Tower of God – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

Quite a lot of hype is surrounding Tower of God. This is an anime based on a South Korean webtoon and a very, very popular one at that, amassing a total view count of 4.5 billion views. Crunchyroll is certainly banking on this show as it’s both the first collaboration between them and publisher Line Webtoon and one of the first shows marketed under “Crunchyroll Originals” program. If nothing else, this show is one of the bigger deals for the Spring 2020 season.

I certainly want to give Tower of God a fair shot but to be honest, this premiere was pretty odd. It’s somehow both fairly straightforward and confusing enough at the same time. From what I gather, the show takes place in a mysterious tower that grants the wish of anyone who successfully completes its deadly challenges. The protagonist, Bam (Taichi Ichikawa), enters the tower in search of his companion, Rachel (Saori Hayami).

The plot isn’t anything too complicated. It’s how it’s presented that creates some confusion. For one, the premiere more or less starts in media res with Bam chasing after Rachel before she reaches the tower’s door and vanishes. With this being the characters’ first scene and with no context to go off, the scene feels out of the blue and random. You do learn about how Bam and Rachel meet and why the latter means a great deal to the former but that’s in a flashback scene that plays at around the 14th minute mark. Second, there’s a lot of exposition in the episode with a lot of terminology thrown around more than it is explained. For example, Bam is told that he is an “Irregular” or “Non-Regular” and because of that, he has to go through that trial with the eel monster that you see in the episode before joining the battle royale introduced at the end. What exactly defines Bam as an “Irregular” however is presumably being saved for later and I find that rather frustrating.

Due to the approach chosen for the premiere, there isn’t much to say about the characterization. I’ll keep an open mind with Bam. I get the impression that his singular focus on finding Rachel, to the point that he’ll risk his life, is the point of his character. The same can go for Rachel; she’s currently a means to get the story rolling but there could be something interesting done with her interest in the tower. What does worry me are the side characters. The ones introduced so far have some thin writing on them. Bam receives some assistance from Yuri (Mariko Honda), a princess from a land called Jahad, and Black March, a spirit inhabiting a sword Yuri lends him. Both agree to help the boy simply because they find him cute. It’s amusing but it’s also nebulous and it doesn’t fit with the seriousness of Bam’s predicament. I’d hate to see all the characters being this silly and I say this after seeing some guy block a sword with a schoolbag in the episode’s final scene.

So far, I’d say the biggest draw of Tower of God is its presentation. Some people might be turned off by the art style but I quite like it. The pencil-like line work and soft color palette really pops out to me when they’re drawn with the backgrounds or shadows. The music is being done by Kevin Penkin and you can’t go wrong with him as the composer. As far as I can tell, the show looks and sounds good. Here’s hoping the writing will prove itself in due time.


Thanks for reading!

Watch Tower of God on Crunchyroll

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