continues to disappoint me with no Dungeons & Dragons reference, but does continue to surprise me in being a harem style show I kind of enjoy. Whilst it is a cliché storm and the usual fanservice moments are not gonna convert anyone who isn’t into these series, the surprising arcs combined with great fight sequences nearly counteracts the comical and perverted moments. Maybe not to the point to see it is a good or great series, but one that at least is surprisingly enjoyable at times.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, High School DxD New Broadcast Commemoration Special: Yoko Hikasa’s Voice Acting School (Parts 1-5 + Final), Textless Openings and Closings, Promotional Videos, Trailers, Commercials.

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

Released By: Funimation via Anime Limited
Release Date: October 31st, 2016
MSRP: £34.99
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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