English Dub Review: High School DxD HERO “The Deciding Battle of the Strongest Youth, Begins!”

Sensual Healing… I feel uncomfortable.

Overview (Spoilers)

Rias has a bucket of upset, and it’s overflowing. Despite throwing herself at Issei, he still can’t bring himself to say he loves her. Part of this is because he’s as dense as a black hole. The other part is because of emotional trauma he suffered in the first episode of the series! The fallen angel who killed him did a real number on his emotions, making it difficult for him to commit to anyone ever again.

However, the ladies of the Gremory house figure out his problem and decide to give him some sensual healing. I mean it. They gang up on him, buck naked, and use their boobs and magic to draw the trauma out of him and force him to face it. Together, they handle his fear, his lack of self-worth, and his real feelings for everyone. It’s tearful and pushes him forward… until two more girls show up and it devolves into a game of naked Twister.

Courtesy: Funimation

Afterwards, the gang heads off to the big fight with Sairaorg. The match will be held at the floating city of Agars, and it’s a nice place. A big arena, too, since this is such an important match for what amounts to the “little leagues”. Along their way to the stadium, the gang runs into Hades, Rizer Phoenix, and Sirzechs Lucifer. Each gives the team (especially Issei) a pep talk to get them fired up for the match.

First, however, the rules. This is going to be a series of battles that allow for multiple team members, but only up to a limit. Each captain will roll a die, and the combined value of the dice will determine the amount of value of the fighters they can send in. Pawns are worth one, while Rooks are worth five. Since Issei has a total of eight pawns assigned to him, he’s worth eight points. Sairaorg himself is worth twelve points, since he has such raw physical power, and he’s the king of his team. The first roll results in a total of three, so they can only send out up to a knight’s-worth of power. Kiba heads out onto the field of battle…

Our Take

Wow, this episode wasted no time. Within two minutes: boobs. Five minutes later: we’re getting deep. And no, that’s not a euphemism. We cut right to the quick of his emotional inadequacies. From there, we actually get some heartfelt connection between the characters. In fact, the first half of this episode would be a great example of character-based storytelling… if only I wasn’t distracted by the censorship logos fluttering everywhere. The need to do this with the girls naked was a rather poor choice. It made it hard to pay attention to the meaningful stuff that actually makes the show worth watching.

The second half of the episode, however, was a just a bunch of hype. Everyone telling the Rias and Issei how awesome they are and blah-blah-blah. It’s kind of unnecessary, filling up the rest of the time in this episode so they can stuff all the action into the next one. I found the rules to be arbitrarily complicated. This, I guess, was supposed to make up for some deficiency in the peerage of one of the two devils, but I couldn’t tell you what that was.

I loved the voice acting. Josh Grelle did a great job in portraying Issei’s anguish. However, shortly after these feelings came out, the character instantly became cheerful again. This wasn’t so much on Grelle, as it was on the animators. He was merely following what Issei was visibly feeling. Still, it would have been nice if there was a hint of his upset lingering in his voice afterwards.

The animation… was there. I guess. Nothing spectacular. Nothing that bad.

Score

Summary

This wasn't a bad episode at all, but certain choices made in the storytelling left the emotional first half sitting there as an orphan. Issei still hasn't fully resolved his issues, and the writers chose to have a bunch of ego-pumping instead of something entertaining for the second half. I give this episode seven pep talks 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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