Miss last week’s review? You can find it here!
If you weren’t sold on last week’s episode and decided to give The God of High School one more shot…chances are you’ll definitely be coming back next week. This week’s episode featured superb animation, weighty fight scenes and a narrative foundation for our trio of heroes that sets the stage for an exciting season to come.
The episode opens in a control room of some sort, with some vague mentions of being infiltrated/breached. Park Mujin, general antagonist and all-around creepy guy, introduces himself just before the show cuts back to the main event.
With the initial battle royale wrapped up, the God of High School regional tournament is officially underway. A couple of the “suited” higher-ups from the organization comment on their boss being away.
Jin, Mira and Han just so happen to have the same route home from the arena, and during their trip, Jin asks about their respective motivations for entering the God of High School tournament. Taking a page straight out of any shonen heroes playbook, Jin shares his first:
Han is pretty transparent about his interest in making money, while Mira divulges her journey to revitalize her family’s dojo by bringing attention to their distinct sword style – Moon Light Sword. Of the trio, Mira appears to offer the most traditional and “honorable” mission.
Jin, now even more curious about her sword, claims it, and as Mira struggles to get it back from him, it goes over the side of the bridge and into the river. Mira – clearly upset – slaps him and tells him to leave.
As she searches for it, Jin returns with more light to help her search. She apologizes for slapping him and explains that the sword was a gift from her late father. Jin seems to be more understanding of the situation and re-affirms his desire to help her find it. Not long after, Han reappears with floodlights that he “borrowed from work” to assist the pair in finding the sword.
The next day the tournament begins properly, with advertising for Webtoon and Crunchyroll adorning the side of the fighting arena…
Some low level fights are spotlighted, mainly to showcase the “central players” with a moment of tension in the waiting room as the bound maniac from the previous episode, Kang Manseok, threatens a sleeping Jin Mori.
Go Gamdo, a fellow entrant and practitioner of Tai Chi, scolds Kang, and in response he offers a powerful kick that causes Gamdo to start bleeding from the nose, even though Jin catches him. Go thanks Jin for his assistance, and admits he underestimated his opponent, and that it wouldn’t happen again.
As it turns out, Kang and Go are slotted to fight each other, and the confrontation proves to be the first “real” challenge of the tournament so far. Go opens with a flurry of impressive strikes, demonstrating his mastery of Tai Chi, as well as his earned spot among the elite fighters in the God of High School competition.
Yet, despite Gamdo’s impressive opening salvo, Kang shows that he’s much more than just a berserker. Soon enough he turns the tables on the level-headed fighter, laying into him with powerful strikes and doing his best to disrupt his calm demeanor.
Go attempts to center himself and deliver a powerful strike, but Kang responds in kind and soon has the fighter’s arms in his grips, breaking them and seemingly ready to tear them from his body entirely as the crowd looks on in horror.
Jin intercepts with a kick that sends Kang fliyng, and despite the judges working to prevent his disruption, Kang insists on exchanging blows.
Jin delivers an impressive triple-kick technique, the air pressure alone enough to knock Kang out before he sent him rocketing into the arena floor at breakneck speed.
Park Mujin appears just as the fight concludes, seemingly throwing Jin to the ground with his mysterious power. While there is meant to be some sort of “punishment” for Jin’s interference, the final decision has yet to be made…and the audience has fallen in love with him in the meantime.
The God of High School originally had my curiosity, but now it has captured my attention. With more of a narrative core being constructed, and a proper introduction to the fight animation of the series, I was more impressed by this episode than I was with the debut.
While the character arcs may be largely familiar (strength, money and honor, respectively) the foundation helps set the stage for more involvement than just “He looks cool” or “Her style is neat”. It also begins building the tension for when these friends will eventually have to cross fists with one another.
The real star of this episode was the animation – especially with the combat. There’s a weight and impact to every blow, and the characterization of the various fighting styles is on display even more so than the fleeting battle royale from last week.
Go and Kang’s bout was obviously at the center of the episode, and it featured some great give-and-take with their respective styles. Kang appeared to be a sort of elevated bruiser based on last week’s episode, but this week showcased that he had some real skill and understanding of his opponent – especially when he was able to repel his high-level Tai Chi technique.
It was commented elsewhere, but I appreciated the straightforwardness of the conflict as well. Unlike most shonen series, there was no need to discuss the backstory for each technique, or get lost in the weeds leading up to the fight. While a couple brief flashbacks were integrated, it was more to flesh out their respective motivations, and less to make sense of the fight at hand.
Jin Mori’s introduction to the fight and the demonstration of his “Renewal Taekwondo” was no doubt the hype moment of the episode, and serves only to tease what we can hope to expect in future episodes.
Much like Tower of God, the story is being rolled out in such a way that you are confident there is a lot going on in the background, and we’ve just barely begun to scratch the surface. You know the “suits” are involved somehow, and obviously Park Mujin is the clearly outlined bad guy for the time being, but the potential for the broader narrative is exciting.
If you weren’t sold by this week’s episode, chances are you’re ready to walk away from it. That being said, I doubt many can turn away after such an action-packed slugfest! Definitely looking forward to what The God of High School brings in the coming weeks!
You can catch The God of High School on Crunchyroll every Monday!