High School DxD Hero
Episode 4

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 4 of
High School DxD Hero ?

So episode 4 happened.

While that may not exactly be a fair way to describe the episode, it nonetheless characterizes how little of a lasting impression it made. I first watched it during my lunch break, but I had to go back and watch big chunks of it again at the end of the work day just to recall what happened. That's generally not a good sign.

So what does happen? Well, the Hero faction of the Chaos Brigade strikes on two different fronts. One is in Kyoto, where the spear-wielding young man is revealed to be Cao Cao, a descendant of a like-named warlord who figured prominently in the classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The other is the home front back at the school, but we see only the aftermath of that battle because the attention remains on what Issei and crew are doing. His battle is mostly typical for the franchise, as all sorts of new foes with special powers but forgettable identities show up to face off against Issei and friends, resulting in a fresh opportunity for Issei to combine his Booblingual and Dress Break powers to take a trio of cannon fodder out of the fight. A new stand-in for Freed shows up to oppose the more knightly characters, with his only distinguishing characteristic being a silver third arm that allows him to wield three swords, while Azazel battles Cao Cao to an uninteresting standoff. To keep the battle from being decisive, a young witch with the amusing name Le Fay Pendragon (combining Morgan Le Fay and Arthur Pendragon) shows up and throws out a giant suit of armor named after a legendary English giant to chastise Cao Cao for going too far. Strangely enough, she's apparently a fan of the Boob Dragon.

So yeah, this fight smacks of a supernatural variation on one of those mixers where you jump through hoops to get introduced to everyone. It offers little excitement or thrill factor beyond one fanservice scene, and it would feel like a complete waste of time if it weren't the first instance this season where Issei's evolution from flunkie to charismatic leader has been emphasized, as someone who can stand in as King when Rias isn't around. Issei has unquestionably drawn in a bevy of compatriots who are extremely loyal to him, and this battle also shows that the team functions well when he takes charge. That's a much more interesting development than anything else in this episode, certainly moreso than Cao Cao's utterly uninspired motivation of wanting to see how far humans can go in an environment populated by angels, devils, and gods. Snore.

It's also handled better than the shoehorned reappearance of the guy from last episode's flashback. This guy with the shadow-related Sacred Gear has been written into this season sloppily, but at least his shadow armor is sorta cool and he has Issei (improbably) on the ropes at the end of the episode. Maybe the fox girl will jump to Issei's rescue? Whatever the case, the sooner that guy gets offed so we can return to not caring about him, the better.

Rating: C+

High School DxD Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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