High School DxD: Diablos of the Old School Building

By Ichiei Ishibumi and Miyama-Zero. Released in Japan by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Haydn Trowell.

Sometimes a series is released at exactly the right time to catch fan’s interest, gain momentum, and rise to the top of everyone’s list. Had High School DxD’s light novel come out in North America in 2014, around the same time as Yen On debuted Sword Art Online, I’ve no doubt it would have been quite popular. Indeed, the manga version came out around then, and I assume was probably popular. It’s got cute and sexy demons, battles between heaven and hell, harem building, some cool battle scenes, and lots of fanservice. That said, this is coming out in late 2020. It’s even late in being released after the announcement – everything else announced last year by Yen has long since come out, this was the lone straggler. As such, it can be hard to get into the mindset of remembering that this was quite influential and popular at the time, and not think “what’s the fuss all about?”. Particularly in regards to Issei, who is supposed to be a more perverse than usual LN hero but comes across as pretty nice, really.

Issei is a typical high school student in these sorts of series. Messy brown hair, thinks mostly of boobs, and has two male friends who are even worse than he is. Then one day… a girl confesses to him! Such bliss! Sadly, she turns out to be a fallen angel in disguise, and kills him dead. The remaining 155 pages are blank. Well, OK, no. He’s resurrected by his upperclassman Rias Gremory, who turns out to be a demon… and now Issei is as well. Turns out Issei has a Sacred Gear, i.e. a superpower. Quickly joining the Occult Research Club, which is a front for Rias and her fellows (sweetly sadistic Akeno, tiny and stoic Koneko, and token guy Kiba), Issei goes around trying to make deals with humans – i.e. demonic contracts. He’s not all that good at it, to be honest. Then he meets a young nun, Asia…

This is pretty solidly written all around, to be honest. The fanservice, while present in the illustrations, doesn’t really make its way into the text – there was less “boobies!” talk than I expected. Issei is the classic “I talk about girls all the time but am secretly a nice guy” protagonist. The rest of the cast is not as fleshed out – there’s hints of tragic backstories that will no doubt be covered in later books, but the only one we get here is Asia’s. The villain is the fallen angel who tricked Issei in the first place, and she’s the classic bad guy, to the point where Rias notes that Issei defeating her could only have happened because she talked too long and let him power up. I’m not a fan of the overly moe art style, but that’s not too much of a problem.

So the series ends up being pretty good, and I’ll probably read more, but after a number of years of titles that explore the same sort of characters, it’s not really groundbreaking at all. The most startling thing might be the fact that the cast seems to genuinely like the hero, so recommended for those who hate tsunderes, who are absent here.

Also, what does DxD stand for?

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