The God of High School is one of the hypest anime of the season. We had the chance to ask director Sungho Park about his thoughts on the anime and web comic.
What was your initial reaction when you were asked to be the director for The God of High School?
I knew it was serialized on WEBTOON, and I wished the series would get anime adaption, but I never expected it would be offered to me. Since it was based on a Korean original work, I wanted to do it [once offered].
The God of High School is based on the WEBTOON webcomic. What were some challenges and characteristics you kept in mind while working on the project?
Since it is based on a Korean original work, we discussed if we should adopt the story as is, or if it would be better to change the settings to a virtual country and also change the names of characters. In the end, we did not change any name and so forth, and this is a big thing that we are able to create an anime that is Korean based and we [can keep and show] our respect to fans and the original work. We aimed to create an action anime that can be accepted around the world, so please enjoy watching the show through the end.
Working on the key animation and being the director of an anime project are two very different roles. What was it like transitioning into that position?
The significant change is my point of view. When I participated in drawing as an animator, I had to cut out scenes and concentrate on that part of the scene. But as a director, I have to see everything, so I need to understand every inch of it. That’s the biggest difference.
I can always go back and forth between the two roles because they are both challenging and fun to see different things in each role. In The God of High School, I worked not only as a director, but also as an animator in every episode, so please check the end credits (laughs).
You worked on the key animation on various other titles including Yuri!!! on ICE, and Terror in Resonance. For The God of High School, what were some animation techniques you used to feature the action scenes? Were there any lessons you learned from your previous works that helped with adapting The God of High School?
I’m always trying to create new actions. This time, I created an anime based on the key word “stylish” that I got inspiration from the original WEBTOON story. I wanted to create an anime that is more for the future, rather than from a past work, and wanted to go one step further beyond the approach from the pictures and camera.
That is when I met Mr. Kobayashi of Toho Music, the music producer of The God of High School. He suggested a different approach from what you might call theatrical accompaniment. The composer, Ms. Okehazama, wrote the music to match the animation that was closer to the final.
Thanks to their persistence until the very last minute every time an episode went to the dubbing process, I was able to make the title just the way I wanted it to be; a fusion with music.
The show has many forms of martial arts based on existing practices including Taekkyeon and Tai Chi. How did the creative staff approach these concepts? Do you or anyone in the staff have martial arts experience?
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any experience in martial arts myself, so I learned it in books and on YouTube. I took care to share the images I had with my team by attaching YouTube links as a reference in addition to what is instructed in the storyboard. In my team, the producer Kubo-san, who has worked with me since the first episode of “Garo,” was the only one who is a certified karate, judo and kendo player. I heard that Hidetaka Tenjin, who played Ryohu, is a Taekwondo teacher.
What should fans pay close attention to while watching the show?
It’s a combination of stylish action and music. I think episode 10 in particular is one of the answers I aimed for.
Any final comments to fans as they enjoy The God of High School?
We spend a lot of time planning and preparing this title. Even if you don’t know the original work, even if you are not interested in it, I’d like you to try the show at least once. If you get a chance to watch the show in Japanese, please do so. The voice actors are perfectly fit.