Tower of God Ep.2 – An Alliance of Convenience

Do you ever get lost in a show so much that you actually refuse to believe a full episode has passed when the end credits start rolling. Tower of God has some sensational production values and some really striking visuals but it’s more than that. Something about the story just sucks me in to the point that I loose track of time. I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet.

Let me tell you what I did manage to notice about this second episode.

One thing’s absolutely for sure, this show has exceptional pacing. It never lingers on a scene for too long and it never wastes exposition. It gives you exactly what you need to follow along and grab your curiosity but fills in the rest with quick pace action and little seeds of mysteries. This type of masterful pacing tends to get really though towards the middle of a story once too much has been revealed to be able to count on your audience just wanting to figure out what’s going on but they’re not so fully vested or informed to you can just coast on those visuals and some fun fights. Hopefully Tower of God can keep this up, and the story is just cryptic enough to have a good shot at it.

One of the side effects of this efficient exposition is that we really don’t know that much about the characters. I know it’s only been two episodes but still, I can’t really tell you much about anyone beyond appearance and the most superficial personality traits. I have no clue how anyone would react. Which means everyone can surprise me! For instance: Rachel.

We essentially know nothing about Rachel but I have years of built up story assumptions and tropes that filled in the blanks in my head. A sweet girl who saved a boy and took selfishly took care of him. A motherly type I assume. A pretty blonde lady that Bam know has to save. A damsel in distress and a trophy all in one. Obviously she is a good kind soul and there was some terrible wrong she had to right. That’s why she was pushed by necessity to climb the tower and didn’t want to put her beloved Bam in harm’s way. That could still be her.

Burt this episode threw a little wrench in the works when it comes to Rachel. Now I already was a little perplexed about why Rachel decided to climb the Tower in the first place. Was she chosen? Is she also an irregular? Either way, she said that she just couldn’t stand it underground anymore. It seemed a bit more like a personal wish but you know, living in isolation can be though, maybe she was just at the end of her rope. Maybe she only left Bam behind because he wasn’t chosen and she didn’t think he could follow.

However, in this week’s flashback, Rachel is explaining the notion of conflict to Bam. She tells him it’s to fight with someone and want to hurt them. When he doesn’t understand, she immediately gives the example that if someone was mean or insulted her, then Bam would want to fight them, right? She didn’t use self defence as an example, nor did she suggest that fighting or violence were in any way bad or to be avoided. It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Bam would immediately defend her honour, no questions asked. When you add in the fact that Bam considers himself property of Rachel and suddenly, the character becomes much more complex. Not quite so easy to understand. My current feeling is that Rachel is a very selfish girl. Not necessarily bad or anything but fairly uninterested in others. And I love that. Adding some grey to the established personified ideal is so much more interesting in my opinion.

Look at that, I wrote like 3 paragraphs on a character that’s barely even present in the episode. Fine, let’s move to the closest thing we had to a lead character this week and talk a bit about Khun. Or as the very last frame tells us: Khun Aguero Agnis.

It’s no surprise that I would enjoy this character. He’s set up as a classic troll smart arse foil to our overly earnest protagonist and is already being established as someone to be weary of. In a series that tends to play it close to the vest and has not gone to any lengths to spoon feed us information, in episode two it has a likeable character directly explain that Khun is not to be trusted. That is the most blatant piece of exposition so far and it is there for a reason. I’m going to say misdirection. Or rather, Khun may not be the most trust worthy but he’ll likely stick with Bam. Maybe I’m just projecting Killua on him (and Gon of Bam for that matter of fact).

In many ways, Khun is a much more traditional character archetype so far, but as this happens to be one of my favourite archetypes I’m here for it.

Then there’s Bam himself. Now one of my readers, as well as a few reviewers have faulted Bam with being somewhat boring. Not painfully so but just a bit plain. Mind you, it’s pretty difficult to stand out in this eccentric cast but I’m also pretty sure it’s a bait and switch. We were told right from the start that Bam is “special”. Ok so every shonen protagonist is “special” but Bam is clearly not what he seems. I have a feeling that the fact may extend beyond his nature to his personality as well. So far the series seems to be fairly morally ambiguous. An straight and earnest protagonist having to deal with that reality can yield some interesting results.

Ok, let’s top talking about the characters I just said we knew nothing about… This week’s episode gave us a bit more information and some very intriguing world building. It seems the known world is entirely contained within the Tower and as such, everyone other than Bam is familiar with the mechanics although not the details. Moreover, climbing the tower doesn’t exactly grant you godhood in the way I imagined. It gives you access to great (potentially even unlimited) power and immortality but it doesn’t fundamentally change you as a person.

And the rankers (those that have made it to the top of the tower) all seem to remain in the middle tower. Can they leave? Do they retain said powers if they do. What can they actually do beyond administer test for other climbers? And why are people chosen to climb in the first place. The tower has a King and some type of administration, why bother with these rituals and tests? There must be a reason.

Every time we get a small piece of an answer, Tower of God raises 3 more questions. But I like it. I think it works so far and the pacing, production and characters are all good enough to make the trip worth while even if we don’t arrive at any answers. Look at me making bold pronouncements with two whole episodes under my belt… Yeah I have no clue what I’m talking about other than, I like Tower of God so far. Rak is a bit loud but he brings some nice levity to the trio.

Did you enjoy this second episode? What was your favourite part?

Tower of God ep2-7 (4)

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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10 Responses

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    I’m slowly warming up to Bam.

    That conflict talk? I had two reactions to this:

    (1) I wondered about the Japanese word. I didn’t catch what they say, so I couldn’t check, but I wonder if it’s one of those things that are hard to translate? And if that’s a double difficulty if the original word was Korean? The thing is conflict doesn’t mean wanting to hurt someone. I just means two people incompatible outcomes; there’s such a thing as interior conflict, for example, where you want two things but have to decide between them. Competition is a form of conflict. So I’m wondering if the word in the show was narrower in meaning?

    (2) I thought Rachel was just trying to frame things in a way Bam could understand. The way I saw it, it’s not that she wants him to defend her, but that she knew he would, so she used that to make him understand “conflict”. I mean, if he’s so amnesiac that he doesn’t even know about conflict anymore, then clearly their relationship is the only context reliable enough to make him understand things. I didn’t know I had that reaction until read your post.

    I saw Rachel as pretty selfish in the first episode, too, but not excessively so. We’ll have to understand that Rachel, due to circumstance, probably means a lot more to Bam than Bam does to Rachel. I wouldn’t be surprised if she already had plans to climb the tower when they met. I’m not sure about the mechanics, so I can’t really speculate further.

    I liked the scene where that ranker and Bam chose the same girl to be the first to pass the barrier, but they used different words to describe her. It’s a little thing, but there are plenty of shows that would have made them both just point in unison, or something. It’s little things like that that show me that the show knows about character perspective. I think I’m going to enjoy the show.

    • Irina says:

      I was very impressed to find out this is based on a webtoon. There’s a lot of small touches in this show, so far. Admittedly some of them might be n my head

  2. ramon3ljamon says:

    That last line.

    Was soundly sleeping my way through this episode when my ears promptly perked up. Kun Aguero is actually the colloquial name of a footballer from Argentina, currently busy breaking records in England. No clue as to how that relates with the show, but I’m left to wonder whether the original author’s pen name is connected in any form to Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous “SIU!” celebration.

    Woof, what a tangent, sorry. More to the point, not much to draw me in so far, aside from pretty colors, or a questionable central relationship. Coming full circle, I think I had my eyebrows raised like Carlo Ancelotti.

  3. “Ok so every shonen protagonist is “special” but Bam is clearly not what he seems.”

    Like when he just stood there, a faint smile on his face, when the shinsoo/shinsu pushed everyone else back? That’s cool stuff!

    You’ve given me a lot to think about character-wise, especially with Rachel. I know nothing about the source material, so this is just conjecture, but I wonder if she’s royalty? Maybe another princess like Yuri? Royalty would tend to think that defending their person was the highest priority or honor, to the point of assumption.

    This show feels like it knows we’ve seen a lot of what’s come before, like Hunter x Hunter and Seraph of the End, and it’s using some of those elements while twisting them at the same time. It’s like talking to a really clever conversationalist.

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