Images courtesy of Crunchyroll.

Voice actor Tatsumaru Tachibana hosted a panel for “The God of High School” anime. In the series, he played the protagonist Jin Mori. Director Sunghoo Park, Character Designer Manabu Akita and Creative Director and Designer Setta joined Tachibana in the first portion of the panel.

Tachibana first asked the group how the trio are dealing with the social distancing and other guidelines during the pandemic. Director Park replied that he continued to work on GOH and seemed that he was busier working at home than before. Character Designer Akita answered similarly but also mentioned that the team were around the middle of the series when they had to transition to home. Creative Director Setta also did a lot of work but also said he played video games like “Dead by Daylight”.

Tachibana then gave a synopsis of “The God of High School” which is based off of Yongje Park’s 2014 Webtoon series. Jin Mori participated in an intense fighting tournament against other students of various abilities and practices. The grand prize was a granted wish. Director Park in his introduction also mentioned that the characters work together to protect the world.

When asked if he knew about the series, Setta said that he heard of it through a game. He then talked about working on adapting the Webtoon into anime and noted how it was his first time encountering the vertical reading format and got used to it. Tachibana asked if Studio MAPPA or Director Park gave him any direction and Setta answered that he had meetings with Park and added a little bit of his style with what they wanted. He mentioned in Episode One that it took him a lot of time to make the wall painting in Mujin’s room and was happy to see it. Regarding why he got into art, he took it up after seeing an exhibit of portraits from an artist he knew where people were happy. It was five years ago when he started and said he draws everyday. He said there were a lot of anime that impacted him especially since he watched when he was very young. Setta mentioned “Neon Genesis Evangelion” but also that he didn’t watch as much in high school. He then restarted watching when he was an adult.

Tachibana then asked if Akita had some guidelines to follow when adapting the designs into the anime. He replied that things were kept simple due to all the action in the show. He then said that he enjoyed working on Daewi but didn’t have a favorite female character, to Tachibana’s surprise. “Drawing female characters isn’t really my strong suit.” he said and also mentioned he didn’t get to draw the more muscular guys.

Director Park didn’t find any interest in learning about some of the special fighting moves in the series and said he did play sports but not martial arts when he was younger. He also said he liked professional wrestling and noted that Mah Miseon in Episode One used The Stunner, a move from Stone Cold Steve Austin. Tachibana then remembered a conversation between Park and Han Daewi’s voice actor Kentaro Kumagai about it. Park then changed his initial answer to pro wrestling. The conversation moved into production when talking about the story’s progression in the anime. He expressed difficulty with compressing things into 13 episodes and talked with series composition and scriptwriter Kiyoko Yoshimura on what they wanted to have in the anime. He said they decided on focusing on Mori, Daewi and Mira. Tachibana said that he read the series before his recordings and was curious how the team would pack the story. The voice actor praised the director for tackling the difficult task. Park mentioned that each GOH episode had around 400 cuts (change of scene) and is a very large amount for anime. In regards to fighting moves, Park had to consider what the moves would be compared to in the real world. He said he found references on YouTube that helped him with his decision to have the techniques shown accurately. When Tachibana asked how it was working on both GOH and the upcoming horror fighting anime “Jujustu Kaisen”, Park replied it was tough but knew from the start that he would be working on both at the same time. He also stated that the toughest portions from each show ended up happening during the same time.

K-Pop idol group CIX (Complete in X) performed “WIN”, GOH’s ending theme song and gave a special message to viewers. They said that they were grateful for the opportunity since they enjoyed reading the Webtoon. Hyung Seok said his favorite character was Jin Taejin since he used martial arts instead of charyeok. Seung Hun said having the song play every week inspires them to work harder. The song is available on music streaming platforms both in English and Korean.

Tachibana said that “WIN” was relaxing and asked the other panelists their thoughts on it. Park said he also liked it. Akita said he heard it a lot and thought it was cool. Setta said that he doesn’t listen to K-Pop a lot or any other music but liked the ending and also the cute commercial teasing the next episode.

Tachibana then asked Akita if there were things a person needs to be a character designer for those wanting to work in the industry. He confessed that he hasn’t done much and Tachibana asked if there was something he aimed for in art. Akita replied that since most of what he made were adaptations, he did his best to make them recognizable to fans. Park added that he requested Akita for the project to the president of MAPPA. He said that they worked together on “Terror in Resonance” and also helped in “GARO”. Park, Setta and Tachibana praised Akita’s work in “Kakegurui” which led to Park wanting to work with Akita. The director also said that they would goof off also while working.

The conversation moved on to Setta talking about his work process in designing. He explained that he receives information from the director and moves from there. He said that during “GARO” the team worked on ideas off of each other. He said that he was able to work on things outside of his normal style from the things Park asked him to do. Park elaborated on how the two met after the producer of “GARO” saw Seeta’s work and they started working together. The director reminisced on seeing Setta work and being amazed by his abilities. Tachibana noticed how in sync the trio were and said he was jealous of their long friendship.

The voice actor then talked with Park about the motion capture animation they used in the show. The director said that he loved having continuous takes and tried it in “GARO”. He mentioned that when he drew over the scenes he filmed with the actors was actually rotoscoping. Like how he mentioned before wanting action to be more realistic, he used technology for motion capture animation in GOH. It was a more expensive endeavor by hiring actors but said that it helped especially in Episode Ten. Park asked if he could retire after all the work but then Tachibana immediately rejected and wanted him to make more anime.

The panel then played a video message from KSUKE who made the opening theme song of GOH “Contradiction” featuring Tyler Carter. He said it was his first anisong and received many comments from oversea fans about how fresh and cool the song was on social media. He expressed his appreciation for being able to be heard around the world.

Tachibana and Director Park provided commentary while watching the opening sequence. Park said he added scenes from the actual show and matched scene cuts of Seoul with the song’s rhythm. Tachibana mentioned how people told him how those scenes almost like real locations. He also said he took the color schemes the company wanted when showing the various characters. Park then said he wanted a DJ in the sequence since the song is EDM but could not due to time constraints. He talked about having a meeting and wanting a song that didn’t feel like the typical anisong. He mentioned that the company Hyperbole made the sequence and one of the employees, Yamashita who did a lot of the work. He said in a meeting he wanted certain things and then the team there took over. Setta said that the song was addicting and he designed the main title screen. Tachibana admitted he would usually skip anime openings when watching but always watched GOH’s, as Park hoped others would. Akita said he drew a lot in the opening.

The Webtoon creator Yongje Park took some time to answer questions regarding the anime. He said he catches the series every week and felt rewarded seeing it. When asked how his life changed over the decade since GOH’s creation, he said not much changed except he noticed the appreciation for the series more nowadays. Regarding Jin Mori’s design, he mentioned that he was inspired by Goku from “Dragon Ball”. He also said that his style of adding a bit of a reddish tone to ears and lips help him draw the many panels he has to complete. While it may confuse viewers who think characters are a bit tipsy but it became his signature style. The artist then said that he looked forward to Park Ilpyo and Jegal Taek and hoped that viewers would take note of them. He then revealed that his favorite character to draw changes and grows attached to the one who faced the most obstacles in that particular chapter. When asked about an episode he wants fans to look forward to, he answered with the reveal of Jin Mori’s true identity. Yongje Park said he would want to be able to use all of the series’s powers but would select Jin’s Triple Kick if he could only have one.

During closing remarks, Setta said it was not often talking with the particular type of mix of staff and cast together. Director Park said the designer was “the fairy of the recording studio” since they would ask where he was and would go out to eat with the crew. Akita mentioned he wasn’t used to talking on a panel and was nervous. Tachibana shared the same sentiment as an emcee. Park said he had a lot of fun with everyone. Setta, Akita and Park thanked viewers for watching GOH. The director also commented that “Akita-san might really keel over from so much drawing” but just to empathize how much work is put into the anime.

To watch “The God of High School”, head over to Crunchyroll’s website.