High School DxD: Pandemonium on the School Trip

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 may be the least horny DxD volume to date. Which, trust me, means it’s still ridiculously horny, and filled with consensual groping and non-consensual destruction of clothing. But the title is actually High School DxD, and this volume wants to remind you of the first part, as Issei and his class are going to Kyoto. And they actually do make an effort to put in the “look, I did the research” work. There are, of course, supernatural bad things going on on their trip. And they naturally seem to center around Issei. But his teachers say to leave it to them, and to try to have a normal fun school trip. Which makes sense. Most of our protagonists are either demons, fallen angels, or angels, and “high school romcom” is theoretically not high on the list of things they have to do. Unless you’re High School DxD, of course, where Issei cannot walk two steps without having another gorgeous young woman fall in love with him. This volume’s candidate is very young indeed.

As noted, everyone’s off to Kyoto!… well, almost everyone. Rias and Akeno are, of course, one grade higher than Issei, so aren’t going, much to their annoyance. That said, everything is official and they even have special thingummies that will allow them to visit the very religious temples without, y’know, bursting into flames or the like. Things are going well… despite a growing rash of breast gropers among the populace. And the elementary-school aged fox girl who demands that Issei give back her mother, who has been kidnapped. That said, if you recall the events of the seventh volume and wonder “if this perhaps the work of the guys trying to reverse engineer balance breakers so humanity can fight angels and demons?”, you would be absolutely correct.

I will admit that the human side does have a point here, in that if you happen to know about angels and demons and dragons and the like, and they’re all fighting each other, you start to feel like a pointless statistic in comparison. That said, if you want humanity to triumph, I’m pretty sure “terrorist acts” is not the way to go. As for Issei, he’s getting better not only at fighting but also at leading, which is good because without Rias the group seems to lack anyone to give them strategy beyond “hit things very hard”. (Or heal things very hard, in Asia’s case.) I was also amused to see that Issei’s power is very similar to Izuku’s in My Hero Academia (which came out well after this book), complete with prior users who give him cryptic advice. And are also a fan of his signature breast moves. Which is a real sentence that I just typed out, and I still can’t really believe that.

So we’ve had the sports festival, and the class trip, so I think I know what’s coming next. Till then, enjoy a solid volume in this horny series.

High School DxD: A Demon’s Work

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

Generally speaking I’ve been able to skate by on these High School DxD reviews because I can usually somehow get past all of the boob talk and the “funny” comedy antics and even more boob talk to find something I can actually discuss like a reasonable reviewer, be it the fights, the character development (it does actually exist), or the overall plot of that particular book. So, you’ll have to pardon me if this review in particular seems to be a little lacking in content, as this is a short story volume. Meaning there is no overall plot, and no character development. Oh, and almost no fighting either. In its place, we have even MORE boob talk and “funny” comedy. As such, we are forced to fall back on the usual rule of light novel short story volumes: the longer the story, he better it actually is. That holds true here, as the last story in the book is the longest and one of the few that deserves attention.

In this book: 1) Issei and Rias try to help a woman who summoned a demon to help her love life… but she’s American, and her idea of Japan is more samurai-oriented. 2) Issei and Asia are told they need to get familiars, but Issei’s choices are all super powerful rather than super sexy. 3) Issei explains to the club the story of how he became obsessed with breasts, which involves a creepy old man corrupting a child. 4) The club has to play a tennis match against a rival in order to complete a club activity report. 5) Asia and Rias are turned into little kids by a spell gone wrong. 6) Azazel accidentally clones Issei three hundred times, and the clones are even more breast-obsessed than he is. 7) Sirzechs and Grayfia show up at Issei’s, and remind Rias that she has to perform a ciming of age ritual with a loved one… i.e. Issei.

There are precisely three stories in this book that cannot be summed up by the words “Oh my God, fuck off.” The first story is actually pretty funny, especially Susan’s misplaced sense of what Japan is actually like. The story of Asia and Rias as kids is at least mildly cute, and features Azazel abusing Issei in a much more acceptable manner than the other story he’s involved in. And the final story is the most involved. We meet the other Demon Kings for the first time, and we get another example of the “they are wearing an obvious disguise but no one notices this except the protagonist” joke, which always seems to work for me for some reason. Other than that, please see above. High School DxD may be unabashedly horny, but I have my limits, and they were pushed hard here.

Despite the presence of one or two non-sucking stories, this is a volume that can easily be skipped, IMO. Next time we should get a school trip… and hopefully a plotline.

High School DxD: Ragnarok After School

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

If you’ve read the previous volumes, you know what the plot of High School DxD is: breasts. Everything else is secondary. That said, it is a shonen battle manga, which means that the breasts are not even there to titillate the reader or make them horny. They’re there as a weapon in Issei’s arsenal. Indeed, every new book brings with it a new breast power-up, and so we may as well talk about Issei loving breasts the way that we talk about Izuku using All Might’s Smash moves in My Hero Academia. It’s also very telling that, in universe, Issei’s shtick is popular with little kids rather than women. The kids don’t really get the sex part, they just see him busting out cool moves. It also shows off Issei as someone who really should mature a bit more before he starts getting his harem… something he seems to know anyway, rejecting Akeno’s offer to sleep with him because she “looks sad”. If you’re going to do a harem, do it properly.

Our heroes have been busy lately, as a bunch of heroes/terrorists keep showing up to try to fight them. The motivation of the other side is rather baffling till they figure out that they’re trying to force Balance Breakers by repeated combat. Which is, well, a tad unethical. That will have to wait for future books, though, because Odin is in town, supposedly here to meet with the Japanese gods but more accurately to go on a pub crawl and look at large-breasted women. (Notably, his hot Valkyrie bodyguard, Rossweisse, is not good enough – indeed, he abandons her at the end of the book.) Not everyone wants Odin to talk with other gods, though, and Loki shows up prepared to stop things by force if necessary. And he’s brought Fenrir with him. As a result, well, the subtitle of the book is accurate.

We finally get Akeno’s backstory here, and is it a bit disappointing at how normal it is. Well, as normal as a backstory can get when your relatives murder your own mother in front of you, but it really boils down to “I hate daddy because he’s never home” to a much larger degree. That said, things get resolved a bit too quickly here, and it feels like the author, having shown us how Akeno acme to hate her father, now feels it’s not necessary anymore. As for the rest of the book, well, lotsa fights. Indeed, we even get enemies teaming up, as in order to stop Loki, Vali and company are brought in, with him agreeing to put off his fight with Issei in order to fight someone equally badass. I did like his scoffing at Issei’s idea of peace, and pointing out that would be a nightmare to people who live for battle. Not everyone wants a Happy Harem After.

This was not quite as good as previous books, feeling a bit like it was filling in time. It did introduce Rossweisse, but she doesn’t do much here aside from whine and moan, so I assume we’ll develop her in later books. Average DxD, which is to say below average in terms of normal light novels.