What’s the show? High School DxD Hero, Episode 9.
And how ranks this episode among the season? Probably one of the better ones if I’m honest, and that’s not to disparage the previous ones it’s just that this episode strikes the balance perfectly between the rich and complex narrative as well as the naughty naughty harem shenanigans. And that’s when DxD is at its best when it finds a way to be both deep and interesting and plot driven with character development and all the humor and drama that can come from the harem scenario.
Right, so let’s get the ‘harem shenanigans’ out of the way first. Fair enough. So after the events of the last episode where Issei well and truly put his foot in it by calling Rias “President” just before they were about to ‘do the deed’ for the first time, Issei is left for some time to contemplate things. After some introspection Issei comes to realize that he loves Rias, not only as a humble servant of her household, or because she saved his life or even as a friend–but full on loves her as a woman.
So what’s the problem? Why can’t he admit that to her. Enter Akeno, Koneko and Asia–all in various states of undress. They’re here to “heal” Issei from the troubles he’s having in confessing his true feelings. And by heal they mean rub their naked bodies over his.
And what exactly does that have to do with Issei not being able to confess to Rias? Well these three girls have been with him since the beginning and they know there’s more at play then Issei’s perhaps willing to admit–even to himself. See, Issei’s still cautious about committing himself fully to another person since his first ever girlfriend ended up being a demon and killed both him and Asia at the start of Season 1. Obviously they were resurrected by Rias–but he still can’t help but be wary of opening his heart again.
And how do the other girls help allay his fears? By confessing their love for him of course, they all promise to be by his side forever and support his relationship with Rias, ‘its the life of second fiddle girls in a harem but they wouldn’t have it any other way… Oh and Xenovia and Irina burst in as well and get in on the naked “healing session” because DxD that’s why!
Hmm, not sure I like that but I guess the emotionally logistics of a harem anime is a subject for another day… so what about the other half of the episode? It’s time for the Rating Game being held in the underworld and all the high level gods and demon-lords have come to watch the epic battle between the Gregory household and Sairaorg and his compatriots. It’s a big deal as Azazel informs Issei–this event is going to get very political but his Sensei urges him to remember what’s important–his fans. The Oppai Dragon is a popular children’s figure in the underworld and Azazel even shows him a support video from some of his child fans which is kind of adorable and strange and funny all at once.
I’m sure it’s splendid. So what is the ‘rating game’ exactly? Is it some kind of fighting tournament? Kind of–but the rules are a lot more complicated than that and can vary depending on the rule set and where the tournament is being held. Specifically here though each fighter on each team is assigned a numerical value based on the chess piece that was used to turn them into devils in the first place. At the start of every round two dice are rolled which will then determine who and how many people from each team can fight. I’m glad the show devoted a fair chunk of time to explaining the rules because this arc will no doubt take up the rest of the season and it’d be a shame if they half-assed it.
Interesting. Anything else you wanted to add? Just that I really appreciate the world-building and attention to detail in the Underworld set scenes, it really gives a sense of space and scale–something I felt was lacking back in Season 3 when they rushed through plot points. The episode ends with the start of the first round–Kiba versus a generic looking medieval knight–though I guess it makes sense to get the least interesting character out of the way first! Either way though I’m looking forward to the rest of the ‘Rating Game’ a lot more than I may have been a couple of episodes ago!
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