Tower of God
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Tower of God ?
I didn't think the penultimate episode of Tower of God would have me clamoring for Crunchyroll to redesign their website but here we are. “Underwater Hunt (Part Two)” ought to have concluded on a shocking cliffhanger, but I knew ages in advance that Rachel was up to no good. Even if I hadn't read some of the original webtoon the show is based on, and even if I wasn't on social media, I would still see the comments under each Tower of God video wishing ill on Rachel in increasingly colorful language. Now that it turns out that all Rachel did to deserve this vitriol was one extremely-telegraphed yeet, I'm sitting here wondering, “Why does Crunchyroll even have a comments section?” People call them the “Netflix of Anime” but just imagine what kind of hellhole a Netflix comments section would be. YouTube has comments to be sure, but they're not a place I'd like to spend a lot of time. However, my dashed expectations at the end are only a small part of the experience this week, an action-packed episode that crams in everything and the kitchen sink.
While each episode of Tower of God has been nonstop, this one took it up a notch. Every character we've met so far (and a few that we haven't) played a role this week. This episode never lets up as it switches between multiple high-stakes situations, which themselves are cliffhangers from last week. Rak continues to torment Paracule with his gung-ho personality, making for an entertaining interlude between more serious beats. Khun manages to game the wildly complicated system by pitting the earthpigs against the barnacle goblins and their wetworms—proving that an exam with this many different aggressors has an obvious loophole. But when a family member of Khun's shows up, it's a realization that even our resident strategist can't account for all of the Tower's unexpected twists. In this fast-paced anime we're only getting a taste of this world's internal politics, but there are so many factions with differing motivations that even Hansung Yu and Lero-Ro can't agree on how to administer this exam.
One thing that Hansung Yu is weirdly cool with: Ren (aka the evil riceball) running amok in the testing site and putting out hits on various contestants. By controlling the eldritch abomination known as the Bull, he's decided to take out the “imposters” Anaak and Endorsi, ostensibly on the orders of King Jahad. He offers Endorsi the chance to redeem herself by killing Anaak, but in a surprisingly sweet about-face, Endorsi instead invites Anaak to have lunch with her when this is all over. It was just a few episodes ago that these two were fighting each other pointlessly—neither girl willing to put aside her pride to avoid serious injuries. The power of friendship doesn't magically defeat Ren, but a fellow princess does. Lady Yuri finally returns to the testing area twelve episodes after her first appearance and proceeds to absolutely wreck the dude. We don't know much about Lady Yuri aside from the fact that she seems to be invincible as well as not subject to the rules in the same way as everyone else—the perfect ally for our protagonist Irregular and his team of what are now traitors for assisting him.
Speaking of traitors… Rachel took all of Bam's puppy-dog loyalty and literally pushed it away. It turns out she could walk the whole time; she was just holding onto that ability to increase the element of surprise. I get that this is supposed to really make me hate Rachel, but it's been a long time coming—though I'm not sure if it's the fans' constant disparagement or her multiple-episode coldness toward Bam that has fed that suspicion more. From using a fake name to avoid Bam, to commenting that she found Bam weak and annoying even during the honeymoon phase of their relationship, to quietly acknowledging but not reciprocating Bam's constant words of praise and affection… well, the writing has been on the wall that She's Just Not That Into You, Bam. Compared to the cluster of betrayals that occurred in episode 9, this wasn't such a shock. But even if it wasn't a huge surprise, the show did a great job using its impactful closing music to give additional pathos to the moments following the push. Hopefully this will encourage Bam to finally move on and find his own reason to climb the Tower. But, looking at how much hatred webtoon readers have for Rachel, I'm going to say probably not.
Tower of God is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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