Tower of God – Mid Season Review
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Synopsis: Reach the top, and everything will be yours. At the top of the tower exists everything in this world, and all of it can be yours. You can become a god. This is the story of the beginning and the end of Rachel, the girl who climbed the tower so she could see the stars, and Bam, the boy who needed nothing but her. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: If you’re looking for a stringently faithful adaptation, know that Tower of God is no such thing. Tower of God is an adaptation on a mission; to take this Webtoon tale and transform it into a brisk, tight, 12 episode anime, adapting as much of the Webtoon’s first arc as it can cram in. Normally adaptations like this run the danger of becoming something purely for the fans, taking out so much context and detail that you’re left with a confusing mess. That said, Tower of God has done a remarkable job of cutting the story down to what’s necessary and moving ahead with that. What you end up with is a series that moves fast, keeps the story engaging, but without losing anything obvious that even unfamiliar viewers might have picked up on. As someone with very limited knowledge of the webtoon it’s hard to tell anything’s missing, and that’s a testament to the production team picking what to trim and what to keep. Are fun moments from the webtoon skipped over entirely? Perhaps, but for anime only watchers you wouldn’t know it, and thus this gives a solid reason for eager, burgeoning fans to pick up the webtoon from the start once the series’ concludes in June.
Linny: I won’t deny that this is a tightly paced show that keeps the story moving at an incredible pace. However, the plot itself is just as tightly packed and I feel that the show might have trimmed a bit too much. Set in a unique fantasy world, there’s a lot of fictional in universe terms and laws that aren’t really explained much and similarly under-explained is the very world this story is set in. For example, we know the sky our characters are seeing is not the real sky but we do not know exactly how this world is set up or even how society works. Not only that, the occupants of this world seem to come in all shapes, sizes and species with nobody blinking an eye at how a seemingly average human is supposed to keep up with giant anthropomorphic dinosaur-esque beings. Even our protagonists get basic to almost no real backstory reveals. There’s so much left untouched and unexplained 6 episodes in that more curious viewers might feel compelled to pick up the webtoon just to see if they get some explanations in there. If you are content to simply focus on the current competition our protagonist/s are in currently then this shouldn’t be a big issue but for those who prefer fleshed out worlds and rules, it might make it a challenge to get absorbed in the show.
Tom: That mystery though is part of what keeps Tower of God so intriguing. Even six episodes in Tower of God hasn’t spent a lot of time defining its world. In fact, the little snippets we do see of what exists outside the tower confound expectations, and are so vague the viewer remains in the dark as to what kind of world Tower of God is truly set in. That vague, otherwordliness reminds me of Hunter x Hunter, alongside with how these six episodes have progressed. Tower of God is definitely akin to Hunter x Hunter’s License Exam Arc. Our hero, Bam, goes through test after test, some straight combat, others with more of a message or hidden purpose. You’re greeted by a growing cast of odd characters who are both at times friend and foe. I’m not saying Tower of God is necessarily ripping HxH off, or is outright derivative, but if you enjoy exam type arcs, then Tower of God feels like another fun entry in that subgenre/arc type of shonen.
Linny: Moving on to the cast, our main protagonist, Bam actually comes off as the weakest personality. He feels like a mostly hollow, border-line self insert protagonist. His motivation is wholly focused on reuniting with the one person he shared a close connection with, Rachel, and spends most of his time pining for her. And of course, despite being seemingly clueless and powerless, we soon learn that he holds within him a special and immense power/ability. So he is able to coast through the contest so far thanks to sheer luck, aforementioned power that he himself isn’t aware of and finally sheer convenient plot armour. If you are tired of trope ridden Shonen heroes, Bam isn’t going to win you over. Yes, he’s a tad moodier than the average Shonen lead but there also isn’t much else to him to make him stand out or charm audiences. His party members steal the show more often than not. There’s Rak Wraithraiser, the anthropomorphic dino like muscle of the team who is often used for comedic relief and Khun, the brains of the group who isn’t afraid to manipulate and twist people and the rules in order to win. Rak and Khun work well to keep things interesting when Bam is being passive, even if both of them do have stereotypical characteristics themselves. In fact, its not just his teammates but his competition that also constantly get the spotlight, which works well for those who do not take to Bam all that much. But be aware that some characters can still feel frustratingly one note such as the character of Shibisu who seems to exist mainly to be comedic relief and also be that one shameless supposed weakling that everyone mocks or ignores.
Tom: While Bam is undeniably a generic, self-insert lead, there’s still an air of mystery about him, and more particularly his relationship with Rachel. The deeper the show goes the more we learn that not everything is as Bam sees it and at some point will find his perceptions of Rachel challenged. He’s still the weakest character in the show however, even after we learn he contains great power yet to be unlocked (Doesn’t every shonen-type lead though?) and as we enter the second half sub-plots start to take center stage, offering up more compelling drama. The drama concerning the Princesses of Jahad immediately feels like a more compelling story, although lacks the pull of mystery that Bam and Rachel’s story offers, so ultimately together then end up rounding things out.
Linny: If you like Shonen tales, especially ones with a Battle Royalesque tinge but are not overly bloody or gorey, then Tower of God is definitely something you should try. While there are plenty of tropes to be found, the mysterious nature and setting of the story makes for many potential hooks to grab the audience. The heavily touched upon twist about the true nature of matters between Bam and his beloved Rachel is definitely something that will have you eager for answers and the constant competitions help to keep the action and the suspense levels high. And it really helps that the story has a lot of other characters and plot lines besides that of Bam, which further helps to raise its chances of wooing over more viewers. Tower of God isn’t the most amazing Shonen out there but for the average anime and Shonen fan, it’s definitely one of the shows to check out this season.
Tom: Animation is fantastic where it’s needed, making any of the major action scenes in Tower of God an absolute joy to watch. The incidental music is spot on too, giving every sequence exactly what it needs to hammer home what the audience should be feeling. If you’re looking for a strong action shonen story, with mystery and solid visuals, Tower of God will not disappoint. If you’re a fan of the webtoon, and seeing it condensed would only upset you then you might want to steer clear. Also, if you’re someone antsy about starting any of these Spring anime, worried they might be delayed before run’s end, have no fear, Tower of God is one of the few anime this season whose production schedule finished prior to airing, and thus faces minimal risk of suffering a delay.
Tower of God is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com