They say that God moves in mysterious ways…what they neglected to mention is that there are a plethora of pantheons all bearing powers beyond mortal ken, some of whom really enjoy a good scrap. I mean, plenty of people enjoy watching a regulated fight for the purposes of entertainment; very few of them bestow otherworldly powers upon high schoolers for nebulous reasons. I mean, I imagine few of them could, but that’s besides the point. The point is…be responsible with your imbuing of forces humankind were not meant to wield? Yeah…that sounds good.
We have confirmation, folks! An in-universe—partially off-screen—explanation regarding what the holy hell is going on. The long and short of it being: some people are able to tap into the realm of the gods and borrow power. Said fact is also the entire reason for the God of High School tournament, with Mujin seeking out others who can wield these godly abilities. I say “others” because, well, he obviously flattened that island in the first episode. I mean, we all knew it; it was just hard to say without confirmation that magic existed. Regardless, in addition to shedding some light on the series’ direction, this revelation allows our lead trio to remain in the tournament. With Jin and Daewi both showing promise as “tiger cubs”, Mujin decides to make the tournament team based from here on out—upping his chances of finding even more empowered folk. Sure there’s the formality of who will be the third member of Team Seoul, but…it was obviously going to be Mira. Did anyone think it would be the guy Mori beat in two seconds? Though it did provide us the only real choreographed combat of the episode, they could’ve just said Mira won off screen: it would’ve had the same impact. Anyway, none of our leads are left behind and we don’t have to feel bad that Daewi knocked Mira out of the tournament and then Mori likewise knocked Daewi out. Everybody wins and consequences don’t exist. Also, Mira has a new sword. I don’t know where she got it…but she has it. Convenience, thy name is plot progressing.
So, with our eyes guided towards the next stage of the tournament, this episode focuses on introducing a bunch of new characters…like, so many characters…teams of characters. We’ve got new competitors, new enemies, new competitors who are enemies, new enemies who are competitors, people who are obviously evil even to the untrained eye, people who cannot be seen by the untrained eye, some guy who can summon an abyssal maw that seems to be able to eat people but can also be beaten by fire, some girl with a sword who will probably definitely fight Mira at some point, ninja priests…Mori’s grandpa. Now, I don’t mean to put people into boxes, but there’s a very high chance that we’re not supposed to like a lot of these new characters. At the very least, probably not the guy who murdered two members of the GOH staff and then laughed about how tip-top it is to murder people. I will be very surprised if we’re supposed to like that guy. Still, this new villain’s entrance was a little too convenient—a running theme in this episode. Though it’s true that green-haired Commissioner has been given the most screen time thus far, his death doesn’t really add much to the story. He wasn’t fleshed out enough for his loss to strike an emotional chord, and his strength is only known through his status as a Commissioner and that time he summoned a clown spirit whom Mori dodged rather well. I suppose the biggest loss is that he seemed to be the most rambunctious of the Commissioners. So, rest in peace?
Another victim we are intended to mourn is the GOH announcer: Sim Bongsa. Though we mostly know him for his bombastic rule explanations, this episode shows us an unexpected side to the character; namely…he has another side. After bumping into Mira at the shops, we see that Bongsa is a family man with a subdued sort of wisdom. This was honestly my favourite part of the episode; perhaps even the series thus far. Having a character who has only existed in GOH living their day-to-day was some of the most gentle world building the series has done so far. Of course Bongsa doesn’t exist in a vacuum: I just didn’t think we were supposed to care. The guy just works his announcer gig and goes home to his wife and child; quite frankly it’s adorable. No shouting about fighting, no honour-bound promises, no last-ditch efforts to save a dying friend: just a guy with his family. The series also throws us the knowledge that Bongsa is also blind, which serves only to make us think about how much exists beyond the scope of our main trio’s motivations. Admittedly, the reveal that it was apparently the Moon Light Sword that cost Bongsa his sight took me out of the moment; I mean, why does everything have to be so damn connected? Just let the guy have his own unrelated character traits; you’re going to kill him in a few minutes. Oh, Bongsa dies. See, as much as I enjoyed our brief moment with an unexpected character, Bongsa’s entire being was expanded upon so that we would feel bad when he died. Moreover, it will certainly factor into Mira’s story—as she not only saw his family, but also received advice to further her development as a fighter. Mori will probably also have something similar to say about green-haired Commissioner dying, having fought with him ever so briefly, despite that having less of a foundation than when Mira spoke to a guy once. Regardless, rest in peace, unexpected-character Bongsa.
This episode also introduces us to The Six—a group of strong folk of whom Mujin is a part. Apart from a medically-talented man who apparently taught Mujin, we are shown very little of the remaining four. I guess brief glimpses will have to tide us over until they start doing…whatever it is they plan on doing. It might have something to do with Nox (the evil church), but who can say? All we know is that both Nox and the Administration want to get their hands on people who wield the power of the gods—with Nox wanting to summon their true god or something and the Administration wanting to do…something else? I have no idea what they want. Mujin seems like a real tool, but he also opposes an honest-to-goodness evil church. Like, they’re not even trying to hide their vicious intentions. Seriously, how far gone do you have to be to go along with plans that involve trying to murder an old man in the forest and facilitating the marriage of a high school girl? What, did you think I forgot about that second one? I didn’t. It’s still super weird. Anyway, the old guy I mentioned was Mori’s grandpa and he kicks the crap out of every ninja priest Nox sends his way. They do summon a god sword the size of a mountain that they then drop on him, but I’m sure he survived that too. I don’t know how, but I’m certain he did. Let’s chalk it up to more unexplained magic.
So yeah, stuff certainly happened this week. Look, I feel a little bad ragging on this series so much; I just wish it had some more time to grow. Rounding out a character so we feel bad when they die isn’t an inherently cheap practice; it’s how all fiction works. But to do it so blatantly before such a character is killed off—it’s just way too obvious. They gave Bongsa a wife and young child; he was out shopping with them. You can’t really be more bold than that, not unless Mira ran into him as his family was running a soup kitchen. Still, as much as I hate to admit it: it still sort of works. I feel worse about Bongsa dying than pretty much anything else in this series…and that’s not really a good thing. I feel I know more about Bongsa than I do about Mori. Bongsa had a life, a family, a job he seemed to have a blast at, even colleagues who genuinely seemed to mourn his death…Mori likes to fight and is sad his grandpa went on a trip. Also, the only reason we don’t hate our main trio is because their selfish actions have been countered by plot contrivances. Daewi pummelled Mira and should’ve cost her the chance to revive her family’s dojo; Mori destroyed Daewi and should’ve cost him the means to save his friend’s life. Instead, Mori, Daewi, and Mira are all teammates and none of their dreams can be ruined by their “friends”; again, because Mira can find a number of ways to achieve her dream, Mori has no defined dream, and Daewi’s friend already died and wrote him a note to say he should keep fighting and remain relevant to the plot. Actually, can we just bring the three dead characters back to life and follow their story? I’d enjoy seeing a Bongsa/Seungtae/green-haired Commissioner dream team. Also, green-haired Commissioner’s name is Q…was Q.