English Dub Review: High School DxD HERO “A Girl’s Heart is Complicated”

Do you suck her boobs or her butt?

Overview (Spoilers)

The team trains for the upcoming rating game against Sairaorg. They want to integrate Issei’s new Illegal Move Triaina with their teamwork. The biggest problem is the Blaster Bishop Form’s cannon. It has a long charge time, during which he’s a sitting duck. Ravel has an interesting idea. Since Issei has always had the ability to send his charges over to other people, he could combine this with his Bishop’s charge. That way, the enemy could never tell if he’s sitting in the back to boost the frontliners, or if he’s charging up to wreck their face. Either way, he has to use it tactically. Triaina uses a ton of MP, so he can only use it for a short time.

The following day, they have a press conference. Since Rias and Sairaorg rose to prominence in the junior leagues, this ratings game drew in a big crowd. Too bad all the reporters care about is Issei grabbing Rias’ boobs. A flub on Issei’s part suddenly dunks the conference into the gutter. There is suddenly conjecture on whether he might gain even more power by SUCKING on her boobs, or perhaps other forms of in-combat perversion… well, they are devils, after all.

What am I to you?
Courtesy: Funimation

Despite how much he bombed into the press conference, Rias seems amorous when she runs into Issei in the sauna. Very amorous. Naked in the steam, she throws herself at him, and they kiss passionately. The whole scene shuts down, however, when he speaks to her… calling her “president”. She’s wounded that, in the dawning of horizontal tango, he refers to her by a title. This only gets worse the day after.

You see, Ravel’s mother calls up, asking a rather oblivious Issei to protect her daughter. He agrees without a second thought. Rias has a strange thought. She asks if Issei would protect her as well. He says yes: “With his life”. Then, each other girl individually. He responds with yes to each of them. Then, she asks what he thinks of her, what she means to him. He leads with “president”, and she runs in tears. Everyone in the room, rather than explaining what he did wrong, they all just keep telling him that he’s a terrible person. But, can he figure out why he’s such a crap-stain in time to make it up to Rias?

Our Take

Well, this episode took an interesting turn for the introspective. Rather than being about combat, it’s more about Issei, and how he views the relationship between him and Rias. It’s hard to think that anyone would be watching this show without an understanding of honorifics in Japanese language, but this episode shows how vital it is. Calling someone by the wrong honorific denotes a different relationship, so much so that it could cause great offense. These honorifics, and even vocabulary can change wildly based off the situation. In fact, if you plan to go to Japan for business, it has its own set of vocabulary and rules about which verbs to use based on who you are talking about and to. Rules that can be maddening for those with a western mindset.

When he’s calling her by president, he’s putting a barrier between the two of them. He’s saying that they are on different levels, and she is above him… untouchable. In this kind of situation, he’s more than warranted to call her by her first name with no honorific. That would mean intimacy. Without an understanding of what is going on in his head, it leaves Rias to think that he doesn’t think of her as anything more than his boss.

Something deep is going on here, though. Issei has two issues, and both have been around since episode one of the original series. For one, he’s facing a fear of true intimacy with a woman ever since he got killed by Raynare. For this reason, he’s unlikely to call any of the girls by their first name. He’s afraid of rejection and abuse. It will take a lot to get over this trauma.

Second, he has an issue with self-worth. Issei may desire Rias with all the passion he can muster, but he innately finds himself unworthy of her attention. In his eyes, she is still that beauty in the high window, and he is just a perv sitting far below. He doesn’t deserve her. The funny thing about people that have these self-worth issues: in their desperate attempts to fight their imagined inner demons, they often become more than worthy.

This episode had some great voice acting, even more notable than previous episodes. What’s sad is that the voice acting actually has to be this good, or the other technical aspects of the show would tank. The animation is clunky, and loaded with obvious errors. Characters with unnaturally hanging breasts, faces with bad proportions, obviously cycled animations, awkward poses, and thoughtless camera angles. It’s bad. Most of the time, the voice actors have more emotion than the animation, and do so with even more truth as to how the character would be feeling. A halting ADR script doesn’t help either. I would like them to stop abusing the phrase “Fo’ sho'”. It’s funny once in an episode. Three or four times, it gets a bit old.

Score

Summary

Great story and voice acting save this episode from being utter garbage. I liked those two aspects enough that they even out to seven thoughtless honorifics out of ten.

7.0/10

Marshall Daley

One part best-friend/philosopher, one part creepy mad scientist. Shaken, and sprinkled with geeky factoids, quirky humor, and a major case of skepticism towards the world and you might just find a cocktail that changes the way you see... Everything!

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