Tower of God
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Tower of God ?
I still don't like the art style of Tower of God, but the story is so good that I can't look away. That's the duality of this show: a polished battle anime with some seriously rough edges. Characters' faces often morph from cut to cut and some of the movement looks unnatural, but the plot is so compelling that each episode feels like it's five minutes long. “The Green April” continued last week's Crown Game, keeping it interesting by showcasing a slew of characters through their combat abilities. While Bam takes a backseat this episode, an expanding number of powerful contenders butt heads, making this competition anyone's game.
An absence of exposition and an absence of story are two very different things. Though Tower of God has told us barely anything about its characters, it has done an excellent job creating tension. I hardly know a thing about Rachel, but the story's slow, teasing morsels of plot make the cliffhanger last week (and the new one this week!) remarkably effective. Though Anaak has hardly said a word until now, her royal reveal makes total sense to me—of course a girl this competent and deadly is a princess on par with Lady Yuri. We still don't know what exactly a princess is, as it seems to be less of a blood-derived title than something to do with inherited swords (though why the Black March prefers men, we'll never know). And now that we know there are 13 of those, I'm sure the Black March will meet its match and soon. Against a background of gripping action, Tower of God is slowly reeling us in with more new inquiries than it has answers to the questions it has already presented. And with so many characters already introduced, this delivery effectively keeps the exposition from becoming overwhelming.
How does Tower of God manage to corral so many different characters into one consistent narrative? My theory is that artist/writer SIU has given all of the characters common ground in order to set the tone. There's a youthfulness to this story that is inherent in every mannerism from Bam's naive optimism, to Khun's post-trauma tendency to overthink, to Anaak's impulsive decision to plop the crown onto her own head with no strategizing. The story can shift flexibly from comedic characters like Rak and Shibisu to serious ones like Hatz and Kun because all of these characters are on a similar level of emotional maturity. They are very different, but they're all on the same wavelength.
As much as I love the way the story is unfolding, I still have some bones to pick with the look of it. This show's art has a serious consistency problem. Nobody's face keeps the same proportions from one cut to another. Jagged lines of differing width mess with my sense of perspective, even with such flat, simple coloring. During the coronavirus pandemic and the strain it is putting on the anime industry, my nitpicks might just be kicking a good production team when they're already down. But on the other hand, the animation this week is flashier than usual and in some cuts, like when Anaak goes on the attack and when her bangs ruffle after Lauroe's Shinsu attack, it's even good. Credit this episode's high-profile animation director, Masahiko Murata, who previously directed much of Naruto—the TV show and the movies. I also thought the jazzy piano freestyle during the Crown Game free-for-all nailed the fierce, playful mood of the scene. The art of this world may be crude and flat, but these other aspects are breathing some life into it.
Tower of God is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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