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The Spring 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Viral Hit

How would you rate episode 1 of
Viral Hit ?
Community score: 3.0

What is this?


Scrawny high school student Hobin Yu is probably the last guy you'd expect to star in a NewTube channel that revolves around fighting. But after following some advice from a mysterious NewTube channel, Hobin is soon knocking out guys stronger than him and raking in more money than he could have ever dreamed of.

Viral Hit is based on the Korean webcomic written by Taejun Pak and illustrated by Jung Hyun Kim. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Wednesdays.

Content Warning: For graphic depictions of bullying.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

I'm frankly surprised by how turned off I was by this anime. It's only the second anime of the season I would have turned off mid-episode if it weren't, you know, my job. Yet, despite that, it's been hard to put into words why this is.

Now, I know this is supposed to be a revenge fantasy. It's aimed at every kid out there who got bullied in school. Hell, its basic premise is about not only beating up bullies but making money while doing it. It's an attempt to play on your feelings of catharsis, pure and simple.

The problem is, I don't really like the main character, Hobin. The anime does everything it can to make him sympathetic—perhaps too much. His mom is bedridden and in the hospital; He's forced to live in a single, tiny room, alone; He's so poor that he has to work a dead-end job after school justo make ends meet—and all that's before all the actual bullying he faces at school. With all that's piled upon him, I should be rooting for him… but I'm not.

Part of it is that he's such a pushover originally. I'm unsure why he takes all the harassment he does—that's never really explained. I mean, we see in the back half of the episode another kid beat the ever-loving crap out of a bully in school with no real consequences (from the school or the other students). Then, when Hobin does break the cycle, he lets his newfound money and power go to his head—becoming as petty and spiteful as the bullies he hates.

Simply put, he's an unlikable idiot regardless. And as he's the core of the show, if you don't connect with him, you likely won't connect with the show. I know I sure don't.

Nicholas Dupree

It's been a while since I saw a show this viscerally unpleasant to experience. Like, I have to apologize to The Fable real quick because as janky as that show looked, it at least wasn't this much of a sonic and visual crucible. Viral Hit seems to have taken to heart the idea that to get views, all an internet video needs to succeed is to be loud and dumb enough to demand attention. So, every line of dialogue is hollered at the top of the voice actor's lungs. Every sound effect is mixed up several decibels until they sound comical. Every facial expression is a contorted, obnoxious sneer that's practically begging to go viral as a reaction meme. If they could have gotten away with it, I'm sure they would have mixed the Vine Boom into the soundtrack somewhere.

It's a never-ending assault on the senses, which is about on par with the story. The idea of a down-on-his-luck teenager pursuing online fame to make it rich is an increasingly common idea – which makes sense for a generation that grew up in a world where "YouTuber" has always been a semi-viable career. Yet that premise here is delivered with all the storytelling acumen of a teenager trying to emulate an overactive YouTube skit, painting every character and story beat with the broadest, most brain-dead brush imaginable. Every character is a twisted caricature of a typical anime stereotype, tuned to be as loud as possible until it almost feels like self-parody.

Hobin isn't just bullied; he's subject to constant violence by the most stereotypical bullies possible, forced into letting them use his cancer-stricken mom's bank account for their livestream monetization and even cooking them dinner while they stream. Then, the bully beats him up in his own house while saying Hobin is the reason his mom has cancer in the first place. He's wearing what I can only describe as Joker makeup by minute two. Every single thing that happens in Hobin's life is either an uncalled-for horror meant to garner sympathy or a juvenile revenge fantasy against villains who would feel over-the-top for a Stephen King novel.

Combine the embarrassing writing with the insufferable delivery, and you have possibly the viewing experience of the year. Other shows might be more technically incompetent – though this production sure does love terrible speedline effects to disguise the fact that nothing is moving – but boring CG races or cookie-cutter isekai garbage still manage to feel less derivative than this mess. Please do not share, do not subscribe, and absolutely never hit that bell because this show needs to be buried by the algorithm.

Rebecca Silverman

I have zero tolerance for stories that glamorize bullying in any way. While I am reasonably confident that this will morph into a decent underdog story based on the popularity of its source manhwa, this first episode did nothing to make me want to watch it to that point. If bullying is a trigger for you or simply not something you enjoy seeing used as a plot device, then this episode is unlikely to be appealing. It shows signs of moving in a more positive direction, but this is still a lot to take.

It does, however, have a reasonably clever title. The "hit" in Viral Hit means both "success" and the more physical "blow," and boy does protagonist Hobin get hit a lot. He's the class punching bag, the frequent target of self-proclaimed cool kid Pakgo, who has leveraged himself into a position of power both on and offline. Pakgo plays mean pranks for views, which he then monetizes, and Hobin is one of his go-to moneymakers. This is spearheaded by Shutter, his "producer," and Shutter wants in on Hobin's profitability. He's also an asshole about Hobin's mom being hospitalized with cancer, so that's awesome. When Hobin finally has enough, and the two have a fight that ends up live-streamed, things begin to change…kind of.

There's something to be said for the fact that Hobin begins making money off of HIS choice to get into fights, typically with his bullies, rather than being a passive victim. But the whole scenario still feels distasteful, and all the scenes of him whipping Shutter with hot cabbage can't make up for that. This simply feels mean. It isn't helped by a couple of baffling choices, such as the decision to use the Korean names in the subtitles while the Japanese names are in the spoken dialogue and then to back that up by giving monetary values in yen rather than won; it's like someone couldn't decide who to cater to and ended up in a weird no man's land. It's also spectacularly ugly, and what I've seen of the color manhwa art isn't, so that's a choice. All in all, I can't think of a premiere I enjoyed less this season.

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