「友達、できました！」 (Tomodachi, Dekimashita!)
“Made a Friend!”
With the miles of exposition out-of-the-way, the story is finally getting interesting! Perhaps this is because we’ve entered the part where us ignorant non-light-novel-or-manga readers don’t know what’s going to happen next. Before this, we knew Issei was going to die and become a devil (it was in all the promotional material), and the Scared Gear came too abruptly for any tension or anticipation to build (plus, it was in the OP), but with the arrival of Asia Argento (Asakura Azumi), we’re finally getting into something interesting. “But Stilts!” you say, “Asia is in the OP too! We know she’s going to join the protagonists!”. Yes, but shush! We know she’ll join, but we don’t know how, and since they didn’t resolve it all in one episode we’re left wondering. Finally, there’s more tension in the plot than just that in Rias-senpai and Akeno-senpai’s uniform tops.
That said, I guess the exposition wasn’t completely done with, as the whole chess motif was finally explained. I didn’t have a problem with it this time though. Whereas in episode 2 all the exposition was delivered while standing around and just talking, here it was done much better. For one, the chess stuff was less obvious, so it was actually interesting to learn about. It was also delivered during a largely inconsequential battle, which is always appreciated. It’s nice to have something to look at during exposition, provided it’s not so important that the talking detracts from the action. There’s also just something about classifying people into what basically amounts to classes that I really enjoy. Probably a lifetime of Tolkien-inspired fantasy RPGs and the whole Fate franchise are to blame for that one.
In addition, the character traits that I found irksome last week disappeared. Rias-senpai still scolded Issei, but it was obvious that it was out of concern. As for Issei himself, while he was still plenty perverted – especially about the tit-laser demon with the large rack – he was much more heroic. The part at the end where he was yelling for Asia and struggling to get to her really made me like him even more. As I’ve said before, I like my perverts to have hearts of gold, and Issei is finally proving that he may actually deserve the Harem King title he wants so badly. Well done, sir.
If I had any qualms about this episode, it was that it painted the minions of the church as pretty psycho. In a confrontation between devils and a holy man, it was clear who the good guys were, and hoo-boy, it was not that priest. I would have preferred a little more moral ambiguity than this, but perhaps that’s just me. It’s a minor sticking point anyway…this guy was just a small fry, so it’s okay for him to be a little kooky. I’ll just be irked if all members of the church are like that, save for Asia, of course.