Fan service has existed in anime for decades and while the anime community usually has mixed feelings on panty shots and unabashed nudity there are numerous series which revel in the amount of flesh that is revealed. Many of these series devolve into mindless, run of the mill anime that are a dime a dozen. However every so often an anime manages to deliver both an enjoyable and humorous storyline and pretty much defines fan service. Does High School DxD, manage to craft something memorable around the breasts and asses of its cast?
Despite enrolling in an academy which only recently became co-ed, Issei Hyoudou has had the worst luck with women in his life. This isn’t exactly his fellow classmates’ fault, as he is part of a trio of boys who have managed to earn the reputation of being the most perverted and horny students at the school. Not only has Issei been caught peeping into the girls locker room multiple times, he also has quite the perverted mind which usually ends up disgusting the girls around him, and many of the most popular girls, including the well-known Rias Gremory simply ignore him.
However despite this damning reputation, a pretty young girl named Amano suddenly asks him to become her boyfriend and go on a date. Being the answer to Issei’s prayers, he readily agrees to the date and rejoices as he has made his first ever girlfriend. The only problem is, despite a rather enjoyable date and Issei keeping his perversion to a minimum, Amano ends the date in a way that he could never have expected… transforming into a fallen angel and killing him with a spear of light right through the stomach.
Since it would be a rather short series with the main character slain in the first episode, Issei is dragged into a much larger and darker world as he is saved by none other than Rias Gremory herself. How does she manage this you ask? Because she is from one of the few remaining powerful houses in the Devil World and is in fact a Devil, as is everyone inside of her Occult Research Club. After being saved, Issei finds himself turned into a devil as well.
Now your standard harem anime usually ends up falling into a predictable meet and greet pattern after this point, where multiple episodes are used to introduce and spend time with each of the main members of the cast. However High School DxD goes the opposite route. While all of the Occult Research Club members are given brief introductions, rather than focus on character building that time is spent on building the world itself.
There are a lot of moving pieces in High School DxD and perhaps that is what makes a series that could easily be considered mindless fan-service full of lewd poses and naked women into something special. Throughout the series the intricacies of the Devil world and the previous war that was held between the Angels, Devils and Fallen Angels are explained even as Issei comes to grips with his newfound power.
Multiple questions are asked as the series goes along, such as why would a fallen angel purposely seek out Issei of all people and what type of power does he possess that would entice one of the strongest remaining Devils to make him her servant at the cost of a large portion of her potential power. These questions are answered as the series progresses and continue to build upon the world that exists in High School DxD.
Outside of a few one-off episodes; this season is broken into two major arcs that not only develop the world further, but give Issei a chance to grow as a character and reveal more about who he is. Despite wishing to be a harem king and remaining perverted throughout the series, he continuously demonstrates a strong desire to protect those close to him and a resilient heart in the face of adversity. All while hoping to receive a breast related reward of course, which is actually refreshing to see since many perverted main characters either act embarrassed or try to hide their nature while Issei relishes it.
High School DxD has quite a lot to offer in terms of story and humor thanks to the fact that rather than simply fall into stereotypical genre pitfalls, it spends its time building a world and central characters in this first season. Of course it is absolutely bursting with fan service and most of the humor revolves around how perverted Issei can be, but that only helps add to a series which has so much going for it in terms of story and character.
Let’s just say this right off the bat since I’ve mentioned it numerous times already, there is a surplus of nudity in High School DxD. Panty shots, lewd poses, bare breasts, groping and more abound in this series so anyone who may have an issue with overkilled fan service may find themselves disliking the series. However everyone else will be able to enjoy it for exactly what it is, a celebration of the genre. There is a varied range of character designs in High School DxD and numerous breast sizes on display so be prepared for that, as well as plenty of suggestive eye catches.
Outside of the fan service, the series features a vibrant color palette and is very well animated with only minor drops in quality whenever fighting takes place or mid-range shots are used on groups of characters. It is worth noting that even in combat there is fan service, but it does nothing to detract from the action as everything is well put together and looks gorgeous on Blu-ray.
While many English dubs can be either worse or the same in quality as the Japanese voice work, rarely does an English dub surpass the original voice track. High School DxD can be considered one of those rare cases since nearly all of the English cast performs exceptionally well, minus some issues with the way Kiba’s voice actor handles the character. Perhaps due to the unabashed nature of the perversion in Issei’s voice, handled by Scott Freeman, the nature of the jokes or a combination of the talents, the English dub actually manages to surpass the original in many ways, especially when it comes to the voicing of the psychotic exorcist Freed.
As for the soundtrack for the series, High School DxD became well known long before it was released in English thanks to its ending theme “Study x Study” by SylipS. Not only is the song extremely catchy but it is also paired with one of the most well recognized ending sequences from the year High School DxD was released and has to be seen to be believed, as describing it would spoil the fun. As for the opening theme, it is “Trip –innocent of D-“ and is handled by Larval Stage Planning and is also enjoyable, but is overshadowed by the ending theme and the rest of the music within the series is rather run of the mill.
As far as extra content goes, High School DxD comes with numerous on-disc bonuses. Some of these bonuses are expected, such as a clean opening theme and clean ending theme, the US trailer for the series, trailers for other FUNimation releases and two commentary tracks. However also included in this release are two sets of Japanese extra collections.
The first of which happens to be a rather basic set of Japanese promotional videos that serve to showcase the series and introduce the characters to viewers while the other is called ‘Fantasy Jiggles Unleashed.’ This bonus includes six Japanese shorts that equal up to an episode in length when combined and it sees the members of the Occult Research Club going through a number of activities, usually resulting in some of the lewdest fan service found in High School DxD.
The first commentary track is for episode 1 and features Jamie Marchie, who voices Rias Gremory and is also the lead writer on the series, Felicia Angelle who does the voice of Raynere and Teri Rogers who handles the voice work for Akeno. If the latter two’s names seem unfamiliar, it is because they are both new voice actresses and they discuss their start with FUNimation as well as how they handled their first time voicing these characters.
As for the second commentary track, it takes place during episode 7 and it features Jad Saxton who handles the voice of Koneko, Scott Freeman the voice of Issei, and Tyson Rinehart who voices Issei’s friend Matsuda. The commentary is more humorous and random this time around and when it does focus on the episode, it is usually to highlight the boobs and nut shots on display.
High School DxD could easily have been “just another boobie show.” Sure it is packed with nipples and panty shots but it also manages to deliver an elaborate storyline with an expansive world waiting to be explored but also a cast of likable characters that bring the plot to life. By leaving viewers with numerous hints as to what will happen in the future of the series, High School DxD manages to boost its way past other ecchi shows and delivers a stronger story than one would find in even serious dramas, making it an easy series to recommend and should not be passed up.
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