High School DxD Hero
Episode 8

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 8 of
High School DxD Hero ?

Episode 8 is an exercise in stark contrasts. Its first half takes a more lighthearted approach, with a press conference about the upcoming Rating Game resulting in easily some of the funniest content yet this season when it predictably takes a raunchy turn. The second half, beginning with the sauna scene, goes in an entirely different direction by finally taking a more concentrated look at a fundamental relationship issue that's been simmering beneath the surface for seasons now but can no longer be ignored. Or perhaps more accurately, Rias has decided not to tolerate it anymore.

In a sense, this strikes to the core of what it means to be a harem series. The girls in harems might bicker, compete against each other, or even outright fight each other, but at least a begrudging tolerance of each other – because damn it, they all love the same person – has to exist for the concept to work at all. Putting up with the male lead's good-natured cluelessness is also a crucial part of this dynamic. Most harem series either never get to the point in the story where this obtuseness becomes a problem or they simply ignore it forever, which is why I'm happy that this series actually confronts it head-on. The breaking point comes when Issei fails to realize that by promising to protect yet another girl – in this case Ravel in a promise to her mother, who even a dolt should recognize is fishing for a mate for Ravel – he's unwittingly making a deeply meaningful commitment. Rias gets upset enough about his lack of awareness to walk out on him in a huff, and basically everyone sides with her. Frankly, I would have too.

And it's not like he didn't get a whopping hint straight to his face just a few hours earlier with the most intense fanservice scene to date for Hero. When Rias comes onto him in the shower with the full intent of taking his virginity, in a move that I have to think was as much a test as an expression of desire, he blows it by being unable to call Rias by name or think of her in any terms other than being President. Clearly he intends calling her by title as a sign of respect and adoration, but implies much more distance between them than what Rias wants. So I was also happy to see her walk out after that.

All this being said, Rias and the others have been around Issei long enough to be well aware of how dense he is, so someone should have stepped in to explain things in a way that he can understand rather than just rattling off a litany of punitive statements, especially in the case of his answer to Ravel's mother. It's especially important now, when maintaining harmonious teamwork is going to be essential to defeating Sairaorg's team. I'm expecting that this will cause problems in the match, which looks like it should start next episode.

Still, the first part with the interview was light fun. The Underworld still looks and behaves too much like the real world to be distinctive, but that at least makes for a great joke when the press behaves exactly like it would in our world by running with the whole Oppai Dragon business. Gotta give credit to Sairaorg for surprising with a wonderful finishing move on that joke.

Anyway, it was nice to see Rias finally recapture at least some of her former assertiveness, but the series still has a ways to go on that front. Issei's pep talk to Gasper was cool, and I applaud the series for actually owning up to Issei's accountability in the whole harem thing.

Rating: B

High School DxD Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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