It’s a testament to Tower of God‘s quality that it’s able to go toe-to-toe with everything else airing in what is poised to be an absolutely astounding season. ToG’s story is dead-simple. Boy loves girl. Girl leaves. Boy goes on magical adventure to find girl. Out of those pieces, though, Tower of God is already proving to be a much more engaging watch than what you might expect from its simple setup.

Our hero is Twenty-fifth Bam. Yes, that is his actual name. Bam’s only friend (and let’s be honest, likely love interest) Rachel leaves their underground home to climb the Tower. Bam, desperate to see her again, follows. This all probably sounds very simple and straightforward. It in fact, is very simple and straightforward. What makes this work is the sheer tonal force and surreality of it all. This part of the story, told in the first episode’s opening minutes, is enrapturing all on its own. This is before any action, or really, any of the usual shonen signifiers have kicked in.

Twenty-fifth Bam

 

Steel Ball Swim

The show really starts just after this, of course. Bam’s first trial, which both he and we the audience are dropped into without the slightest explanation as to how any of this works, is to enter a giant aquarium where he must hack open a giant steel ball without being eaten by the sea monster in said aquarium. Simple, right?

The White Eel Serpent

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Headon, the mysterious, rabbit-like tower guide, even needles him a bit. This is apparently something for people far more experienced than he is. This may well have been where our hero’s journey ended if not for the sudden appearance of Ha Yuri Jahad, an important supporting character, possessor of an extremely cool name, and many hair ribbons. 

Ha Yuri Jahad

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She helps Bam, granted seemingly mostly for her own amusement, and much to the chagrin of her retainer/adviser/whatever Evan. I won’t spoil exactly how, but Bam is able to overcome his first trial with a delightfully shonen-y plot development. He’s then transported away to the next floor, and the episode ends after introducing us to that floor’s conceit–a free-for-all battle royale that our hero must somehow survive.

That’s about it for Tower of God‘s first episode, but it’s a strong one. Despite the plot itself being pretty straightforward, much like last year’s Demon Slayer this is a series carried by great production and, even moreso than that series, an interesting universe. How does the Tower function? What sorts of people climb this thing, where you can allegedly find your greatest desire at the top? Will we get to see more cool monsters like the sea serpent? Who knows! These are all open questions this early on, but they make the case that in an extremely strong season, Tower of God is one you should set time aside for.

Catch up on my weekly anime columns for GGA here!

 

 

 

Jane Auman
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