It’s time for another Webtoon adaption. The God of Highschool got a ton of promotion back in the day. I dare say that from the 3 Crunchyroll productions they gave this one the most publicity by far. It’s a tournament with a ton of action so what’s not to love right? Well, after seeing it I can definitely say it’s a great title. I did have a bit of an issue with the art style but the animation itself was great without a doubt.
The show starts with some politicians making a deal only for the entire island to literally be slammed with a giant hand and those guys are murdered. With nobody left in the way, a tournament is announced called the God of High School. If you win this tournament then you will get whatever you wish for. Anyone can enter it as long as they’re in High School so people flock to the tournament from all over. Winning this will take skill but these characters are ready. Still, the whole situation is rather sketchy…is there more to this tournament than meets the eye?
The God of High School is a show that goes fast and doesn’t mess around so you really have to make sure you keep up. You can probably identify moments where there are scenes that would be skipped to make the pacing work better but you always get the key details. I haven’t read the Webtoon yet although I plan to do that shortly. So I can say with confidence that even without reading the source material you’ll be able to keep up.
The last few episodes are also the best ones in the season so this really ends on a high note. You’ll absolutely be hyped for season 2 by the time you’re done with this one. It almost feels like they would need to change the name soon though since it seems like it won’t really be relevant to the next season. I guess if you think of the title as being a title in universe as opposed to referring to the tournament then it works out pretty well though.
Since I mentioned the art style lets knock that out now. The thing I didn’t like is how everyone’s nose and ears are always shining bright red as if this is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I haven’t seen a show do that before. The closest I can think of is the permanent anime blush in shows like Accel World. I dislike that art style as well, I dunno it just doesn’t seem natural and it can be a bit distracting.
It takes away from the visuals in general. Interestingly, I quickly took a look at the original trailer for the show although I think it was a conceptual trailer since the animation studio looked totally different and it shows events from the complete first season which is an odd choice. There were no glowing noses/ears there so I don’t know why they were added here. Perhaps this is how the art looks in the Webtoon and they wanted to be accurate but it just doesn’t work. I do like the chibi scenes when they occur though. I think Chibi works really well for quick humor bursts. We see similar techniques used in Tower of God and Demon Slayer to great effect as well.
The animation is great though. There’s a lot of finetuned hand to hand combat here. It’s easy to see how this company would then go on to do Jujutsu Kaisen later on. That show took this one’s fundamentals and then improved the animation with a lot of great energy effects and even more wrestling type moves. In a way you could say the studio used this anime to train and then mastered it with Kaisen. There are definitely no complaints with the animation here, the fights are all very high energy and get you in the moment. The shading on the darker moments also helps show the intensity of a scene very well.
I enjoyed the soundtrack a lot as well. The theme song is great and the more you listen to it, the more into it you get. It’s got a lot of replay value that’s for sure. The images for it are also hype. Then you have several great themes in the show like the Young Tiger theme as well as Mujin Park’s music. Each one helps to build up the hype and as this is completely a battle story, it’s not surprising that the music would be geared that way.
Now lets talk about the characters here. The main character is Mori Jin. He loves fighting and is trained in the arts of Taekwondo. Mori is very confident in his abilities and believes he can take on anyone. Winning the tournament is prize enough for him so he has no real wishes to be granted. He’s a nice guy who sometimes projects sob stories onto others but always does his best to help his friends.
Mori’s a pretty charismatic guy and I was definitely a fan. He’s quick to jump into the arena when a match is going too far and that’s something I was glad to see. Mira loses some points for trying to constantly tell her teammates not to jump in. It’s just the right thing to do. It goes against the spirit of the tournament to be torturing your opponent and for Mori I imagine it was especially personal since the villain was using Taekwondo.
The show doesn’t go into it a whole lot but I do like how each of the different hand to hand fighters use unique fighting styles here. You’ve got Karate masters, self defense, sword style, etc. Mori never falters throughout the whole season so he was a great lead from start to finish.
Then we have Mira who is one of the first characters to appear in the show. She doesn’t crave battle the way that Mori does but her sole goal in life is to get the Moonlight sword back into the spotlight. She wants to prove that this style is good and it was her father’s last wish. She will do whatever it takes to make the sword popular again which is a good and bad thing. The good thing is that it gives her drive and something to fight for.
The bad thing is that it limits her. She seems to fight a lot better without the sword most of the time. Her enemies seem to be able to use it with more skill than she does. Additionally it also sidetracks her from her goals like when she was quick to jump into a wedding with someone she didn’t even know. That was the weakest part of her character arc to be sure. How do you marry a random celebrity when you’ve known him for 5 minutes?
Mira was quick to throw her friends away at this point too so it’s good that they beat up the guards and forced the issue. Mira also doesn’t believe in interrupting matches as I mentioned before so that ends up hurting two. From the 3 characters she had the shakiest resolve to be sure, but she can fight and tends to do well in battle. Eventually maybe she can catch up to the other two if she masters her sword.
Then we have Daewi as the third member of the crew. He is fighting to save his friend who is currently dying. It’s a pretty rare condition so even the nanomachines that the GOH tourney providers have only may give him a chance. Daewi is the mature member of the 3 so he usually tries to calm the other two down or just stay out of the way so they don’t embarrass him. For the most part he’s a rather decent guy.
There is one point though where he loses it and very nearly becomes a villain. He beats up some random punks but they initiated so I don’t even count that to be honest. You can’t pretend to ignore them forever so take them out and that’s that. Now if he murdered them that’s different, but I didn’t necessarily get that impression. It’s hard to say though, I suppose they might have been dead.
Daewi even attacks Mira in rather savage fashion but I would say it’s in a completely different league than what Manseok did in the first episodes. Daewi didn’t torture her or anything, he landed a few solid blows and then she went down. Now, he was about to attack again before he was stopped which would have crossed the line but ultimately no extra hits were landed. Perhaps this is something where it’s more dragged out in the Webtoon but from the anime it doesn’t seem as shocking and savage as the characters acted.
I suppose you’d expect him to hold back more when fighting a friend and yet the characters always talk about how you better not hold back or they’ll take it personally. It might be an unspoken rule where you should still hold back I suppose. Regardless it wasn’t quite as crazy as you would expect so I didn’t lose a ton of respect for him the way I would if a character really turned traitor like that. It does mean he’ll likely never catch the top tiers of the series like Mori, Ilpyo, or Taek but he’s reasonably in the middle somewhere.
The resolution to the plot did feel a bit cheesy and perhaps unearned though. Mori was really mad at Daewi at first and then a few minutes later they’re back to being best friends. That part I will say felt rushed and it seems like they wouldn’t get along so easily like that. Additionally, I don’t see how Daewi was looking so good. Mori seemed to be way stronger but more on that later.
Ilpyo was easily the best character in the series though. I liked his confidence and he’s just a classy guy. Ilpyo felt like he would be the main character in another title. He has cool fire powers and even a nice super form that he can use at will. The guy’s hand to hand skills are completely out of almost every other character’s league. He misses the first half of the season but once he shows up at the end he gets a great role.
It’s clear that he would have beaten Mori if he wasn’t sandbagging to teach him the whole time and at full power I would have gone for him over Taek as well. That guy’s abilities are hard to deal with but the same is true for Ilpyo. I hope he gets a lot to do in season 2 as well because he’s just a blast to follow.
Then we have some of the various fighters from the tournament. First is Seungchul who likes to fight using intelligence and wit over brute strength. This makes him difficult to defeat although at the same time it doesn’t seem sustainable. At the end of the day you need pure power to back up your moves. Then there’s Gamdo who is a martial artist that likes fighting with honor.
Unfortunately he’s in the wrong tournament for that because these fighters are too desperate to win. They don’t have time for honor or things like that. I liked the guy but I feel like he may never appear again. Then you have Manseok who was surprisingly weak. Seriously the guy talks really tough and after getting embarrassed he breaks down into tears and never appears again.
I’m sure he will return but it’s going to be hard to take that guy seriously. He’s like a textbook bully who can take on weaker fighters no problem but ultimately gets outmatched by the stronger ones and doesn’t have the confidence to continue. I didn’t like that guy so I don’t mind him getting taken out. It was just really surprising.
Taek is one of the big villains of course so we have to talk about him. Now this is a villain I could get behind. He made for a great antagonist who kept on getting stronger and forced the heroes to keep up with him. Hi goals about wanting to be the strongest and proving that he wasn’t a loser was intense. The guy is whining a lot in a sense but he continues to get stronger on his own so at least he’s doing something about it.
His rivalry with Ilpyo just worked really well and was the best dynamic in the show. Whenever he was around you knew things were about to go down. The scene where he nearly took Mori down with a single strike was a very intense moment and was also good hype for Ilpyo. I also liked how he kept remembering how Ilpyo beat him up that one time. Shows why he wants revenge on everything. It’ll be hard to top him as the next arc villain.
Taejin is worth mentioning because he’ll clearly be getting a big role soon but this was not a very impressive start for him. He got beat up pretty quickly. Yes, he left big craters in the ground and looked strong but Mori could probably pull such things off by the end of the series with his impressive power ups. Taejin gets a ton of hype so to see him tied up and beaten so early on…it was surprising to say the least.
Then we have the tournament organizer Mujin. This guy’s pretty interesting right now. He’s clearly not a hero with how extreme his actions are at the moment. It’s strongly implied he’s the one who took out the island in episode 1 although we don’t know for sure. He’s searching for the Key and it doesn’t sound like this is for heroic reasons. Perhaps he is a hero who just seems shady at times but right now I see him being a very interesting third party character who keeps everyone at the ready.
It’s a shame he had to play defense for the whole season though as we couldn’t see what he could really do yet. The fact that he was able to put up barriers to block the giant summon from the villains was impressive though. The guy’s tough without a doubt but I want to see him in the ring. He has a bunch of members in his organization who are powerful as well but most don’t get to do a whole lot yet.
I expect we’ll see them all fight more soon. They beat up on the random monsters but anyone could do that. Q gets the biggest role as he shows a lot more emotion than the others. He gets upset when one of his comrades dies and even confronts Mujin. There’s a lot of life to this guy and he disregards procedure if it gets in the way. It costs him a lot of money each time but he doesn’t back down.
There are other characters running around here of course like in the tournament and assassins from the mysterious organization that is also trying to find the key. I won’t go into those guys because they haven’t done a whole lot yet. You’ll want to watch the show to see what they’re doing. I am pretty interested in how that will play out since it seems like that will be more of a focus in season 2.
While the tournament was the main plot there were definitely times where the outside world was more interesting. There’s just so much happening out there and I love tournaments but the other parts were so appealing too. It’ll be fun to see how the heroes contribute since in theory most of them are still weaker than the grown ups. Mori is probably an exception to that though.
The Power levels in the show could be rather suspect at times though. From the start Mori is portrayed as being so much stronger than Daewi and Mira that you can’t believe it when he is having an even fight with Daewi. Particularly since given the circumstances Mori shouldn’t be holding back and is going in hot to make Daewi regret attacking Mira. Somehow Daewi is not only holding his own but even winning at times. That didn’t make a lot of sense.
Then you have the celebrity who had his own Charyeok manifestation and yet he got knocked out in one blow. How? This guy is a part of a dangerous organization and had a lot of abilities. That didn’t make a lot of sense. Granted, in general Charyeok seems like a pretty vague power scaling system. Effectively you borrow power from some kind of legendary figure and turn that into power. One character uses Lu Bu for example while another one has Jaws. (Or just a random Shark) Then you have Mori who doesn’t need to borrow anything since there are other factors at play here. Way I understand it is Mori is the legendary figure, I won’t say who for now. It’s a pretty good way to explain why he is so strong.
Charyeok has a lot of different manifestations so the best way to think of it is just as a form of Ki and then you get any kind of special ability. I don’t see how you can lose with it so quickly though. Power levels aside, I do like how the characters just launch into the fights. A benefit of the fast pacing here is there’s no time for chitchat so often times the fighters just start swinging their fists and don’t stop. The opponents have to figure out each other’s abilities in silence. Nobody stops until one person is on the ground.
The God of High School may start out fairly realistic but it jumps up into superhero world by the end. The last episode or 2 in particular suddenly turn this into something like DBZ and I’m all up for that. It was a pretty powerful match-up at the end and the designs were really good for the powered up modes on the hero and villain.
Overall, The God of High School is a great anime that I would recommend. You won’t be disappointed here. It’s really over in a flash at only around 12-13 episodes but each one covers a lot. You’ll likely end the show with a ton of questions since it doesn’t mind opening up a lot of plot elements that don’t go anywhere yet. It’s why you just have to wait until it’s continued or check out the written version. You’ll get introduced to a lot of characters but I dare say you’ll actually remember most of them. They’re all fairly unique and have their own personalities. It may take a little while to fully learn the names but that will come in time. My only real gripe here is that I wish they would take away the Rudolph nose part of the art style. It just doesn’t fit so maybe in season 2 it’ll be cut. With this review done I’d say it’s a good time to check out the Webtoon and see how the adventure continues.