Title: The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 1 Apr 2008 – 20 Jun 2008
Synopsis: Sixty years ago, King Gilgamesh climbed the Tower of Druaga and slew the evil monster Druaga to restore peace to the land. Though an incarnation of Druaga has taken residence in the top floor of the Tower, many adventurers known as “climbers” still venture through its halls in search of hidden treasures and fame. Among these individuals is a young swordsman named Jil who aspires to reach the top floor in search of the legendary item, the Blue Crystal Rod.
Comedy: Self-aware and usually effective.
Story: Meanders on a “floor of the week” formula until the final few episodes.
Animation: Solid 2D.
Ending: Takes a leaf out of Sunrise‘s book of cliffhangers.
Imagine a world where the standard fantasy RPG setting is reality… where going out, forming parties, killing monsters and collecting treasures is serious business. Then imagine the original creator of the quirky Full Metal Panic!(1,2) joining forces with Gonzo to bring this world to life. The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk is essentially a fusion of a comedy and a run of the mill fantasy RPG video game from back when animated sprites were the modus operandi.
Remember a time when every other 16 bit RPG had unforgettable characters set in an unforgettable story? No? Then welcome to the general mediocrity that Tower of Druaga plays in. The story follows the clichéd adventures of Jil and friends as they go through the various levels of the tower, meeting new friends, killing new enemies, and traversing new terrains. The audience gets a good amount of exposure to the quirks of the characters, but the show refuses to develop them in any meaningful way. Though the anime keeps each episode varied enough that nothing feels overly redundant, don’t expect anything memorable from the drama, save the final episodes.
What makes Druaga watchable instead of another Gonzo failure is the comedy. Though only a small handful of episodes are devoted to random slapstick antics, these are small, entertaining gems of hilarity. These jokes are fresh, energetic, and they are shot out quickly enough that the unfunny gags quickly get buried. Some of the more memorable gags include gender-bending from the female perspective, a segment where everyone turns into animated sprites, and tentacles.
I won’t say this often, but The Tower of Druaga is one of the few shows that could have benefited from less story and more attempts to be funny. The drama isn’t horrible, especially considering the mildly compelling finale, but the stars of atmosphere, interesting characterization and a strong script never align in this show. Overall, this is a competent anime; though it wades through trope after trope, there are enough saplings of fun to offset any truly painful anti-Gonzo venom.
The Rating: 5
Reviewed by: Shadowmage