「正解の扉」 (Seikai no tobira)
“The Correct Door”
Pretty much everyone in Tower of God has a dodgy past that trails behind them like the train of a wedding gown. That’s one thing when you’re talking about a story that seemingly goes on forever like the manhwa, quite another when you only have thirteen episodes. Each brings its own set of problems, though of course only the latter is an operative concern for the anime. In order to make all that complicated stuff fit, you have to exaggerate things quite a bit. Some subtlety is lost in that process (though maybe some fat too, and Kami no Tou has plenty of that to spare).
So it is with Khun. Superficially he and Bam could hardly be more different, but there is something in Khun’s past that links them in his mind. That is to say, an innocence he once had but no longer does, which he still sees in Bam. It was a casualty to betrayal and and nature of a noble’s existence in the tower. We get only bits and pieces of the story here – a princess named Maria, something once sweet turned very sour, warnings from a mother to trust no one and to carry the responsibility for the Aguero family on your shoulders.
Back in the present, Rak finds it quite hilarious that Bam has never seen the sky before. It falls to Khun to tell him that what he’s seeing is in fact just a simulation made of Shinsu, and that the real thing – the one that twinkles in the nighttime – is probably just a legend. Bam doesn’t seem too worried about this, putting his faith in Rachel’s conviction that those stars are out there to be seen if one can only climb high enough. Khun resists the urge to dissuade him, and in fact there’s a sense that part of him really wants to believe that himself.
The next test (again, very “Hunter Exam” in nature) is all down to doors. A room full of them in fact, with instructions from a ranker named Han Sung Yu that a group must choose the correct door within ten minutes and that something terrible will happen if they don’t. The noises coming from the room tip off the other groups to that, and the power trio get a hint from a “fluorescent plastic bag“. The hint is a test in itself, directly from Han Sung Yu, to see if the group would be hurt or helped by it. It winds up being the latter, though not through any help from Khun.
If Khun is once bitten twice shy and Bam pure wide-eyed wonderment, Rak is instinct. And it’s clear that while Khun may be the smartest and certainly is the most experienced of the bunch, his skill set needs complementing. In truth the test was simple – pick a door and be done with it. The trick was exactly as fukuro-san said – the real time limit was only five minutes. As Khun dithers and Bam frets, Rak plows ahead. Among the other teams, it’s the much-mocked Shibisu who figures out the trick for his trio (which Khun never did for his). Afterwards, Shibisu expresses a certain kinship with Bam as the two most ordinary-looking types in the room.
At this point Lero-Ro eases back into the picture as the surviving teams chill out in a waiting room complete with Lero-Ro coffee ads and vending machines. He offers a chance to play a bonus round – purely voluntary of course, with no penalties for declining, but the carrot of a free pass on all remaining tests to the winning team. What the losing teams will reap he doesn’t specify but naturally almost everyone seems keen to seize the moment. The Crown Game is pretty straightforward (seemingly) but while Rak would like to plow ahead, Khun prefers to sit back and watch things play out for a bit. Supremely confident Anak is the first to jump in, and quickly earns Rak’s approval for her fighting skills (which the Black March seems quite taken by too – it’s quivering with excitement).
We’re still at the stage of Kami no Tou where the Hunter X Hunter vibes can be rather pronounced, and there are definitely elements of this episode in terms of both plot and character that trigger them. But as I’ve noted I consider that a positive rather than a negative, and as we get deeper into the story the differences assert their dominance over the similarities (for better or worse). There’s a lot to get through in these next nine episodes, even with only the first part of the source material likely to be adapted, and some of the choices we see over the next few weeks are going to be very telling in terms of how the anime intends to handle that reality.