「life.MAXIMUM vs power.MAXIMUM 学園祭のライオンハート」 (Life. MAXIMUM vs power. MAXIMUM Gakuensai no Raionhaato)
“life.MAXIMUM vs. power.MAXIMUM Lion Heart of the School Festival”
I don’t have much to say about the finale of Sairaorg vs Issei, for it proceeded along the expected lines, save for two parts. First, Sairaorg’s mother’s image showing up. I don’t think it was terribly effective, since it seemed to come out of nowhere—that is, until we learn that she’s woken up at the end. Though that happened later, so still: Huh? High School DxD has a bad habit of pulling moments like this out of its ass, and when it doesn’t do it with hilarious aplomb, it doesn’t work. I am glad that she woke up, Sairaorg is happy, but it’s all too convenient. So, meh.
The other part is the ending. I have a soft spot for certain shounen clichés, and Sairaorg fighting past the point of consciousness motions to one of them. It’s silly and it’s stupid, but seeing the two fight so hard for their respective dreams, such that they end up hugging and crying in the end (well, one hugs and cries, the other slumps and smiles), is just a nice moment. Would that more rivalries were this good-natured.
Blah blah Issei’s promotion blah blah Sairaorg’s position. I’d say I don’t care, which is partially true, but I also watched the episode raw, so I’m not entirely sure I grasped all the difficult stuff. What I do know is that I loved every bit of the Rias x Issei angle, from his initial confession during the battle, to their conversation later on, to their kiss first being interrupted, them being teased, and then them finally getting to kiss. This season did a decent job of making it clear why Issei took so long to believe that the girls actually did love him, and that he was worthy of loving and being loved by someone as admirable as Rias. This was still a damn long time coming, though, so we’re all allowed to revel in it. Finally! Finally. Now get to the banging already (I know they won’t Orz).
I have more thoughts, but let’s discuss them during the final impressions below.
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This was a good season! It got off to a good start when the team at Passione took the neigh-unprecedented step of redoing the hated ending to BorN, and after that they did their best to faithfully adapt the source material with a minimum of changes or fuss. That’s not as creatively interesting (for the staff) as doing something original, but that’s okay. That’s not their job. Their job is to adapt the source into an anime, and they did that admirably. I really appreciate that workmanlike pride and professional work ethic, so all kudos are due. And I liked the new character designs as well.
The content of this season was varied and pretty darn silly, which is the sweet spot for High School DxD. The Kyoto arc had the better diversions and ecchi fun, whereas the Sairaorg arc featured the by-far most important character development in ages, vis-a-vis Issei’s inability to call Rias by her name, the other girls realizing that Issei has some trauma and helping him through it, and ultimately Issei confessing his feelings to Rias and sharing with her some of the ol’ smoochin’. It was fun each week, and aside from some occasionally fuzzy animation, I don’t have much in the way of complaints. Nothing that wasn’t (I’m sure) present in the source material, that is—Ishibumi-sensei still has a habit of pulling new characters or “emotional” moments out of his rump, character development is generally slow and halting, and when the series gets to self-serious it can become a bore. But those are all present in DxD’s DNA, and are overshadowed by the uproarious fun to be had when it’s straddling the line between serious and silly, shameless and earnest, perverted and admirable, engaging and ridiculous. It’s a delicate balancing act, and this season did it better than BorN did, if only because it didn’t try to make bad shit up at the end. I’ll take that as a victory, any day of the week.