Tower of Druaga will be Gonzo's first anime posted online – with subtitles – for all to view. But is it worth watching?
An Introduction to "Season 1 Episode 1" Hundreds of anime debut on Japanese television every year, with maybe a quarter of that hitting US shores. Some of those that don't make the cut are true classics while others are clearly not worth the time it takes to watch them. With "Season 1 Episode 1" we try to watch as many of these as we can and let you know when it's time to visit your Region 2 importer. For more reviews like this, visit s1e1.com!
Episode Summary It's been 60 years since the Hero Gilgamesh conquered the Tower of Druaga, and in those 60 years the sinister tower has been rebuilt by minions of evil. Jil, a young man gifted by the Goddess Ishtar with golden armor and by Gilgamesh with his powerful sword, gathers a group of heroes to scale the tower and face the Demon Druaga once again. Jil's heroes travel towards their goal and face all sorts of creatures, from slimes to the Dark (oops, I mean Black) Knight with a heart of gold. Jil suffers loss along the way as his companions fall to their enemies. The one hope keeping him going is his promise to the beautiful princess awaiting him at home that they'll be married upon his return.
In time, Jil reaches the evil Demon Druaga, a much smaller-sized foe than one might have though. Though it seems as though Jil is in great peril, the spirits of all his fallen comrades and people who he's met along the way band together to help him realize his true power. He courageously slays the demon and rescues the world from its tyranny... or does he? Jil is rudely awakened, being carried by Utu, his burly companion. It seems that he was knocked-out during a battle with some minotaurs and the entire party is on the run. All of Jil's heroics were nothing but a dream in his delirious mind. He has a long way to go to become the hero of the land.
Thoughts I have a hard time knowing what to say about this show because it was obvious from almost the beginning that the whole thing was set up to be a parody and wouldn't be representative of the actual show at all. Still, this demonstrated that the writers knew how to create something extremely self-aware and there was a lot of humor drawn from that. Jil's dream played out like a listing of every silly RPG cliché in the book, from the boyish hero seemingly given power for no good reason, to the death of his companions just as they were speaking of going home to be married. Anyone who's bothered playing through one of the classic Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest games will recognize and appreciate much of what's being made fun-of here.
That said, I'm wondering how serious a turn the show will take now that it's spent an entire episode poking fun at itself. Because it has such a classical game feel to it already due to the story it's trying to tell and they way it's telling it, my thought is that a lot of viewers are going to take a look and not be able to relate to what's going on. The generation that was raised on Final Fantasy VII might not be able to see the charm on a more sword-and-sorcery-based Dragon Quest style approach. I guess it will remain to be seen.
Thus far none of the characters have had a chance to distinguish themselves. All we really know is that Jil is the hero and there are four other members to his party who fit the usual RPG archetypes (magical-user, heavy-fighter, etc.). I'd like to be able to think that their individual personalities could be developed to go beyond those archetypes and make them more interesting, but my suspicion is that that probably won't pan-out and we'll be left with something average. Especially since everything else so far has been pretty predictable.
The animation so far has been the high point. While it mostly maintains a pretty clean style throughout, things were really kicked up for the "finale" where Jil uses the power of his loved ones to defeat the enemy. It drew from much older sources, and even seemed to parody old mecha anime at points. Visually it was kind of humorous, but also well-done. I think visually conveying the fantasy atmosphere is something that this anime could excel at.
Another notable thing about this show is that it's one of two shows produced by Gonzo that's being streamed through various Internet video outlets. The version that I watched was free on Youtube, and it's also being offered on Crunchyroll and BOST TV. I really have to commend Gonzo for being so progressive and offering this show for free and with English subtitles the same day it's broadcast on Japanese TV. Bravo.
Check out the shows official YouTube page below.
Animation is very nice
Offered free and legal over the internets
Traditional RPG story might not appeal to American audiences
Humorous first episode probably not representative of entire series