By Ichihei Ishibumi, Zero Miyama, and Hiroji Mishima. Released in Japan by Fujimi Shobo, serialization ongoing in the magazine Dragon Age. Released in North America by Yen Press.
Given that the front cover of this new series features a cute young woman with bat wings, and the back cover features that woman plus another one hugging a slightly drooling young man, you can possibly guess not only the genre of this series, but also the plot. It’s your classic harem comedy, with lots of added fantasy this time, where the goal is to see how many different types of women you can have fall in love with the hero without any actual fornication occurring (as even Dragon Age would likely pass on that). So given that, what does High School DxD offer that separates it from Haganai, or Haruhi Suzumiya, or Zero’s Familiar, etc.?
Issei, our hero, seems fairly typical. He’s more at the lecherous end of the scale, constantly going on about breasts and talking about the fact that his dream is to one day have his own harem. Typical loser high schooler, which is why it’s something of a surprise to see him on a date with a gorgeous beauty as the story opens. Who then grows huge black bird wings and stabs him through the chest with a spear made of light, killing him dead. Luckily, he’s in the right series, as he manages to get resurrected and turned into a devil by Rias, the queen of the school and also, as it turns out, a devil. He’s now recruited to her team, along with several other stereotypes, in order to grant wishes for people in exchange for a price.
There’s a bit of discussion of Angels, Fallen Angels and Devils, and, as is typical with Japanese manga that discusses wars between Heaven and Hell, the narrative is firmly on the side of the devils. To be fair, our villains are all carefully chosen to be ‘Fallen’ – a Fallen Angel and an excommunicated exorcist – But I’m fairly certain that when the Angels themselves are introduced, we’ll be seeing them as the enemy as well. I was less impressed with the discussion of Sacred Gears, which is essentially the superpower that each devil has. Humans have them too, and it’s noted that all the really famous people through history are famous because of their Sacred Gear, rather than through, y’know, actual human effort. I’ve always disliked this school of thought, and didn’t like seeing it here.
There is a LOT of fanservice here, as you would expect. Rias is naked quite often through this volume, and does not appear to be remotely embarrassed about Issei seeing her naked body. We also have Akeno, a classic yamato nadesico type who turns out to be a sadist deep down (another common trait in hentai manga, and thus in this toned down harem variant), and Koneko, an Ayanami Rei clone. Interestingly, the last member of our team so far is Kiba, who is male, and reminds me of Koizumi Itsuki from Haruhi a whole hell of a lot, right down to Issei constantly denigrating him in his narration. I assume Kiba will NOT be joining Issei’s harem, though I could be surprised.
At the end of this volume, notably, Issei has not saved the day even once, and his power is shown to be so low that everyone boggles at it. This will change. It’s that sort of story. Not sure if we’ll add victim of the volume to the harem team (she’d fit right in, being a clumsy nun sort of character), but we will no doubt find out in the next volume. As for the series itself, it’s recommended to those who like harem fanservice series with a light fantasy tinge, though given the pages expended on worldbuilding here, the fantasy may be more important than I expect.
Also, I have no idea what the DxD is supposed to mean.