I've been hearing about Tower of God for a long time now, but didn't check it out till this anime dropped out. Apparently this webtoon/manhwa had a great artstyle, interesting story and well-done characters. And when I heard it was receiveing anime adaptation I decided to approach it a bit differently. I read and watched the first season of ToG side-by-side comparing how well the adaptation fared compared to it's source material.
Sadly I have to say that this was a rushed adaptation, that left out some scenes from the manhwa that would've helped explaining the games/trials more in-depth and made them more interesting to follow, altered some of them and made some characters more your basic anime stereotypes than they were in the source material. First season of the source material isn't a masterpiece by any means either, but it did a lot better job at introducing the concept, characters, basics of the world and all the important stuff to the readers.
THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR BOTH ANIME AND THE FIRST SEASON OF THE WEBTOON!
If you want to get a spoiler-free experience skip to the overall-section of the review.
Story centers around a kid named Bam, who follows the only person he ever knew to the Tower of God. It is rumored that when you reach the top of this tower you will attain everything you could ever want. Usually people and creatures who get the chance to try to climb on top of this Tower are choosen by the caretaker of the tower, but our Bam here did something special, since he opened the door to get to this tower by himself without being chosen. This makes him what they call Irregular. A person that is destined to bring chaos into the tower. This marks the beginningof the journey where Bam tries to climb up to the tower to follow the person who left him behind.
This is really abridged (and badly explained) version of the premise, which is pretty ok. It's your typical "zero-to-hero" type of story with pretty interesting world and mechanics built around it. Some examples of the concepts and ideas that made the story interesting are shinsu,which is a magical substance in the tower, different classes and roles for rankers (people who try to climb up the tower), ruling system and floor-system for example. It's nothing special, but it's a good starting point for a longer story and presents some questions and mysteries along the way. All these aspects makes it a fairly good proloque for a longer story.
Anime does mediocre job at conveying these ideas though. Usually the gist of everything is explained, but the added depth to many trials and central elements and concepts for example are completely left out or altered for the worst most of the time. These helped ToG manhwa to stand out from many of it's competitors in my opinion, but in anime adaptation the experience is left somewhat shallow and generic.
In short story feels like a recap with some altered scenes to those who started reading this many years ago. If you watch it standalone without touching the webtoon you get pretty mediocre experience.
Animation is most of the time pretty good, but nothing special. It has it's own style and it stands out. Fight scenes are animated well and there isn't anything that sticked out to me in a bad way.
Artstyle is way better than in webtoon and it's one of those aspects where anime shines over it's source material. Currently ToG manhwa looks really good and you can see how the author has improved a lot since he started, but if we compare the first season of manhwa to the first season of anime then anime outshines it. Artstyle in anime version has a nice hand-drawn-like twist to it if you ask me and it blends the later style of the manhwa in it quite nicely. This makes it pop out in a good way to me.
Voice actors and actresses all did a good job and the choices were pretty spot-on if you ask me. Everyone did a good job, but like with animation there really wasn't anything outstanding about it.
Opening and ending songs are both really catchy and also one of the things that stood out to me in a good way. However visually they aren't that good. OST was pretty forgettable and there wasn't any track that stood out to me.
All the characters that were left untouched ranged from generic to a good. I honestly can't say that any one of the characters were amazing, but Khun definitely is the most interesting one to follow with a pretty nice background story. His background story wasn't even cut that much, but webtoon adds that nice little punch to it.
All the characters that were changed were pretty unbearable to watch to someone who also simulread the first season. Most blatant example of this is Yuri Zahard. One of the princesess of the series and the person who at the beginning explains everything of importance to our main character. In the webtoon she is a little tsundere-ish type of person, but definitely has her own personality alongside with the tiny tsundere trait. However in the anime she is basically made to be a tsundere character. Some other personality alterations happened in a sense that some trait of the character was took and made it into their defining trait, which was kind of unnecessary and pointless. Why would you suck out the details that make characters unique and somewhat memorable out of them? It didn't benefit the story narrative or enhance the experience. So ultimately it was either to make them more appealing to the general audience, or just for shits and giggles. My bet is on the first option.
Gladly most of the characters were kept untouched and same as they were in the webtoon, but it's still an issue or bad design choice that is noticeable if you read the manhwa.
Tower of God is pretty a mediocre experience, that goes through the first season of the webtoon in a rushed manner leaving some finer, but story- and world enhancing details out and altering a few of it's characters for the worse.
Do I recommend it? If you're absolutely against reading for some weird reason and want to experience it then I guess it's worth looking into. However if you are ok with reading then just go to read webtoon and forget this adaptation. However I would advice lowering expectations before going reading it. The first season of the webtoon is definitely better than the anime, but not 10/10 flawless work of art.