“Tower of Druaga” was originally an arcade game released in 1984, later transforming into a video game franchise and finally an anime. The series went on to being renewed for 2 seasons – The Aegis of Uruk and The Sword of Uruk. Animated by Gonzo, who gaves us gems like Last Exile, Gantz, and Rosario + Vampire, the Tower of Druaga (2008) is meant as a continuation from Namco‘s Babylonian Castle Saga video game franchise. Falling under the genre of action and adventure, it runs for 12 episodes of around 25 minutes each.
We go into a custom fantasy world setting. There exists a tower from which a Demon Lord commands his forces. But by the good grace of the great God Anu, for a few years during the Summer of Anu, the power of these demons wane.
Eighty years since King Gilgamesh single-handedly defeated the entire “tower” and in the third Summer of Anu, the story begins with our protagonist Jil trying to reach the top of the tower. Jil is not the only one, as the legendary tale of a Blue Crystal Rod believed to be hidden on the top floor has drawn innumerable climbers to Meskia. Meskia is the last safe stronghold, built on the first level of the tower, after which the climbers embark on their adventure to do or die. On the way they must defeat the evil monsters and the evil Lord Druaga who resides at the top.
Along with this, the country of Uruk has also created an army to defeat the monster at the top. With the travelling tribes and conflicting agendas, you’d expect this to make for a most interesting ride.
Well, you’re wrong.
Jil has actually been fired from his post of “guardian” from his original group due to incompetence (damn right!) In search of a new group to conquer the tower, he meets Kaaya, a young oracle and Ahmey, a lancer. And together the trio decide to fight their way to the top.
I think I had a personal issue with the shoddy animation in itself which resulted in me never liking the work. Or maybe it had something to do with how boring Jil was to watch on screen. For a protagonist, he doesn’t check into any of the right boxes and doesn’t have anything remotely going from him that screams “male lead”.
Look at this picture below, which one is he? You wouldn’t know because he doesn’t stand out, neither via virtue of bright hair colour (Anime rules. I don’t make them, sorry) nor personality. Main leads? Context? Incomprehensible.
Now, take this picture for example. Created by Gonzo again, but not destroyed by unnecessary characters with a clear idea of context.
Now, Tower of Druaga is a very self-aware and self-referencing piece of work. And a piece of work it is! There are numerous references to the original arcade game and fourth-wall breaking scenes (taken to another level in The Sword of Uruk). The first episode should be more than enough to tell you whether you like it or not.
Not only is the first episode a gag of all running cliches in fantasy and adventure animes, it is a bag of conundrums thrown right in the face of the viewers. Considering the humour in which the first episode is presented, it is hard to watch the next few episodes in the serious light it aims for. You almost expect a Tom & Jerry chase to play out.
Spoilers in red.
The first episode actually details out an entire journey to the top with Jil winning over the Demon Lord in a cinematic style of a hero winning a struggle. Only at the end, he wakes up. It has all been a dream, and the series begins in earnest from the second episode. What was the need?
End of spoilers.
You could reserve the first episode for the last (or skip it) and it wouldn’t hurt the plot in anyway. It seems more like an added OVA. However, once the series begins in earnest, the pacing is fast, we don’t get really close to the characters and the ending necessitates the watching of season 2.
The main aim of the story is the race to the top and it feels like watching someone else play a video game with the characters constantly fighting demons and enduring betrayals. It doesn’t help that the animation runs flat and Jil reminds me of those guys at school who keep trying to be nice to everyone but are so boring that everyone ignores them.
The animation is good enough with detailed backgrounds. Meskia would be an ideal hill station is not literally inside a demon tower. Character styles are a sore point for me, but only because Jil looks anywhere between 13 and 30.
However, on some skin-deep research I found out that “Gilgamesh” was actually a Sumerian King of the state of Uruk and Anu is the god of sky personified. While the anime tells us beforehand that the story is set in “Babylim” and uses several parallels to that extent, it is often forgotten as the weaponry and gear used is not in the faintest sense genuine to the era.
Foxy Turnips gives it a reluctant 6 turnips out of 10!
No. of episodes: 12
Runtime : 25 minutes.
IMDB has rated it 6.3/ 10.
MyAnimeList has rated it 7.27/10.
TV.com has rated it 7.2/10.
You can check out the fandom page here.
If you haven’t seen it yet, decide by watching the trailer here:
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