All of my reviews contain spoilers for the reviewed material. This is your only warning. Tower of God is a fascinating series and that would be true even if we looked solely at where it comes from. Tower of God is an anime adaptation of a South Korean webcomic. The first of many I would venture to guess. Indeed if youre reading this as it goes up the similarlytitled but unrelated God of High School premieres in only a week or two. But while Tower of Gods multinational pedigree is certainly fascinating and does inform some of its sensibilities it would be a mistake to preoccupy ourselves with solely this aspect. So lets take a step back. 880 Tower of God is the story of Bam in many ways the very image of an archetypal shonen hero. Friendly naturally gifted determined honest. Ah and singularly devoted to a girl who he begins his quest to scale the Tower in search of. Tower of God is also the story of Rachel who is that girl. Rachel is Bams opposite and his shadow though that does not become clear until the series closing episodes. There are a few ways to analyze Tower of God. Purely as an action series whats presented here is well above the merely competent. ToG has an interesting clean visual style that sets it apart from most of its peers. Its plot is a pleasing mix of adrenalinepumping fights and twisty political intrigue. The cast is colorful both in personality and often literally as the series origins as a webcomic really shine through in many of the fuck it it looks cool designs of certain characters such as the inexplicable number of ribbons that Yuri Jahad uses to tie her hair a oneoff character who is a living pink punch dummy Anaak a charming green lizard girl with a bobcut and Rak one of Bams main companions who is a spearwielding alligatorman. Even more sensible designs such as those of Khun and Endorsi make eyecatching pleasing color choices. 880 In terms of actual characterization theyre great. This is true when theyre working in surprisingly subtle nuanced shades say with Aguero Khun or Yu Han Sung who operate as the series obligatory planspinners or the intertwining histories of Anaak and Endorsi or indeed Rachel. Its equally so when dealing with broader archetypal characters such as Rak or for that matter Bam himself. Nearly to a one every character is a joy to watch work even if its in a love to hate sense as with some of the villains. The other point though is that Tower of Gods titular structure is a metaphor the size of a million skyscrapers. What for? Well any system you care to name that pits its competitors against each other in a zerosum game and there are many of those. It maps most closely in my estimation to capitalism. Both with the foregrounding of the haves vs. havenots dichotomy when Hoh betrays his team during the tag game arc and the subsequent inequality and cycle of suffering that dichotomy perpetuates. Some of our characters are empowered by it: indeed this is Bams role someone deposited by fate and circumstance into a system which rewards his skill set and natural talents making allies and shinsu manipulation respectively. Others are much less lucky. Hoh a blonde horned character is the clearest example. We never get the gory details of what exactly happened to his homeland but the scattered nightmare flashbacks we get speak to the trauma on its own. In this light his betrayal makes perfect sense. Who wouldnt do anything they could to come out on top of a system this vicious? 880 This appears to be what drives Rachel too whose arc is a more subtle largerscale reflection of Hohs perhaps thats why theyre both blonde. We never learn why shes so obsessed with becoming a star and being special as Headon the rabbitlike guardian of the Tower puts it but her deepseated envy drives the final episode of the season. It would be easy to write her off as simply a bad person and hell maybe she is but Tower of God seems to resist such simple readings. 880 Theres also to return to the Tag arc Selena who literally exits the series at its 2/3rds marker plainly in the Tower because she is the only survivor of a band of criminals. Its only when the system grinds her will to fight down that she willingly leaves. She isnt dead and in that sense her fate is better than Hohs but both have given up the fight. But Tower of God also touches on other forms of inequality. Khuns apparent exile from his family seems to have been caused by either a violation of some sort of social taboo its broadly implied his relationship with his sister may have been incestuous or a frameup to resemble one. This is certainly a very different sort of inequality than the systematic oppression wrought by having or not having shinsu affinity but it feels an interesting stab at applicability nonetheless. Our own world is certainly no stranger to ostracization on these grounds. Its not nearly as fullyrealized a metaphor as the shows primary storytelling mechanism but its interesting food for thought nonetheless. 880 There is even incremental touching on of misogyny. We learn very little concrete about the King of Jahad but his policy that his princesses cannot have sex or reproduce certainly feels like commentary. Again its not followed throughupon with the same strength as the storys central metaphor but its meaningful that the show even deigns to go there. Of course no anime is perfect. Tower of Gods thoughtfulness in some areas only makes it more obvious when its deficient in these same regards. No darkskinned characters play a major role which would perhaps be less egregious if the only one who comes close Hoh wasnt the only named character to die onscreen. Elsewhere Rachel being disabled and one of the shows more outright villainous characters feeds into the ancient evil cripple stereotype that fiction in general really should be well past by now. Some scenes in the finale also imply that shes faking it which is not any better. On the narrative side the simple realities of cutting even a given length of a sprawling webcomic into thirteen 22minute episodes means things are occasionally a bit confusing. The Towers mechanisms being obscure and obtuse usually works in the shows favorit really only adds to the central metaphorbut it sometimes gets in the way of the shows literal plot. The Tag arc is the big offender here while the emotional beats are great the actual logic that the tag game works on is rather confusing. Tower of God thus can certainly feel like the long prologue to a story were only going to get in full from the second season which one seems likely onward. I would hasten to ask though is that a bad thing? All of the above is tied together with an excellentlyexecuted action shonen setup that is rarely less than a good time. Its flaws may mark room for improvement but on both a pure craft level and intellectually the series excels overall. In general Tower of God stands as one of the strongest entries in the alreadystrong Spring 2020 anime season. Thats to be respected and celebrated. Tower of God ends on an ambiguous note Bam washed down seemingly back to the bottom of the Tower. A still mysterious shot of a lone figure closes the series. The cliffhangers feel pointed a promise that Tower of God is nowhere near finished telling its story. For that we can be hopeful. 880 If you enjoy my work you may wish to follow me on Twitter to get updates about my work and learn how you can support me. And if you liked this review why not check out some of my others here on Anilist?
86 /100
75 out of 109 users liked this review