「体育館裏のホーリー」 (Taiikukan ura no Hourii)
“Holy Behind the Gymnasium”
Wow. This isn’t something you see every day. After TNK got the boot and Passione took over, word was that they would ignore the anime-original ending of BorN and continue on with the LN plot, but I didn’t expect them to take the time to officially retcon all that out and fill us in on what we missed. This is really unusual, because it comes across like they’re shitting all over the other studio/whoever made those awful decisions last time (the production committee, realistically—which makes it even more surprising, because some of those committee members might still be there) while doing all this extra work for comparatively little new content. But what makes it even more odd is that it’s the right decision—which often has no bearing on what an anime production committee does. I mean, they’re going to gain all sorts of goodwill from the LN crew for doing this, right? It’s really smart! I’m just surprised they did it. I guess the pessimists were wrong this time.
The story picks up after the end of episode eight of BorN, and contains many of the events of episode nine, with several very important changes. The funny thing is that, in a straight one-to-one comparison of scenes that are in both episodes, the BorN sections are better. Maybe it’s just the version of this 00 episode that I got a hold of, but the animation in HERO seems cheaper and fuzzier. But when it comes to the actual content, this episode wins out. Not because it stays true to the LN for staying-true-to-the-source’s sake, but because the source is friggin’ hilarious! There wasn’t much new content in this episode overall, but what there was left me in stitches.
No way did I expect the Oppai Dragon Song to be plot important, but here we are. I was laughing my butt off! And from a storytelling point of view it was the absolutely right thing to happen, because it was very in character for High School DxD. Part of what makes this series so much fun is that it doesn’t take itself seriously for too long, and when it does there’s a sense of good cheer about it. Having Issei be saved through a silly song, and because he pressed Rias’ nipple (“Switch Hime”, hah!), is the right kind of delightful absurdity for this series. It’s the right kind of stupid to be endearing, and having this happen instead of some uber-serious plot turn is way better. And now we can pick back up where the story should have been, without all that other nonsense. Great!
If I had a complaint (other than the fuzzy animation), it’s that the episode goes pretty quick, and some things (like the majesty of Great Red) don’t come across as well when you’re rushing. Vali’s rescue of Asia is even more BS in this version too, since there isn’t even a hint that he’d save her (though that was still a cheap move before). Which leaves us with a bit of a conundrum: Should someone who’s only now watching BorN skip episodes 9-12? Yes. Yes they should. Though for anime-only viewers, it might end up that having watched the bad anime-original ending of BorN, overwriting most of it with this, but remembering the good parts from episode 9 of BorN is the best way to get the complete picture. It’s an odd situation, but for those of us who have already suffered, we probably come out ahead. If someone were only catching BorN now, I’d definitely save them the pain. Oppai Dragon Song is much better.
The episode ends with a sweet Asia x Issei kiss, and there’s really not much to add. High School DxD is back! They’ve righted the ship, and it’s set to be as silly as ever. Hopefully the fuzzy animation will get better—or I’ll find a better source—before next week’s official first episode. I can’t wait!
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: Book 3 Progress Report.