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Anime Review - Tower Of Druaga

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Tower of Druaga is not one, but really two seasons of anime, entitled Aegis of Uruk (season 1) and Sword of Uruk (season 2). The series is based on the classic arcade game 'Tower Of Druaga' in which players take the role of mythical hero Gilgamesh on his quest to defeat the titular villain, obtain the blue crystal rod, and save Ki, his beloved, the priestess of Ishtar.

The anime, however, takes place some 80 years after the game, and can be considered a rather direct sequel. While Gilgamesh's original 60 level tower has been destroyed (the events of the game), it has recently been replaced by a much larger and more menacing tower. Teams of 'climbers' enter the tower in search of riches and glory. Into this scenario, Jil, the sincere if rather inept hero, leads a ragtag team of second strings and rejects with the goal of reaching the very top and defeating the evil demon Druaga...again.

PROS:

  • Story. Tower Of Druaga, especially the first half, has an intricate, engaging, and fun story. There are numerous nods to RPG players, as well as fans of the original arcade game. There is even a segment where Jil enters a 'replica' of Gil's tower and is controlled by other party members who have a guidebook as to how to clear the 60 floors. It's a cute satire of the original game, and a lot of fun in its own right.
  • Voice Acting. There is some quality talent packed into this series, including the Holy Trinity (Brina Palencia, Monica Rial, and Brittney Karbowski), though the whole cast is great, and remarkably short of any annoying characters.
  • Whimsical Magic. Despite a fairly grim take on adventuring and mortality in general present in the setting, many of the magic users have fun ways of manipulating the fabric of reality, from Fatina's assault rifle-like staff to Lord Melt's golf-style magic, complete with Coopa as his caddie.

CONS:

  • The 'Destined Love.' Tower of Druaga involved a romantic subplot that is resolved in an irritating manner. Jil has his affections split between two women (poor guy), and has to choose between the girl who used him, lied to him, and stabbed him in the back, or the girl who took care of him when he was down, always had his back, and has been nothing but upfront with him. Seems pretty straightforward, right? I thought so too, but apparently I was wrong. This seems to happen a lot in anime, and it never stops being an annoyance.
  • Wait, what? While not as bad as many anime, Tower of Druaga starts off with a fairly basic premise (Defeat Druaga) then spirals into more and more obscure subsequent tasks, up to and including resurrecting Druaga to beat him again so he can be resurrected a third time as a weapon. Throw in all of the dimensional travel overtones, and who's doing what becomes a matter of serious contemplation.

It's an excellent series, and very under-rated. If you are looking for an offbeat fantasy anime with a good story, great voice acting, that also doesn't take itself too seriously, Tower of Druaga is a great place to start!

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