The God of High School once again fails to appeal to its own strengths. The animation and action are probably the only memorable thing about this show at the moment, yet for some reason the cliffhanger action is resolved offscreen. Instead we are exposed to more forced dialogue and exposition. The story and by no means the characters are the strong points of this show. Still somehow the first half is devoted to the main characters, and shedding more light on their dynamics. The chief issue being; there is no established relationship, and al these characters have been recently introduced. TGHS’s solution to this issue is to simply force the cast to bond. What comes forth from this is a mess of backpedaling, manic interactions, and a little deus ex machina. (What if someone walks into the convenience store expecting to buy a giant spotlight? What then haircut employee?) The gags become tiresome after the third flip-out reaction, which doesn’t take too long. There are some note-worthy attempts at characterization, but everything falls flat. The visual storytelling allows me to feel like I know the characters’ archetypal backstories. It is a bit disorienting to show us these flashback, only to undermine them within the plot, and more precisely the same episode. (Hey haircut stop spending your money on giant night-time spotlights and you’ll have a better time footing those medical bills.)
The B- plot of this episode once again trades substance for characterization and almost ceremoniously misses both points. Some of the greatest characterization comes from conflict. This show somehow manages to avoid conflict entirely. The most we get for the B-plot is a visually impaired girl who despite losing her glasses, and sword. Sends home one of the people (Glasses girl only sends Mori home. Haircut Employee leaves in solidarity.) that can support her through her disability. That could be an internal conflict I guess. There is no real conflict with Mori. All we see is Mori wanted to help Glasses girl. Glasses girl thought she didn’t need his help. Mori helps glasses girl. There is no acknowledgment of flaws for our MC at least. He learns nothing besides “accidents happen.” Something I know personally but to this day didn’t believe could create a whole anime. The backstory is offensively derivative. Spoiler Alert: Every anime dojo girl ever. A girl whose family owns a dojo, but needs to find a worthy successor for the prophecy or patriarchy or whatever. I will give most anime dojo girls the conflict of wanting to run the dojo themselves. This doesn’t seem like most anime. This seems like it should hardly be an anime. I’ve watched Newgrounds flashes with better characterization. Anyone heard of TOME?
There is some credit that is due to the second half. The scene that was meant to showcase Mori’s awesomeness had a nice touch when the rush of dry air caused an instant nosebleed. Highlighting the show’s fight mechanics, one of the more unstable grounds the series treads on. The fight mechanics for TGHS falls short. The action plays out similar to a fighting game. No one takes any real damage, and the fights spend the majority of its duration one-sided. The give-and-take is what makes the fighting so drawn out. Give-and-take is important in the suspense of fighting. It’s what gives the audience the impression that either side could win in any moment. In each fight scene in TGHS someone is either completely winning or entirely the underdog. There is almost no give and take, instead characters take turns dominating one another on-screen. The winner usually determined by plot armor. There is a little characterization, but nothing substantial. We see that wild man fights dirty, and Tai Chi McGees fights clean. It’s actually quite sad that such stunning animation and beautiful direction has to be limited to such a contrived plot. TGHS treats its action like fighting games and naturally places emphasis on combos and special moves. The characterization that could easily be made through movement, and fleshing dynamics is relegated to flashbacks. Here we get another tropey backstory of how wild man became a sadist. Naturally there are only bits and pieces, so not to interrupt the pacing of the one-sided fight, that is already intercut with flashbacks. There is no mention of anything cute.
We do get to see some stunning visuals when the animation finally catches up to Tai chi McGee’s injuries. Further exploring the potential for this show to have exciting fights that are grounded in realism. Thankfully when things seem their darkest, all realism goes out the window and we see Mori interrupt the match like Kanye off the henny. No bodyguard attempts to stop him, or even halt the match before he gets to showcase more protagonist power. The power scaling almost works here as Mori is swarmed upon by elite suits all dressed in the same classy, expensive, fashion. Of course this is immediately disregarded when we see Mori save them all from an energy blast, and introductory element to the plot. Mori is told there will be consequences for his actions regardless. Perhaps next week we’ll see some of those words come to life, but c’mon it’s a training arc. We all know it’s a training arc. Until then.