Tower of God
Episode 11

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Tower of God ?

Just who is being tested this week on Tower of God? Bam and Rachel have been cleared to take the Administrator Exam, but all they have to do during the test is sit tight and trust in their friends. “Underwater Hunt (Part One)” gives our protagonists time to reflect in a bubble while everyone around them risks their lives. As usual, an initially simple test premise gives way to a convoluted tangle with plenty of places for contestants to slip through the cracks. Even a Princess of Jahad could find herself in danger here. All this action keeps the story chugging along even as the plotline becomes confusing to the point of unknowability. I'm starting to perceive the anime as an exciting companion piece to the webtoon, because the further it delves into politics and intrigue, the less I can understand it on its own.

Being surrounded by gorgeous glowing schools of fish only serves to emphasize the flat color and crude line art that make up Rachel and Bam. It's really not fair that they're the ones who are ostensibly being tested, yet get to reminisce about old times in a quiet undersea bubble. If I didn't know better, I'd say that the pair are finally about to make amends. Even though Rachel clearly doesn't feel the way about Bam as he seems to about her (while he acts like her tough protector, she ruffles his hair as if he were a child), they seem to be coming to an understanding. Little do they know that all around them, hell is breaking loose.

The competitors' team mission feels like one of those logic problems where you have to transport grain, chickens, and a fox all in the same boat. They need to protect the dolphins, fight the earthpigs, avoid the goblins and worms, and there's also a superpowered freak of nature called the Bull? Luckily Khun's there to coordinate everyone into a plan, because I have no idea how they'd strategize around all those working parts. This is definitely one of those places where the complexity that lends richness to the webtoon struggles in animated form. It clearly was designed for pages of explanation, not an easily-digestible half-hour of TV.

But even with so much going on, Tower of God manages to develop its characters through their relationships and dialogue. Parasol—I mean Paracule has quickly become a member of Rak's formerly one-man comedy troupe. Shibisu and Khun, two completely different character types, acknowledge each other's strengths as equals. And Anaak and Endō.rsi both prove that they have more strength than smarts as they completely ignore Hansung Yu's warning about the Bull and eventually pay the price. In each of these scenes, it's riveting to watch the tone flash from comedy to life-threatening suspense within seconds.

The episode concludes on a cliffhanger with nearly everyone in danger, and Tower of God's bloody track record suggests that at least some characters will face real consequences. There's definitely more afoot in this test than we know about—it includes secrets that Hansung, Ren, and perhaps Lady Yuri alone comprehend. But I'd probably have to read the webtoon to know for sure what's going on, and that's an adaptation problem. While I don't envy the staff's task at distilling a massive webtoon season into 13 episodes, I do think that for it to be a success, it needs to be something even a newcomer can understand.

Rating:

Tower of God is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist and model kits at Gunpla 101.


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