In many ways, The God of High School episode 5 was Studio MAPPA’s last chance. Having delivered a bizarre set of first episodes and only getting to the core conceit of the series by the third, last week’s cliffhanger was the only real thing providing the story with any momentum going forward. There was also a fair bit of hype online, as fans both familiar with and new to the series got excited to see Jin and Daewi duke it out and uncover some of the latter’s past. And for the most part, this episode does exactly that.
The God of High School episode 5 has such a laser-sharp focus on getting to Jin and Daewi’s match that it wastes almost no time getting there: Jin has barely started his qualifying match against Byeon Jaehee before it over, resulting in the protagonist’s victory. That’s fine, I suppose, but I guess I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more of what exactly made this Brazilian jiu-jitsu master tick.
Once The God of High School episode 5 gets to Jin vs. Daewi, it almost feels like the adaptation should’ve been more careful about what it wished for. So fast has the pacing been that when Daewi’s inner conflict attempts to rest on the friendship that supposedly exists between him, Jin, and Mira, it doesn’t quite work: it is quite telling that as he is trying to convince himself that they are not his friends, his mind goes to a grand total of two (2) moments that they shared together.
In general, it feels like it was a bad idea to do the regular shonen trope of “your best friend betrays you” at this early juncture in the story. I mean, it took Naruto hundreds of chapters before Sasuke did the same, so that is my point of comparison. Perhaps it works better in the manhwa, but who knows.
At the very least, the overall production is good. As the recent documentary by Crunchyroll demonstrates, the problem with The God of High School has never been the fact that there is no talent or passion behind the wheel, but the fact that the story is being squeezed into such a short amount of episodes. As a result, while much of the story fails to impress, there are some moments of genuine enjoyment to be had in The God of High School episode 5: the gorgeous final sequence, of course, as well as the visceral camerawork that is employed when Jin and Daewi are trading blows.
On a final note, the fact that The God of High School will be entering a new arc after this week’s episode 5 doesn’t give me much hope. Considering how Yongje Park’s original story and characters have been handled so far, there is no reason for me to believe that the national tournament will be any better – nor any of the characters teased at the very end prove more compelling. It really does feel as though The God of High School is at rock bottom, with almost no way of making it back to the top.
You can watch The God of High School episode 5 via Crunchyroll.