The summer season for the Japanese animation schedule has just ended, and certainly among the novelties of this year The God of High School, the South Korean manhwa written and illustrated by Yongje Park, Published on Webtoon and serialized in 2011. The work got an animated adaptation on Crunchyroll by the Mappa studio, the same one that is dealing with the fourth and final season of The Attack of the Giants coming in December.
Right in the ranks of the Crunchyroll Originals, the new title stands out for its focus on martial arts and the supernatural, skilfully combined to create encounters under the banner of visual spectacle. Inevitably, condensing such a long-lived production into just a few episodes can result in a fragmented experience and the risk of missing important parts of the original work is always around the corner, but will it be the case with The God of High School? In the 13 episodes available we had the opportunity to dwell on the strengths and weaknesses of the audiovisual product, and this is our review of the anime with a Korean essence.
Il God of High School
The protagonist of the work is Jin Mori, a boy who takes part in a famous high school tournament: the God of The High School, a fierce competition that involves the use of any martial art and opens right during the beginning of this adventure. To access the renowned event, the youngster will have to pass qualifications to the KROG Arena in the center of Seoul, through a series of clashes that will decide the best local fighter. Also coveted by those who are no longer the right age, the event seems to have a certain importance, since it will be necessary to choose the representative of their prefecture, then going to compete with the strongest ever and dramatically raising the stakes. Jin Mori, however, will not be alone on his journey.
In the first few bars he will meet Yu Mira, an apparently harmless and shy girl who knows how to juggle with the sword, practicing an ancient style and now close to disappearing. The couple will also be added Han Daewi, a boy with an apparently placid nature, initially impassive and detached from events, only to turn out to be a very caring figure for his companions. The trio, after some circumstances, will create a solid bond, making the members in all respects the 3 protagonists and pillars on which the entire narrative system of The God of High School is based.
There will be room for some flashback linked to the various characters, supporting actors with a rather thin background and who reinforce the moments and clashes in the present. The latter represent the strongest component of the work and of this animated transposition, in the face of other more or less memorable elements.
In this first season we have witnessed more or less excited episodes, between duels and phases focused on the backstory, more or less influential on the main plot that marked a not always compelling rhythm of the events, also in the face of the need to cut as much as possible from the reference manhwa to adapt this first part of the work in 13 episodes.
Furthermore, some crucial segments that would have helped to reinforce the sense of some writing choices are not present in the anime, which in any case tries to form a link between events despite the rapidity of the story. As we said, the fights are often protagonists, albeit with quite short scenes, in which The God of High School gives the best of itself. Its nature dictated by martial arts fights, it will suffer soon a substantial change. Gods will soon come into play supernatural powers able to completely change the dynamics of the battles, which find a concrete and intriguing reasoning in the universe created by Yongje Park.
Through conflict, talented young fighters have a chance to awaken the Charyeok, literally “powers borrowed from the gods”. The God of High School (or GOH) tournament is set up for this very purpose by a mysterious organization, made up of extremely skilled judges in combat. However, an opposite organization, the Nox, aims to eliminate all the gods that have nothing to do with the only one revered by the same. It is understood that those who benefit from these powers also come under the crosshairs of the Nox, which in this first story arc we see at work starting from the beginning of the real tournament.
Overall we were faced with an alternation of fast events and others exposed with a slower pace, creating a discrepancy in vision: the fights, between quick exchanges and special techniques, they gave a show, thanks also to exceptional animations, with very few subdued moments.
The God of High School presenta different drawing styles. The map animation has given life, on the whole, to an excellent product that also in this case gives its best especially in the ring. A pity, however, that some duels are particularly short and with a predictable outcome. In this first season it was pretty easy to predict most of the developments, except for a few rare twists well integrated into the plot, especially in the final act. However, the urge to deepen the evolution of the three protagonists, soon becomes the only truly fascinating element of the script. However, it is a pity that having to condense everything into a few episodes has removed some background on the bond of our favorites, undermining some character facets that would surely have helped to empathize with the characters and better understand the dynamics that led them to create a close-knit group.
Some structural choices in the narrative system are particularly appropriate for the rhythm of the events, such as the installation of nanomacchine in the blood of the GOH participants, who, once the fight is over, help to heal the fighter on duty in a short time. Not everyone, for example, might like the deriva fantasy of the production, especially those looking for an anime based entirely on pure martial arts, which are kept only for the few initial episodes, and which nevertheless will be the basis for some more powerful techniques in the name of powerful aesthetics.
Towards the end we will move considerably outside the ring, when events will take a more “divine” turn and the action will mark the rhythm of the story, between a series of spectacular and initially unclear scenes, even for a whole series of new characters that will make their appearance. Finally, honorable mention for the excellent soundtrack, which does not disappoint and effectively accompanies the most hectic moments.