Let me be up front about something: I love objectively-terrible harem anime. If you put me in front of a show and the first five minutes of the first episode are spent establishing that it is going to be the story of a sad-sack high school boy who lives with an hyper-cute sister figure who is NOT IN FACT RELATED BY BLOOD and who goes to school with a bevy of other cute girls, most of which can be neatly sorted into a half-dozen character archetypes, then you may as well just check off the next six hours on my calendar because I am going to binge that thing all the way to the end. If the cute girls happen to be supernatural or mythological creatures of some types, this goes double.
I’ve watched Everyday Life with Monster Girls, The Testament of Sister New Devil, My Wife is the Student Body President, KissXSis, OreImo AND Eromanga Sensei, Omamori Himari, Rosario+Vampire, To-Love-Ru, and you know I should probably stop listing shows because I’m almost certainly already on a List somewhere.
However, I have always drawn sort of a line at High School DxD, even though – in theory – it should check all of my boxes.
This is why. It starts like this:
And while I don’t demand high-brow writing, this is basically so low-brow that it could possibly be mistaken for a mustache.
On the other hand, the show just gets brought up SO DAMN OFTEN when people talk about high-fanservice-anime that I finally broke down and watched it.
It is, for the record, extremely low-brow.
While the laws of physics are commonly chucked out the window in anime, fabric in DxD follows a particularly questionable set of rules. It can go from insanely tough and capable of restraining the most improbable set of knockers ever drawn by an artist with a questionable grasp of anatomy but an excellent idea of what sells, to paper-thin and tearing at the slightest provocation when the plot requires that, for reasons that are self apparent, the improbable knockers must be set free.
I half-suspect that the show director mandated a maximum Time Between Nudity for the animators – and just to be certain, the pre-and-post commercial break eyecatch almost always includes a heaping serving, followed by an ending animation that features pole dancing, erotic Twister, or a bikini car wash. If said director owns a dictionary, it stops at “subtitle”, because he does not know the meaning of the word “subtle.”
Goddamnit, I loved it. It had genuine heart to it, and a particularly irreverant take on mashing together assorted mythologies, and heroes that shout out their more-and-more-bizarrely-named combat techniques, and a huge cast of characters from which to select the Best Girl.
For the record, it’s Rias.
And it’s not even close.
The main character – the person talking in the caption way back at the start of this post – dies in the very first episode, is reincarnated as a devil, and finds himself in the middle of an eons-old conflict between devils, angels, and FALLEN angels – who are, let’s be clear, NOT devils. Over time, the show throws in some Norse mythology, some Journey to the West, battle nuns, witches, dragons, and – for the hell of it – Joan D’Arc in a brief action bit where she beats up an angel who USED to be a battle nun and is also the main character’s childhood friend. There are SEVEN swords called “Excalibur”, all with different properties and most of which evolve into cooler versions of themselves, and all battles must include the antagonists describing the names and characteristics of their special attacks while the protagonists sit there politely waiting to be told exactly how someone is going to try to kill them.
Oh and there are a couple of cute guy characters, too, in a token attempt at “let’s add something for the ladies”. Their clothing is generally made of sturdier stuff than anything worn by a girl, mind you.
Would I recommend watching this with your family over? Probably not. Would I recommend that you mark some time on your calendar to binge four seasons straight? Yes. You may lose all respect for yourself. Your friends will CERTAINLY lose all respect for you. It does not matter. Embrace the trashy anime as you embrace your trashy self.
High School DxD is legitimately, genuinely good, so you don’t have to feel bad about liking it! (Quite a few of those ones you named above are also legitimately good, too, for that matter!)
I think at some point you just have to say “yeah, I actually like this, and screw what anyone else thinks”. I’ve certainly been a lot happier since I did that with gaming.
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Oh, for sure! I just didn’t expect to wind up enjoying this one so much. I figured I’d be rolling my eyes for as many episodes as I could stomach and then be able to say I’d at least seen some of it, but It’s just so damn earnest that I couldn’t stop.
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