The Tower of Druaga ~the Aegis of Uruk~ – 01
Inside the Tower of Druaga, a group of adventurers come across a caravan that was completely destroyed. They also come under subsequent attack, but one of their members, a teen by the name of Jil, defeats most of the bad guys in one strike, and he’s able to easily slay the final monster who tries to ambush him. As it turns out, Jil is known as the Hero who is on a quest to defeat the evil Druaga. He had been granted this destiny by the Goddess Ishtar after the forces of man could not defeat the forces of Druaga, and the previous hero Gilgamesh had even give Jil his own sword. Jil had set out with four allies, but he first had to prove himself to Neeba, the archer of the group, and he had also wooed a beautiful princess before he left, promising to marry her when he returned.
During the journey to the Tower, one of the group’s members – moments after revealing that he was going to get married back at his hometown once this was all over – had been killed by the Black Knight. The loss of his friend had caused Jil to use a special attack that promptly defeated the Black Knight, but Jil refused to kill him because he realized that the Black Knight knew the sorrow of battle. Jil and company had eventually reached the Tower after a 10-year journey, and the first monster that attacked them was of the tentacle variety. It caught the only girl of the group, Fatina, but Neeba had kept Jil from saving her because he wanted to get a good look at her while the tentacles probed around her body. They defeated the monster after Fatina got mad, however they were soon faced with another monster – this time a dragon.
The dragon killed another one of the group members, and just as things were looking bad, the Black Knight showed up to help. However, the Black Knight had also admitted that he was going to get married back at his hometown once this was all over, and the dragon had then killed him too. This in turn caused Jil to awaken a new power that promptly defeated the dragon, and he used this same power to defeat some strong knights further up the Tower. As they near the top, the remaining three hear more forces of Druaga catching up with them, so Neeba volunteers to hold them off while Jil and Fatina go ahead. Jil didn’t want this and knocked Neeba out, but he nevertheless left Neeba behind to the advancing horde. A little later, Fatina had come close to confessing her feelings to Jil and had wanted to run away with him instead of fighting, but Jil remained confident that a miracle would happen, and he suggested to Fatina that they get married once this was all over.
When the two finally confronted the evil Druaga, they found him to be rather diminutive in size, and they were shocked to learn that Druaga is actually Jil’s father. In any case, Druaga easily knocked Jil down, and it was the sudden appearance and equally quick defeat of the innkeeper who Jil had once drank and partied with that caused Jil to fully power up. Unfortunately, even in his most powerful form, Jil was unable to defeat Druaga. Just as he thought that he was going to die, Jil got a vision of the goddess Ishtar who reminded him that his friends are always by his side. Realizing this gave Jil enough of a boost to defeat Druaga, and right as the story concludes, Jil wakes up. He is actually being carried by one of his allies after having been knocked out by the first monster that attacked them back at the caravan location. Their group is now being chased by a horde of monsters and soon reach a dead end, but Jil still doesn’t even remember where they are. Fatina has to thus remind him that they’re in the Tower of Druaga.
Wow, that OP sequence was definitely not what I expected for a fantasy series like this. Never mind the fact that the song was the upbeat kind that sounds like it would go well with a comedy series, the entire present-day setting made me think that Druaga was going to pull some sort of .hack plot where we find out that all the characters are only playing an MMORPG game. And after watching the first episode, it’s still not clear if they’re going to try something like that. The ending meanwhile was more of the standard fantasy variety with how it shows various settings and characters, and Kenn (the voice actor for Jil) turned out to be a decent singer.
Gonzo, you win this round. As some of you might know, the ending of Dragonaut left a really bad taste in my mouth in regard to the animated productions that Gonzo does. But, with this first episode of Druaga, they might (emphasis on might) have won me over again. When I originally looked at the promo material for this show, I thought it looked like Ragnarok crossed with RomeoXJuliet, and that didn’t sound too appealing. I never imagined they’d start with a parody episode that made fun of all the kinds of poor writing and plot devices that you can find in these types of stories. And it was all hilarious, from the sudden death flags to the tentacle monster to the cheesy way Jil defeated Druaga. Of course I don’t know if this kind of humor or storytelling will be able to hold up in the rest of the series (Dragonaut didn’t start off so horribly either), and I suspect the series will be much more serious from now on since everything was just a dream. If nothing else though, this first episode has convinced me to watch a few more. I’m optimistic about this, but very cautiously so.
To add on to all that, Gonzo and its partners actually delivered on their promise and uploaded the fully subbed episode on crunchyroll and on YouTube – with fairly good translations no less. I’m curious to see if the new distribution model will make Druaga (and Blassreiter) super-popular and well-known among the English-speaking community, but for now, it just feels like we’re living in the future.