High School DxD Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
High School DxD Hero ?
Between being a season finale and following up one of the franchise's single best episodes, this episode had some big shoes to fill. While not as strong as episode 11, it nonetheless fulfills those expectations pretty well, as it provides satisfying action, dramatic, and romantic conclusions to its storylines while setting an ominous tone in its epilogue that easily allows room for more.
First up is the climactic knock-down, drag-out fight between Sairaorg and Issei. Seeing even Rias reduced to just the role of a bystander when she's directly on the battlefield is annoying, as a team-up between them to defeat Sairaorg would have been satisfying and meaningful, but I can accept it better given that this is a friendly one-on-one at heart, a test of wills directly between Sairaorg and Issei with no greater baggage than that. Thankfully, that means that Issei has entirely dropped the “you hurt my friends” shtick that was awkwardly used last episode to get him fired up. The resulting battle is just a straight-up slugfest, with lots of impressive power blows but little in technique or special moves. It's not the most dynamic or dramatic fight for DxD, with its best moment being Issei's public declaration of love for Rias rather than any attack, but it's good enough for a proper action resolution.
The romantic cap comes from Issei and Rias finally having their moment together where Issei finally calls her “Rias” instead of “President”, and both of them lay their feelings bare and kiss. It's a scene that the whole series has been building toward, and I'm happy to see it included in this season. Of course, that doesn't mean that the other girls have given up on him – I was particularly amused by Akeno's comment about how she's switching over to “get him to cheat” mode – but you'd lose the harem aspect if things suddenly went monogamous. Issei still gets treated badly by girls who aren't in his circle, as evidenced by the School Festival scenes, but it's hard to feel any pity for him given all the babes who still want to have his children.
The episode works well enough on dramatic fronts too. While the business about Sairaorg's mother seemed like a cheap gimmick when it was introduced a few episodes back, it was satisfying to see her recover, and that business at the end involving Indra seems ominous indeed. The proposed status upgrade for Issei and how his Promotion to Queen was only “incomplete” also provide at least some additional story hooks going forward, and of course Cao Cao and his crew are still out there.
While this is definitely a good stopping point for the overall story, it's hardly finished; as I understand it, the animation has still only covered a fraction of the novels published to date. Overall, I'm disappointed with the artistic style changes this season but generally find this to be a little better-animated than most of BoRN, and my disappointment about the lighter use of fan service and how Rias was mostly shoved to the sidelines is balanced by Sairaorg being such a likable antagonist and the proper resolution to at least one long-term story thread.
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