「使い魔、ゲットします!」 (Tsukaima, Getto Shimasu!)
“I’ll Get a Familiar!”
So here I find myself already covering Zero no Tsukaima, and suddenly this show is playing the familiar card as well. Naturally, this can only mean one thing – comparison time! So how does High School DxD’s treatment of the Familiar trope stack up? Well truthfully, it’s not really a helpful comparison to make. DxD’s familiars are like how ZnT’s familiars were originally supposed to work, before every one of them that wasn’t human or could take human form was put on a bus and never heard from again. If there was a continuum of familiar types in anime, DxD would be all the way to the left where familiars are semi-useful animals with minimal characterization, while all the way on the other side would be stories like Negima (the manga specifically, since that one’s way better), where all the special pacts are between two people. Zero no Tsukaima is a special case where its world is closer to the former, but its story is waaay closer to the latter. Regardless, as far as being the focus of an episode, the familiar thing worked fine, so moving on.
Actually, one more thing on that. I have to say that I liked how the strange woman from back in episode 1 was revealed to be Rias-senpai’s familiar. Hanging plot threads like that can be really annoying, even if they’re small and insignificant like this one, so I’m glad that one was justified. Now, moving on for real.
As I guessed last episode, the ecchi comedy remained the focus here. I don’t think I need to say this, but the tennis and dodgeball scenes were fantastic, for so many reasons. The long hinted-at arrival of Shitori Souna (the one with the short hair, Takamori Natsumi) and her devils was full of good stuff. I especially enjoyed Souna-senpai’s unnecessarily flashy moves, though her gentle jabs at Rias-senpai were fun as well. I’m curious about these Rating Games she kept mentioning, as well as what she was talking about when she mentioned Rias-senpai’s body. My only gripe here is that Souna-senpai’s character seemed rather flat. Of course, a number of people have (rightfully) pointed out that most of the characters in this show aren’t particularly innovative, but they’re fun, so they get a (partial) pass from me, whereas Souna-senpai and her crew are derivative without being especially entertaining, so they get no such thing. Good times were had, but when the most interesting character of the bunch is the rival pawn (worth only four pieces…how sad for you) who tried to hit on Asia, I won’t be kept up at night waiting for their return. If they’re going to bring anyone back, I would want it to be the crazy priest. At least he was interesting.
Moving on, probably my second favorite part of this episode was Issei’s pain. I found myself comparing the constant punishment Issei was taking with the (comparatively light) punishment of another main male lead from this season, Segawa Yuuta of Papakiki. It’s a bit annoying when he gets smacked around because it’s never his fault, but with Issei, it’s always his fault. Or rather, even if he hasn’t done anything right that moment to deserve the punishment, he either has before, is about to, or will very soon. His lecherous activities are hilarious to behold, and they open him up to completely justifiable cosmic retribution, which is why I was laughing every time Rassei zapped him like Sato Tarou getting too close to Akeno-senpai in sadist mode. Actually, perhaps a better example would be good old Keitaro from Love Hina. Since Keitaro didn’t always deserve the punishment he got, the comedy sometimes backfired and made his harem look like a bunch of violent loonies (especially Naru). With Issei? No such problem. Nuke away, Rias-senpai. Do what you gotta do.
But my favorite part of this episode was definitely Koneko-chan. It was really fun watching the subtle shifts in her opinion about Issei, it moving from disgust, to begrudging admiration, and right back to disgust again. I’m a sucker for stoic characters who gradually warm up to the main character, but I’m not even sure that was why I enjoyed those glimpses so much. Probably it’s because it was a rare bit of subtlety in a show that generally isn’t. Sometimes a message needs to be whispered rather than yelled. That’s just good storytelling, and I like to see it being done occasionally.
My final verdict? Oh yeah, awesome friggin’ episode. But if anything, my jaw dropped more from the preview than anything else. Son-in-law? Rias-senpai’s virginity?? TNK, you have my full attention. When does next week get here, again? *Looks at a calendar* …crap.