The Tower of Druaga ~the Aegis of Uruk~ – 02
Having been cornered by monsters, Neeba’s group is in a load of trouble until the sound of drums suddenly reverberates through the tunnel. The monsters run away when they realize that the Uruk army is coming, and what ultimately appears is a column of heavily armored foot soldiers. After Neeba explains to the unit’s officer that they were trying to rescue the missing caravan, the officer makes some disparaging remarks about Neeba and Jil and then leaves with the troops. Neeba decides that the group should return to the city of Meskia, and along the way, Fatina blames Jil for causing Neeba to lose face. This leads to Neeba apologizing to his group-mates, and he says Jil’s not suited for the Tower, effectively kicking Jil out of the group. However, Neeba surprises Fatina afterwards by admitting that Jil is his half brother from a different mother. Jil meanwhile heads alone to the blacksmith who is doing brisk business because of the Summer of Anu – a time that comes every few years where monsters become weaker. When the blacksmith explains that no one has ever even gotten to the top of the Tower, Jil vows to reach there and defeat Druaga.
On the blacksmith’s advice, Jil heads to the plaza where other adventurers are gathered and meets a man who, upon hearing of Jil’s ambitions, suggests that he get up on stage to recruit others. Jil takes him seriously and does just that, but he just gets laughed at by everyone. This makes him angry, and when he calls everyone petty thieves who don’t care about justice, some of the men get pissed off and try to beat him up. Jil proves to be fairly resilient though, and after the men can’t even knock him out by hitting his head with a large rock, they decide to back off. With no one willing to join him, Jil sits down in an alleyway and is surprised when a girl suddenly approaches him. She figures out that he’s actually hurt pretty badly from before, and when Jil realizes this too, he loses consciousness. He wakes back up sometime later in an unfamiliar house and accidentally walks in on the girl while she’s naked in the bathroom. After some embarrassment on Jil’s part, the girl – whose name is Kaaya – explains that she healed him and wants him to take her to the top of the Tower. Her only other group member right now is a tall and quiet woman name Ahmey, so she’s looking for more people.
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of King Gilgamesh’s royal procession down the main street of the city, and Jil goes to get a closer look at it. After the procession passes, Jil notices that Neeba and Fatina are across the street, so he follows them and overhears them talking about how another group is planning an assassination on Gilgamesh. When Jil accidentally knocks over a bucket, he’s forced to hide because Neeba and company realize that someone might have been eavesdropping, but Neeba actually doesn’t care and tells the others that he’ll explain the details later. Armed with this information, Jil returns to tell Kaaya and Ahmey about it, and the two come with him that night to stop the plot. A group of hooded men eventually show up to try to enter the palace through the sewers, so Jil runs out and confronts them. This starts a fight, and though Jil, Kaaya, and Ahmey are able to knock out most of the men, the leader of the assassins successfully enters the sewer passage that leads to the palace. Jil goes after him but isn’t able to catch up until he reaches the King’s bedroom. By then, it’s too late and Gilgamesh has already been stabbed in his sleep. The assassin escapes after throwing Jil against the wall with a magic spell, and instead of chasing, Jil is more concerned about Gilgamesh. Unfortunately, a pair of royal guards then catch him standing over the stabbed King’s bed.
You know, given that it was pretty obvious that they couldn’t keep doing the style of humor from the first episode, I really shouldn’t be disappointed that the second episode wasn’t nearly as entertaining. And yet I am. I like the streaming distribution idea that Gonzo is pursuing and would have liked to think that they’re improving their story-telling as well, however this second episode was standard at best. I say “standard” in the sense that there’s not much that happens here that I haven’t already seen in past fantasy/adventure genre series or RPGs. By itself, this episode doesn’t try anything that makes me say, “Okay, this is original, so I want to see more” – it lacked the charm of the first episode. In fact, I groaned at the part about the assassination plot because I knew that it was somehow going to lead to Jil getting implicated for the crime (which technically hasn’t happened yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he were thrown in jail).
Still, this isn’t to say though that Druaga is completely unredeemable because, as some people have pointed out, this was just one episode – a setup one where Jil meets the heroine of the series. I even that think several of the characters could turn out to be quite interesting – Jil because he already can display periods of uncharacteristic physical strength, Neeba because he carries a lot of secrets, and Kaaya because of her carefree attitude. What worries me is that Gonzo-animated stories typically get worse as they progress. Along those lines, I wouldn’t watch this if I knew that it were going to be on the level of Dragonaut, but I might if it was at least as good as RomeoXJuliet (and that’s not setting the bar incredibly high). And since it’s still not clear what direction this series might go, I’m going to watch a few more episodes to see if something more interesting develops.