Jul 3, 2018
Stark700 (All reviews)
From the depths of fanservicy guilty pleasure of hell makes the return of High School DxD Hero. It’s been nearly 3 years since the last time this anime aired on TV and to be honest, it needed a break after the disastrous third season. High School DxD Born left a bad taste in my mouth after seeing how far the franchise has fallen. Is Hero a chance for the show to redeem itself?

The fourth season covers the volume 9 and 10 from the light novels. This didn’t come as a surprise as the franchise has a tendency to build more into the story with established concepts. To say the least, the franchise isn’t afraid of taking the risk to show off its fan service. Straight from the first episodes, we see the characters return with Issei still being a perverted self-proclaimed “Harem King”. It doesn’t take long for the plot to kick off after they visit Kyoto where a new story puts him in conflict with supernatural entities yet again.

Following a formulaic construction of the plot, the first half of the show adapts the 9th volume. We meet a fox girl named Kunou and after a misunderstanding, she pleads for Issei and the others to save her mother. The premise of this arc is incredibly straightforward after Issei realizes the responsibility they need to carry to get the job done. However, the arc is perhaps a bit too predictable and lacks the High School DxD-esque quality as the first two seasons. In other words, I must admit that a few of the first few episodes are too forced. The drama is too serious and didn’t make me care about Kunou as much as I had hoped for. On the other hand, there are still remnants of fun value we can see this season. The fan service returns thanks to the naïve personalities of characters like Xenovia and Irina. Even though Rias and the main cast aren’t there, Issei still gets a face of boobs, ass, and skinship. I say this with honesty that High School DxD is one of the few anime that works creatively well with the fanservice. Without it, the show would lose its identity. Luckily, the show does manage to find its way to bring that out again.

Covering the 10th volume, this fourth season manages to find itself well on the path of its roots again. By the time you’ve reached over the half the series, the familiar mood will return almost like yesterday. It also does a clever job at building up the inevitable battles as Ria’s Team goes up against Sairaorg Bael’s peerage. Remember, this franchise began with a concept known a “Rating Games” that has been a central element in the storytelling. This time, the stakes are more about pride to see which team is better. For Issei himself, there’s also some emotional stakes that he didn’t even realize himself. The fact that after three seasons, he’s still dense as a black hole should come as no surprise to viewers. In one particular episode, Rias directly confronts him about her feelings and we get a half-assed response from the guy. This may rub viewers in the wrong way as the relationship between Issei and Rias has been a central focus in the franchise.

The Rating Game itself also featured some comedic moments with the press conference buildup and the actual execution. There’s also some exploitation about the rules of the game to get viewers familiarized again. The actual battles felt more or less like a cheesy mix of underwhelming fighting. In fact, I would say most of them are insignificant that even includes Issei’s in the first rounds. The show only has 12 episodes so it limited itself from achieving full potential. To me, that’s a backstabber to fans of the franchise who wants to get the most from the action. Honestly, I think High School DxD’s action elements has always been one of its weaknesses and from season 4, that didn’t change much either. In some of the final few episodes, business picks up more as Issei confronts Sairaorg himself as we see how dangerous his rival really is.

One of the biggest changes of High School DxD Hero is the art style. The first three seasons were adapted by studio TNK that fans are familiar with. However, Passione takes the step this time to animate the project. They are perhaps best known for their work on Rokka no Yuuska and more recently, Citrus. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to take some time to get comfortable with it. The character models looks less detailed and cartoonier especially for the main girls. Don’t get me wrong though. Characters like Rias and Akeno still looks busty like the previous seasons. Even new characters like Yasaka gives the impression of a sexy older type. However, it will take time to get used to the new art style as there’s less details on the fan service. It’s still there especially if you watch the uncensored version with the boobs and ass being thrown at your face. The action still feels the same as the previous seasons though so don’t expect anything that will blow you out the water. Character designs in terms of plot direction improved slightly with an improved transformation of Issei. Similarly, character voice mannerism somewhat evolves this season that’s more noticeable in Rias and Issei. She is able to display her personality at best when together with Issei especially during some of their more emotional scenes. The theme songs still feature a mix of action and fanservice theatrics I’m sure fans are familiar with.

Well it’s been nearly three years since I’ve reviewed High School DxD. After the break, I think this show manages to step up slightly up to the plate. However, it’s not a big improvement over the third season and more like a step down compared to the first two. The plot is both easy to predict but hard to recall memorable moments from especially in its first episodes. It tests the viewers’ patience for its main character cast especially with Issei’s role. I also have to say honestly that Issei deserved a personal beating from the way he responded to Rias in that one particular episode. Otherwise, I think the fourth season is still worth the watch especially if you’re a diehard fan of the franchise. High School DxD always felt like it’s about having fun with itself. In this season, there’s still moments that manages to find its way towards that.