Tower of God is the latest anime from Crunchyroll’s Originals lineup is a collaboration with Webtoon and writer/artist Lee Jong-hui, AKA SIU. Since the comic’s 2010 debut, it’s pulled in 4.5 billion views and is translated into eight different languages officially and another twenty with unofficial fan translations. SIU is still putting out new chapters every Monday – but with this jump to animation, the title reaches a whole new audience. Crunchyroll gave The Beat screeners for Tower of God to review ahead of the show’s April 1 debut.
Tower of God is self-described as the story of Rachel (Saori Hayami) and Baam (Taichi Ichikawa); she enters into the tower to see the stars and he follows behind, driven by his deep affection. Tower of God is lying. What this show is about, or at least what keeps its intrigue going, is the question of why so many mysterious forces want Baam to succeed. More often than not, director Takashi Sano moves the plot forward not because of Baam, but because someone powerful (seen or unseen) waves their hand for him. In other cases, you might be left frustrated at that – but Tower of God presents Baam’s successes as unknowable even to the central cast, becoming an unraveling puzzle box disguised as a love story.
Without diving into spoilers, Tower of God exists in a world where folks from any walk of life can try to climb the titular edifice in a competition where the winner’s deepest wish comes true. To get there, participants fight each other, test their wits and are challenged by the Tower’s inhabitants. Luckily, Baam knows about as much about the experience as a new viewer might, so alluring tidbits of exposition keep everyone just informed enough to come back for seconds.
It’s not explicit, but Tower of God has huge Isekai vibes. The central plot point seems to derive itself from pulling back the current on the Tower and characters are described as Regulars and Non-Regulars based on whether they were chosen to be there or now, just like players can be separated into groups of experienced versus inexperienced. Baam, like many Isekai protagonists, is a stranger in a strange world.
Being a stranger, he struggles. Luckily, he’s got exceptionally cool friends and supporters. And that brings us to one of Tower of God’s major strengths: its rock solid character design. There’s not a single personality that isn’t either ridiculously stylish or a joy to hang out with. Featured briefly in trailers and introduced early on is Headon (Hochu Otsuka) – the Tower’s guardian. A bunny with a slit for a face that can be both an eye and a mouth, this character’s unknown machinations are only amplified by Otsuka’s talent.
In terms of premise, it seems that as soon as you think Tower of God is doing something familiar, it does – and then in minutes, diverts in an entirely new direction. On a macro level, the show’s pretty unpredictable. Although you may see the end of a bit coming, the next plot beat, or the implications revealed in exposition, are always interesting and compelling. Just like an Isekai, so much of Tower of God revolves around discovering what gears are turning the machines behind this world; the strings being pulled and not so discreet behind closed door decisions whisking Baam along.
Although in Tower of God’s opening few scenes, you’ll likely consider Baam a fairly vanilla protagonist, on the other side of that is a sundae of accoutrement piled high for your viewing pleasure. Its well aware of itself. The show dares you to tug on its various hanging threads, and isn’t afraid to have fun in the process.
Watch the first episode of Tower of God now, exclusively on Crunchyroll.