「迎撃、開始です！」 (Geigeki, kaishidesu!)
On the one hand, the episode felt abrupt—suddenly there’s a climactic battle that the powerful characters couldn’t take care of for reasons. On the other hand, the battles were great, the character growth was satisfying, and the ending … cliffhanger, DAMN!
Suddenly, A Major Battle
I heard tell that season three is skipping around, and this stuff is from a later volume than the events of last episode. Which I don’t have a problem with if it’s done for a reason, and done well—a story should be adapted to its medium, rather than directly ported over, because each medium has different strengths and weaknesses. But you have to do it well, and the first half of this episode felt abrupt.
Last episode felt like the end of a crisis, not the immediate prelude to a larger one. The reasons for why Rias’ and Souna’s teams went instead of the big shots who were all over this place also barely passed muster. LN readers, I know—their powers are so great that they would trigger the war or destroy the world or whatever. Like I said, they barely passed muster. It’s just galling when all the big shots are right there and don’t act because of reasons that feel so clearly contrived. Then there’s the tonal shift from powering up via breast pokes last episode, to full-on life-and-death, the-world-is-on-the-line struggles this time. I like that DxD can encompass both of those, but we need an episode or two in between.
The Character Development Is Real
Yet for all the odd stitch marks on the first part of the episode, I enjoyed the second half a lot. Part of it was seeing the realization of Koneko-chan’s and Akeno’s growth, even if Koneko-chan’s was tied in part to her feelings for Issei, which once again felt abrupt. (And after I was praising the show for taking it slow last week, ugh.) I like how Koneko-chan’s struggles jived with Akeno’s struggles, so them both making breakthroughs at the same time was satisfying.
I also enjoyed all the character combinations and interactions. Xenovia and Irina back together was great, while Saji getting a thank you from Souna was adorable. Nothing beats Kiba-kun complimenting Tsubaki, though, and her blushing. I can ship them, right? Right? SHIPPING FURIOUSLY!!
Oh Hi, Fenrir
The moment when Fenrir took out Issei was well done. One of the great things visual mediums can do is control the pace so we don’t see the punch until it lands. A good example is The Dark Knight, where:
Here, Fenrir broke free of Kiba-kun’s balance breaker, and then the hammer appeared, and—chomp. There wasn’t enough time to consider that a possibility until it had already happened. A book can do this too, but since the reader controls the pace, this is something a movie or TV show excels at. It was well done.
Looking Ahead – I Guess This Death Won’t Stick Long
I’m annoyed that they showed Issei alive in the preview. I would never expect Issei to stay dead for long, but I can think of stories that made me worry the main character had died—which I can’t mention, because holy hell spoilers—and that made it nearly impossible to not watch/read the next instalment as quickly as possible. Make us doubt, if even just for a while, and we could have wondered if Issei would spend some time dead, spend major time in the hospital, be somehow hobbled by this injury, or even gone altogether … but no, he’s back immediately, apparently. Bah! Ball dropped on that one.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – An abrupt first half gives way to awesome battles & a gut-wrenching turn in the second. Issei, nooo! #haremking s3e4
- This feels obvious now, but I would have said this at the beginning of the episode too: Should have taken Asia. Who leaves their healer behind? Bakas.
- It’s interesting to compare the gods (and satans, and whatever) in DxD to the ones in DanMachi. Here the socio-political situation is interesting, and it’s a good backdrop for Issei & co’s adventures, but the gods in DanMachi are such better characters. They’re a lot more central to the story, granted, but every time I see DxD Loki, I’m struck by how every other version of Loki I’ve ever seen is more interesting than this one, the DanMachi one most certainly included. Still, I suppose he does his job.
- I feel like they had a crappy team comp for most of the battles. The two knights are on Fenrir, while the two tankiest fighters are on some chump wolf, and four casters are dealing with the dragon. Mix in Koneko or Issei on Fenrir to keep him contained better, then take Xenovia, Kiba, and one of the Kings/Queens on the dragon and focus fire the two little dogs down one after another. Soon you’ve got a max of three enemies, counting Loki, and maybe Issei doesn’t get chomped. Where did all that studying go, Rias!
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Schrödinger’s Skill, Pricing: Ebooks and print, Happiness is low overhead, and People as things.