I may catch a few death threats over this one but The God of High School is not off to a promising start. I will be making judgements in this review based solely on the anime. A web comic and possibly the first anime adaptation of one, TGHS instantly broke barriers and became a water cooler (or bubble tea) conversation. Sadly there isn’t much to talk about right now. To the die-hard fans I want you to know I acknowledge the anime takes place way after the actual story begins.
This is what leads me to the first issue, pacing. Even for an en medeas res plotline as the first episode, everything still feels rather slow. The plot is mundanely linear. Spoiler Alert:
Plot A MC is late to the tournament. MC Arrives at the tournament. They Fight.
Plot B MC sees a woman get robbed. MC meets cast. Cast helps stop robber.
The characterization is faulty and inconsistent. Many characters almost immediately contradict their established traits. Their characters all fit into one of three categories protagonist, support, and mob. A little after our main character is introduced after his personality trait of being late is established, there’s such a fever dream of B- plot development that it partially takes place in our protagonist’s head in a deadpoolean narrative. In these 10 seconds there is more characterization given to that old woman than we get for the entire episode. Meanwhile the premise of being late is entirely abandoned and relegated to a personality train rather than a circumstance. The other protagonists follow a similar model of being mostly grounded until they slam face-first into a highway sign, or punch a thief off a motorcycle. Why? Because all actions have no consequence and are purely being used as a vehicle to flesh out these characters who are realistically multi-faceted but annoyingly similar.
The three main characters introduced are all the same person in different hats. I find it incredibly hard to distinguish anything about them beyond their character designs. They’re almost no different from the mob characters who seem to only spout exposition (and I may credit this to the translation), and contrived dialogue. Even the more prominent members of the cast switch into these silly, theatrical, exaggerated affectations. There is no established character trait that isn’t immediately contradicted.
MC Mori seems to be late and concerened with being on time but stops to chase a robber. His impulsivity is immediately contradicted when he is stopped by glasses girl and lets himself be shaken down in the midst of such a tight deadline. Glasses girl is supposedly blind but somehow manages to aim her umbrella at Mori and strike him off his bicycle, shaking him down afterwards. Learning his location by sonic screams.
Haircut employee is possibly the only consistent character in this entire show. This is possibly because he gets the least characterization in the show. No, seriously the one-off bad guy with the colorful underwear gets canonically more fleshed out in this episode than any of the cast. The gag about his character enjoying cute things will hopefully be more than just a throw-away.
The animation is stunning and the direction is fun. Clearly using the drawing medium to visually storytell in a spectacular and original style reminiscent of anime in its golden age. The stylistic art decisions keep the show visually appealing and doesn’t hurt its entertainment value. There are great scenes that utilize the animation capabilities to its extent, allowing for interesting pov shots, electric combat, and some chuckle-worthy visual gags. The God of High School has a promising future with its direction and animation. It’s a fun watch undoubtedly but lacking severely in substance.
Hopefully things pick up later in the series, and if not maybe we can get this studio interested in a “Looking For Group” anime. Until then.