First Look: The God of High School

Manga Adaptation by Mappa
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

The God of High School tournament is held to determine the best fighter among Korea’s high school population. Mori Jin is a fight guy who meets another fight guy and fight girl. Presumably, they will fight more guys.

Gee’s verdict: Lightweight

I’m being a bit cheeky with the premise description but frankly it isn’t that far off from what The God of High School seems to be selling. Sure, there’s hint of conspiracy and tragic backstories but if you’re like me, you’re mostly here because you love SeongHo Park’s work and it’s nice to see the guy continue to get some big meaty projects after his impressive stint directing some of the Garo franchise’s strongest animated entries. And boy, does our guy put in the work. The God of High School isn’t a particularly enthralling premise and the characters themselves are inoffensive at best, but when the fists start flying, it’s undeniably impressive. The show wisely kicks off with a raucous battle royale that gets to show all of Park’s strengths as a director. I’ve talked about it multiple times here but good hand to hand combat is a specific talent in animation. Without energy beams or power auras to rely on, good fisticuffs need strong choreography to carry through, and Park’s excellent knack for action cinematography is on full display here. I mean if nothing else, it’s not every day you see a lady perform a goddamn stone cold stunner on some poor sap.

So it’s not the staff I’m particularly concerned about here, the real question is will this story have anything else going for it once the spectacle wears off? Frankly, I’m unsure. There’s nothing about The God of High School that actively annoys me but that’s also because there isn’t much substance there to begin with. My real concern is honestly that the anime has already hinted at some kind of supernatural powers at work. I’m hungry for some good looking combat, but the second these kids start shooting energy waves and laser beams, I’m probably punching out.

Iro’s verdict: Lots of Style, No Substance

I’m mostly watching this because I feel indebted to the director for blessing us with GARO: Vanishing Line, because other than his usual panache for action (and it is some good panache, I fully believe SeongHo Park is one of the best action directors in anime today) there is pretty much nothing else particularly appealing about this show. It’s not unappealing, but everything but the action is so painfully average that I can’t get excited. God of High School is nowhere near the bottom of the barrel this season, but cool fights and hand-to-hand spectacle can only take a show so far.

Artemis’ verdict: Needs More Everything

This is clearly one of those shows where less is definitely not more – and unfortunately, The God of High School just doesn’t commit enough to its ridiculousness to carry it off. My main problem with the premiere is that everything felt like it was played too conservatively – big and dumb, to be sure, but not quite big and dumb enough. If I’m going to watch a bunch of testosterone junkies (and their big-bosomed sidekicks, of course), I need maximum energy and either 200% self-seriousness or 200% stupid comedy. Don’t get me wrong, The God of High School has many of the hallmarks of a show that obviously knows it’s ridiculous and is leaning into these comedy aspects, but it falls short of the high-energy insanity that makes other stupid action and/or crazy high school shows like Kakegurui so entertaining. In this context, anything less than MAXIMUM DELIVERY just comes across as slightly flat to me, no matter how outlandish the premise. I might give this series one or two more episodes to see where it goes, because frankly, there are only one or two other titles scheduled for this season that look even tolerable. However, my first impressions were mixed at best, so I’m not holding my breath.

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