English Dub Review: High School DxD HERO “Holiness Behind the Gym”

Oppai Dragon… So. Very. Ridiculous.

Overview (Spoilers?)

Alright, have you been watching this show? Up to date? Then forget everything you know. The second half of season three went completely off the script, and the final two episodes were completely original to the anime. For Hero, however, we’re getting a retcon. To go with that retcon, we get a recap of the series, narrated by Issei. Good for me, I’ve not seen any of this show. Let’s just skip to the new stuff.

The Gremory team charge in to Asia’s rescue. She’s been captured be Diadora, but all it takes is a bit of “persuasion” from Issei’s balance breaker to get him to give her back. Just as everyone is leaving, Shalba Beelzebub shows up and sends Asia into the void between worlds, where she will surely die. Bad move. Issei loses himself to rage, activates his juggernaut drive, and curbstomps Shalba with his Longinus Smasher. As there is now a crater where the devil was, we are left to believe Shalba is down for the count.

Issei Rampages in His Juggernaut Drive Form.
Courtesy: Funimation

Next problem. Issei still isn’t calming down. He’s just blasting everything at full force, friend or foe. Team Grimory struggles to come up with a plan, especially since Rias has been lost to shock at seeing her servant as a disastrous red dragon. That’s when Vali and his team arrive. By chance, they were crossing the dimensional gap when they ran into Asia. Being the nice guys they are, they return her to Rias. Still, Issei isn’t going to figure out that Asia is alive when he’s consumed by rage. That’s when Irina arrives! She’s been sent with a special projector by Azazel and Sirzechs, containing a song that will calm him enough to get in with a finishing blow.

The video is Issei in his Scale Mail, singing a Barney-esque song. About a dragon. That loves boobs. Oppai Dragon. Yes, it also features a bunch of kids, singing along and making hand motions that might just be every parent’s nightmare. After Issei calms down a bit, Vali zips through to bite him and inflict Divide. Now sufficiently calmed and weakened, it is safe for Rias to give him the final blow… taking off her top and giving him a feel. Since boobs are his only motivation in life, it only makes sense. Before he passes out from exhaustion, he finds out Asia is alive and is visited by two other dragons, who came by just to see what the commotion was. The first is Great Red, the dragon written of in the book of Revelations. The second is Ophis, the Ouroboros Dragon of Infinity. Well, that’s some pedigree…

Issei proceeds to pass out for three days, waking up in time fore the sports festival. After all, he promised to partner with Asia in the three-legged race. They win, but his fatigue is still getting to him. With Rias’ blessing, they head behind the gym. Asia heals him with her magic, but that’s not her only reason for being back there. She kisses him, revealing her feelings and a promise to always stay by his side. He collapses. Not from exhaustion, but from joy.

Our Take

Alright, a bit of a disclaimer. I’ve got very little knowledge of this show. I haven’t watched more than the first episode of season one. I found it offensive, and thought it to be little more than a softcore porn with a plot. Thankfully, we have the recap here to catch me up. I’m still a bit vague on many of the concepts, but there’s a fan wiki for those purposes. For those of you who aren’t offended by copious nudity and vulgarity, I would like to point out that this show has its own wiki, and is now in its fourth season. So, it is one of those rare cases where such a thing is successful enough in crafting a plot that it actually got this far.

This episode started quite strong. Josh Grelle as Issei’s narration was chock full of the character’s personality, and not just from Grelle’s acting. I’ve thought the show integrated a good amount of improv, but the dialogue isn’t anything to sneeze at. Issei is coarse and vulgar. It’s his personality, and the words they chose to use for him reflect that. The voice acting for the other characters, including Shalba (Ian Sinclair) was top tier. The animation was on the higher end of mid-tier. It didn’t inspire awe, but it was still action packed, dynamic, and error free.

However, as soon as Shalba did an exit-stage-right, the episode went downhill. For one, the dialogue took a nosedive. This is true not only in the English, but in the original Japanese. It’s even guilty of the whole “we gave you a solution you didn’t think of, so the entire cast must say the same word, one after the other”. It’s fine with two people, but after five, it’s obnoxious. Jaime Marchi, who wrote the English script, could have changed what they each said to make it a bit less annoying. This would also go well with how the rest of the dialogue is very tongue-in-cheek.

Here, however, the animation also takes a bit of a tilt to the lower end of the mid-tier. Great Red was wonderfully rendered, but looked so different from the style of everything around him that he ended up looking like a cardboard cutout. Didn’t help that his only motion was to slide across the scene. Just scooting a layer around, nothing fancy. The sports festival got darned lazy, resorting to a montage and a dubbing that stated they won. We don’t actually get to see it.

It is worth noting that the studio producing this season is different from the previous ones. TNK developed the first three seasons. This outing is under the watchful eye of Passione, the same group that produced Citrus. This also comes with a change in art style. The characters aren’t as thin and sharp in the face. Some fans said they didn’t like the change, but I think it looks closer to the original manga.

So, that brings me back to how I feel about this episode as a whole. What I’ve seen of the show thus far made me uncomfortable, but no more so than Game of Thrones. My problem was that it focused all its energy on vulgarity and the objectification of women. However, after three seasons, it feels like this show has tamed that down a smidge and let its plot drive the script. Yes, of course it’s going to give us a face full of boobs. Yes, it’s going to give us a shot straight through Asia’s thigh gap. If it didn’t, it probably would anger the people who came to the show for those things. It just doesn’t do it as often, and treats the more blatant entries with a heavy dose of farce. I can handle that, especially since the Simuldub comes equipped with a pair of winged “D”s for censorship. Honestly, those things were more distracting than the boobs…

Score

Summary

The first half of the episode was enjoyable, and quite entertaining. Unfortunately, the second half left me staring awkwardly at a farcical display, occasionally chuckling at Bikou's commentary. I think the series is headed in a better direction, based off this episode, but I still want to give it time before I give a verdict. I give it six Oppai Dragon videos out of ten.

6.0/10

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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