High School DxD BorN
After the ruckus has settled, Issei finds, to his complete lack of surprise, that his harem has expanded some more. Xenovia has already been added to it and is showing an ever increasing interest in Issei, but Koneko, who has always kept him at arm's length, might also become a part of it once her secret is unveiled.
All this on top of the business with the Chaos Brigade, and Issei might find himself up to his armpits in something other than boobs. Again.
I think I will always remember High School DxD as the franchise that was recommended to me by a woman. That might not sound all that unusual if you don't know what kind of series High School DxD is, but if you're reading this review, chances are that you have already watched (and presumably loved) both the original series and HS DxD New, and you'll also know that the show is almost wall-to-wall fanservice of the boobiest kind. Of course, since then, more shows that feature fanservice front and center has made its appearance, its strongest contender so far being Monster Musume, a show that also really kickstarted another recent phenomenon among fetishes: the monster girls.
"I never expected to go to hell on a train."
The main reason why these two are counted among the strongest of fanservice shows is simply because they approach the subjects without an ounce of shame, and because they allow their female cast to flourish alongside the male lead, which makes them more attractive partners for viewers who doesn't want insipid dishcloths for female characters. High School DxD, all the way up to BorN, earned that extra label of "being fun" by completely embracing its inner dirty spirit by lacing its lines with all kinds of innuendo and "nudge, nudge" winks. And it's still easily the biggest draw of the show by being fun without being demeaning.
I know I probably sound like I'm repeating myself a lot. It's probably a given, since High School DxD BorN sticks to its guns (so to speak) in a very "give the audience what they want" manner. For all the fanservice on display here, the show is still mainly an action show. But where earlier seasons mixed it up some with various school-related shenanigans or dressed up the more shounen-ish parts in various mythological angles. On that note: props for including Hati and Skoll alongside Fenrir, High School DxD, because including just Fenrir or Yggdrasil is about as lazy as you can get when you want to ride the Norse train. More hilariously, they portrayed Odin as a complete and utter pervert, which isn't entirely out of character for him in the original mythology either.
"I also went to the titty bar and made it rain."
Sadly, that does also mean that High School DxD BorN shares the same weaknesses as the earlier seasons; confrontations can be a drag, because the dialogue is trite to say the least, even worse than ever. It's hard enough to listen to absurd clichés when you don't get what they're talking about, but it's even worse when you don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment, but rather wish they went about it in a different way, or just did whatever they had to do with all this yammering beforehand. One of the confrontations hilariously solved the problem by devolving into a serious discussion about which nipple to push (it's one of those "you had to be there" situations, trust me), but those are more the exception rather than the rule.
BorN had initially gotten some flak for retrofitting itself back into light novel territory -- or maybe it was the light novel being retconned into fitting the anime -- but another thing that bothered me with this season is that most of the confrontations felt rather inconsequential. While the show solved some of those confrontations with amusing twists, it leans too much on our heroes being outclassed and then just automatically solving their problems through some manner of deus ex machinae. It makes battles rather boring, and sometimes unintentionally funny because of how anticlimactically they are settled. The stakes are more arbitrary, and in one case, rather repetitive, and so it's harder to get invested in the battles because you're never really sure what's going on, other than "we want to destroy stuff because".
As uninvolving as the battles are, the show makes up for that by the characters still being their lovable selves. I mentioned in the review that Koneko had some of her past uncovered, but BorN basically lets her reach her goal, even if it almost seemed like the show wanted us to be surprised over the revelation that she is a nekomata. We also finally get to meet Akeno's heavily bearded father and learn how she came to be. Like most else in this season, her disagreements with her father are settled head-spinningly fast, even faster than Koneko's attitude towards Issei, and I would've liked seeing how and why. That said, Koneko's more open friendliness is quite adorable and Akeno turning more into a big sister type rather than her earlier S&M whipping queen is certainly not a bad thing either, and her good-natured teasing is a lot of fun to watch. Asia and Rias hasn't really changed much. Asia is still a complete sweetheart and Rias is still a mildly jealous, but very responsible head of her little family. One female addition to the group of ladies is the valkyrie Rossweisse, and for all the fun the other girls bring to the show, she's kind of a stick in the mud, which BorN admits is the joke. It's a weirdly tiresome joke type in an otherwise fun show, and it's surprising that the show would lower itself to this level: the middle-aged (I.E. in her twenties) spinster who laments her lack of boyfriends through random crying fits.
Issei is also still a surprisingly rootable main lead, mostly because he is, as a certain wizard once said about a certain Took: such an earnest fool. When I started watching High School DxD, I wasn't sure how I felt about him. Fresh off from trying to peek on the girls in the shower and being chased by said girls when they found out, he didn't make the best of first impressions, but when it comes to concerns outside of his libido, he's downright progressive. I've seen shows trying to pretend to be so, like Hundred or Bladedance of Elementalers, where the main leads spend most of their time rescuing the women when not being beat up by them over some kind of misunderstanding. In BorN, Issei recognizes when someone requests sex as a way of escaping an uncomfortable situation and doesn't act on it despite his legendary horniness. I earlier described him as a bit of an egotist, but that had more to do with his complete and unshielded interest in various female bodyparts, so said assessment might've been a little bit unfair.
The last season also introduced us to Azazel, the leader of the fallen angels, and one of the more interesting characters of the lineup. It's still a bit uncertain how the fallen angels really came to be, but Issei himself once rode the train of bad first impressions by being murdered by one on his very first honest-to-God (no pun intended) date, and exacerbated even more when Asia was almost murdered by a group of them for her powers. Azazel is a consistently fun guy, and a very sneaky one. He was the one who set Issei on the path of the pleasure of titty-poking, but that probably had less to do with him being an old pervert (like Odin) and more about him really knowing how to push someone's... uh, buttons. He's the kind where you're glad he's on your side.
"You're right. If they keep this up, they'll motorboat themselves."
Last season also introduced us to the Chaos Brigade, the team that basically makes up the main antagonists in this story, though more and more they come across as a bunch of good-natured renegades. Arguably, seeing as the things they do have the potential to end catastrophically for our heroes, not to mention lots of people who doesn't have anything to do with any of this. There is the fact that the core group seems to be only in it to shake things up, while those who start something really dangerous tend to be abandoned by said core group when they learn of it, so I kind of get the impression that they'll end up as friends eventually. Doubly so for Vali, who you might remember as the carrier of Albion, the Vanishing Dragon. We've reached the point where he's actively helping the main character. For vaguely tsundere reasons, granted, but help is still help. Not that the show is lacking in true villains. We are so blessed to witness Fried's last stand, and let's just say he hasn't gotten any LESS insane since his first two appearances. There's also Loki -- because when has anyone named that NOT been a villain -- and one who may or may not come as a bit of a surprise, which also was a bit of a shame, because I think the show would've been better served if he wasn't one. That said, the reveal came with a nice elaboration of an earlier happening in the first season, so I can't really complain too much.
What I can complain about, however, is how inconsequential the season felt. In a way, it felt more like a training camp arc with character introductions layered on top of it. If any of the characters in the show were put into situations where they had to fight for their lives, victory would be bought with additions of various kinds of deus ex machinae more than anything else. Almost every single fight are one-sided, only turned in our heroes' favor once said DeM is handed out. I'm all for a bit of excitement, but coupled with the rather terrible battle dialogue, things tended to lean more towards the anticlimactic. And in the end, the only real development to be found was in the size of Issei's harem.
It's a good thing that most of the fun of the show is in its unrelenting pervertedness, because High School DxD BorN is easily up on the level of its earlier seasons there. There's just as much nudity now, if not more, seeing as each time Issei wakes up after a night's sleep, the number of naked girls around him increases by each season half. It's actually kind of adorable that Asia is more daring now, but aside from Rias and Akeno, we now also have regular visits from Xenovia and, once she has been won over, Koneko as well. It's impressive that a pervert of his level manages to keep his hands off the goods, so to speak, but given that we've reached the point where some of the girls will gladly grab his hand and put it directly on their chest -- or even his face and apply that directly on cleavage -- he's well catered for, I should think. Given the number of girls he wakes up with, it's probably only a matter before he suffers a heart attack. The medical kind, that is, not the kind he received from his first date. Issei's English dub voice sounds a bit off, probably because his new voice actor needs a little more time getting into the role, but given what happened to his earlier voice actor, that was pretty much unavoidable.
Mild disappointment aside, High School DxD BorN is still worth it. As it is, it's unlikely that we'll ever get a full TV series of the complete works, especially since the novel itself is still in the process of being created. In this show's case, it hurts a great deal less, though, since the story progressing isn't the only draw the show has. As light as the story felt in this season, even more than the earlier ones, the humor does a pretty fine job at salvaging BorN from the pit it would otherwise rest in.
Besides, how can you say "no" to these bedroom eyes?
Strong three star, one deducted for the slapdash action story, but partially salvaged by the sheer fun when it gets down and dirty. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The show isn't aiming to be appropriate for kids anytime soon, what with it having more easily accessible chests than General Knoxx's armory. The show is so relentless about it that the violence it has, which is actually fairly serious violence at that, almost becomes a second thought.
Version(s) Viewed: Region A Bluray, bilingual.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
High School DxD BorN © 2015 TNK, Highschool DxD BorN Production Committee
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