High School DxD: Ouroboros and the Promotion Exam

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

This contains spoilers for the end of Book 11, but not till the third paragraph.

High School DxD remains one of the most shonen series ever written, because it’s absolutely filled to the brim with what makes a shonen series – on both sides. On the one side we have the shonen battle manga, with lots of powerful enemies, dealing with almost certain defeat, discovering that the person you just struggled to take out was merely the weakest of the ones you have to fight, etc. It’s the classic old-school “you defeat the bad guy by everyone in the cast shouting the hero’s name in unison as they hit him” shonen. But it’s also very much the other kind of shonen, in that the hero is excessively horny and can only think of sex, the girls are all in love with him and have big breasts, and the one who doesn’t have big breasts asks him to marry her once she grows up and gets them. That kind of shonen series. And when we combine them, what do we get? Well, we get the Breast Beam, of course, possibly the most High School DxD thing ever.

Issei, Kiba and Akeno have been through a lot recently, and have many accomplishments to their names – enough that they really should be high-ranked demons. But there are procedures to follow, so first they must take the exam to become MIDDLE-ranked demons, which, because demon society bases a lot of things on humanity, consists of a written and a practical test. The test itself proves to not be too much of an issue, even for a “poor grades” guy like Issei. The problem is that they’re being forced to take in a hideously powerful infinity dragon, Ophis, because Azazel is trying to achieve a greater peace with the other factions and hopes that she can help. Ophis, for her part, just wants to sit back and observe Rias’s group. Unfortunately for Azazel, if he wants peace, he’s in the wrong series.

Most English-speaking High School DxD fans, and yes, that includes the ones who actually *buy* the books, are familiar with the series to a ridiculous degree. They know that it’s 25 volumes long, and has a sequel that might equal that. And, of course, there’s the afterword from the author, where they discuss what’s going to happen in Book 12. That said, if High School DxD was not selling as well here, maybe if it was more like Index, it would be cruelly amusing for Yen On to simply cut the afterword and pretend that this was the final book in the series. “Yup, Issei dies. Bit of a downer ending, huh?” Of course, even someone who isn’t spoiled probably doesn’t buy that Issei’s death is anything but temporary. Still, it does make the final moments in this book nicely depressing, and also makes me wonder who’ll be narrating the next volume.

Solid book in the series. Fights. Breasts. And tragedy.

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