For a series centered around a fighting tournament filled with colorful and unique competitors, it’s a surprise that it took The God of High School eight episodes to introduce a new mainstay cast member.
Enter Park Ilpyo, a highly-skilled fighter who leads his team to victory through the first round of the national tournament at the start of the episode.
Later, after Park encounters and impulsively attacks Jin in a public park in order to playfully assess his skill, Park reveals that the tiger symbol that adorns his jacket is a tribute to Jin’s grandfather, Jin Taejin.
Park recalls how the martial arts legend provided him with a book of extensive and advanced martial arts techniques and encouraged Park to someday challenge his infant grandson, Jin, to a match in the future.
Meanwhile, the God of High School organization continues to investigate the potential threat towards the competition posed by Nox. With the assault on Judge Q standing as proof that Nox is beginning to make their moves, Park Mujin informs the commissioners that they must obtain the mysterious ‘Key’ at all costs.
To this end, Park Mujin announces that the Judges will have their power limiters turned off and proceeds to respond to Nox’s declaration of war with one of his own.
The episode ends with a brief moment of peace, as Han and Yoo surprise Jin with a homemade meal in honor of his birthday. As he enjoys the evening celebration, Jin recalls Jin Taejin’s instructions to make friends, and wonders if his grandfather would be proud of him today.
However, this peace is soon shattered, as Jin is awakened the next morning by a loud banging on his door and discovers a photograph that shows his grandfather bloody, alive, and captive.
With this week’s episode, it seems that The God of High School has established its pacing style of alternating between episodes full of action and episodes that focus primarily on exposition. Though this episode features a fight, it does not involve the main trio and it is finished within the first few minutes of the episode.
This alternating style of storytelling certainly helps to ensure that the important fights carry the appropriate weight, but also results in some episodes being a slight bit slow and dialogue heavy.
As this is an exposition episode, it comes as no surprise that new abilities and enemies are only slightly touched upon in order to build tension and mystery. Yet, the rapid introduction of these new powers, such as Jegal Taek’s ability to summon a phantom shark or Park Mujin’s telekinesis, leaves one to wonder how long the main trio will be able to stand against their competition.
While Han does indicate that he wishes to learn Charyeok, with only five episodes left in the first season, one can only hope that the trio is brought up to their competitors’ levels in a way that doesn’t feel rushed and heavy handed.
The highlight of the episode’s visuals comes during Park’s flashback, particularly when he recalls his memory of Jin Taejin. Trees covered in the warm colors of fall provide a soft background to the pain of Park’s childhood and the detailed images found in the book of martial arts techniques.
Crunchyroll’s production team does a particularly great job of shading the characters underneath the colorful trees, as small spots of light filter through the leaves and cast the characters in spotty lighting.
This week’s episode focuses heavily on intrapersonal connections and the emotional growth of Jin rather than combat and special powers. This has become the established pattern for the series, and while this is not a negative, per se, it does lead to a rollercoaster-like alteration between action and plot.
As the underlying plot of Nox, The God of High School tournament, and Jin Taejin is revealed more and more, hopefully future ‘exposition episodes’ will be able to throw in some more action. Until then, audiences should buckle up for next week, as the stakes continue to rise and show no sign of slowing down.
- Great intrapersonal moments
- The visuals during Park's backstory
- The declaration of war between Nox and the GOH organization
- Power levels continue to grow rapidly
- The episode's slow pacing due to its lack of action