「神之塔」 (Kamino-tō)
“Tower of God”

This is sort of a tough piece to write, because I do so under the assumption that at least some of you are going to read the manhwa after the anime left things where it did. There are things I really should talk about in interpreting this finale, but really can’t without coloring one’s view of the chapters to come. I always err on the side of caution when it comes to spoilers (and I implore commenters to do the same), but there are conclusions that can safely be drawn here, so I’ll concentrate on those.

This was certainly a finale that had some ‘splaining to do – and it did that in spades. I think it did a pretty good job of placing the events of the season in context – in fact, offering more information than the manhwa did at this point in the story to help it do so. Is that an implication that there’s no second season of the anime to follow? I’ve always been skeptical that Tower of God would run more than one cour – it’s popular by web manhwa standards but that’s not a medium that offers a lot of moneymaking potential for a production committee. Still, there was a part of me that was quixotically hopeful we’d see an announcement at the close of this episode.

First, Rachel. The anime spent more time this week showing us these events from her perspective than the source material did (though it skimmed over a few interesting passages that cast her in a slightly different light). I would say, on balance, Rachel comes off looking better – well, less worse – here than she does in the manhwa. But while it’s hard to be objective I still think she comes off looking pretty awful. Is she manipulated by Yu and Hwaryun to suit their purposes? Sure – but she was a perfectly willing tool in their hands. She had a choice – it’s not as though her life was threatened, only her ambition.

This, to me, is the hard truth about Rachel. She lacks the ability to do what she wants to do (this is obvious in her humiliating conversation with Headon), and she’s willing so sell out a much more deserving and honorable person to make up the difference. Not only that, but she hopes someone else will come along and kill Bam before she has to do it herself. Of course we can’t talk about why Yu and Hwaryun did what they did – why they needed Bam’s friends and the Jahad princesses to think he was dead. But when you hear the word “savior” tossed around, it’s obviously something they consider pretty important.

Jealous, a coward, ruthless – Rachel is a bad apple to be sure. And you can add “shameless” to the list, as she now accepts the help of Bam’s friends to climb the tower. There’s plenty of resentment from Khun and grief from all (most demonstrably Rak), but no obvious indication that any of them suspects what really happened. They think this is what Bam would have wanted, and they’re going to honor his wishes. There’s fallout beyond that too – Lero-ro walks out on his job as a ranker, and Quant is jettisoned along with him. He may not know exactly what went down and why, but Lero-ro can certainly recognize the stench of treachery when he smells it.

As for Bam, he is indeed alive – though his fate has now been commandeered by those who see him as a powerful weapon to serve their ends. As much as we learned about Bam this season, he remains mostly a mystery – even to himself. Being exploited by others is clearly the one constant in his life, so this new turn is nothing especially surprising. The only thing new was finding friends who valued Bam for who he was, and those have been taken away from him now.

It’s hard to overstate the extent to which this season only scratched the surface of SIU’s story. Basically this was the prologue, and only takes us up to the start of the main story. An anime that does that and stops there seems rather pointless, but the prologue happens to be some of the best material of the entire series. There are a lot of peaks and valleys ahead to say the least – Kami no Tou is an incredibly unfocused and meandering series at times. But there’s some great stuff – and some great characters – out there too, and I would genuinely love to see the anime continue. The problem, as always, is money – and how a production committee could be convinced that might make any off a continuation.

On balance I think Telecom did quite a nice job with this adaptation. Frankly it was much more well-produced than I expected, the cast was excellent, and getting Kevin Penkin to contribute the music was a major coup. There was no genius on display here – Tower of God was a pretty linear take on the manhwa, without a lot of huge changes or stylistic flourishes. But with any anime and especially one giving only a small taste of the source material, I think the first priority has to be to give viewers a sense of why people like that source material. And I think Kami no Tou accomplished that goal quite well.

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  1. This was the first episode where I felt the anime outdone the manwha. Fleshes out Rachel”s perspective nicely – much more than the disjointed flashbacks we’ve got later in the manwha.

    For anime only viewers:

    If you want to read it, I strongly recommend to re-read season 1, because the anime left out critical information that is needed to understand season 2.
    The manga also fleshes out the characters and the story more – add more nuance to them, so it is definitely worth your time.

  2. Unpopular opinion here.
    I guess it’s pointless to blame the script. It was made in a way the author wanted it to be. I just don’t like this way of storytelling when initially it gives us hope (even in the slightest) for a character to be some kind of deep and contradictory, but eventually this character turns out to be just shallow trash. Of course, it’s about Rachel. I guess you can say it was justified on the basis that we’ve got a similar experience with Bam. Nevertheless, I felt disappointed.
    Overall this show was decently entertaining for me. Though I enjoyed the first half of the season more than the second one when the novelty wore off and the number of intrigues and genius plans within plans became overwhelming

  3. This series elicited mixed emotions from me. This was a wildly entertaining show and I’d wish for a 2nd or 3rd cour, but to describe the show as a whole-it was a mess. There were some good episodes, and some terribly bland ones, Bam and Rachel is infuriating as hell, but the side characters were so good. This series is such conflicting piece of work for me I’d probably lump it with the other average anime out there yet I can’t shake the feeling something is special here and that another 2 cours will make the whole thing better. Well, I do hope it gets it just to sate the curiosity of a lot of people.

  4. Pingback: Tower of God – 13 (END) – Random Curiosity | Steamedworld News

  5. Rachel did nothing wrong! I feel sorry for her.
    Plot was a bit confusing, the SD jokes didn’t do much for me and the protagonist was annoyingly bland, but the supporting cast helped, especially the princesses, to turn this into a decent watch. Also, I’m a fan of the “power of friendship”, so with the bonds between the characters growing, the show improved as well.
    Don’t know if I’ll read the webcomic. The art is not easy on the eyes,

    1. Rachel did nothing wrong? Jeah, she stayed true to her egoistical and selfabsorbed self, caring for nothing except her own goals and desires. There’s nothing to feel sorry about.

    2. I can’t say Rachel did nothing wrong but I can’t join the hate train.

      She repeatedly asked Bam to leave her alone and not to follow her. He took it upon himself to push himself on to her and has been single-minded in his pursuit of her. Maybe this is a gender thing, but Bam’s insistence on not taking what she says seriously is quite off putting. She left him with no answers so I can’t fault him for trying but the lengths she went through to keep herself away from him should send all kinds of red flags up.

      That said, he doesn’t deserve to die or even be harmed.

      However, I disagree that Rachel is heartless or doesn’t care about Bam. She clearly struggled and suffered with this task she was given. She didn’t choose to sabotage Bam for the sake of doing it, it was the option she chose of the 2 presented. It weighs heavy on her and she broke down several times before she pushed him. Was it the best thing to do? Well, killing people in general is usually not the best thing to do yet the tower is a place which is explicitly advertised as a dangerous journey. The participants are put into conflicting situations in which they are teamed up while also being reminded their teammates are also ultimately competitors. And as for killing Bam, it was a pretty weak way to do it as she didn’t get to see him actually die. If she were as terrible and cold-hearted as the fan hate rants, she would have enjoyed seeing him die but she chose a way out which prevented that. She’s not a good person but she isn’t pure evil. (This makes her a lame villain; she’s reluctant and weak.)

      For Bam’s sake, this path is possibly the best option. Those who truly wish to see him die and assigned Rachel to it can now assume this even though she made a piss-poor assassin. If not for her agreement on this, a more effective killer might have been successful.

      Anyway, if this is the best the webcomic has to offer, I expect to pass on a 2nd season. It’s messy, inconsistent, and overly contrived. It has begun to feel just like a beta rant about how real women are manipulative and evil while praising the perfection of unobtainable, fantasy women who do inexplicable but beneficial things.

      There’s something unique here in this world but without a dedicated, professional editor to smooth the edges and force the writer to make the more obtuse story elements less clunky, the story is all over the place and after 13 episodes I still don’t understand where these people come from, how they get to the tower, and why Rachel aches to see the stars when there are scenes here of her beneath a sunny blue sky or why Bam is written to be so obsessed with her despite every one of her failings. (ps, it’s NOT romantic and it shouldn’t be admired, it’s gross)


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