Chekov’s gun states that if you show something within a story—a weapon/power/ability—it must be used within said story; to present it otherwise is pointless. The God of High School states that if you show something within a story—charyeok—you must use it at every given opportunity and just, you know, go nuts with it. In fact, you don’t even need to show it earlier in the story: just chuck it in and wreck shop. This approach is also aided by not really establishing what the rules of the story are; who needs ’em, anyway?
Speaking of rules, the God of High School remains true to its titular foundation: fighters must be high schoolers. However, the rules apparently do not limit said participants to those on their first run through high school. This technicality allows us to meet Jin Pum Kwang, a thirty-eight-year-old worker who has taken it upon himself to see through the education he once bailed on. On its own, this is a pretty admirable endeavour, and his wish upon winning GOH is to help others like him—those who, for one reason or another, never completed high school. Unfortunately, Pum Kwang’s presence also presents a thirty-eight-year-old man attempting to beat up sixteen-year-olds in mortal combat. It’s just a little weird. Although, Mira almost married a man of indeterminate age; so I shouldn’t be too surprised. Now that I think about it, Pum Kwang’s teammate Jang Jangmi seems to have some sort of crush/admiration thing going for him. Don’t let this be a trend, God of High School. All of that aside, I totally dig Pum Kwang’s Working Man’s Style; it’s an awesome idea. Dude’s worked up raw power through years of laborious work; let him show it off. Oh, he can also summon Thor’s hammer, which he drives full force into the face/torso/legs—it’s a very big hammer—of a high schooler. I mean, I know I’ve complained about how society seems fine watching teenagers beat each other into the ground, but having an adult participate on a technicality just seems…odd. Even focusing on the fact that Pum Kwang has about as well explained a backstory as our main trio—if not a better one—it’s still hard to wish for him to win. He wasn’t going to, considering they pitted him against the lead characters, but you know what I mean.
Now, what to talk about next? Oh right, Thor’s goddamn hammer. Now, I know that last episode revealed to us the potential of charyeok: but why does everyone have it now? Mujin specifically set up GOH to find potential wielders, we know this now, but isn’t it a little early for everyone to be swinging around power borrowed from the gods? Pum Kwang and Jangmi also just bust out their power with no warning. There’s no hint that they are anything more than participants trying to gain their wish, no sign that they awakened their power in the midst of this particular fight: nothing. In fact, Jangmi’s flashback shows her inability to succeed against a kendo opponent. Heck, our trio haven’t awakened any godly abilities—and they’ve devoted their lives to combat. It just seems like the series is jumping the gun. Had the first team in the competition not had charyeok, the violent arrival of blue-haired shark summoner would have hit even harder. Also, there’s a blue-haired shark summoner. Though we’ll certainly learn more about this obvious villain as the series progresses, this first appearance definitely showcases his power…and raises more questions about the rules of this series’ world. After summoning a shark spirit—not sure what god he borrowed that from—blue hair (Jegal Taek) uses it to chew his opponent until a torrent of blood gushes out. Like, an actual torrent. Just so much blood. And then…the guy look a little hurt. What? How was/is he not dead? Do charyeok not kill? Did the audience see a giant shark appear? Did they see the blood? Why did nobody stop the fight if they did? Why was it a shark? Why did the other guy draw a pentagram with a conductor’s baton? Why do I have so many questions after a fight in the seventh episode? I just…I just want some answers.
Q’s also not dead. Nothing funny there, just stating facts. It does, however, lend credence to the notion that death in this series takes some serious work…unless you’re Bongsa. You know what? Maybe not even then. The hell do I know? He could be sippin’ mai tais with his wife, laughing about how he escaped a homicidal mascot; he probably borrowed the power of the god of sunglasses or something, too. Still, with Q alive, we were able to see what an all-out charyeok fight looks like: wild. Between the angel wings, abyssal masses of eyes that look like Pride from Fullmetal Alchemist, and a goddamn dragon, the clash of the Commissioners and Nox was the most visually interesting spectacle of the series thus far. Don’t get me wrong, the animation of the human-level fights has always been awesome, but there was dragon this time. A dragon. Also, one of the Nox members was so crass that the series bleeped her language. Double also, the guy who we thought killed Q can sew his arms back on with bug magic. Why are all of the side characters getting the coolest and craziest stuff? Mori didn’t even fight this week, because of some poorly applied acupressure, and Q gets to wield his death jester’s scythe? How is that fair? It’s not, that’s how. Still, the Commission/Nox fight could’ve helped the story so much more than it did. If the GOH fighters had’ve accidentally unleashed their charyeok, or struggled with a limited form of the power, it could’ve contrasted so well. Seeing what charyeok can become (Commission/Nox) versus its first steps (GOH) could’ve expressed a road map of progression. Instead, we learn that some people can borrow power from the gods and then…just sorta do. So, rather than an expression of a character’s power or strength of will, charyeok just seems like a crap shoot. Your power lets you summon a hammer? Cool. That guy has a dragon.
Though a rather minor note—and despite how obvious an inevitability it was as soon as Jangmi walked into frame—it was nice to see Mira fight another sword wielder. Overall, GOH hasn’t given her a chance to cross blades; so it was cool to see what two practitioners of the weapon could do. Of course, none of the blades were actually sharp…and Mira won with a kick. You know, the Moon Light Sword Style seems like it’s ninety percent not using a sword. Which is weird. Speaking of weird and Mira, her priorities need sorting. When ol’ shark boy seemingly murders his opponent, Mira’s first thought is to stop Mori from intervening. Why? Because she doesn’t want to get disqualified. Okay, Mira, that’s cool and all…but what are you talking about? I know GOH is brutal, but come on. Still, it did give us the lovely sigh of Mori matter-of-factly asking Mira what her plan was to stop Daewi. It’s a small moment, but it does paint a dynamic I want to see more of. We all know Mori is the oblivious hero of this tale, but to show that Daewi isn’t the complete opposite just for the sake of simple contrast is interesting. And I know Mira isn’t really that callous, but they could’ve painted her with a little more hesitation; it would’ve clarified her as a conflicted, reluctant hero. Instead, it seems like our trio’s personalities bend to suit the situation. Does Mira want to revive her father’s style with honour or would she sacrifice another to do so? Does Mori only care about fighting or will he forgo the chance of battle to do what is morally just? What the heck is Daewi doing? All valuable questions that I hope the series will answer—though my doubts continue to grow.
The God of High School continues to baffle me. Though its frantic action and well-animated sequences always make me excited to watch, its seeming refusal to explain itself always distracts me. It is established in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that Stands (the manifestation of a Users power) cannot be perceived by anyone who does not have their own Stand. Though the powers are off-the-wall crazy, it is a rule that you can use to ground yourself—to know that there is always an element of the world you understand. The God of High School has no such rule, and I still have no idea how important charyeok is. We know regular people can see it, because the people at Mira’s almost-wedding reacted to a spirit appearing; however, nobody batted an eye when a shark turned up and straight up ate a guy. I mean…I think. Maybe the people at the wedding were reacting to the roof caving in, maybe the audience was scared of the shark but we only cut to them after Taek started stomping on that maid’s face. I just don’t know…and I should probably stop trying to figure it out. First of all, it would make these Writings a heck of a lot shorter, and I also wouldn’t stress myself out trying to answer a question I don’t have the pieces of an answer for. I mean, this episode gave us a likeable guy trying to give himself an education in the hopes of bettering the lives of those who just need a little help; plus, a lady who made the subtitles blush and a dragon whose teeth become fire. And maybe that’s enough.