「若手最強決定戦、開始です！」 (Wakate Saikyou Kettei-sen, Kaishi desu!)
“The Deciding Battle of the Strongest Youth, Begins!”
This episode proves it: the idea wasn’t bad. This episode was GOOD, and the Raynare stuff was handled really well. The girls realized their error, and came in seeking to understand and heal Issei; Issei cut it out with that “Guys have to be strong” nonsense, and talked about his feelings. The girls were able to reassure him, and Issei was able to trust in their words now that he not only confronted what had happened, but had their positions stated unequivocally. It all worked well—it’s just that getting to this point was dragged out until the suspension of disbelief threatened to snap. If this had happened a while ago, shortly after several girls had fallen in love with him and they all decided to share him rather than fight, then it would have made sense. They just flirted at the razor’s edge of banging him for so long that it strained credibility that something wouldn’t have happened already—either Issei’s trauma coming roaring back earlier, or the girls getting frustrated and wondering what was going on. Which is what ultimately happened, Ishibumi-sensei just waited as long as absolutely possible to get there. Which is probably smart from a commercial standpoint—dragging out the will-they-or-won’t-they is a time-honored money making tradition—it’s just subpar from a storyetlling one. Still, we got here, and it works. I enjoyed it.
I rolled my eyes when Riser waltzed in and started dispensing with the advice, like suddenly he’s a good guy again. I’m pretty sure last time we saw him he was a total entitled asswipe. And yeah, people change (sometimes), but, well. I rolled my eyes, but I probably shouldn’t knock it too much. I’d like to live in a world where the absolute jackass can be reformed into a good guy, even if it doesn’t usually work that way. (Plus he was totally right about Rias’ talent being in finding and retaining great people. That’s super hard! It’s not to be underestimated.)
As for the Rating Game, the way the game is laid out seems rather funny, right? I guess the point is to balance winning (without your pieces getting too damaged to fight later) with not sending so much power as to constrain your options in the next battle, while trying to winnow down the other side enough that they have to start committing the King, and then knock the King out. It’s just, what if they roll snake eyes? Rias at least wouldn’t be able to send out a piece. What happens if Rias’ team knocks out people until it’s just Sairaorg? Do they act as if they’re rolling twelves until one side wins, or does Sairaorg lose somehow? How about if it’s Sairaorg and one other person, that person fights, and then the next time they roll anything but a twelve? Neither the person who just fought or Sairaorg would be able to go. Mulligan again?
My point is, as a game, it’s badly constructed. As a vehicle for storytelling, it’ll do just fine. This allows Ishibumi-sensei to pick exactly who he wants to battle who, and avoids him being constrained to a certain number of combatants from battle to battle. I just wouldn’t design my bloodsport like this, is all.
- Also: I definitely understand Issei worrying about ruining the current relationship if he tells Rias he likes her. Ridiculous to us the viewers, but to a high school boy who has no idea how to gauge if a girl likes him or not, that makes total sense. Sincerely, Past Stilts.
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: Risk Tolerance in the Creative Life.