High School DxD Hero Episode 10
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 10 of
High School DxD Hero ?
If this was a shonen action series, then the first battle of the Ratings Game would mark the beginning of a season-long sequence of battles where even the minor skirmishes stretch out interminably to make sure that everyone gets their time in the spotlight. Thankfully, this is a harem series with substantial action instead, so the Ratings Game battles take more after the kind in Testament of Sister New Devil Burst: short and to the point, with little time wasted on posturing, exposition, power build-ups, or dramatic reversals. As a result, this episode features the entirety of five duels (although one can't really be called a proper duel) and the set-up for the sixth.
As predicted, the series is dodging the practical limitations of the dice-rolling format in favor of expediency, resulting in an improbable run of high results. (There's only a 1.3% chance of five consecutive rolls of 8 or higher on two standard dice.) Given the limited number of pieces that Sairaorg's team has left at the end of this episode – one 12, one 9, and whatever the masked guy is – maybe the game just ignores rolls that generates match-ups that can't happen? Regardless, the various die rolls allow the bulk of Rias's team to see action against the bulk of Sairaorg's team, with early results primarily but not exclusively favoring Rias.
Honestly, none of the five matches shown so far could be called thrilling. Kiba facing off against the opposing knight is a pedestrian affair between two comparable fighters who respect each others' skill, where the deciding factor seems to be that the Sairaorg team was unaware that Kiba can now manifest a variant Balance Breaker. The Rossweisse/Koneko team-up has a little more dramatic impact, but at this point the series' animation limits starts to show. Koneko being the first Rias member to get knocked out isn't surprising, since despite her powerhouse abilities, she's always seemed like the most fragile of the combatants on Rias's team. Gaspar going down during his team-up with Xenovia is also to be expected; game-changing ability aside, he's otherwise the weakest combatant not named Asia. While I could see what the story was trying to do with his courageous stand, I had serious trouble buying his insistence about being a Gremory man while wearing a girls' school uniform. Akeno going down so easily in the one match that Rias loses would have been a shocker if it wasn't for the fact that her winning would have left a gross dramatic imbalance. Even so, Akeno has also proven herself powerful in the past, so that was a bit disappointing.
Then there's Issei's “match,” which provides the episode's requisite fanservice beyond the sexy eye catches. That was pretty dumb, but I also mostly expected something like that. The way Issei broke out of his entrancement was also predictable once I saw where the scene was going; I agree with his sentiments about there being a proper order to a striptease, and you especially don't go out of order when dealing with a target whose very nickname speaks to him being a boob man. Although the approach wasn't a bad idea overall, it was an avoidable miscalculation.
The upcoming battle between Sairaorg and the Kiba/Xenovia/Rossweisse team feels like the preface to the finale, so presumably the one recap episode this season won't prevent the show running to 12 regular episodes. That leaves me wondering when that episode will air, since we'll be into the new season in two weeks' time. Right now what matters is that the series is quickly cycling through its preliminary battles while continuing to be musically sound but artistically unimpressive. In other words, it's getting the job done but not doing anything special in the process.
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