Tower of God Episode 1 Review
Episode 1 - Ball
Its hard to find an anime that is far and away too mysterious for its own good and yet can hook a viewer in the pilot. I think Tower of God might just have done that to me. There is a combination of an existential enigma, and brazen art direction has me so occupied with just the first episode. Usually it takes three full episodes to make a judgement on whether something is going to be worth it or not. For me Tower of God has its hooks in early.
Tower of God episode one details the story of a young boy named Bam who chases after a girl named Rachel. All in the pursuit of climbing the titular Tower of God. Nothing in the story description sounds particularly inspiring. If you can climb to the top of the tower you will be granted anything you could possibly wish for. It sounds like a good classic adventure story about a boy and a girl. Where I feel it deviates is in the motivations of the characters. Bam doesn’t want the power of a god. He wants to be with the one person in this world he knows.
Something about the name invokes comparison to The Tower of Druaga. I can tell from just the first episode alone this is not going to be anything like that, and that is a good thing. The first half does a well enough job of setting up the larger premise of the show. We meet Headon, the evil looking rabbit and caretaker of the Tower of God. He has a malicious malevolence to him that is disconcerting early in the series. Bam is also introduced to us as the protagonist. He seems ill-fit for a death-defying climb to the top of the tower.
By the second half of the episode we know that there is a brutality to this world that we can expect to see. Its almost a full on battle royale in the second level. Every man for himself until 200 remain. This is where the anime really took off for me.
There are so many different combatants that are in and out of this anime in just a moment. It feels like everyone has a story and a personality even if they are only going to end up dead in a second. Its here where Bam is clearly outclassed. His motivation to climb the tower leaves him ill prepared to succeed along the way among this den of thieves.
I’m glad that the first episode ended here. Cutting this part off too short would be a waste of a cool setting. It makes sense to move through the tower quickly, but I like seeing what only the second level has in store for the viewer.
A Different Kind of Art
I am drawn by the sharpness of the art style. It isn’t something fundamentally different from most other anime. The lines on the characters are rough. They look more pencil-like than computer generated. Details are sparse in the environment in order to draw you into the characters. Bam and the others are crisp and distinct.
While there is nothing special about the character design of Bam, most everyone else looks fresh and interesting. This isn’t a world occupied solely by humans. There are a lot of other beings out there and the art really highlights it correctly. Without even spending more than a few seconds with them we see giants, lizard men, punk rockers, and other freaks. Not to mention Headon the caretaker. Each one of these characters I want to know more about.
The first half contrasts again with the second half. Outside of the eel serpent the animation is lackluster. In the second half when the action pick ups the animation finally kicks in. Watching the towering figure skewered by arrows is smooth. It doesn’t pull into the common trick of showing the arrows after landing. We see and feel the impact of the arrows piercing his chest. Its not the most amazing animation, but it services the unique art style well.
The hooks of Tower of God are definitely in me. Something about it feels just right. The simple fact that it isn’t based off a manga, but rather is sourced from a Korean comic makes me even more interested. I am excited to see how the rest of the tower unfolds.
[Sources and Further Reading]
[Image via Crunchyroll]