How Han Daewi Got His Groove Back
SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 5 OF THE GOD OF HIGH SCHOOL AHEAD
Han Daewi likes fighting.
It's not an uncommon characteristic among characters in battle anime. Everyone from Goku to Luffy to Naruto enjoys the competitive spirit, the testing of one's self against another, the clashing of skills. But while these characters are extremely open about how much they dig throwing hands from the very beginning, Han ... isn't. Even though he's one of the lead characters in a show about a fighting tournament, and even though he's actually seen fighting quite often, he never really lets off that he enjoys it. Actually, he never really lets off any kind of emotion while in combat, or at any time at all.
That's one of the reasons why his fight with Yoo Mira at the end of Episode 4 was so shocking. His brutality was a plot twist to be sure, but it's a character shift as well. Han had spent the series measured, cool, and confident — a foil to his louder, more openly passionate buddies. But here he was, angry-faced and arms swinging with violent precision, taking down a pal whose bad wedding he just crashed. And right before, he'd brutally beaten up some jerks at the internet cafe, ones whose taunts he'd previously silently weathered.
And now, in Episode 5, we see him fight Jin Mori, a companion that he assures has never been his "friend." And the fight is a long one, with Han throwing everything he has at Mori with the kind of grim rage he's recently adopted. His friend is nearing death, and Han is lashing out. After being the man's support system for so long (and with the patient being his only friend for even longer) Han's place in the world feels unstable. Under any other circumstance, he'd be really enjoying this brawl right now. But currently, he's lost, swinging away not just at Mori but at his own sense of despair.
And then he gets notified that his friend has passed, meaning that the reason he chose to enter the tournament is now nullified. And for a second, he drops his guard, letting Mori rock him with unprotected kicks and strikes as he stumbles, dazed by the news — and probably the concussions, too, if we're being honest. It's only when Yoo Mira shows up for a kind of pep talk, bearing the final letter of Han's friend that Han awakens. And from then on, he's able to fight Jin with passion, the match going from a messy, wild affair to something much more poetic — a competition between friends.
As I said before, "I like fighting" isn't a rare character trait in anime. However, "I like fighting but I'm scared to actually admit it because I'm trying to be strong for someone else even though that someone else really just wants me to be happy" is pretty cool to see. It reminds me a little bit of Katakuri in One Piece, Big Mom's strongest son who had to maintain his composure at all times for fear of letting his family down. It was only when Luffy showed up and presented a life where one could be themselves and act as they please did Katakuri loosen up a bit and reveal that he was all about Luffy and himself kicking the crap out of one another. Of course, he's missing that "someone else" part. Big Mom ain't about her kids being emotionally fulfilled.
This opens up a new door for Han's character without compromising his regular demeanor — though he still thinks Jin and Yoo's bickering is annoying, even when they're helping him out of the arena — and it creates a fresh start of sorts for him. Because in a show about people that love to fight in a tournament with other people that love to fight, Han was an outsider, someone who wouldn't ever fit in as long as he felt the burden of trying to be better than that. But now, even though he lost the person he considered to be his only friend, he gained two more that want the exact same thing for him — to be himself and to find happiness in what he does. And fighting makes Han Daewi very, very happy.
What did you think of the latest episode of The God of High School? Let me know in the comments!
Daniel Dockery is a Senior Staff Writer for Crunchyroll. Follow him on Twitter!
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