Tower of God
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Tower of God ?
Previously, I viewed the tower as an ethically-neutral test of strength, where the only morality was that the strong had power over the weak. But this week, Anaak's story changed my perspective. In Tower of God, the tower isn't simply a multi-story Hunter Exam. It's an institution that has its own issues. “Lunch and Tag” is the comedically understated title of an episode bursting with emotional impact. Through a balance of humor and fraught action sequences, we're beginning to see the shiny veneer of this tower come crumbling off.
“As someone who's never experienced hardship, you wouldn't understand.” Endorsi couldn't have come up with a line to offend Anaak more than this one if she'd tried. It turns out Anaak is the result of an illicit union between a Princess of Jahad and an as-yet-unrevealed father. This brief exposition about the nature of Jahad and his princesses made my skin crawl, as I expect it was designed to. The princesses are dehumanized as “shoes on display,” never to be worn. Apparently there's a practical reason—princesses can't reproduce, or even break their celibacy, in order to avoid passing on Jahad's power. That means that in exchange for godlike strength, they sacrifice the ability to pursue romantic love or parenthood. All except for Anaak's mom, the true Anaak, who gave it all up and paid a harsh price. Anaak's memories of her last moments with her mother are shown through a shaky camera perspective meant to be positioned from her viewpoint, limbs blurring out of focus as they get too close, the screen going black when she blinks. The cinematography puts us directly in little Anaak's shoes for peak emotional effect.
But this episode isn't a total downer. The tragedy of Anaak's past contrasts with an all-out fight in the present. Endorsi and Anaak engage in a no-holds-barred battle that features some of the most interesting animation thus far, continuing the uptick in improved choreography from last episode. Despite the intensity of the flashbacks and the action of the fight, it doesn't feel off that it concludes with comedy—Endorsi and Anaak calling each other “aunt” and “niece” with mock respect before collapsing with the serious but non-fatal injuries promised at the start of the competition. (Endorsi really needs to choose another pair of shoes next time she fights!) What the entire sequence reveals is that Endorsi isn't Anaak's enemy, even if she is thoughtless. Both Endorsi, who was given her powers and Anaak, who was born with them, can trace their strength back to Jahad and have more in common than they think.
Anaak isn't the only one struggling right now. Rachel is holed up in her darkened room binging on apples and candy bars. Hoh is becoming increasingly disillusioned with his difficulties as a Wave Controller, particularly compared to total newbie Bam. (Admittedly, Bam did get some help from Lauroe in exchange for a silly assist in retrieving the latter's pillow from a snoozing Serena.) Hoh gets a mysterious message—“Do you want to climb the tower?”—but the contents are hidden from the viewer. This is a shift from the webtoon, where the letter is revealed immediately; presumably the change here is designed to create tension, and it works.
Our heroes jump into their latest trial, a game of tag, with Hoh's new motive still a mystery. This new test is a little confusing but I think the game of tag goes like this: the two teams do not play at the same time. Half the players go up against pint-sized powerhouse Quant, and when that game concludes, the second team tries their luck against the same administrator. We (and author SIU) know from Hunter X Hunter that tag can be a lot more exciting than its origins as a children's game imply, and this game is already off to a rollicking start.
Tower of God is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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