Seasonal Anime Review: The God of High School

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

Nico Chio and Paul Sanchez

One of the most common tropes in the Shōnen (action-adventure) genre of anime is that of the tournament arc, a story arc in which the main cast usually undergoes training, and then fights in some sort of a tournament. From the Heavens Arena Arc in Hunter X Hunter to the U.A. Sports Festival Arc in My Hero Academia, many different series love to use this trope. While it can be interesting, it tends to grow stale. What would happen if this whole concept was made into a series? From the anime heaven known as Japan, the God of High School has arrived to make this a reality.

Adapted from the popular Webtoon (an online graphic novel website) of the same name, and produced by Studio Mappa, The God of High School follows main protagonist Jin Mori as he enters in the titular fighting tournament for a shot to win any wish he desires. The rules are simple: any fighting style and any weapon is allowed; however, as the tournament progresses, sinister forces are at work, and soon our hero learns that there is much more at stake than he could ever imagine. Along the way he meets a colorful cast of characters such as Han Daewi, Yoo Mira, and Park Ilpyo. Right off the bat, one of the most impressive things about this series is its animation. This series has some of the best animation I have seen in a Shōnen series. By blending both motion captured scenes and traditional 2D animation (also known as Sakuga style animation), The God of High School is able to produce some of the most stunning fight scenes of this year while staying true to the Webtoon’s original art style. Pair this with an excellent soundtrack and you have some amazing fight scenes.

The power system (the system of powers used in the series for combat), Charyeok, or Borrowed Power, is also one of my favorite ones, to date, only surpassed by Nen from Hunter x Hunter and Stands from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. By making a contract with literally anything or anyone, you are able to “borrow” the power of said being. From the Chinese general Lu Bu Fengxian, to the Nine-Tailed fox, there is a plethora of different Charyeoks, all with unique abilities. Just because having a Charyeok is a large part of this series’ power structure does not mean that all other fighters are obsolete. Many people in the series are also “genuine fighters” who only fight with real-life fighting styles, such as Taekwondo, Kyokushin Karate, and Jiu-Jitsu. One of the best things about this series is the power balance. While Charyeoks may seem like an overpowered “hack” that can defeat any enemy, a good enough genuine fighter can circumvent its power, and defeat a Charyeok user.

Despite all the praise for the series there are some major issues with the plot itself. Due to time constraints regarding the series, there were only 13 episodes they could work with. The first two major arcs of the series, which this season covered, were roughly 112 chapters on Webtoon. Since a lot of material was cut from the series due to time constraints, some major changes were made to the plot in order to fit into the 13-episode limit. Although the anime has stunning visuals and a beautiful soundtrack, it just doesn’t hold up as a story when compared to the original Webtoon. For example, a lot of the characters’ backstories were either changed or completely cut from the anime. Although this did save time, it removed a lot of context and made it harder for us to truly connect with these characters. Another major issue with removing these backstories is that it removes character interactions that are set up in the future. One character in particular, Baek Seungchul, had major cuts to his screen time in the anime, whereas in the Webtoon, he is one of the most important characters in the first major story arc.

All in all, while we did enjoy this series, there were some glaring flaws when compared to the original. A lot of the characters felt a lot more two-dimensional compared to the manga, and we felt that the production team could have done a better job by perhaps only adapting the first major arc into the 13-episode run they were given. If you want an action packed anime that does not require much thought, and just want to see people beating the living daylights out of each other, we would recommend The God of High School. However, if you wish to continue the series and enjoy the future animated content to its fullest, we would recommend that you go back and read the Webtoon. As of now, Season 2 of the anime has not been confirmed, and there is still plenty of time to catch up, so we would highly recommend visiting it again.