How The Hit Anime Shows The Strength Of A Support Structure
Happy New Year’s everyone! Many fans of comics are aware of Japanese manga. For those who aren’t, manga is just a Japanese comic that focuses more on detailed linework and bombastic action. When I first heard about the hit series The God of High School, I also discovered that Korea has its own manga equivalent called manhwa. Created by Yongje Park, The God of High School is a series that is both beloved in South Korea and iconic for its ability to subvert the expectations that this genre typically sticks to. While the manhwa is on my list of books to read, this write-up will cover my thoughts and takeaways on the first season of the Crunchyroll Original anime.
If I had to use a word to describe my experience while watching The God of High School, I would probably call it: kinetic. For an action anime, its flow while in combat and how each character moves was nothing short of entrancing. For those still on the fence, I found its combat to be something similar to shows like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo (which I plan to cover one day), and K. Moving with momentum at their side, each character’s personalities beautifully come to life when fighting.
For the most part, the first season is a tournament arc where kids from different schools compete in a heated battle using the various martial arts styles known throughout the world. As an avid fan of all martial arts, it was a treat to see so many styles move with and against one another. Our main characters of the series are a trio of students named Jin Mori: A Goku esque lead who is also a Taekwondo master and only cares about his friends and the next great fight; Han Daewi: both a cook and Karate master, Han is soft-spoken but steadfast in his beliefs, and Yu Mira: a bushido practitioner tasked with keeping the style of her family alive, she is also the smartest of the trio, thinking with her head instead of her fists. This team becomes fast friends and eventually work together in the tournament because whoever wins will be granted one wish, and they all have particular wishes.
While I plan to discuss various themes of the show over time, I wanted to use this opportunity to talk about an important aspect that isn’t mentioned much, the importance of a support structure. From the very first few episodes, we see these three friends join together after something that Yu holds very dear to her heart is thrown into a river. The three of them spend all night looking for it and prove that they are stronger together rather than apart. There are even more examples of this type of loyalty scattered throughout the first season so buckle up while we dissect these character moments!
Since we have already been on the topic of Yu Mira, I feel like it would be a disservice not to mention one of my favorite episodes of the series in which Yu almost marries a man that she doesn’t even love but feels she needs to marry him for the sake of her family legacy. The entire episode frames the struggle that she is going through and how she deals with this decision while Jin and Han do their best to talk some sense into her. Thankfully, before the wedding is completed, the two crash it in classic red and blue fashion and snap Yu out of it. The episode culminates in one of the best final frames of an anime this year that sums up the theme of friendship so well. The episode is a departure from the tournament fights we have been watching, and while there isn’t any action till the end, it was a delight to spend time with one of our main characters to understand where she is coming from.
Another highlight episode focuses on Han Daewi. This one will be hard to discuss without spoiling, but the main takeaway of the episode and his character is that sometimes lashing out on the people you care about may not be the best solution, but if it is the only one, make sure you do it with someone willing to take the hits. Han’s main reason for joining the tournament has been to get the help and care his close friend needs after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. As things worsen, Han gets more distant, and after hurting the people he holds dear, Jin is there to make sure that he knows he isn’t alone and if he needs a punching bag, he will be there to take the blows. The episode reminds me of an important lesson that even if we feel like we are alone when we are hurting, we never really are, and sometimes all we need is a friend to be there to power through our pain or be a shoulder to cry on.
Now for Jin, the reason for his free spirit comes from both a warm place and a place of hurt. Jin was raised by his grandfather, a great fighter and even better father figure. He taught Jin almost everything he knew and reminded him never to lose his smile. Sadly, his grandfather disappeared, and Jin has been living on his own ever since. While he deals with his pain alone fairly well, he found a family in his newfound friends and fights fiercely to keep them together. He is the glue that keeps them together, and I think he knows that. Jin’s trauma may not be solved yet, but his search for his grandfather feels easier and easier with each passing day, knowing that he has his friends with him.
The God of High School is a lot of things. An action anime, a heartfelt drama, and a beautifully animated comic book adaption. However, the one thing that it is more than all of that is a series of lessons. In this case, the lesson is that while you can go through the hardships of your life alone, it is more often beneficial to maintain a support structure with your friends or family. One can never deny the strength we feel knowing that the people we hold dear will always have our back, and each episode of The God of High School has proven that in its own right. As more characters are introduced, you would be surprised how so many of them become friends over enemies.
There is still a lot of the series left to adapt. With the explosive inclusion of god-like superpowers that completely shifts the tone of the series in its season finale, it is safe to say that the look of this show by the end will be hugely different from where it began. I do not doubt that a lot will change, and the bonds found in the series will be tested, along with a lot of the lessons found in the first season, but if there is anything that we can rely on as the story continues, it’s that we can’t go it alone and we will always need friends.
(apologies for any spelling errors on the character’s names!)