When I wrote my article for the spring anime of 2020, I expressed cautious optimism in regards to Tower of God. While I did enjoy what I’d seen up to that point, the show hadn’t quite won me over yet. It seemed like a show that could end up being awesome. Or it could’ve fallen flat on its face.
Thank God it was the former!
Tower of God is an absolutely incredible show! The story is completely unpredictable, delivering non-stop twists and turns that can best be described as relentless! On top of that, it looks absolutely incredible, with some of the greatest animation and music I’ve experienced in ages! This is a show that I desperately want to see more of in the future!
Especially since we only just got through the god damn prologue!! Like, what?! How?!
Story: Chasing the Stars
You know how in most shows, it’s pretty easy to predict what a character will do after you figure them out? And how you can still enjoy it, but it doesn’t really surprise you in any way? Yeah. Tower of God does not have that problem. At all. This shit took me for a ride and a half, dude!
Tower of God stars Yorew (I refuse to call him Bam because that’s stupid and whoever translated it into that is stupid), a clueless, innocent boy with a heart of gold. When his only companion, Rachel, disappears to climb the Tower and see the stars, Yorew follows after her. Now, he must overcome a series of uniquely dangerous tests, reunite with Rachel, and reach the top of the Tower of God.
It’s an exceptionally simple premise. One that has been done before in other media. However, I daresay that none of its contemporaries are even half as well executed as this show!
The biggest factor for me is the setting. In most fantasy stories like this, the setting initially feels like a patchwork that’s slowly pieced together more and more as the story goes on. Take HunterxHunter, for example; initially, it seems like a typical fantasy show, but it slowly expands into a more modern setting with science-fiction and fantasy elements.
Tower of God, on the other hand, feels much more well-defined already. With the way information is presented to us, it makes the world feel completely fleshed out and lived in already; as if it would function with or without the protagonists. There are so many unique creatures, people, and places, that it’s clear the writer already had the whole setting outlined well before they started writing it. Better yet, it helps get the viewer engaged, as they start to look out for answers to the mysteries surrounding things like the princesses of Jahad or Shinsu or the Tower itself! It’s great!
And it helps that the characters in that world are great! They’re all pretty cliche; Yorew is your typical good-boy protagonist, Khun is your overly-smart guy with trust issues, Rak is a combat-obsessed idiot with a gluttony for sweets, so on and so forth. But they’re all so well executed that it’s hard not to love them! And better yet: they’re completely unpredictable!
Take Endorsi, one of my absolute favorite characters. When we first meet her, she seems quite dangerous. She looks at everyone and goes ‘yup, I can kill you all’. But then she comes out swinging to help Yorew and his friends! But don’t think you have her figured out yet, because she suddenly turned on her team in the middle of a test! You learn enough about her personality to get a grasp of who she is, but not enough to be able to predict what she’ll do! She’s an enigma, one that could hurt or help our heroes at any given point! She’s an absolute joy to watch!
Oh, and did I mention that the story is perfectly paced? It doesn’t waste your time, moving from one beat to the next at a smooth, consistent pace. You get just enough time to soak everything in and think about it before we move on. At no point does it stop to go over info you already know. Every scene presents you with new information and builds up to the finale with style, grace, and most of all: mystique!
Because god damn I didn’t see that ending coming! Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet. Just know that the final episode completely transforms your understanding of everything we thought we knew up to that point! And more mind-bogglingly: it’s just the wrap-up of the PROLOGUE!! The story itself is only just getting started!!
Or it will in season two. Hopefully. Please, God, let this one get a sequel!
Presentation: Every Shot a Sakuga
Are shows legally allowed to look this good? Like, seriously, it’s so god damn pretty!
This show has a very distinct visual style to it, one that’s very faithful to the original web comic. Granted, it isn’t one-for-one; few adaptations are. But it adapts that style in a unique way that captures its spirit and, better yet: lends itself to some incredibly impressive animation!
Because god damn, is this show well animated! There are so many images that stick in my mind just because of how good they looked! Anaak swinging her giant sword-whip while sitting on the throne! Yorew unleashing the golden Shinsu to protect Rachel! The net of light surrounding the pair in an underwater bubble! This show has some absolutely incredible visuals!
More impressive yet is the cinematography! Most anime, even the ones I consider beautifully animated, aren’t much for good shot composition. If you take your eyes off the subtitles and watch the show itself, you’ll find some of the visuals to be pretty boring. Most static shots of characters talking with some shot-reverse-shot. There are exceptions, of course, like Kill La Kill and some others. But generally, most shows are pretty bland in that regard.
Not Tower of God! This show has tons of creative, interesting shots all throughout each of its thirteen episodes! The camerawork here is genuinely impressive, surpassing even some films that I’ve seen! My personal favorite is one in the final episode, where two characters are drawn entirely in silhouette; it perfectly communicates the tone of the scene, so much so that you can actually turn the subtitles off and understand, at least in part, what’s happening!
And the music! Oh my sweet lord, the music in this show is so good!! It features a blend of heavy precussion and choir chanting, which gives it this incredibly distinct and impactful sound! Every single piece of music worms its way into your ear! The number of times I caught myself humming some of those tunes in the shower rivals some of my favorite songs!
Any tune that can make me stop humming ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ is an impressive one, to say the least.
This season had some damn good looking shows! Sing Yesterday For Me, Kaguya-sama season 2, so on and so forth. But none of them came even close to Tower of God! This is easily one of the best looking shows I’ve ever seen! It’s visually distinct, beautifully shot, and sounds incredible! It’s a damn good looking show that will hold up for years to come!
Tower of God is an incredible show. It comes out swinging on all fronts, delivering one of the most intriguing, unpredictable, and visually striking shows of the year! For Crunchyroll’s first collaboration with WebComics, they absolutely hit it out of the park!
And it’s just. Getting. Started!
Watch. This. Show! On its own, it’s an incredible and satisfying story with tons of shocking twists and turns. But when you consider that this is only the prologue? It absolutely needs all the attention it can get! This is one of the few shows out there that truly needs a second season!
And a third. And a fourth. Probably a lot more than that, the web comic is really long.