Each anime season has a new standout. Summer 2020’s looks to be The God of High School. Due to the health precautions and ergo work restrictions, listings are shorter than usual this season. However, The God of High School has still drawn impressive interest despite going up against sequels of several already well established series such as Re:Zero and Fire Force. Let’s see if it deserves the hype!
The God of High School
A massive tournament is being held to find the strongest fighter in the pool of Korea’s high school students. The story starts with one of its contestants, Mori Jin—a (quite literally) starry-eyed taekwondo specialist.
But that’s not how the actual show starts. It starts with a phone call and a beach. That’s not a particularly scary set-up; however, it does show a somewhat more sinister, albeit vague, plotline in the works behind the scenes of the tournament as well as the mysterious character Park Mujin.
When our main character does make his entrance it’s not too different from the men lounging on the beach. In typical anime protagonist fashion, he’s slept in! No toast for this guy though. He’s running on an empty stomach for most of the first episode. During this mad dash to the arena and one thief-stopping detour, we also meet our other two main characters and get to see just how scary these students are.
The God of High School marks Crunchyroll’s third collaboration with Line Webtoon. The original manhwa has gained thousands of readers both in Korea and overseas, so it’s safe to say there were a lot of people to impress.
The premise of the show is admittedly pretty cliche. Overpowered school students battling, a startlingly upbeat and righteous protagonist…right off the bat there are tropes anyone who’s dabbled in shounen anime would be familiar with. Nonetheless, these tropes are done in an enjoyable fashion.
Mori is a nice, goofy lead. His behavior is a little off the walls and hard to predict which makes him very entertaining to watch. Those impulsive traits are amplified by his physical capability. I mean, he could literally jump off the walls. And he did with his bike in the first episode. However, he’s not without anything to ground his character. He clearly has good morals and that classic hero’s heart.
Daewa and Mira, the other main characters, seem to share that same endearing sense of goodwill. This is shown in what is probably my favorite scene in the show so far: the bike chase.
Sound & Animation
At the beginning of the show, the art really did not stand out to me as anything special. It wasn’t bad looking by any means, but it did leave me wondering if the fights in a show about fighting would even have the animation “oomph” to carry it. But the expressions and overzealous movements of these characters as they hunted down a cocky purse snatcher were golden.
Fights following it were also fairly dynamic and super fun to watch. Each character has their own style that contributes to an interesting choreography.
There are small splashes of unique textures and palettes throughout the anime too. These are mostly found in flashbacks, but also in cool transitions and introductions—namely theme song itself. Glitches, glowing neons, even some pixel art, it’s all very reminiscent of a video game and I love that.
Likewise, the opening “Contradiction” is a fittingly high energy, electronic piece. That same vibe carries through the rest of the OST and is honestly absolutely perfect to go alongside the brawls. It definitely kept me hyped and in the moment.
Pacing & Problems
My biggest issues lie with the anime’s pacing. Things progress very quickly. It’s understandable, considering creators and viewers alike probably just want to get right into the action. But we don’t get much background or buildup on anything that happens.
The character flashbacks stuck out like a bit of a sore thumb. Although there’s a lot left to be expanded about the characters’ backgrounds and motives, it all felt too much like a rushed and lazy method to get the audience’s sympathy. It’s especially obvious in a scene where Mori asks the others why they joined the tournament. The character’s actual replies are not too offbeat or revealing; however, the short snippets before make it feel almost awkward.
Mira’s characterization is another good example of this problem. She is displayed as a happy, cutesy girl with the twist of “oh hey, piss her off and she’ll suddenly get serious and kick your ass.” That by itself isn’t bad, though once again nothing exactly new in this sort of series. In fact, it was pulled off pretty well in her introduction. But later on, the switch between these attitudes is jarring. It’s like they’re trying to pull off two archetypes under the same design. It was hard to take Mira or her story seriously.
I’m hoping for more organic character development and consistency as the series continues.
The God of High School is in many ways your standard shounen fare. But it takes its genre in stride with exciting visuals and sound, earning a solid 3 miso soups with room to grow as the summer season progresses.
That wraps up our look at The God of High School. Did you agree with our review? What will you be watching this season? Let us know in the comments!