First Impression: Tower of God (신의 탑)

“This is the story of Rachel, the girl who climbed the tower to see the stars, and Bam, the boy who needed nothing but her.” That summation of Tower of God, the anime adaptation of the popular webtoon, displays early in an opening episode which plays out in usual fashion, introducing the protagonist (Bam), his quest, and initial action scenes that bring us into the world of the series, which in this case is a tower containing wide, open levels that must be passed one after another if the entrant wishes to reach the top and have his or her wish granted. The “God” of this series is yet unknown, but there’s an inference that the one who ascends becomes a “god,” having his or her wish granted. Bam, a “non-regular,” enters a test to see if he’s worthy of the tower, guided by a powerful being known as a Navigator, and assisted by a princess (Yuri) and her attendant (Evan), to accomplish his goal. But should he pass the test, will he be able to pass the next one?

Tower of God is a massively popular series already, with fans clamoring for its adaptation from the webtoon for some time. For those unaware, a webtoon is a form of Korean media, an online manhwa that is usually in full color featuring music and animation, and produced in one long, vertical strip per chapter, making it ideal for mobile reading. I haven’t read Tower of God, so I come into this series only knowing of the hype and what I’ve heard from our podcasters, which is an expression of disappointment at how the anime looks, more akin to early chapters of the series than later ones. I don’t have a problem with that—I’m reminded of Shinkai’s early work, which had a sense of nostalgia and love associated with it. But the direction? I’m not so sure yet, and I’m not optimistic, as I have only one experience with Telecom Animation thus far: their less-than-stellar work on Orange, a series I dropped early on although I count the manga among my favorites. Hopefully, they’ll do better work with this series, which shows extravagant promise. Moving quickly from the test phase to level one, the episode becomes vividly intense with a Battle Royale setup and a cliffhanger to end the episode. The final scenes, along with some solid Kpop music from Stray Kids, has me anticipating the remainder of the season. I’m not all in yet, but I’m nearly there.

Tower of God can be streamed on Crunchyroll.


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