Title: High School DxD BorN
Distributor: Funimation Entertainment (c/o Anime Limited)
Platform(s): DVD/Blu-ray Combi-Pack
Version Reviewed: DVD
Released: Out Now!
Now that Halloween is behind us, you can stop pretending that the only way to get your heart racing is through jump scares or gore and now that strangers are no longer giving out sweets, you can embrace your demons with the pleasurable experience of High School DxD BorN – the third season of TNK’s raunchy, supernatural comedy series, released this week in the United Kingdom by Funimation (with distribution by Anime Limited).
Summer vacation may have finally arrived, but Issei’s hopes of spending time leisurely enjoying the view of beauties on the beach are quickly scuppered by news that the Occult Research Club will be trading the warm glow of the sun with the fires of hell – the signing of a cross-mythological treaty requires the presence of renowned nobility such as the daughter of the prestigious Gremory family, Rias and her entourage. However, as always in a world teeming with angels, demons, fallen angels and now Norse Gods, nothing ever goes as peacefully as planned. Viewing Odin’s part in the alliance as a betrayal of Asgard, Loki (sadly not played by Tom Hiddleston) gate-crashes the proceedings alongside the villainous Chaos Brigade, who pose a far more personal threat to the Occult Research Club.
While BorN still contains plenty of the same sex-driven humour that made its predecessors so successful, such as an especially ridiculous yet dramatic mid-battle fondling, a more emotional recurring theme of the series is the need to come to terms with oneself. This is told through many ways that affect a number of our main cast, such as Akeno addressing pent-up feelings about her father and fallen angel lineage, as well as fateful reunions for both Koneko and Asia. While this leads to some endearing character moments, the quick progression from one girl’s ire to another does occasionally give off a formulaic feel.
Koneko had previously positioned herself as the strong, silent time with a resentment towards Issei’s lecherous ways, but the unwelcome return of her estranged sister sparks a change in Koneko that is equal parts surprising and endearing. The series does falter towards its climax however, when the story strays from the path laid out in Ichiei Ishibumi’s original light novels – a tonal shift recognisable to even those unfamiliar with the source material.
While the English vocal performances have a tendency of sounding wooden and in particular, Kelly Angel’s performance as the seductive Akeno has nothing on Shizuka Itō, the additional double entendres peppered into Funimation’s re-versioned script makes the dub of High School DxD BorN an absolute riot – even if the occasional line comes across as too forced and causes an eye-roll instead. Sometimes though, I just like to sit back and think about how a professional actor had to stand in a recording booth and without breaking character, shout in front of an ADR director and other technical professionals, about how great it is to poke a woman’s nipple.
The animation of High School DxD BorN remains a strong point of the franchise, with close-ups of the main female cast and the particularly provocative eye-catches receiving an unsurprising attention to detail – clearly, the most experienced craftsmen were drafted in to ensure that the girls’ bosoms look as fulsome as possible. Action sequences on the other hand, are rather unremarkable – animated well enough to get the job done without distraction, but not really noteworthy or memorable.
Although the events of this season are a direct result of High School DxD New, it is worth noting that due to unforeseen licensing confusion, the franchise is in a rather peculiar position where both the first and third seasons are available on home video, yet the second isn’t. Anime Limited are currently pursuing this, but if you need to play catch-up in the mean-time, High School DxD New is available for streaming on FunimationNow.
If you enjoyed previous seasons of High School DxD, then you will no doubt enjoy this latest outing, as it contains more of the usual good stuff with little deviation. While the story admittedly isn’t as strong as its predecessors, the ridiculous fanservice and humour helps preserve High School DxD‘s position as an entertaining romp of a guilty pleasure show.
Disclosure: A copy of “High School DxD BorN” was supplied by Anime Limited, the distributor, for the purposes of this review.