Tower of God Episode 1

Tower of God Episode 1

BALL

Tower of God is a new anime licensed by Crunchyroll and based on a Korean web manga. And if you’re anything like me, you read that and instantly assume it’s not going to be very good. Let’s be honest, Crunchyroll doesn’t have the best track record, and anyone can write a web manga — it doesn’t require a publisher.

But, even if you haven’t read the source material for Tower of God, you’ve likely heard of it. This is exactly why I’ve decided to add it to my weekly review schedule. I know nothing about it other than that it’s extremely popular, and that alone makes it worthwhile to check out.

I’m happy to announce that after finishing episode 1, I do actually have high hopes for this anime. It definitely has some issues, like some choppy animation and Deus ex machina right in the first episode, but overall I thought this episode was good.

The Tower of God from the anime series Tower of God
The Tower of God

And while I normally don’t like to call an art style bad, I have to say I’m not much of a fan of the normal art style of this series. The picture above looks amazing, but the majority of the series doesn’t have that same aesthetic. I don’t want to say most of the art looks flat, but it has simplified light and shadow which I’m just generally not a fan of.

But the art style isn’t something I would say detracts from the series.

What did detract from the series somewhat for me is when Bam, the protagonist, gets an “ultimate” weapon right off the bat. And I get that he’s the hero, but we’re told that the weapon chose him because he’s not a woman — so there’s that.

Regulars and Irregulars

While we don’t know that much about the world in this series just yet, we’re still given a lot of fragmentary information about it which is worth discussing.

One of the first, and potentially most important things we learn about the world is that it has something known as the Tower of God (shocking, I know). But what’s important here is that the tower consists of many floors, and whoever can reach the top will supposedly have their desires granted.

Later on, we also learn that there are two kinds of people who can enter this tower: Regulars and Irregulars. We don’t know exactly what makes someone a Regular, but if I had to assume, they’re probably from a higher class of society considering the main Regular we’ve met so far is a princess.

Luckily, the Irregulars were explained to us. They’re people who can enter the tower by their own power like Bam did. So from this, we can assume the Regulars have to go through some special process or access point. Also, does that mean Bam’s friend Rachel is also an Irregular?

Another interesting piece of information comes from Rachel when she says she wants to reach the top of the tower so that she can see the stars. Apparently the people of this world live underground or something, but that hasn’t really been explained yet.

However, one thing which didn’t really add up for me is that the sky is visible on the second floor of the tower. This is important for two reasons, with the first being that Rachel doesn’t need to reach the top to see the stars. The second reason this is important is that nobody seemed surprised by the sky when they reached the second floor.

So did they really live underground?

The First Test

The first floor of the tower isn’t a place we get to see much of. I’m not even sure if the first floor has a set appearance. When Bam firs enters it, he’s in a long halway, but it’s altered into a room with a large cage on one side by the caretaker of the tower, Headon. I think Headon can just make this floor appear however he wants so it has no set layout.

But the purpose of this first floor is quite clear. Just because someone makes it into the tower doesn’t mean they’re strong, brave, or lucky enough to survive the rest of the floors. It’s here that entrants must pass their first test, which is apparently different for everyone depending on their supposed skill level.

Since Bam is an Irregular, his skill level is assumed to be higher than average, and so Headon gives him a test to match this. And we’re told that even people who have made it to floor 20 would have a hard time with this test.

Bam from the anime series Tower of God
Bam

Bam’s test is to get past the White Steel Eel, a giant monster, and break an orb which lies within its enclosure. The scales of the eel are as strong as steel, hence the name. So even with his newfound ultimate weapon, the Black March, apparently Bam won’t be able to slay the beast easily.

But, that’s apparently the point of this test. It’s not about whether or not you can defeat the eel, it’s about whether you have the courage to do what it takes to defeat the eel. The only way to kill it is from the inside, so you first have to allow yourself to be eaten — which is exactly what Bam does.

And tied to how I didn’t like that the Black March’s power awakens for Bam because he’s a boy, I didn’t like how it conveniently awakens its power right when he needs to break the orb. It would have been more interesting if the only way to break the orb was to have the eel bite it after using yourself as bait.

Floor 2

The second floor of the tower is a wide open savanna. Here, 400 Regulars (including Bam even though he’s an Irregular) are spread out. This is the next test every challenger of the tower must face — a battle to the death against one another.

Starting with 400, the battle ends when there are 200 remaining, and those 200 get to move on to the next floor.

Here we see a wide variety of people, not all of which are human. There’s a lizard girl, a large lizard guy, some sort of alien, and many more. There also appear to be people from all different time periods within the tower, which may imply that they aren’t all from the same world. Perhaps the tower connects multiple world.s

Rak's Silhouette from the anime series Tower of God
Rak’s Silhouette

For example, most people on the second floor are using weapons such as swords, spears, or bows. Even the one guy who’s wearing a suit and carrying a handbag takes a short sword out of it to fight. But then there’s one guy who’s just using a modern sniper rifle. Clearly he doesn’t fit in.

It’s also odd that the people who have already made it to the second floor of the tower would have to fight against each other so that only the strongest could move on. Why wouldn’t they all be allowed to go and then the weak get killed off by the challenges which await them?

The fact that the people attempting to ascend the tower need to kill each other for no reason other than only half of them are allowed through just doesn’t make sense. At that point, why even have the rest of the challenges? Just have them all fight until only one person remains.

Conclusion

Before I conclude I want to point out a few other things about Tower of God which make me think the anime is going to be good overall.

First, it’s animated by the studio behind Lupin, so that’s a good sign. Second, the director has worked on other good anime such as Psycho-Pass and Vinland Saga. And third, the OST is by Kevin Penkin, who admittedly has been 50/50 so far, but seems to be doing a good job with this soundtrack.

But what did you think of Tower of God episode 1? Are you looking forward to the rest of this series? Or did you not like what you saw? And if you’re familiar with the source material, how does this adaptation stack up? Let me know in the comments.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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2 Replies to “Tower of God Episode 1”

  1. This anime has the same problem as most anime based on written material like the light novels (however this is a manhwa maybe I expected too much from this one) its the excessive exposure and characterization null. Who needs characters when you can rules lecture for a whole episode?

    I’ve certainly seen this setup a bazillion times before. A traumatized teenage boy is given godly powers and thrown into a battle royale and reacts to all of it like a goldfish, simply gaping as a codex of rules are dumped on him by some kind of cutesy mascot and/or a screaming teenage girl. Probably both. And then he summons his inner power and motivation to do the absolute bare minimum. It doesn’t need to be this way. You can have a character who is shocked and taken aback by the crazy situation they’ve been thrust into without them being a spineless, worthless, deer-in-headlights-for-fifteen-minutes-of-exposition-dump doormat. Yet here we are again. With a goat dude spending a paragraph trying to talk up how the protagonist staring blankly as he was eaten by a giant sky eel showed his verve… somehow differently from the protagonist staring blankly as he was told how to call up the tutorial on his personal Navi.

    And since it was about fifteen minutes of rule lecturing, interspersed with five minutes of traumatic flashback, it wasn’t a pretty dull episode. It ended much better than the 22 or so previous minutes began, but that could have also been the montage of nonsense character designs getting splattered across the pavement. The art style is definitely trying to be a little bit different, and evocative of its roots in Korea instead of Japan, but about the only thing that was really animated in the first twenty minutes was the eel. I’m not convinced that it has the budget for the super duper awesome battle royale the ending is trying to tease, especially not when it’ll likely just find some other gimmick to talk about for another twenty minutes.

    1. I’m not going to deny that this series isn’t exactly anything unique. However, perhaps the fact that it’s origin is Korean will mean that it doesn’t follow the stereotypical path we see in similar Japanese series. But I definitely agree this has more of a Sword Art Online vibe than anything else right now, and that’s not exactly a good thing.

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