It is said that every few years, there is what's known as the "Summer of Anu." During that summer, thanks to the divine protection of the sky-god Anu, all of the demons in the tower lose their power. The country of Uruk has begun an invasion of the tower in order to suppress the demons. They've built up positions inside the tower, with their sights set on getting to the upper levels. The Uruk army knows that this is the third Summer of Anu-a perfect time to launch a mission to suppress the monster Druaga once and for all. The army soldiers aren't the only ones in the tower, though. An enitre city called Meskia has formed inside the tower's first floor. It plays host not just to soldiers, but also to adventurers who have heard rumors about a legendary treasure called the Blue Crystal Rod, which is said to rest at the very top of the tower. With all these different groups in the mix, each with its own agenda, one can only guess how things will play out during this unusual summer.
It would appear GONZO seem to think they can use their unique release format to gloss over the fact this series is riddled with flaws. There are three experiences to be had from Druaga, a hilarious comedy one, a somewhat below average action one and a dire fantasy one. It is literally a lottery as to which genre will be dominant in each episode.
The storyline couldn't possibly be any more generic; explore dungeon, defeat evil boss, find legendary treasure etc., its not even well executed. When its not being generic, it's being downright predictable, major plot points are seen coming a mile
off. The pacing is atrocious, the characters will spend multiple episodes in floors relatively close to each other then magically be much further in the dungeon just so the series can finish within the episode count. Much of which is taken up by almost filler like pointless episodes that do nothing to progress what little plot there is (episode 6 in particular). GONZO have tried to justify this shambles by confirming a second series to continue the storyline, but such a weak reason doesn't excuse this mess. A real shame after a genuinely fantastic opening episode, that made it look like the series wiould break a lot of these clichés, sadly it fails. If the storyline can't even meet its own expectations, what chance does the viewer have?
Animation is top notch, nice to see GONZO are still capable of doing something right. Very impressive scenery and backgrounds throughout the series, with some solid, likeable character designs. The enemies are also (for the most part) very well designed.
The audio is another highlight, very nice opening and ending themes that fit the series well enough. The background music is good enough and usually appropriate to whatever is going on. Voice acting is another strong point, with an impressive display from the seiyuu's.
Character wise, Druaga once again fails to live up to its own expectations, the cast is initially nothing short of excellent; likeable characters with interesting personalities, unfortunately there is next to no character development in he entire series, kind of to be expected when there are more characters than episodes though. Once again the excuse "it'll be fixed in the next series" isn't valid in an analysis of this series. As a result of little character development, it is hard for the viewer to get attached to the characters and the dramatic scenes lose much of their impact.
Druaga remains an enjoyable enough experience despite these flaws, thanks mostly to comedy episodes, but it can be a genuine atruggle to get through some of other episodes. The comedy episodes if reviewed individually would get nines and tens, whilst the rest of the series would get between four and seven. It keeps the viewers attention with the promise of better future episodes, which is sort of admirable. It'd be a lot better if it were a 26 episode series, that'd allow fleshing of the plot and characters as well as removing the rushed feel to the series. Worth a watch regardless.
Tower of Druaga is perhaps the finest example in years of a non-comedic series taking on all the trappings of fantasy cliché and making proper use of them, and, as such, turned out to be pleasantly surprising.
The series is based on an old and at the time successful arcade game in which you play a valiant knight entering a leveled tower to slay the evil overlord and rescue the princess. What made the game popular were the various almost random actions you had to perform in order to be able to ascend to the next level. The original game had a number of sequels, of
course all involving some even greater evil and an expanded tower.
The background explains why the series plays out in an enormous tower of multiple levels, each with their own hazards and enemies. As a fantasy series, this is as clichéd as it gets; as a series bearing the Druaga name, this is proper.
Using this all too familiar fantasy theme has its uses. There really is no need to have to introduce much of the world, background story, and characters: everyone watching the series immediately knows he's in fantasy video game-territory, where everything and everyone has a standard role to play. Within the first few episodes all major characters are introduced, with the main roles being those of the somewhat naive young man who wants to fight for justice and peace, the girl with clerical powers and a dark secret, and of course the more experienced powerful adventurer with his own share of secrets. The cast is filled out with the usual bunch of rugged fighters, silent rogues, and whining but powerful mages, all planning to ascend to the top of the tower, slay the evil monster, and gain the heroes' reward. Of course, the animation and design of the characters is geared to making sure there are no doubts to their roles, as is the vocal cast, which includes some high-profile names but takes absolutely no chances: everyone sounds as their archetype should.
The first half of the series is used to pound every single trite and generic characteristic of standard fantasy series, from Wizardry to whichever animation of the Tales-video games, into the viewers perception. Expediently enough, it does this by making the episodes comical, even farcical at times. The first episode shows the main character's own vision of his heroics in the most generic manner possible, for instance, while later on the inherent greed of all adventurers is relied upon to have them unite against a common enemy. It is in this half that the series also pays its homage to the roots of the Druaga franchise, as not only are there a few instances wherein the drawing style switches to the top view, 2d, 8 bit look of the original game, but the game itself appears as well, and has a functional role too.
But I started this review by stating that Tower of Druaga is not a comedy series. This is because, halfway through, it suddenly takes a turn for the dramatic. Usually, this would mean the end of any interest the series would hold, as far too many broken romcoms and action comedies testify to, but in the case of Tower of Druaga, the first, somewhat comical, half turns out to be used to make the viewer comfortable with the generic setting and characters. It makes no sense for the viewer to expect some sort of realism in the setting, and he also has come to expect some sort of volta stemming from the characters' unspoken but clearly known backgrounds.
The effect is that the viewer does not have to be disappointed by this generic plot twisting or the reactions of the characters to it, as it was already clear that nothing overly original would happen. It is, in fact, this basis in generality that makes the drama fairly strong. As each and every character acts according to its archetypal fashion, a plot point that is as archetypal can be convincingly raised as a source of dramatic tension: for instance, if all characters have their own motives, and if only one reward can be gained from slaying the big evil, what would this imply for intra-party integrity and inter-party rivalry? The friction resulting from the fact that, while slaying the big bad would be beneficial for everyone, only one brave adventurer can become the true is convincingly exploited.
Granted, the drama and tension aren't very evolved or deep, and the fact remains that almost any single happening can be predicted. The way it was portrayed, however, was, to me at least, thoroughly enjoyable, even if entirely forgettable. What makes me shirk from giving the story an extra point for the way it is handled, however, is the simple fact that Tower of Druaga - the Aegis of Uruk is an unfinished series, with a sequel in the making, and I fear that many of the more interesting points will in the end be strung out and hung out to wither.
As for the art, in general it is pretty good, with clear lines and a strong design treading the middle ground between expected fantasy trappings and some more inspired vistas. A definite plus is the use of the graphics of the original game at times, and a definite minus would be the use of CG for the main monster, but that's just my personal hatred towards CG animation speaking. As said, the voice acting, though relatively high profile, was as generic as possible, ranging from the heroic to the positively annoying. Music is utterly forgettable.
The characters, as said, are as generic as they come. I didn't expect more, and I didn't get more. I have never understood why character development and connection with characters is such a dearly held item in reviews, as characters should portray their roles within a certain story (background in general is irrelevant) and should be convincing and consistent in their roles, whether or not the role is likable or not. In the case of Tower of Druaga, the roles aren't meant to be developed, or to offer some insights, or to portray either 'real' humans or ideals. They're consistent, clear-cut, and utterly generic, and this serves the series well. Just don't expect to be blown away by either their lines or their expressions.
This is my first review, so hold up on the critics. :P
60 years after King Gilgamesh defeated the evil god Druaga, the tower that Druaga once resided in returns. The story follows rookie climber Jil, who got kicked out of his brother Neeba's team after failing miserably. Refusing to give up, he decides to look for new teams mates to again climb the tower to defeat Druaga and claim the prize for doing so, an artefact said to be able to grant any wish, the Blue Crystal Rod.
Making use of a legendary name of "Tower of Druaga", fans from that age and generation will be
very interested in watching it. They will be sorely disappointed. The references to the game are so lousily done, it made this almost a parody of it, which I highly doubt that was the intended motive. Even the overall plot hardly has a flow, just mearly the climbing of the tower, facing various obstacles along the way, which are hardly entertaining, might I add.
For all of Gonzo's inability to make a decent plot, their animation quality never ceases to amaze me. It's very pleasing to the eye. Now if only the anime was any better. -_-
Good opening song, voice actors pretty decent. Not much more I could say, really...
WHAT character development? There are few different groups of people in the anime: Jil's party of 5, Neeba's of 4, the main people of the Uruk army and some bad guy. With only 12 episodes, what are the chances many of them will be developed? That's what first came to mind, but guess what. NONE of them are developed. Except the occasional minutes/seconds of background story, we still know next to nothing about most of the characters!
Those that know me know I'm hardly a shounen fan, yet, this is possibly among the worst shounen anime I have even watched. Fillers in Naruto are more enjoyable than this.
Frankly, if i could turn back time, I would have NEVER gone anywhere near this anime. With a decent first episode, I would have thought it would be pretty good along the way, only for it to drop further into mediocrity, right down to plain lousy.
I am sorry to say that this anime has been quite confusing, and I couldn't predict anything. Not like I must have control to enjoy something, but without having some solid ground, you don't know where GONZO's gonna throw you next. The series started out brilliantly, but as it went on, it felt like GONZO split up its team into sections. "OK, you make episode 4, and I'll make episode 5, and..." yeah, you get it. You can feel the disconnection between episodes, and GONZO is having a hard time finding the fine balance between comedy and serious plot movement that makes sense. However, it
wasn't horrible and not worth watching at all, and it seems GONZO's gonna try this again with a new season next year.
Not the most inventive thing you've ever heard of. A guy wants to be the hero, his old team rejects him, he finds a new team, and whoopee you can guess from there. Although the story has a nice twist at the end, it hardly makes up for the stereotypical plotline. What makes things even worse is that the plot is executed by underdeveloped characters that you have a hard time connecting with, and part of that is the tiny 12 episodes that GONZO attemted to cram their huge ideas into. If they had about 26 episodes for this anime instead of 12, I bet we would see some huge improvements.
The art was actually pretty good. I really enjoyed the occasional 3D moment, it really fleshed out the anime more. The character designs were unique as well (in terms of looks, not emotions) so not much else to say here.
Nothing fabulous. OP and ED were ok, and no in-anime music struck me as amazing. it just... it fit what it was going with, like anime music and sound should.
Here's the one I wanted to talk about. I can see that these characters have a lot of great emotions and ideas packed into them, but 12 episodes is simply not enough for such a complicated web of people. I didn't know much about any character at the end, and I felt almost like they didn't earn what they got. Instead, it felt like GONZO was pushing the characters to the end so that it could meet this 12 episode limit. It just feels like something is missing, and that probably has to do with the confusion of where this series is actually going. The characters rarely start an episode where they ended previously, and... well, I blame it on the 12 episode limit again...
Not much to say here. Let me put it this way: I always watch 4 anime episodes a night, sometimes 5, and I always watch them in order of worst to last. Druaga was almost always one of the first ones. It's hard to enjoy it when you don't know where its going, or what the characters really think. I am very confused right now about Kaaya's stand on things, but hopefully we'll learn more next season.
I've been beating on this anime a lot, because I feel that Druaga is lacking something. I couldn't connect with the characters very well, the plot was cliche, it just wasn't there. It's still an enjoyable anime, though, and I suggest viewing the first few episodes and seeing how you like it.
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