「life.MAX vs power.MAX「」」 (life.MAX vs power.MAX「Otoko tai Otoko」)
“life.MAX vs power.MAX ‘Man versus Man'”
Cheer with me now, everyone! Oppai! Oppai! Oppai! Oppai!
When High School DxD takes a hybrid approach between hard-nosed tactical decisions and hearts-and-emotions shounen battle power ups, it really adds something to the formula. The latter is always expected; Issei tends to win because of emotions, boobs, and dormant power coming to the fore. Adding a little actual tactics to the mix is the spice that adds to the flavor, by which I mean I really appreciate what Yuuto, Xenovia, and Rossweisse did to soften Sairaorg up for Issei. Sairaorg is bonkers powerful, so managing to cut off an arm and force the use of the Phoenix Tears is really good, because it makes their battle have had real worth, even though they got totally smacked down. By the same token, Sairaorg continued to look like he’s on another level from the three of them, which is different from if they had bruised their way into forcing the Phoenix Tears. That matters because it ensures Issei is still the only one who can challenge Sairaorg, setting up their big battle.
The reveal of Sairaorg’s pawn as a sacred gear was fine. It was fine! I didn’t love it, sudden shounen power ups like this are my least favorite, but it doesn’t hurt much. What I really liked is the internal struggle, and that it did not boil over into the outside. Right? Had Issei gotten up and started trying to straight up murder Sairaorg as a raging monster, though wouldn’t have been a good look. It also would have been frustrating to watch, because we’ve been there before (Oppai Dragon song etc). Instead the kid from earlier in the season reappeared, and, along with the other kids and Irina, gave him the will to dig deep and find another way to access greater power. Good, good! That kind of uplifting (and intensely silly) power up is more my speed, and a High School DxD special. It’s a moment that makes you laugh and cheer, and that’s just fun.
Next week we’ll see if the end of their battle can stand up to the hype—and if Issei can finally tell Rias that he loves her, instead of just shouting it in his internal theater.
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.