Based on the hit manhwa of the same name, Tower of God follows a young boy named Bam (Taichi Ichikawa) as he climbs the titular tower in search of his friend, Rachel (Saori Hayami). Upon entering, he inadvertently joins several others in a competition where the winner who passes all the trials and reaches the top of the Tower will get their wish granted. Knowing that Rachel is likely participating as well, Bam teams up with the cunning Khun (Nobuhiko Okamoto) and talking gator Rak (Kenta Miyake) to climb the Tower.
Tower of God can be best summed up as a digestible story told in a rather dense fashion. General plot points are easy enough to understand and follow but along the way, the show bombards with a ton of information. Jargon is aplenty as the show throws at you various terms such as “Regulars”, “Irregulars”, and “Princesses of Jahad”. Admittedly, there’s some fun to be had with inferring on what their meaning and relevancy are and the more you learn, the more interesting the world of Tower of God does become. That said, there is quite a bit of stuff to keep track of and that can get pretty annoying. It especially doesn’t help that the main means of relaying to the information to you is via exposition, a lot of which can get boring to listen to. I hesitate to say the lore is uninteresting but it is frankly my least favorite part of the series.
The cast is abundantly large, even as the ranks steadily thin out and you gain a clear sense of who’s who and who’s actually important in any capacity. Even though this too adds to the show’s density, there are a number of standout characters. To start off, you have Bam’s two main teammates. Khun is a delight, extremely deceptive and cunning but also a genuine friend of Bam’s who goes out of his way to help him. Rak is an amusing loudmouth who thirsts for battle and, on top of that, is a talking gator. Much of the supporting cast have colorful personalities to them as well with the crafty and playful Endorsi (Rie Suegara) and the useless yet perceptive Shibisu (Takuya Eguichi) being two particular favorites of mine.
The only real dud in Tower of God‘s cast is its own protagonist. For the vast majority of the series, Bam is a blank slate whose most definable trait is how enamored he is with Rachel and that he’d do anything for her. That Rachel’s screen time is a bit limited at first also doesn’t help in making you see why Bam cares so much about her. In Bam’s defense however, his one-dimensional characterization does end up being the point at the last minute. I’ll refrain from spoilers but let’s just say the direction for his character teased in the last two or so episodes will make you much more curious in his development.
And as for Rachel…I know I can just read the manhwa but there better be a second season.
Another thing in Tower of God‘s favor is its set pieces. There are a wide variety of trials Bam runs into. A fight against a giant serpent, a battle royale, a game of “King of the Hill”, the list goes on. And to the show’s credit, it’s all very exciting and entertaining to watch the characters use both their wits and skills to get through all these trials. In addition to staging, the action is augmented by the show’s presentation. The art style has a distinctly soft color palette with very pronounced shadows and some gorgeously drawn backgrounds. Kevin Penkin delivers an effectively versatile soundtrack, providing the right tracks for the different tones the trials of the Tower evoke.
Tower of God is a little too dense for my liking; were it lighter on its terminology or at least presented it in a more engaging fashion, I’d feel more positive about it. That said, the pros do outweigh the con here. There are a number of great characters within the cast and the action set pieces provide plenty of entertainment. While dense at times, Tower of God is nevertheless a fun action and adventure series and it’d be a shame if one season is all we’ll get.
Thanks for reading!
Watch Tower of God on Crunchyroll and HBO Max