The God of High School

The God of High School

The God of High School anime series cover art
The God of High School

Series Overview

The God of High School (ゴッド・オブ・ハイスクール) was one of the most popular anime of the summer 2020 season, and yet it was also the most disappointing. I didn’t really have high expectations going into this series based on what I saw of the trailer. However, a lot of people were hyping it up because it’s one of the most popular manhwa (Korean manga).

This first season of the series is just the introduction. And, since the series after the introduction looks very different, all I can really comment on regarding the “plot” is what’s featured in these 13 episodes.

The first (and hopefully last) season of The God of High School focuses on the titular martial arts tournament. Basically, the majority of the season is just one tournament arc with some extra fights and a few random episodes thrown in. So with that in mind, you might expect it to be just the shounen battle series you’ve been wanting.

Unfortunately, for reasons I’ll get into later, you’d be wrong.

In the beginning, The God of High School is a relatively straightforward martial arts series, albeit with some supernatural stuff right at the start. Hand to hand combat is common, and there’s a lot of really nice animation and choreography — exactly what I like to see.

However, as the series progresses, it drifts farther away from this grounded combat until it’s entirely in the realm of crazy, superpowered fights that don’t make much sense. It falls down the hole of shounen battle tropes, which is part of the reason why I, and many others, didn’t like it.

If it had just stayed as it was in the first two episodes, this review would probably be very different.

Plot and Character Development? What are Those?

If there was one problem I had to point to in order to illustrate why The God of High School isn’t a good anime, it would be the pacing. Anime pacing is somewhat of a hotly contested topic. It often seems like nobody can come to an agreement on which series have good pacing and which have bad.

That’s not the case with The God of High School. I’m fairly confident when I say that the vast majority of viewers recognize that the pacing of this anime is atrocious. These 13 episodes cover something like 110 chapters of the source material. That’s over 8 chapters per episode, which is insane.

By comparison, One Piece generally covers 1 chapter per episode (which is slow), and the average anime covers around 2 to 3. I’m also referring to weekly chapters, by the way. Series with monthly chapters generally cover 1 chapter per episode, but those chapters are longer so it works.

Mori, Daewi, and Mira from the anime series The God of High School
Mori, Daewi, and Mira

Now, you might be thinking that a faster pace would be good for a series like this. In fact, it was pretty good for the first two episodes. The first episode was a whole lot of nothing, so it was pretty nice to speed run through it. And the second episode had a lot of good action.

But after that, the pace didn’t slow down. The majority of the plot and character development were skipped throughout the rest of the series. This in turn led to fights, characters, and in some cases, entire episodes that viewers simply didn’t care about.

For example, there was an episode early featuring Mira getting married. The problem with this episode is that in the source material, it was an entire arc. Also, literally nobody cared about Mira at this point in the anime. It was effectively a filler episode 3 or 4 episodes into the anime.

Rule #1: There are no Rules

While the pacing is the thing that really destroys the anime, there’s another negative aspect of this series that I’m betting can be found in the source material as well. That is, of course, that there are no rules to govern the power system that gets established.

I discussed this topic a lot in my weekly episode reviews for this series, but I’ll go through it again here because it’s the part of the series that I disliked the most. As previously mentioned, the series starts out as if it’s going to be a pretty normal martial arts anime, which would have been good.

Once Charyeok (the power system) is introduced, everything changes. All we’re told about Charyeok is that it’s borrowed power from the gods. For example, you may have the power of Vulcan, the Roman god of destructive fire. However, at no point are the limits on these powers established.

Misun Ma from the anime series The God of High School
Misun Ma

So, to continue on with that Vulcan example, you could use it to do anything from controlling fire to summoning volcanoes on demand. Or, you may even be able to create any weapon of your choice just by thinking of it. The possibilities are effectively endless.

But why is this a problem? Well, dear reader, the problem lies in that if there are no rules governing how the power system works, then it can be used to suddenly create or solve problems. The entire Charyeok system in this series is just one, giant Deus ex machina.

Ignoring the fact that I already wasn’t invested in the fights because none of the characters have any development, how am I supposed to get invested when someone can pull a new ability out of their back pocket on demand? It’s like when kids are playing make-believe and they constantly one-up each other. “Oh yeah? Well, I can fly and I’m invincible!”

Conclusion

As much as I don’t want to rate it this highly, The God of High School is a 5/10. It does have some good action, the animation is great, and the music is pretty decent as well. However, the story and character development are basically nonexistent, which drastically lowers the score.

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