The God of High School is the second high-profile anime adaptation of a Korean webcomic, following Spring 2020’s Tower of God. It’s a balls-to-the-wall action thrill ride about a worldwide martial arts tournament and the three young Korean competitors who claw their way to the top. It’s only about halfway through the season so far, but we can already tell that everyone involved in this show is giving everything they have to make it the best shounen tournament anime it can possibly be. Let’s take a closer look!
Action with a Capital “A”
The extra “behind the scenes” special between episodes 2 and 3 explains exactly how The God of High School’s action sequences are created. The artists and director plan out heavily detailed storyboards that take liberties with the original comic to make the fights flow more smoothly in animated form, and for the more complex sequences (particularly those where the characters’ specific fighting styles are important), stunt performers don motion capture suits to give the animators a true-to-life template to work from. It’s unusual to see motion capture used outside the realm of film, but director Sunghoo Park had previously worked with that stunt team on several incarnations of the Garo franchise (which is based on a live-action tokusatsu show), so he was able to bring a high level of precision to this anime.
As a result, The God of High School’s fights feel less like flashy shounen showdowns and more like brutal MMA matches. Sure, the typical tropes are there – characters shouting attack names (complete with kanji appearing on screen), devastating blows only taking effect once the victim thinks they’ve successfully dodged, finishing moves producing gusts of wind and destroying the battlefield for emphasis – but the most visceral parts of each battle are shockingly realistic. You can feel the weight behind each punch and kick, and even relatively minor characters have distinctive fighting styles. It’s a mind-boggling amount of effort that certainly doesn’t go unappreciated.
Just Enough Plot to Hold It Together
Now, we love nothing more than a complex story to chew on, but even we can admit that not every anime needs to be a literary masterpiece. The God of High School knows that its audience is here to see jaw-dropping sakuga fight sequences, so it uses its story moments sparingly. Each episode adapts 3-4 chapters of the webcomic (almost twice as many as the usual industry standard), skimming past slower parts to keep the pace up and distilling important story beats like the gang looking for Mira’s sword to 5-10 minutes each.
There’s also the borrowed power/charyeok system, which has yet to be introduced in full. For now, we’ve only seen brief glimpses of what look like Stands when particularly powerful administrators and other mysterious figures are backed into a corner during a fight. It’s a mysterious element that hasn’t had much explanation so far, but we’ve seen just enough to be intrigued. Of course, when charyeok does get explained, we bet it’ll be in the heat of battle rather than in a dry aside to the audience.
We also can’t get enough of the slapstick humor, random chibi and pixel art moments, and that sudden shift to a gorgeous sumi-e style during the final minutes of Mori and Daewi’s finals match. What could this anime get up to next?
What did you think of our overview? Have you been enjoying The God of High School’s particular brand of high-octane action this season? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!