The Glorious Insanity of The God of High School
Take a typical high school martial arts manga. Toss it in a blender with Flame of Recca, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and Shin Megami Tensei. Then strap it onto a nuke and launch it into the sun. That might get you something like the online manga series, The God of High School.
Started in 2014 by creator Yongje Park, and hosted to read for free on Line Webtoon, TGoH is (initially) the story of the ultimate high school martial arts tournament – the “God of High School” – whose winner will be granted any one wish they desire. It follows the paths of three entrants to the Korean regional qualifiers, Kyokushin karate master Daewi Han, Korean sword master Mira Yoo, and Taekwondo master Mori Jin.
Then it quickly goes off the rails. And by “off the rails,” I mean it throws in an overarching conflict between magical secret agents and magical religious fanatics, a dimension of monkey people and cow people, eldritch horrors, super-stereotypical global martial arts super teams, and characters powerful enough to destroy planets. Oh, and the end of the world.
Sure, it’s a martial arts manga, so you expect characters to kick through mountains, but once you get to the point where a super genius is wielding a talking baseball bat – forged from the body of his wife, the lord of the oxen, in conjunction with an eldritch embodiment of avarice – to fight off angels, while Odin (yes, the Norse deity) watches on Sleipnir, his celestial motor scooter, you’ll realize just how beautifully ridiculous TGoH can get.
And yes, it does skirt the line between silly-good and silly-bad at times. There’s a silly-good Team Vatican consisting of two priests and a nun, John, Paul, and Maria, who wield angelic weapons, holy spells, and even The Holy Grail to fight other tournament competitors (yes, there is still a pretense of a martial arts tournament through most of the series, even as the craziness mounts) as well as monsters, demons, and deities. But then there’s the super-stereotypical Team USA consisting of football star J-Doggy, Native American “With Hawk”, and pretty much Supergirl-analog Anna. Or things like the ridiculously fan-servicey lord of the oxen, Uma, admired for her large…horns.
But whenever you think TGoH might go too far on the silly-bad scale, it’ll pull out a scene like one where Satan (who looks like a 15-year-old boy) punches Jupiter (yes, the planet) into Mars (also the planet) into the Earth, because another character just defeated the Greek Pantheon and Satan thought it would be a cool thing to do in the heat of the battle. And for the reader, all is forgiven, because it is so gloriously insane and wonderful.
A word to the wise, though – TGoH is not for children. Between the bloody fights and seemingly routine limb removals/explosions/devourings, it’s probably a bit much for the young’uns. For fans of over-the-top beat-em-up manga, it’s all good.
If you’d like to check this series out for yourself, start at Episode 1, here.