WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The God of High School, soon streaming on Crunchyroll.
Based on the ongoing manhwa by Yongje Park and published on WEBTOON, The God of High School is the next collaboration between Crunchyroll and WEBTOON, following Tower of God. The original work’s love for nonstop action, exciting battles, cloud-riding monkeys and epic scales of raw power has often led its WEBTOON readers to compare it to Dragon Ball. After running for over 450 chapters, the “Dragon Ball Z of manhwa” is finally being introduced to the anime community.
Crunchyroll’s recent teaser for The God of High School has been met with huge levels of excitement and anticipation for what the upcoming action-packed anime will bring. For a few short seconds in the teaser, dozens of competitors fight in an intense tournament where martial arts, swords and even bicycles are fair play. Between kicking people across an entire stadium and fighters standing on one another’s shoulders, it may be a lot to take in – but that’s only the beginning.
While The God of High School isn’t a clone of Akira Toriyama’s classic series, they definitely have their similarities. Although it tells its own story, the manhwa’s premise is especially reminiscent of Dragon Ball: centered around martial arts and tournaments, the protagonist wants nothing more than a good fight, its characters can access special powers that are rated on a scale, it borrows from the same Chinese myth and it shows absolutely no regard for reason when it comes to breaking the power ceiling.
The God of High School is like the World Martial Arts Tournament, the Cell Games and the Tournament of Power all wrapped into one long, epic tournament arc. The story follows Mori Jin, an undefeated Taekwondo specialist who receives an invitation to the greatest martial arts competition in the world: The God of High School Tournament. The best martial artists gather from every corner of the Earth to fight for the grand prize of having any wish they desire granted. Moreover, fighters can use Borrowed Power, special abilities “borrowed” from gods and myths to enhance their martial arts. Almost anyone has a chance of winning with Borrowed Power, and each power is completely different from the next.
Like Goku, Mori is a man with one thing on his mind: fighting. However, unlike his GOH competitors, Mori is a Genuine Fighter, meaning his only weapon is his martial arts. While other competitors summon swords or create force fields, Mori means to defeat them with nothing but the force of his kicks and his mastery of the legendary fighting style, Renewal Taekwondo. RE Taekwondo is Mori’s signature martial art which he inherited from its founder, not unlike how Goku learned the Kamehameha from its creator. Mori’s motivation for entering the tournament boils down to simply wanting a good fight and to be pushed beyond his limits. After a life of easily defeating almost everyone that’s ever challenged him, Mori’s only thrill comes from fighting against a worthy opponent.
While the world of The God of High School doesn’t have Frieza’s Power Scouters, competitors in the GOH Tournament are evaluated by their “level,” a number that describes how powerful they are. Using Borrowed Power can drastically increase a person’s fighting capabilities and, with it, their level. Moreover, some advanced martial artists use a technique called “Jeahbongchim” to remove their natural limits and multiply their level. The technique is risky to use because, once it ends, the user is hit with a huge amount of pain all at once. But, those desperate for a burst in power can use it to end a fight quickly.
The clearest link between The God of High School and Dragon Ball is the myth they were inspired by. The legendary Chinese novel Journey to the West tells the story of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. The Monkey King myth existed before the 16th century novel, but Journey to the West popularized his magic staff and his ability to walk on clouds. Additionally, the name Sun Wukong translates to “Son Goku” in Japanese. While Goku had Power Pole and Flying Nimbus from a young age, Mori initially only has his martial arts. Later in the series, he obtains a magic pole that can expand and a living cloud that can control the weather. After a few events in the story, he also takes on the title of Monkey King.
While all of this may show how similar The God of High School is to Dragon Ball, there’s one special ingredient needed for the upcoming anime to truly be comparable to the Dragon Ball series. After all, tournaments, combat-addicted protagonists, power levels and monkeys are not what make Dragon Ball special. What makes Dragon Ball stand apart from everything else the most is not its exciting battles or its immense levels of power and destruction but, instead, its tendency to drastically surpass those levels at every turn. Defying limits again and again and raising the ceiling of power as close to infinity as possible – that’s what makes Dragon Ball stand out more than anything else.
Dragon Ball Z is one of the few anime to ever fully embrace power creep and make it work. And now, so does The God of High School. In the same way that Dragon Ball went from fighting with humble martial arts to destroying entire universes and dimensions, The God of High School isn’t afraid to break its power scale for a good fight.
The excitement for The God of High School’s upcoming adaptation is well deserved. Its exciting premise and quick pace make it perfectly poised to be a seasonal hit, or something even bigger if Crunchyroll adapts it to the end. More than anything, fans of Dragon Ball should give it a look, because The God of High School could be everything they love in an anime, and more.
The God of High School is known as the Dragon Ball of manhwa. Here's why people compare it to the legendary series..