When Crunchyroll announced their Originals collection this year, I didn’t recognise Tower of God as anything uniquely special.
Statistically speaking, though, Tower of God is a big deal. It’s already tallied up 4.5 billion views since launching in Korea. That’s 25% more views than Psy’s Gangnam Style video has managed on YouTube in 7 years.
Tower of God is a webtoon. It’s a digital comic which, if you can find the time can read over at Webtoons.com.
Thankfully, those of us with a little less free time now have Telecom Animation Film’s Aniplex and Crunchyroll to thank for an anime.
That anime launches today, and Geek Native’s had an advance look at the first episode.
Climbing the Tower
The concept is straight forward, and the anime doesn’t hang around in getting started. There’s a magical Tower, Rachel wants to climb to the top so she can see the stars. Bam, her friend, wants to go after her and so finds himself in the Tower as well.
What we quickly learn is that climbing the Tower is something of a process, a ritual or ceremony that’s carefully managed. Bam finds himself auditioning for the right to take part.
That’s the scene-setting. It seems Bam will have to face and defeat challenges to climb the Tower. There’s a hierarchy of power, too, which it looks he’ll need to confront as well.
The anime’s first challenge is making us care. As the outsider, Bam is like us. He’s learning about the Tower and its strange inhabitants at the same time as we are.
It’s not an uncommon anime trope, but Bam is single-minded in his desire to climb the Tower. Face incredible danger? Likely die? Deal with monsters? Sure, says Bam, stop wasting my time and let me climb the Tower.
At episode one, it’s okay. Bam’s innocence and naivety in the way of the Tower are as strong as our own. I wanted to see what was up the Tower. I wanted Bam just to agree to the challenges, pass the audition and get climbing. We’re aligned.
My prediction is that this will hold. I suspect we’ll be suitably distracted by whatever mischief or shocker each Tower challenge will throw at us that we don’t need Bam to develop much more personality than the compulsion to climb up. I suspect, but don’t know, that we’ll get introduced to the power politics of the Tower through accompanying characters.
At the end of episode one, I wanted to watch episode two. That’s a good sign.
Look and Feel
Tower of God is not an anime that lavishes attention on wonderfully illustrated backgrounds or complicated character drawings.
Characters use few colours, are simply dressed, and the more inhuman ones tend towards simpler shapes and forms. At times, backgrounds are nothing more than out of focus swirls.
This is a reflection of a webcomic that has a weekly release schedule and then simplified a bit further to allow for ease of animation. That’s not to say that Tower of God is lazily animated, there’s lots of movement from characters and those simple costumes ripple and swirl realistically.
I’ve made a choice to include plenty of stills from the first episode in this review but, motionless, I think they undersell the effect. You’re much better off watching the trailer.
As far as episode one goes, the conservative character drawings and backgrounds are not a problem. They were something I was taking note of at the start of the show, mindful that I had a review to write, but soon didn’t object too. There’s enough action going on in the foreground to hold your attention.
I was hopeful but not confident in Tower of God.
The trailers were, I felt, inconclusive, and I was dithering on whether Crunchyroll had made the show possible because it was a popular webtoon or whether it had become a popular webtoon because it is well written.
Episode 1 falls safely in the “good” category. In Irregular Reconnaissance parlance, the status is “Early days, good so far”.
Have you watched any Tower of God yet? What are your initial thoughts on the show?