Tower of God centers around a boy called Twenty-Fifth Bam, who has spent most of his life trapped beneath a vast and mysterious Tower, with only his close friend, Rachel, to keep him company. When Rachel enters the Tower, Bam manages to open the door into it as well, and faces challenges at each floor of this tower as he tries to find his closest companion. (Source: Wikipedia)
Coming into the season, I was eager to check out Tower of God based on its production credits alone. Produced by the studio behind the most recent and quite excellent Lupin III series, the previews for this series showcased a sharp art style that was complemented by slick direction and music by Kevin Penkin, of Made in Abyss fame, who has the capacity to polish even the most dubious projects with his compositions (see Rise of the Shield Hero for a prime example). I had no idea what Tower of God was actually about, but by the time the opening credits wrapped up, I felt sure that this would be a show that is, if nothing else, fun to watch.
Now that Tower of God has gotten its introduction out of the way, the question that remains is whether or not the plot and characters will be able to live up to the expectations set by its visuals and soundtrack. Unfortunately, the jury’s still out on that one, because what story we get in this premiere is a bit of a mess, albeit one with a lot of potential. The fairy-tale tone of the opening scene gets us off to a good start, introducing our hero Bam as he fails to stop his beloved Rachel from entering the titular tower, for she seeks the magical treasure that lies at its summit. Naturally, he wants to follow her, but this magical tower wouldn’t be worth its salt if it didn’t have some trials and challenges to overcome on the way up. All of this is explained by Headon, the mysterious guardian of the Tower, who proclaims that Bam must defeat the first floor’s giant snake monster and retrieve the magical orb beyond it if he wants to prove his right to pursue Rachel.
As setup goes, so far so good, but this is where the script falls apart somewhat, chiefly because of the need to frontload the story with the rules and jargon of the Tower, instead of giving us context for the world of the story, and a reason to care about its characters. Bam learns from a princess of a land called Jahad named Yuri, about a device called a Pocket with a bunch of different modes and functions, including real-time translation, and he also gets a nifty magic sword from her called the Black March. We learn that outsiders like Bam are called “Irregulars” (though the subtitles read “Non-Regular” the first time I watched the episode), and that the whole Tower is organized battle-anime style, with competitors from all around vying for survival in the harsh planes of the Tower. There’s also a magical woman that takes a liking to Bam and grants him some Main Character Powers for nebulous reasons, and another three or four characters from the opening besides who all get miniature introductions before the episode ends.
It’s an awful lot of exposition for a twenty-two minute episode to handle, and I don’t quite think it’s successful. Bam’s mysterious past feels like just another of the many tropes tossed into this premiere to build up interest, so he fails to make much of an impression outside of being our de facto protagonist, and Rachel is little more than a MacGuffin as of yet. I still can’t really tell you what kind of world this is, what the stakes of this endless battle in the Tower are, or any number of other details I usually like to know in a story when it’s starting out. To paraphrase Headon, though, I’m still interested to see what happens next, and I have no doubt at least some of my lingering questions will be answered in the coming weeks. Tower of God may not be the extravaganza I was hoping to kick off the season, but it looks like it will be a good time all the same.