「元カノ,倒します!」 (Moto Kano, Taoshi Masu!)
“Going to Beat My Ex-Girlfriend!”
I’m not going to lie, I’ll miss Reinare. I like a villain who really enjoys being evil, and with expressions like this, you can tell that the Angel Formerly Known as Yuuma-chan was having a great time toying with Issei. But this episode wasn’t about a Nabatame Hitomi-voiced super bitch prancing around in skimpy clothing and impaling Issei with light spears (again) – it was a chance for Issei to prove his mettle, and for Rias-senpai to show exactly why she’s the boss. They were successful on both counts.
As far as Issei goes, he was a stone-cold badass for most of this episode. While I questioned how smart it was to show his back to the person who has killed him once and just done the same to his love interes–erh, I mean, friend, the rest of the episode was Issei crying manly tears, attacking the Big Bad by himself and yanking poisonous light spears out of his legs without passing out and voiding his bowels like most of us would have. Well done, sir. That said, Issei still acted like a bit of an idiot. Perhaps there’s a limit to how often he can promote himself, but if not then he could have promoted himself to Knight and dodged those light spears, promoted himself to Rook and blocked them, or promoted himself to Queen and just zapped Reinare into next thursday. And if there is a limit, the writers should have mentioned this! And yeah, I realize that wasn’t the point of the scene – the point was to have Issei win by pure gumption and reveal to us what his Sacred Gear really does – but it’s these kinds of things that put a cap on how badass Issei can be.
And then there’s Rias-senpai, who has absolutely no limits on how badass she can be. Since Slayers was mentioned in irc earlier, I’m going to draw a slightly old-school parallel – Rias-senpai reminded me of Lina Inverse when she was nuking baddies, and anyone who does that is alright in my book. But more than that, it’s how she used the situation to help one of her people, Issei, grow. A manipulative manager she may be, but it really worked, allowing Issei to grow and mature instead of Rias-senpai just blowing Reinare away, as she clearly could have – and eventually did. And going so far as to let Issei show whether he would be an idiot and try to save Yuuma-chan? Even better. If Issei loses any points for being an idiot, Rias-senpai takes those and earns several thousand more for being smart, powerful and cunning to boot. And having an amazing rack.
So, a good episode overall, right? Well, yes, it was very entertaining. There was plenty of action, the bad guys all got justifiably melted, and Asia joined the team. We all knew things would end up roughly as they did, but it was still enjoyable getting here, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
…or is there? In thinking about this episode, I realized the greatest sin that High School DxD, and series like it, have committed: it’s not trying to be great. It’s a safe adaptation, taking decent source material, slathering on passable animation, dialing up the fanservice (which is sure to move some Blu-rays) and then calling it a day. TNK was never trying to wow us with the little touches that are making other shows airing this season – Ano Natsu de Matteru, Nisemonogatari, Rinne no Lagrange – so amazing. Instead, they were satisfied with merely being good. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy this show when I sit down to watch it, but will I remember it two seasons from now? Two years? And would I watch it so quickly if I weren’t blogging about it? I don’t know. One thing is for sure, though…by the end of this series, I’m going to be reeeeally good at making full-size images. Enjoy!