Notice: This review covers both seasons of the franchise. It is so pathetically mediocre, I needed both of them to make it look big enough.
Druaga is a pathetically mediocre title for the simple reason it was made by GONZO. Hm, I might as well have said “made by some 8 year olds with pencils and crayons” because that is how far and deep the show ever goes in terms of directing.
The story is about some tower with some demon on top and some teenagers trying to get there in order to defeat him. It would be pointless to get any further than that, as all the rest of the story is a big pile of nonsense. Plot holes, inconsistencies, fillers, conveniences and generally anything that would make any average storywriter to laugh with how little they tied to make something good out of it. Then again this is supposed to be a comedy, so one can excuse it to have a lame story… No wait, it is also drama… No, now it is mystery… No, now it is parody… and now it is a blue parrot with a tuxedo in the depths of the sea. HEY GET THOSE CRAYONS AWAY FROM THE KIDS! … I mean the storywriters.
Anyways, this was supposed to be a classic JRPG adventure, based on a videogame. It was supposed to be the classic tale of good versus evil, dragons and wizards and Gods fighting demons for the salvation of mankind. But in the hands of GONZO it turned into a steaming pile of cra…ckers on top of a green elephant in space. DAMN YOU KIDS, WHERE DID YOU GET MORE CRAYONS?
To hell with the story; they did nothing with it other than random comedy and poorly executed drama. Maybe the characters are somewhat better. Hm, the character portraits look fine, albeit generic. Let’s check their profiles… My, they all have, like, two lines of backdrop. And their intelligent is so low! And hell if they ain’t generic to the point of forgetting them as soon as I take my eyes away from them. Anyways, not even the characters mean much, since the story is random crayons and character development comes out of their as…tral super energy sword finishing slash. WILL SOMEONE LOCK UP THOSE BRATS ALREADY?
As usual, all the money was poured into the production values, to make the otherwise terrible story and cast to look nicer. But no amount of fancy artwork can save a campaign if the dungeon master is a GONZO… I mean a jerk. And anyway, the whole thing is just a tower with random decorations and monsters and traps, plus a town outside. And that is supposed to be the whole world? Because we are talking about a world threat here. Supposed… And whatever, it ain’t like the animation or the soundtrack are great or anything. There aren’t any memorable songs in here and everyone looks generic to the point of forgetting them as soon as... Um, what I was talking about?
As for the humor part, ok, it is funny if your expectations are low and you just want to laugh at clichés (both in games and anime in general). Too bad you will be doing the same even in moments of tension because of the lame directing and the random missions. This is hardly the best of what fantasy has to offer in the medium; Record of Lodoss War was wonderful for its cheesiness, while Mahoujin Guruguru is ten times funnier and more well directed despite its low production values. There is no value in this gonzoed show and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
SHUT UP BRATS, NO CRAYONS FOR YOU!
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Presence 0/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 1/3, Characters 0/4
Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk is a 12 episode fantasy action anime set in an RPG-like medieval world, featuring a little comedy here and there. This is one of those anime whose 1st episode is not representative of the whole series. And it also has a sequel, suggesting the story is incomplete. It’s slow to get going, it doesn’t really start till the 4th episode. Can such an anime redeem itself? One thing is for sure, the intro doesn’t seem fully representative of this anime. At no point is modern day Japan or high-school life featured.
The animation quality is average for a 2008 anime, if you watch it in 480p. While fairly detailed, it didn’t look as clear as anime does nowadays. The quality wasn’t terrible, there were no major flaws, but it was likely the resolution was holding it back. It looks like 720p and even 1080p quality exists, but the chances of finding the 1080p version was very low, let alone finding 720p in dual audio. I did watch the second half of it in 720p, which initially looked much better defined, with the quality a 2008 anime should have. But not that much better, even at mid distance, the detail and quality start to reduce and you realise that 1080p is hard to find because the low quality didn’t warrant making enough copies. Thus I’m disappointed in the limited release in HD, the lack of availability and just the quality overall. The 720p version didn’t improve significantly over the 480p version in the end.
The style seems somewhat unoriginal, but a closer inspection of the characters reveals that some effort was put in to make them look distinctive. Of course with a few exceptions like Jil who look typical as all hell. The designs of the setting and weapons all seem nice and fantastical, some of these were ideas I’d never even thought of before. Yet some of these things feel very familiar, like the shield with the blade it ejects and the spear with a tip that can spin like a drill. These sound like weapons from Monster Hunter to me. And then there’s the parody aspect of this anime. There’s a lot of old-school 2D-pixel JRPG animation, noticeable mainly in the outro, but in other scenes too. This also is used for comedy and it was probably the funniest aspect.
And here’s the usual section on fan-service, nudity and such. You should know by now I hate ecchi and unnecessary nudity. This anime starts off on the wrong foot with the over the top first episode. All I’ll say is tentacle rape. Other than that, the only other thing I remember is Jil walking in on Kaaya taking a bath. There’s some other strange stuff later on down the line where the main characters get a gender swap and Jil has a monologue about boobs while Melt tries to sneak away to touch himself. Quite shameless and degrading that. At no point did I find the fan-service to be funny, as it usually is with ecchi. Thankfully it’s kept minimal and doesn’t happen too much throughout the anime, it’s mainly just a few bits earlier on.
The intro and outro songs are decent. Not amazing enough to make me want the soundtrack, but good enough to make me consider it. The music is typical fare for a fantasy setting. A lot of big epic tracks and a significant amount of silence too. Which is used well, having music playing all the time doesn’t improve sound design and it isn’t always appropriate. I got vibes of a Hollywood fantasy movie from this, which isn’t a bad thing to do.
This anime is available in both English and Japanese as previously mentioned. Some well-known voice actors for the English side, though someone once stated that the same voices are used a lot, which usually makes my section listing what interesting characters in which anime they’ve voiced a bit longer. While I started watching it English, the animation quality made me give the Japanese version a good try and it isn’t too bad either. The one thing keeping the Japanese version from being definitive is the Western sounding names of some characters and things, which are obviously pronounced badly by the voice actors who speak Japanese as a main language.
I instantly recognised Jill’s voice as Tod Haberkorn, having played voices as Firo Prochainezo in Baccano, Yutaka Kouno in Darker than Black, Apos in Mnemosyne, Death the Kid in Soul Eater and Kimihiro Watanuki in Tsubasa Chronicle/XXXHOLiC. Trina Nishimura voices Kaaya, who’s voiced Mikasa in Attack on Titan, Rachel in Baccano, Mari in the Evangelion remake and Chii/Karen in Tsubasa Chronicle. Ahmey is voiced by Brina Palencia, the voice of Ennis in Baccano, the Kinoshita twins in Baka to Test, Priscilla in Claymore, Yin in Darker than Black, Rei in the Evangelion remake, Nina Tucker in FMA, Teruki Maeno in Mnemosyne, Juliet in Romeo X Juliet and Holo in Spice and Wolf. Melt is voiced by Chuck Huber, who has also voiced Pilaf in Dragonball, Shou Tucker in FMA and Franken Stein in Soul Eater. Monica Rial voices Coopa, who was Misuzu Kamio in Air, Mei Misaki in Another, Chane Laforet in Baccano, Kanae in Elfen Leid, Lyra in FMA, Sayara Yamanobe in Mnemosyne, Tsubaki in Soul Eater, Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle and Maria in Witchblade.
Neeba is voiced by Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang in FMA), Fatina is voiced by Jamie Marchi (Mimi in Mnemosyne, Elizabeth Thompson in Soul Eater) and Utu is voiced by Kent Williams (Mao in Darker than Black, Dr Gero in DBZ, Sid in Soul Eater). J. Michael Tatum features as the voice of Kelb, Collen Clinkenbeard voices Ethana and Carrie Savage voices the mysterious blue haired woman.
Shoutout to Minori Chihara, known for Yuki Nagato in Haruhi and Chiaki in Minami-Ke (last anime I watched, got it in!), who is the Japanese voice for Coopa. I’m started to develop an appreciation for roles voiced by this character.
Within this anime, there are two groups of four heroes (climbers) trying to climb to the top of the Tower of Druaga, though the main group has an extra non-fighter member.
The lead male protagonist is a boy Jil, son of Marka from Larsa. He is a guardian class warrior, AKA the tank of the group (in RPG terms). He recently entered the tower with his brother and wishes to make it to the top. He’s headstrong and has a strong sense of justice, he’s not one to run away. But he’s also half useless and has a knack for finding trouble, plus he seems to lack intelligence tying in with the fact he’s gullible. He wants to get to the top of the tower to defeat Druaga and claim the crystal staff to bring peace to the land. This guy is your typical lucky (the way he survived the start…) protagonist, he wants to do good for the world, but doesn’t have the capabilities to do so at the start, yet he still goes ahead. He seems very strong at times, but his real incompetence is just delayed at times. He uses his trusty shield, which has can be deployed as a static position due to a spike mechanism.
The lead female protagonist is the girl Kaaya, who is a cleric type of mage and can perform non-offensive magic to heal and support. She also wants to get to the top of the tower and claims various reasons for this, but the truth is unknown. But there is more to this character than meets the eye. There are things to suggest she like Jil, including her blind faith in him. She has a very passive personality, she doesn’t get mad at Jil for seeing her get out of the bath. She uses her trusty wand for her magical incantations. She is the one who gathered the people for the main group.
The other warrior of the main group is a woman Ahmey (pronounced aah-mei), a fighter type of warrior who concentrates on the offensive. She is fairly stoic and doesn’t talk about much, being focused on the quest. Or so it seems, deep down she’s actually a softy and she gets away without it being noticed by the others too much (sneaking out of the men’s bath with red cheeks). This gives a bit of mysterious air about her since we don’t know her reason for joining the quest. She is the one who likes to eat a lot. She happens to be the one with the most experience climbing the tower, having gotten up to the Garden of Lions once before. Though not a veteran since that was very high or that long ago. Her signature weapon is her spear with a rotating tip but she also has a whip. She seems to have some connection with the royal army.
The second mage is the nobleman wizard Melt, who is an offensive mage specialising in lightning magic. This guy has a good history, he was once a court magician, but is now a down and out guy who is broke from drinking his remaining funds away. He’s very argumentative, brags a lot and a bit of the jerk, while he’s the oldest of the group, he also has the worst behaviour. He seems to be a bit of a philanderer (though never successful) too, trying to hit on the chicks when he first meets them. Good thing he doesn’t regard his servant Coopa as an option, who has been always travelling with him. He has a collection of wands for his powerful spells, carried in a bag that looks like a cart bag for golf clubs. Incidentally he usually casts his spells as balls and hits them with the staves like he’s playing golf. He often argues with her, especially as he hates sea peppers and Coopa always cooks with them. I can relate to that, but with a different vegetable.
The child Coopa is Melt’s servant and her family has been serving Melt’s noble lineage for a long time. She’s kinda like a mother to him, often berating him for his bad behaviour and trying to make him eat his food, including the see peppers that he hates. She’s a decent cook according to other characters like Kaaya, making do with what little ingredients they can get in the tower, often including monster meat. She’s impossibly strong, let alone for someone of her age and build, she additionally can use smoke bombs for support. She’s almost a golf caddy, since she’s always carrying Melt’s big bag of staves and often recommends him which one to use. She’s almost hot-headed and often ends up arguing with Melt or scolding the guys for their misgivings.
Neeba is Jil’s older brother and is an archer warrior, making skilful use of his longbow. He is the one who bought Jil to the tower, but soon after lets him go as it becomes apparent that Jil isn’t capable of keeping up. He is known as the dragonslayer, since he has slaid a dragon before, but on a previous expedition to the tower, the dragon One Wing killed his group, he was the only survivor. He is quite knowledgeable about the tower and its lore. While at times he may seem harsh and uncooperative, he’s actually a cold hard realist and never lets his feeling get the better of him. He’s very smart, charismatic and an expert fighter. He leads his own group separate to Jil. He seems to know all the key characters, including Pazuzu and the mysterious ghostly blue-haired woman, who at first seems like she could have once been his lover. In truth, he’s hiding a lot, even from his own team. He seems to also be aware of her Fatina feels about him, which he purposely does nothing about.
Fatina (pronounced fah-tee-nah) is the only female in Neeba’s group and a battlemage of sorts. She is infatuated with Neeba and at the start mentions that Jil is her type as far as looks go. But don’t let that fool you, she dislikes Jil calling him the newbie, useless, among other names. She’s a bit hot-headed and value’s Neeba’s company and leadership a lot. She’s a superficial person, focusing on looks and luxuries like a very expensive type of leather, which she wants a belt made out of. She uses fire magic via a stave that looks like a gun, the usage is much like a flamethrower.
Kally is the eagile rogue/assassin member of Neeba’s group. He follows Neeba’s leadership closely and is often sent out to scout areas ahead. Like Neeba, he keeps a cool head and goes for the safe, smart options. He uses throwing knives for offensive attacks.
Utu is the offensive heavy warrior in Neeba’s group. He never takes off his heavy armour and is quite strong, being able to haul Jil with all of his heavy gear at the start. He’s also a bit more human than the other two guys, occasionally cracking a few jokes. He likes to tell war stories or horror stories, much to Fatina’s dismay (she hates them). He wields a very large axe in battle.
The King Gilgamesh AKA Gil is over 100 years old. He is the hero of legend, the one who defeated Druaga in the original tower 80 years ago. He’s back to the tower with a motive in mind. His backstory is explored a bit, so his character isn’t left in complete anonymity. But there is still something left unrevealed about his role as the hero. His army is led by two generals Ethana and Gelb. Gelb is hearty man who likes to act, much like Isaac in Baccano (by coincidence they look similar and also share the same voice actor) unlike other high ranking army warriors, he is fine with running into battle himself, leading his men to glory. The royal army is leading a slow campaign to the top of the tower, during the Summer of Anu, a period which occurs once every several years and is apparently when the monsters of the tower are at their weakest.
Pazuzu is a crooked assassin who uses wind magic, notorious for basckstabbing fellow party members and running off with his money. He is a tool of the politics going on within the tower and it seems he is also climbing the tower. Though it seems he is up to something by it, this bad guy has plans he’s carrying out.
It’s been 80 years since the great hero Gil, blessed by the goddess Ishtar, conquered the original 60 floor tower of Druaga and defeated the evil Druaga, bringing peace to the lands of Uruk. But about 20 years ago, the tower returned along with Druaga and it had changed. More than 3 times the height of the original and so large it accommodates entire biomes and cities within its floors, the challenge of climbing the tower has intensified. At the top lies the legendary crystal rod, capable of granting the victorious party a single wish. As such, warriors from across the land attempt to take on the tower in order to gain riches and glory. The tower consists of 8 levels named shrines named after materials, the bottom is tin and the top is the sky shrine above the diamond shrine. Each shrine is divided up into gardens named after increasingly dangerous animals.
The intro has nothing to do with the anime. There’s no modern day Japan or highschools and Jil doesn’t live with Ethana and Gelb as his parents and Coopa as his sister. The first episode really is terrible and the actual canonical events of the first episode are delegated to a special episode, Jil no Bouken (Jil’s adventure). I recommend viewers ignore the first episode and watch Jil no Bouken, which even starts and ends the same as the original, unrepresentative, cheesy, cliché and just terrible first episode. Some people may like it, it includes various references and parodies, but I personally didn’t like it. The main anime is much more serious than the first episode dream suggests.
The story has its flaws, there are issues with inconsistency. At the start it is apparent that the characters are halfway up the tower, but in episode 4 Ahmey reveals that they are only on the first shrine/level. There’s a lot filler too. The 3x original tower thing is an underestimation, in one room of the new tower there is the old tower and it seems tiny by comparison. The plot can be predictable at times.
The story parodies RPG games and from here come some of the jokes and comic aspect of this anime. In episode 5 a mischievous wizard has left traps with passive and humiliating effects. Later on, the original tower is essentially an arcade video game, with many game references like entering a button sequence to enter the area. The comedy is not the defining aspect here though, it’s the fantasy RPG-like story. A long time ago, I’d hope to find anime exploring a fantasy setting much like a JRPG. This is exactly the sort of anime I’d hoped to find back then.
The plot actually surprised me with its pace, revelations, twists and turns. It seemed to have too much filler for a 12 episode anime, but it somehow pulled a complete story out of the bag. My worries about not getting the conclusion with Druaga were unnecessary. There’s just the slightest hints of foreshadowing and little clues early on allude to later events. They aren’t afraid to have things actually happen to the characters, as one will find towards the second half of the anime. But it does rely on luck too much, there are a few too many convenient coincidences which makes me cringe. This is evident by the real first episode. It concludes well for a 2 season anime, the likes of Code Geass could learn from this. We get what we are promised and the sequel is set up nicely. This is how you lead into a sequel. However, some mysteries remain and at the end, while some answers are received, there are new questions left unanswered. A tough one, but it tries it’s best.
If you want fantasy action in the style of JRPG, then I recommend this anime to you. Don’t watch this for the limited comedy or fan-service, but for the plot. Even if those things annoy you, try to look past it. The first episode is a load of bollocks, but must be considered in the overall story, the real first episode is a special that introduces all of the characters. The plot isn’t perfect, but it excels where others fail and gives us the story it promises, all the while setting up for a sequel. That of course means some mystery will remain for the sequel, but this just puts even more pressure on the sequel to be on track and completely and utterly conclusive. Not everyone will be able to tolerate this anime, but I recommend watching the special episode first as the real episode one and trying a few episodes from there to see if this is your style. I for one am grateful that I finally get to watch an RPG-like fantasy anime like this.
Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 Fan-service and suggestive themes. And one instance of tentacle rape… (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 7.5/10 (higher is better)
HEED MY WARNING PEASANTS AND STEER CLEAR OF THIS WRETCHED PIECE OF DEVILRY..
Why in the name of all that's holy is this anime rated so high?Seriously why?The story even though some might say is an interesting idea,the writers certainly weren't bothered to exploit it..Maybe they saw a nice restaurant on the opposite street and went for a bite instead..Just bits and pieces glued together in a hurry.
The animation is..No other words,DANGEROUS.It's a brutal abuse of the gift of sight.It's even worse than the ones u might see in the 90's era..It's even worse than that to be honest.It's a cry for help.The characters look so bland and have no facial expressions.
Characterwise i can't even remember getting a hint of development.No idea who is who,or why he is there or how he got there or anything really.Everything is SO rushed that in the 12 eps run no one mentioned why they are climbers or why they want to do this with such a manic determination.U only get some glimpses of their past and they only last,what?4 seconds..That's your development there.
I'm sure there are worse animes,i'm sure round the corner something that will blast this into the middle of next week will be coming into my life with no known consequences to my mental health.But right here,right now this makes it easily into my top 5 worst ever,
When episode 1 is filler I feel sad. When they have another at episode 5, I quit. Show is shit, and it isn't original ever in its jokes. I've seen them all before in things that didn't suck.
Also, the animation quality is sooooooooooo bad. I mean, it looks nice, but when an entire conversation is run on a gif where they don't even bother to try to match mouth motions to speech. She even has her mouth moving at a point where no sound is happening. I think it was episode 4. When they meet the mage. Atleast it isn't as bad as Dan Machi where they have a conversation with no mouth motion at all. just a still shot of someones face.
**NO SPOILERS HEREEEEEEE******
The first episode of this show was sooooooooo dam funny. So was the next few episodes. Then it gets more serious as the show goes on, which is inevitable if you want to have a good story.
I felt the first season was better than the 2nd season. There was little comedy in the 2nd season and it was good, but not anything ecstatic.
Overall I gave it 9/10 because of how hard i laughed during the first season. I would absolutely reccomend it, but the 2nd season was kind of like: oh hey i really want to know what it going to happen now, okay some new story, umm ok sorta good, but this feels like a new story altogether now... and then the ending was kinda blah for me.... it was overall satisfying, but not what i expected. (the 9/10 is based on the FIRST season, not the 2nd)