The Tower of DRUAGA - the Aegis of URUK - Episode 01 (of 13) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, April 10, 2008
Release Date: Friday, April 04, 2008
What They Say
The legendary Tower of Druaga is resurrected eighty years after the hero Gilgamesh has taken it down. In order to destroy the evil deity Druaga, the Kingdom of Uruk dispatches its troops to the tower, but the expedition repeatedly fails in its efforts. A young man named Jil who has been blessed by the goddess Ishtar, is awarded a set of brilliant golden armour and a sword from Gilgamesh as tokens to defeat the maumet.
Sent off by the cheering crowd, our young hero Jil confidently sets out to confront the evil deity inhabiting the tower. Helped by great friends such as the archer Neeba and a Mage called Fatina, he heads for the uppermost floor of the Tower!
Leading a band of allies against the mighty evil dark lord Druaga, Jil storms his Tower in order to be the Hero of the world.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tied to the game franchise, and with the 2007 MMORPG in particular, the Tower of Druagais a thirteen episode series that succeeds beautifully for at least the first episode. Directed by Koichi Chigira and with the screenplay by Shoji Gatoh who is behind the Full Metal Panic novels and anime screenplays, the show plays in the field of a fantasy setting with comedic elements that click just wonderfully. Fantasy shows are rare in general, and comedy ones even rarer. The combination of the two is like having lightning strike.
The opening episode to the series is a whirlwind of activity, particularly in the first half which is a bit more chaotic than it should be. The series introduces us to the world where it's some sixty years after Gilgamesh destroyed the Tower of Druagabut it has been built up once again as the evil Druaga has been resurrected. Jil, the right Hero for the right time, has been placed on the road to be the man to save everyone. With well wishes and a hint of romance from the princess, he gains a plucky band of followers and heads off towards the Tower to deal with what may come. Through the narration, we learn of the many pitfalls and adventures that they come across, but we see one or two in particular before they arrive at the tower.
It's here that we learn one of the fundamental rules of this world. The moment you talk about the fact that you're going back to your home village after this battle to get married, you'll end up dead. Whether you're a good guy or bad guy, the end result is the same. Jil's battle takes him against the crimson knight named Black Knight who in turn provides for some amusing moments in a later battle within the castle. The creatures that Druaga has in his employ, whether they're more knights or other beasts, all end up being dispatched with comedic ease as Jil and his group plunge ever forward. Not that everyone in the group makes it as they fall along the way, often without being given their proper due. The focus is entirely on Jil and his Heroic deeds and unless you're a woman you're likely to be considered secondary...
Comedies are tough to do in general since humor is so much more subjective than just standard plot devices. There are only a few fantasy comedies that are memorable - and not all of them for the better (yes, I'm eyeing you Slayers...) - so when I realized what the show was going to be about I had to wonder if Gonzo could pull it off. The timing here is quite good once it finds its rhythm about halfway through, but even before then I was laughing out loud a lot more than I would have guessed. The characters have a good sense of timing as they go about their business and it hits up a lot of the basic stereotypes from the games franchise and fantasy games in general.
Gonzo has managed to utilize their design style well with the show as it has their trademark look when it comes to the cleaner showers that are meant to appeal to a mainstream audience. Jil has a basic Hero look to him while the secondary characters are just that, there for comedic effect at the moment and not too fleshed out. That will change as the show goes on if the final minute or two of the show is an indication and I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out. The animation for the show works surprisingly well considering it's a comedy at this point as there are some really good fluid moments and lots going on in the show. The palette gets pretty vibrant at times as it runs through all manner of motifs in the fantasy genre which gives it a great feeling.
The Tower of Druagareally surprised me with its first episode since I had no idea what to expect, and I certainly didn't expect a fantasy comedy, nor one with an amusing enough twist at the end that made me really want to see the second episode. Of course, as has been pointed out to me, I tend to flip flop on comedy shows and like every other episode so the second episode here may not be the best thing to go by. If this first episode is anything to go by though, I'm going to enjoy this show a lot as it hit just about everything right with its pacing, style and content. While Gonzo's other series of Blassreiter left me fairly cold, Tower of Druagahad me laughing out loud regularly and counting down the hours until I can get my hands on the second episode.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 0 - All Regions
Released By: BOST TV
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: The Tower of DRUAGA - the Aegis of URUK -