The Spring 2015 Anime Preview Guide
High School DxD BorN
How would you rate episode 1 of
High School DxD BorN ?
Community score: 4.0
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
Review: The greatest strength and focal point of the High School DxD franchise has always been its copious amounts of quality fan service, but just as important to setting the franchise at the top of the heap of full-bore harem franchises from the past few years is that it has also always had storylines which go well beyond just excuses for fan service opportunities. Based on the first episode of this third season, neither of those factors has changed, and nothing here suggests that recent arrivals like The Testament of Sister New Devil (its closest cousin) or Isuca are going to upend DxD's supremacy anytime soon. It is still the standard against which all other fan service-focused harem series (especially heavily supernatural ones) from the current decade should be judged.
Although the first episode does have one significant action sequence, it is much more about establishing potential plot threads and serving up the service. Despite waking up to three sexy demons in his bed, Issei is plagued by a disturbing dream of Yuuma/Raynelle, the fallen angel who nearly killed both him and Asia early in the first season. He's not the only one out of sorts, either, as Rias is bothered by the fact that Issei still addresses her as President while calling the others by first name and Koneko seems troubled by something she won't talk about – although the episode's final scene suggests that what's on her mind is an impending meeting with her sister. The rest are as playful as normal, even when they take a supernatural train ride to the Underworld for Rias's annual summer visit, which this time also happens to coincide with a meeting with representatives from Asgard. The playfulness ends when Rias's servants suddenly find themselves spirited out of the train and pitted in a fight against a massive dragon. As they are on the verge of losing the battle, they learn that it is actually just a training exercise to gauge their current skill levels, and that training is going to be a major component of the trip under the guidance of “Professor” Azazel. Meanwhile, other divine beings are involved in their own schemes.
So the second season wastes no time in throwing out a lot of meat to chew on, including finally getting around to delving into the background of Koneko, the only member of the Gremory team whose past has not been explored yet. It also looks like this season is going to delve much further into a point brought up near the end of the previous season: that this setting has more mythologies in play than just the one that the angel-fallen angel-demon triad defines. Both are welcome directions, as is exploring further the insecurities within the otherwise-confident Rias. (She is so much better a character than Mio, her counterpart in Testament, that comparing the two is laughable.) Some of the light touches of humor, such as how Issei's parents are so gullibly accepting of their home having been turned into a mansion almost literally overnight, also work well.
And of course it doesn't skimp on the fan service. In fact, the very first shot is a pan across the exposed chests of the Gremory team's female members, and that is far from the last bit of nudity in the episode. (Naturally, Funimation's stream censors it.) The closer is not left out either, and one later discussion between Azazel and Issei involves the former educating the latter on playing with nipples instead of just fondling breasts, complete with dramatic music to highlight how silly it is.
Essentially, nothing in this episode should leave established fans of the franchise as anything less than enthusiastic about the new season.
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