The God of High School
Episode 4

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 4 of
The God of High School ?

Quick: What's the quickest time you've seen someone go from “underaged and single high school student” to “still an underaged high school student, but getting married to a full-grown man?” Whatever you're thinking of, The God of High School is out here with “marriage/bonds” to break the all-time world-record in that specific category. You might be asking yourself why would this show divert from its fight-a-minute pacing for the first time ever to devote its entire being to that particular goal, and I'll be honest: I don't have a single clue. All I can tell you is that this week's episode of GoH doesn't just fall victim to the old' Episode 4 Curse that plagues so many anime; it takes a flying leap straight off a cliff and down to the bottom of the barrel with all the gleeful abandon of Slim Pickens riding bareback on an atom bomb (that there is a movie reference, internet youths; ask your parents).

Having to reckon with the downright reckless stupidity of “marriage/bonds” put me into so much shock that it forced me to do math just to get my thoughts in order, and that alone is enough to put the show on the shortlist for my shit list. Let the record show that the skeevy businessman-slash-secret-cult-member known as Oh Seongjin arrives in our trio's life and offers a sudden proposal of marriage to Mira at the one-minute and forty-nine second mark. By the time the episode hits exactly 10:10, she's putting on the lipstick to round out her wedding ensemble, just minutes away from walking down the aisle. If we discount the one minute and thirty-six seconds taken up by the OP, along with the ten seconds that the mid-roll bumpers occupy, that means that Mira's journey from bachelorette to child bride is allowed a mere six minutes and thirty-four of screen-time. That is, of course, if we're not counting the flashbacks to when her uncle took over the family dojo and did such piss-poor job of it that the girl felt it necessary to marry herself off to the nearest billionaire-playboy-swordsman in order to save the Moon Light Sword Style by finding it a proper manly-man of a successor.

It would take a borderline genius grasp of economical storytelling to spin even a half-decent yarn within such a limited time-frame, especially if you're not playing it up as a deliriously abstract comedy sketch. Even when you forget the fact that such a grandiose plot is being thrown at the audience in less time than it would take to fold a load of laundry, there are serious foundational problems that kneecap this whole story from the get go. Mira's quest to save the family dojo is as tired cliché as it was back when we first learned about it, and then there is the sheer indignance of her first headliner episode being all about how she is almost stupid enough to willingly marry herself off to an adult stranger who keeps screaming random declarative statements in English at her, at least until the other men in her life show up to remind her to think for herself and stuff. Mori is for all intents and purposes the single stupidest punch-kicker in all of Korea — mayhap, in all of the modern world — and he is somehow portrayed as the voice of common sense in this scenario. Just take that in for a second.

Did I mention that all of this happens in under seven minutes!? Because that's where this episode takes a flying leap over being “misguided filler” and lands square into the territory of “bewildering nonsense”. There might have been a line that indicated how much time actually passed within the narrative, but the script and editing compress the whole affair so much that it feels like a single day passes. Now, if you're the type that reads these reviews before watching the show itself, you might be sitting there, staring at your computer monitors/phone screens, crying out: “But James! This episode is the industry-standard twenty-three minutes and change. The God of High School must do something else with all of that time!” And sure, it does, technically. We're reminded at the top of the episode that Daewi and Mira are set to match-up in the upcoming semifinals, which is important to know for later. Mira's sister Sumi gets a lot of scenes that further establish the family bonds that Mira is protecting – this is less important to know, but it sure does kill time. Mori also gets his share of scenes being his usual irritating self, but his complete lack of respect for his acquaintances personal boundaries does keep Mira from marrying a secret member of that cult that is probably up to no good, so points for him, I guess.

Oh, and then there's the last two minutes of the episode, where Daewi learns that his sick friend has died and proceeds to violently beat the ever-loving hell out of Mira in the ring the next day. On its own, this is an admittedly powerful little scene, and it does its job at setting up the emotionally charged action to come when the tournament resumes next week. It's a goddamned insane way to end an episode that had absolutely nothing to do with Daewi up to that point, though, and the tonal whiplash is bad enough that viewers ought to seek legal counsel. So yeah, God of Highschool was a hot mess this week. Maybe the show really should just stick to the flashy fight scenes, and leave the storytelling to…well, anyone else, really.


Odds and Ends

• Normally, this is where I'd break down some of the nicer animation cuts in the episode's action sequences, but there weren't any action sequences! I mean, yeah, there was that awfully sad one where Daewi turns Mira's organs into raspberry custard, but I'm not counting that. When Seongjin reveals his evil intentions and giant samurai-lookin' Stand, I figured Mira would at least get some time to beat him up in her wedding dress, but nope. A couple of lame swipes, and he packs up his car and steals her sword, cackling like a doofus. Cool, show. Very cool.

• Speaking of the sword, I'm irritated that not two episodes ago we got a whole to-do made over how important the damned thing was, and now this single wedding farce was enough to get Mira over it completely? Also, the sword might be a super-powerful magical artifact, after all? Why are you this way, God of High School?

• I'm completely over Mori's “hyperactive best friend hero boy” by now, but I definitely empathized with his burger dilemma in this episode. I'd kill for a bulgogi burger any day of the week in these here Quarantine Times.

The God of High School is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.

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