High School DxD Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 2 of
High School DxD Hero ?
Visits to Kyoto never happen in supernatural anime series without some degree of trouble arising, and in this case we only needed half an episode before the inevitable happened. The result is the beginning of what I'm assuming will be a multi-episode story arc involving the fox girl shown prominently in the opener and a senior goddess who has been kidnapped by the Chaos Brigade.
It remains to be seen what purpose this would serve the Chaos Brigade, although I can make an educated guess. The famed Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto is the head shrine of the Shinto goddess Inari, so it would be the logical place for her to reside. Removing her would be a significant blow to the stability of the Shinto pantheon, although I have to think that there's more to it than that; on its own, this seems petty compared to the scale that the Chaos Brigade normally operates on. Regardless of where the ultimate plot may be going, it makes sense that the shrine's protectors would get jumpy when a being like Issei shows up in the wake of a kidnapping. So the whole incident serves a twofold purpose: finally bringing the curiously absent Shinto gods into the picture and providing an avenue for yet another girl to get sucked into Issei's harem.
On other fronts, we're introduced to a new aspect of Issei's Sacred Gear when we learn how the previous hosts of the Red Dragon Emperor are still present within it to some degree, and that Issei will have to come to an understanding with them in order to gain power equivalent to the Juggernaut Drive without the overwhelming side effects. That also brings the new mature-looking woman from the opener into the picture as the Gear's most powerful former female host. I was delighted to see that the “Boob Dragon” thing has impact even here, and I'm curious to see what consequences that association will have, beyond the random acts of perversion that start popping up around Issei. We also get to see more of Rossweisse – a lot more, if you know what I mean.
This brings me to the major problem I had with this episode. High School DxD has always been a fanservice-heavy franchise, and normally it does a solid job of working its excuses for fanservice into the story, however paper-thin they may be. However, this episode's scenes were forced much harder than normal, resulting in an awkward narrative flow. The bath scene involving Rias, Akeno, and Koneko felt like it was just going through the motions rather than genuinely trying to be sexy. For a series where salacious nudity is so central to the appeal, that's troubling. I'm also still not thrilled with the character design tweaks and the inability of the show to stay on-model; I'd swear that Asia's bust size fluctuated significantly throughout the episode again. On the plus side, at least the background art did an excellent job replicating various Kyoto sites; I've been to the Fushimi Inari shrine and walked through those seemingly endless rows of orange Torii, and I remember it looking much the same.
So as strange as this is to say about High School DxD, I am optimistic about the story so far but trepidatious about the fanservice going forward.
High School DxD Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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