Rewatching High School DxD: Season 1


Ach ja, High School DxD is on of those anime whose place in my brain doesn’t need to be justified, but rather clarified. Its reputation certainly precedes the name and it is so for probably a good reason. High School DxD is the Ecchi anime for most people, the true shiny holy grail hovering above its many bland imitations (and maybe precursors) and as far as my opinion is concerned, rightfully so.

I first watched High School DxD over six years ago, still in my early anime phase and the common consensus was basically, that while it is obviously not high art – some may say it is trash even – the story is still quite engaging and fun to watch and they way it is so open and clear about its presentation makes it weirdly earnest in its intentions. My most interesting takeaway was that High School DxD could absolutely work without the Ecchi on a pure narrative basis, but it also wouldn’t really be fun, nor what we love about High School DxD.

Almost unsurprisingly, I still believe in that very same sentiment, after rewatching the first season. High School DxD follows a very easily dissectable structure, not so different from a lot of other Shounen and Shounen-adjacent anime. From the way conflict is introduced, world-building exposed and characters progressed, to even the final battle being set to the second verse of the opening theme. Fundamentally, all this stuff works. Certainly not with the nuance or care of better written works, but make its world and concepts engaging enough and you have a good start at an, if not good, at least interesting story without the need of extra gimmicks or other reasons to pull the audience in. Here is the thing though: Pervy stuff is fun!

From the outside, the entire Ecchi genre must seem like a weird fever dream and even I am sometimes confused. Sex (as a stand in for all things Ecchi and more) is not something we are normally confronted with in our daily lives and most media, so when we are, it feels like it has to be justified; to be there for a reason. Why else should it be here, right? And as for the why, well, we mostly think of it in the same way we view porn. So, why does Ecchi even exist when hentai is right there around the next corner? The answer is simple, really: I am not constantly horny, I just like boobs.

Seeing sex in a movie may be a bit random, but on the other hand, why not include it? Even if you don’t immediately go “Hell yeah!”, or even mutter less than a “…”, let’s get a little raunchy in here, since we are not twelve anymore. Beyond being more sex-positive in general, sex should be a thing we are allowed to view in varying degrees. There is an entire spectrum to be explored beyond being 100% child-friendly and straight up porn and we shouldn’t feel the need to logically explain that decision. I feel no shame or embarrassment if there is nakedness™ on my screen. God be my witness that I have most likely seen more naked women than all my ancestors combined. Looking at a little animated ankle or full-on breast will neither make me blush, nor turn me into a monkey and it should be perfectly normal to have an almost neutral reaction to it, unless you actually have something against it, which is also absolutely valid. No need to justify, just (not) vibing with it.

It is why I feel mostly indifferent towards sex scenes in movies, as well as having a main character, whose power it is to rip of the clothes of girls to reveal bountiful booty and bust, just with the exception that I could very well live without the first, but are having an absolute blast with the second. While its eventual effect on the viewer has to be considered case by case, reason and justification should never stand in the way of an idea, as what is left at the end of the day is only the impression on the viewer. May they be the one to cast final judgement.

Perhaps, this is also just the rambling of a pervert desperately trying to justify his viewing decisions. Whether one thinks I have a point or are simply delusional is up to you. I don’t care. I have found peace.

Now would normally be the time to talk about how there is a certain unbalance in the Ecchi genre towards a specific demographic. High School DxD is not a feminist text, that much should be as clear as its intended target audience and while I think High School DxD is not really problematic, mostly due to its very clear framing and… just not being a serious drama, but a harem comedy, there tends to come up a certain dissonance between its writing and presentation.
For example, in one of the last episodes, Rias has this, on paper, rather empowering moment of self dignity, where she declares to live not bound by her name as a Gremory, but as herself and wanting to choose the man to marry on her own volition. Great moment, wouldn’t we look at her the entire time in a see-through night garment with full view on her essentially naked body, taking away her agency and again reducing her to one of the many pleasures of the series. Those are the moments I will take a step back and start being critical of the Ecchi. But other than that?

After almost 1000 words of weird preamble, let’s actually talk about High School DxD.

Issei, like Arata from Trinity Seven, is such a refreshing protagonist, considering the wide sea of infuriating harem leads. He does not embody the “accidental pervert”-trope, he goes out into the world and declares himself to become a harem king. While I personally do not support peeking in the girls locker room, him just owning the punishment of the female kendo club members does put a smile on my face. I also like his alarm clock, containing all the harem tropes imaginable. He, like most of the cast, is so honest about everything that it levitates any awkwardness there might otherwise be. He is a pervert, but doesn’t feel slimy or crosses lines, plus he can pull of some serious stuff and be cool. Altogether, great protagonist.

I remember liking Rias the first time, as the matter of who becomes to be the main girl in Isseis harem was pretty much settled by her from the beginning. I still like her, but began to really appreciate the other members more, especially Akeno. She really does put the “S” in Ara Ara. “Nuke me Mommy!” wasn’t a sentenced uttered just once, but thrice… one time not even by myself, but the fellow connoisseur to my right (Yes, I watched it together with a friend).

For some reason, I had a pretty good impression of Koneko when I first watched it, which is weird, as I never was into the Loli archetype. Watching it again, and I barely even noticed her. Maybe my memory mixed in some stuff from later seasons, but just looking at season one, she is there but nothing more. Yuuto continues the custom of the only boy being the best member of the harem without even trying. Bonus points for also being the pretty boy who all the girls swoon over. I can also now appreciate the foreshadowing concerning his character. High School DxD sometime do be unironically good.

Some things I also didn’t catch the first time were a few of the references, like the episode including the hunt for a familiar being a parody of Pokémon, including a knock-off Ash (Satoshi) with his, maybe not all so familiar, catchphrase “Getto Da Ze!”. Yuuto also pulls an Unlimited Blade Works once and my jaw just straight up dropped to the floor. The only thing missing is a JoJo reference, but we still have a couple seasons ahead of us.

Another aspect I never learned to appreciate is the (partially) banger OST. Even ignoring tracks like Utsukushiku Akai, which is basically the anime arrangement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Winter), there is a lot of good stuff in there, like this one action track named “Kakusei” or those *licks lips* sexy saxophone tunes. The entire OST might be rather generic, but its highs are high.

The same can be said about the animation. When the fighting starts, it looks better than one would expect and High School DxD is generally pretty to look at, from *puts on monocle* truly avant-garde direction to character designs that actually look sexy and erotic. I know enough anime that try and fail in this regard, so it is greatly appreciated to see one go full throttle.

With that, most should be said about season one of High School DxD. It is unironically fun to watch, I enjoy High School DxD not due or despite, but with the Ecchi. It is fun ^^.
Next Season will be introducing Xenovia, so I am really looking forward to (re-)continue this series, though it will be some time until then.

Side Note: Choosing Thumbnails from the eyecatches, while staying PG-13, will become a lot harder for the next seasons :D

local_offer High School DxD
folder Anime
calendar_today 2021