Super pervert Issei Hyodo finally gets a date with a girl, only for said girl(a fallen angel in disguise) to end up killing him at the end of the date. However, a mysterious red-haired girl (with huge chest) revives him as a demon to be her slave, gambling on the mysterious Sacred Gear that resides inside him.
Thus starts High School DxD, and I'll be lying if I said the premise didn't have potential, and that it didn't draw me in. Too bad the potential was wasted on a rehashing of tired cliches that distract from and sabotage the plot every step of the way. But before I get too deep into that (and this review will have spoilers), I need to say something else first.
As an anime fan, I have to cringe at titles like this, for they are the sole reason anime won't be accepted by society at large... and I can't blame them. It's titles like this that make me ashamed to call myself an anime fan. I only watched this, because a friend of mine said people would judge it solely on the fanservice and nudity, and not for the good plot. Unfortunately, the plot (when the constant panty shots aren't distracting you from it) has it's own share of problems, mostly in the form of the characters.
So, with that said, let's jump in.
As I said above, Issei gets ressurected as a demon slave of the Greater Demon Rias, the mysterious red-haired girl with huge rack. And I have to mention the huge rack, because the series doesn't let you forget it. Seriously, nipples STILL visible through a bra and shirt? Also, Issei, being the stereotypical sex-obsessed pervert, can't forget about breasts, either. But I'll cover that more in the characters section.
Also as I mentioned, the story premise had potential. I was looking forward to seeing how a protagonist would react when forced to serve a demon lord, even if she was in the form of a high school girl. I was expecting something from the story to showcase why these people are demons. Usually it just means a heightened sense of selfishness or self-interest, all the way up to truely hideous and horrible acts.
I saw very little of that here. And while having a story where "demons" are poor, misunderstood creatures could be interesting, I didn't get that sense, either. The show doesn't attempt to make us believe that; just that there was a war between heaven and hell a long time ago that ended in a stalemate. I would have preferred to see Rias and her minions act a bit more evil, and perhaps see Issei get stuck in the gray setting, balancing his desire to do good against the darker machinations of his demon master. Perhaps becoming a rogue Han Solo like character, or some kind of anti-hero. Gokudo and Lina Inverse do a much better job in that regard, and thus are more interesting as characters.
Instead, what we get is that the church is evil is the first story arc, and then Rias's marriage troubles in the second arc. She only wants to wed someone she loves? Exactly what kind of a demoness is she? I could understand if she didn't want to wed because she hated the guy, or would lose power and prestiege; but we get love instead.
It's not all bad; there is some good. The attention to detail in the world building of this universe is surprisingly well done and interesting. Concepts introduced early on, are built upon later, and also tie in to later plot points. There is the gist of a decent storyline under all of this, but it's executed poorly and buried under the mountain of jiggly tits.
Decent for this time period in anime. Nothing really stands out (other than all the impossibly jiggling tits that jiggle and wobble for no reason), but it's not too horrible, either. If you like large jiggly breasts, then you'll like this anime.
I am less than impressed with all the battles I have seen so far, which have been sadly lacking in detail and time spent. Even Dragon Ball had better fight scenes. Most fights are spent trash talking your opponent and gloating over them, then you get a couple of seconds of something happening and the fight is over.
Again, average. Nothing stood out, but it didn't grate on me, either. Except for all the "boing boing" noises made by jiggling tits. Have I mentioned this anime has jiggling tits?
This is where the meat of this review will be centered, because they play the largest part in why this anime so disappointed me. I can deal with fanservice and impossible chest sizes and movements, as long as the characters and story are good.
Let's start with Issei, who is the stereotypical sex-obsessed super pervert. I don't know what it is about anime that they seem quite unable to portray a young boy as anything other than a super pervert or sex-less super eunuch with no desire whatsoever. I've grown rather tired of it. I might be okay with Issei starting out that way, if he was able to grow out from it. But when he's openly gawking in many episodes later to the detriment of himself and the situation, I begin to lose any feeling and respect for him as a protagonist. His stupid and hypocritical nature comes to the forefront, when he encounters a douche with his own harem of 15 girls. Issei hates the guy, even though the guy is everything Issei is and wants to be (seriously, early on he drooled in glee at the thought of having his own female slave having to do everything he wanted). I will say that one good point about his character, is that he is constantly shown to be the weakest, ie, he doesn't somehow suddenly become the strongest due to an awakened power.
Moving on to Rias, who I feel is a slightly better. She's powerful, a major demon lord, and is desired by everyone at school. I am somewhat relieved to see that she's not a prude, and more than comfortable being nude. That makes sense. What doesn't make sense? She's still a virgin. I find it hard to believe she hasn't used her sexual nature to get things. She taunts Issei with it enough. And she wants to marry for love; how cute. Give me a real demon lord! Give me a woman who is experienced, has a stronger self-interest drive, and let's see the sparks that create when she clashes with the morals of her slave! Give me character development that doesn't revolve around just simply falling in love with the main protagonist! But I'm sorry, she's a female, so she's limited to showing off her tits and her development is limited to romance with a guy.
There are a variety of side characters, but... wait, did I say variety? I meant there is one or two character types repeated endlessly. Guys are generally perverts (except for the sole pretty boy), and girls are virginal sex symbols (except the flat-chest emotionless girl). I will say I do enjoy Koneko's character, despite her being a typical archtype with little depth. She is one of the only ones to rightfully condemn Issei's lechorous behavior, and yet she can still work with him and admire other parts of his nature; a nuanced position that escapes everyone else in the series. Well, the school's female population generally hates him for it, so there's that.
But the main girls not only tolerate it, they think it's cute that he's being so "honest." To the guys writing this anime, here's a note: Only a very small fraction of girls in the real world would like a guy being "honest" like Issei is. Even among the ones that like sex, they tend to dislike guys that only see them as a pair of breasts.
And yet, Rias, Akeno, and even sweet and innocent little Asia cater to him. The latter especially strikes me as odd; what is a naive, sheltered nun doing, openly deciding to show him her naked body because she realizes he's a pervert and you want him to like you? That ain't healthy.
Which brings up my last character point: this is a harem anime, but it's even worse than normal that all these girls are falling in love with him for little-to-no reason. At least with a typical harem, the sexless main protagonist has a noble nature and thus reason to admire and fall in love with him. Issei showcases little of that, and even when he does, his super perverted nature would make any normal, rational woman shun him. At the least, they wouldn't see him as relationship material.
I wanted to like this series. Under all the naked breasts and panty shots, is the glimmer of an interesting story forming, with well-thought-out world-building details. But ultimately, the inconsistant and unexplainable characters, coupled with the gratutious fanservice, detracted from whatever story this series might want to tell.
Only watch this story if you like lots of shredding clothes exposing many huge tits. But even then, if that's what you want to see, watch porn instead. I have to wonder, at this point, why do they go out of their way to hide bare crotches? If you can show boobies, why only half-ass it (pardon the pun)? At least with porn, you get everything. If the nudity played a good part in this series, I could understand; but 90% of it is simply there to titillate. At the least, I know that anime on TV censors the boobies, in order to uncensor them on the DVD to get people to buy it. I can understand that business decision. But nothing here is censored, so ultimately it makes no real sense.
So, if you want a harem with a little bit of shonen and a whole lot of boobies, watch this. Otherwise, skip it. Or read the light novel series it is based off of.