This recap contains spoilers for Tower of God
Disclaimer: Pre-release screening and screenshot materials for this recap were provided by Crunchyroll.
Tower of God is one of the most compelling anime in an extremely strong season. We’re happy to report we will be covering the series week-by-week going forward.
Joining Bam in episode two were his two “teammates”. Rak Wraithraiser; a huge lizard-man possessing immense strength but very little brains or patience on the one hand. On the other; Aguero Agnis Khun; blue-haired, sharp-dressed, and if this episode is any indication, possessing more than a few secrets. The past two episodes introduced us to these characters, as well as a whole host of others who’ve had more or less time to shine so far. Tower of God‘s massive, colorful cast remains one of its core strengths. It’s a great sign that the central protagonists are interesting enough to keep up.
Contrasting last week’s battle royale setup, this episode again returns to a more intellectually-leaning test. Anxiety is the mood of the hour as Bam, Rak, and Aguero wait outside the door to the testing room. A pattern starts to emerge: teams that finish the test before the five-minute mark get through just fine. Teams that Aguero, well, we don’t really know what happens for sure, but screams of agony are involved. We get a few other things here, too. There’s some back and forth between Bam and Aguero, where the latter implies that Bam didn’t know her as well as he thinks he did. They briefly argue, but before things can get genuinely heated they’re interrupted.
A new character (described almost verbatim in the show as “an inflatable pink plastic bag man”, which seems about right) starts needling Aguero about his mysterious past. The details are kept vague, but he’s apparently the cast-off son of a noble family. Some tragedy about betrayal and his hitherto unmentioned sister is involved as well. There’s been an indication before that a lot of conspiratorial politics happen in the Tower, and indeed longtime fans of the original webcomic will tell you that that’s a core part of the appeal. This is the first indication we’ve seen in the anime of just how dicey things can get in the Tower’s political landscape.
All of this melts in the face of the test, however. The pink man offers Bam and friends a hint–spelling out the bit about the five-minute mark. This “hint” begrudgingly in mind, the three enter the test room.
In contrast to last week’s battle royale, the first test in episode 3 is a more thinking affair. Our heroes are presented with a series of doors and given ten minutes to open them. Aguero, in an illuminating sequence, is paralyzed with indecision. The most striking visual here is that of a CGI clock looming (both literally and figuratively) over Aguero’s head. The solution turns out to be pretty simple when a frustrated Rak busts one of the doors open: one simply has to open a door–any door–within five minutes.
This is admittedly a little silly (backup character Anaak even voices her displeasure when her team goes through it), but it does make some sense. Both in-universe as the kind of thing that the Tower’s mysterious administrator’s would use to weed out those who can’t rely on their instincts, and on a more meta-level as a reflection of the balance present in Bam’s companions. Aguero, the most intellectual of the bunch, seems to need the hotheaded Rak and the naive Bam more than he may realize. (This is actually brought up in-episode. Aguero’s attention is drawn to Bam’s “innocent eyes”, and he feels a need to protect them/him.)
Following the trend of the Tower’s administrators seemingly pulling out new rules on the fly, the Tower climbers are informed they can participate in a “bonus test” if they so wish. The stakes are high–any victors are granted the right to climb the rest of the tower without being subject to any further tests. Naturally, almost every team agrees to participate. In what now seems to be an “intellectual test -> fighting test -> repeat” sort of pattern, this test is more martially-focused. The contestants must each have a team member who wears a crown and sits on a throne placed in the center of a room. Other than some wrinkles in who participates when, that’s genuinely all.
This mostly serves as a showcase for the team consisting of B-characters Anaak, Hatz, and Shibisu. Anaak in particular, a green-skinned girl who wields a sword that can turn into a flexible whip, absolutely steals the spotlight here. She lays the other team out in just a few minutes of screentime. I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns into a fan favorite over the course of the season.
The test does not actually conclude by the time we get to the end of the episode. Instead, it ends about halfway through. Bam sees a familiar face in the crowd, and we cut to the end credits.
What this could mean is anyone’s guess. Is this really Rachel or is Bam mistaken? If it is Rachel, what’s she doing here? It certainly seems unlikely that Bam’s quest is at its end already, but who knows? Those are questions to be answered, one imagines, next week.