The final test has been issued, but the story is far from over. The tale of Bam continues. So, let’s get started and review Crunchyroll’s original, ‘Tower of God.’
Based on a South Korean manhwa, Tower of God follows the story of Bam (CV: Taichi Ichikawa; Eng: Johnny Yong Bosch), a young teenage boy who has been raised in a cave for most of his life. The only companion he has is Rachel (CV: Saori Hayami; Eng: Valerie Rose Lohman), a girl who acts as his friend and mentor. One day, Rachel leaves to enter a tower where god resides in the hopes of ascending it to make her wish come true. Devastated, Bam follows her and finds himself in a mysterious room with Headon (CV: Houchu Ohtsuka; Eng: Christopher Swindle). Thus, Bam begins his journey to reunite with Rachel and reach the top of tower, so that all their dreams may be granted.
Plot / Themes
Plot-wise, the story that has been presented so far is intriguing. There are a lot of mysterious elements that have yet to be further elaborated upon. So we currently only have a basic understanding of the world that Bam and the others inhabitants. Then we have the tower itself and the nature of the god who rules it. We don’t know how many floors are in the tower or what it is made of. Or how does it hold so many different kind of environments in it?
There are also the irregulars who are mysterious existences who manage to open the tower with their own will. They are considered special in comparison to the regulars who are invited by Hedon and could possibly have enough power to change the fate of the tower. But we don’t really understand what makes them so special. Are other irregulars like Bam who can maniplulate high amounts of Shinsu, the divine power which Rankers and other indviduals can use. If so, what does make Bam and how did he come to live outside the tower? What are his origins?
In comparison, we know a little about the King of Jahad. From what we, the viewers, know, the King of Jahad is a god-like existence who rules over the tower and its people. We don’t know what kind of ruler he is, but we do know that he created the Princesses of Jahad and bestowed each of them with one of the 13 month series of weapons. The Princesses of Jahad are not related to the king by blood. They are chosen representatives of their people. Each of their weapons are named after a colour and a month such as the Black March and the Green April. Endorsi Jahad (CV: Rie Suegara; Eng: Jeannie Tirado) further elaborates that each of the princesses are treated more like decorative shoes to line the king’s closet with, rather than actual people. As such, they are forbidden from have romantic relationships to prevent the king’s powers from being spread to their descendants. However, Anaak Jahad (CV: Akira Sekine; Eng: Cherami Leigh) becomes the exception to that rule and as a result, her mother is killed for having her.
The third most intriguing element of this series is the motivations of the test administrators. So far, Lero-Ro (CV: Kenjiro Tsuda; Eng: Trent Mills) appears to be one of the more helpful test administrators as he explains what Shinsu is to Bam and answers his questions about Rachel. Whereas Quant Blitz (CV: Hiroyuki Yoshino; Eng: Xander Mobus) is a lot more brash and has a short temper, but apparently has no ill motivations towards the test candidates. Then there is Han Sung Yu (CV: Daisuke Kishio; Eng: Lucien Dodge) who is definitely one of the more devious characters. With a love for instant coffee, he has far more indepth knowledge about each of the candidates and seems to be plotting something that we don’t yet know about. His motivations are one of the more intriguing mysteries that is yet to be solved.
Tower of God’s animation is rather unique. Drawn by Telecom Animation Film, the animation staff tries to follow the original webtoon’s art style, while making their own tweaks. As such, the animation has this crayon~ish graphic novel look which makes it really stand out compared to other anime. Each environment in Tower of God has this incredibly exotic and foreign feeling, making the landscapes pop out in comparison to the darker sections of the tower. Furthermore, the show has this ancient vibe and appears to be set in a Babylonian myth, despite having modern elements in it too.
Additionally, the character designs done by Miho Tanino for the various species and inhabitants of the tower are also particularly intriguing. For example, Rak Wraithraiser (CV: Kenta Miyake; Eng: Matthew David Rudd)‘s and Anaak Jahad’s design. Rak has a design that is a mix between a dinosaur, human and alligator or crocodile. Yet, his little form is rather cute. In comparison, Aanak’s is more lizardish providing a interesting contrast between the two species.
There are also a couple of creepy characters like the wave controller master, Ren Lo Po Bia. The monsters that inhabit the tower are also well-designed and don’t come off as creepy as the Administrator’s design, but more like natural wild animals too. I find the imagination behind creating such wonderful creatures as amazing.
Now, characters. We cannot talk about characters without first talking about Bam and Rachel. As mentioned above, Bam is a mysterious boy whose origins are completely unknown to us. However, he is attached to Rachel who found him and taught him everything he knows about the world. To Bam, Rachel is his everything, his light. But, in truth, their relationship is like a mix between friend, mentor and family with perhaps a slight romance element. Honestly, Rachel acts more like an older sister to him than anything at this point.
However, this does not mean there isn’t a hint of romance in their relationship. On Rachel’s part, its clear that Bam is important to Rachel as she worries and cares about him. However, her feelings and emotions are much more complex than Bam’s. While it is clear that she cares for Bam and wants to protect him, she is also jealous of him and hates him to an extent for being a “chosen one.” It is hinted that part of the reason is because of Bam’s uncanny good luck and his amazing ability to make friends which she cannot afford to have if she is to reach the top of the tower.
Rachel is also the complete opposite of Bam. While she can act light-hearted, friendly and cheerful, she is mysterious and even has a cold side to her personality. She is shallow and often hides her real feelings from Bam. So we don’t know her actual objective in climbing the tower, though Headon suspects that it is to be a star or special. Rachel is also selfish and heavily despises herself for being this way. Despite this self-loathing, she is willing to betray and use others to further her own goals. She is also a loner who keeps her distance from the other candidates. Though the real reason for keeping her distance is revealed in the final episode.
Then there is Khun Aguero Agnes (CV: Nobuhiko Okamoto; Eng: Chris Hackney) who is a member of the Khun family, one of the 10 noble families. He is a schemer like Rachel. However, he cares about others and prioritizes his friend’s needs first in his plans. That said, Khun is willing to lie and use deception to keep others safe especially Bam who he sees his younger self in. He heavily distrusts self-indulgent women like Rachel because they remind him of Maria. Maria is a girl that Khun greatly admired until she left him to become a princess of Jahad. This is after he had helped her win the position. This betrayal greatly scars Khun causing him to wonder if things would have been different had he fought harder for her like Bam.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of foreign exotic elements in the animation style. As such, the music reflects it. There is a mix of dark ambient percussion music and soft and gentle piano music in its soundtrack. There are also heavy techno elements including the opening theme song, “TOP” by the K-pop band, ‘Stray Kids.’ Stray Kids also performs the ending theme song, “SLUMP,” which is a more reggae-techno rap song.
Overall, Tower of God can easily be said to be one of the top anime for the Spring season. There is a lot of stuff in this show which can appeal to viewers of all ages. I’ll admit that I was hesitant because of the animation style. But this series has proven to be an unexpected dark horse which has earned the hearts of a lot of fans. I hope that we get another season, so that we can see the rest of the story as it unfolds.