Overview (Spoilers Below):
The God of High School proudly announces that Jin Mori and company have become the final four fighters in the tournament’s preliminary round, but “marriage/bonds” steps out of the ring and instead looks at Mira’s future. Mira receives a marriage proposal from a prosperous businessman named Oh Seongjin and she’s torn over whether he’s the proper successor for her family’s Moon Light Sword legacy. Mira and Seongjin’s wedding commences and the character is left with a much more difficult decision than anything that concerns battle strategy. Matters of the heart—more specifically, of blood—mean a lot more than those of the fist.
It can be difficult to figure out the rhythm for an anime, especially during its earliest episodes. It takes time to develop a style and what may initially seem clumsy can in fact be a part of a bigger plan. The God of High School is still in the process of revealing its full scope and it’s possible that instead of this being a straight tournament anime, it could actually be a series that wants to deconstruct the genre. The reason for this is that “marriage/bonds” is so different than what’s come before it. It’s an episode of a tournament anime that has almost zero fighting and it feels more like an episode of Sailor Moon more than anything else. The episode is ultimately about Mira and her independence, but this is explored in some very old-fashioned ways. Mira is caught up in the marriage proposal of Oh Seongjin, but as it appears that Seongjin could have a sinister side and ulterior motives, it’s hard not to picture Sailor Moon or Sailor Mercury get caught up in the same predicament.
A lot of the content in this episode may feel low impact, but it at least continues to look gorgeous. There are some flashback sequences that are extra effective due to how they use this minimalist color palette. There’s another moment where Mori’s fabricated representation of Mira’s shattered youth is depicted like the kind of scrawled drawing that a child from a Blumhouse film would concoct. The sparse moments of action stand out as well, but Mori and Daewi’s beat down on the wedding security amounts to maybe a minute of footage. The same is true for Mori’s sword fight against Oh Seongjin. This is really the lane that Mori should have stayed in from the start and it results in some entertaining visuals, but it’s another piece of action that’s resolved as quickly as it begins. In an act that’s quite emblematic of “marriage/bonds” as a whole, the fight between these two men over Mira results in her being the one who’s hurt the most by the end.
It’s also totally superfluous, but there’s a brief video that starts off the episode that showcases the official God of High School channel, “Big Bang!,” This is presented in a stunning comic book-style aesthetic with Lichtenstein-like artwork. It’s utterly gorgeous and if the show ever has to resort to a recap episode, then hopefully it will be done entirely through this style through “Big Bang!” (although the extra work would somewhat defeat the purpose of why recap episodes happen). This stunning animation shares the screen with some gratuitous fan service as action highlights from the previous episode are presented by scantily clad nurses. It highlights the dichotomy of sensibilities that are at play in this messy episode.
“marriage/bonds” is a very different episode of The God of High School and its effectiveness in the future will largely depend on if this entry is an anomaly for the anime or just one of many examples where they eschew their genre in an unexpected way. I anticipate it will likely be the former and that The God of High School isn’t going for something overly deep and deconstructive like Space Dandy. However, for a show that seems to prioritize stunning action scenes, an episode that instead focuses on a wedding and makes Mira’s makeup and dress routine the most exciting element does feel unusual. An episode like this totally doesn’t dismantle the series and much like Mori, it has good intentions with what it tries to do with character development. It will still be nice to get back to the tournament proceedings in the next episode, especially with Mori, Daewi, and Mira in the final four.
Then again, maybe next week will see Daewi receive a marriage proposal.