「対戦前夜です！」 (Taisen Zen’yadesu)
“The Night Before Battle!”
This episode was everything I like about High School DxD, and only a little of what I don’t. Can we do this all the time?
Regular readers shouldn’t be surprised to hear that, when it comes to Stilts and fanservice, the more shameless, the better. Fanservice is so silly when you actually think about it that it works best when it’s taking refuge in audacity (trope!) and leaning heavily on the rule of sexy (trope!). So, yeah, I enjoyed this episode. Rias-buchou, you’re the best! (And Akeno, and and—*nosebleed*)
The only time it rubbed wrong: when Astaroth was holding Asia upside down and threatening to rape her. High School DxD has a bad habit of continuing to fetishize characters when sexual abuse is on the table, which is horrifying rather than titillating. But the rest was carefree, silly, and hawt, so overall a good job. Turns out that Stilts can be distracted by the sexy (trope!). Who knew?
Avoiding The Railroad Plot
What annoyed me about the Loki arc was that it was a railroad plot (trope!). The reasons given for why Issei & co had to confront Loki felt contrived, especially when the most powerful people in heaven and hell were sitting on the sidelines for reasons. Here, they avoided that mistake splendidly. Given Astaroth’s interest in Asia, using them as bait was entirely reasonable, and then we were treated to powerhouses like Odin, Azazel, and even Sairaorg actually helping! Granted, they were holding off a bunch of mooks, mostly off-screen, but at least they were still doing something.
I also appreciate how Azazel made a mistake. He never planned for Rias’ team to fight Astaroth, becuse why would he? He’s got more powerful pieces on the board. But once Asia was kidnapped (again), he didn’t argue—and now our heroes get the juiciest part once again. Splendidly done.
Another thing I liked this time was the good foreshadowing. From what’s-his-name taking over as heir after the original died in an “accident” to Sairaorg kicking ass (again), they’re at least trying to lay things out ahead of time. (And the TV guest appearance thing too, I suspect.) Vali’s hint was too blasted vague though. I wish he had said something to make me go, “Ooo, I wonder what that means?” instead of, “You unnecessarily cryptic bastard.”
But what I really found interesting was the talk of when Issei will go off on his own. I didn’t realize it was such an understood, normal thing that he would eventually do that. Now I just have to wonder who Rias will be left with once Issei takes Asia, Xenovia, and let’s face it, most of the harem with him. Mark and tag your spoilers, LN readers—I was speaking hypothetically. I’ll wait until it happens to see.
Looking Ahead – Punch This Creepy Fuck In The Dick
There’s something nice about completely reprehensible villains. I love a multi-faceted villain as much as the next guy, but sometimes you want a bastard the heroes can wholeheartedly beat the tar out of, and Astaroth was
kind evil enough to oblige. I look forward to that, and what sounds like Issei’s new skill, next time.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Great fanservice, good foreshadowing, & action that avoids the railroad plot. More of this please #haremking s3e7
- Kuroka-neesama too? What IS it with Issei!
- Dereneko. It was a long time coming, and it is fantastic.
- Koneko-chan protecting Gya-kun. D’aaawwww, friendship!
- Stop that, Odin. You bastard!
- The crazy priest is back, yaaaay!
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: Practical freedom, Old to them, Stop sending me job ideas, and Schrödinger’s Skill.