Posted by psgels on 21 June 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


Fantasy Game adaptations have always been a rather notorious genre, due to the huge amount of lazy productions. These series seem to think that “fantasy” means “lack of realism”, and where the end result is almost always an uninspired story about a young swordsman travelling from A to B, saving the world and getting the girl. There are two animation-companies who have managed to break this tradition: Bee-train and Gonzo. Even though .Hack//Roots and .Hack//Dusk were rather questionable, Bee-train did produce .Hack//Sign, which looked more at the philosophy-part of gaming, and the charming adventure story Popolocrois. Then Gonzo came and delivered the hilarious MMORPG-parody Master of Epic, and with Druaga no Tou (or the Tower of Druaga) they did it again.

Druaga no Tou is based on an arcade-game from the eighties. It follows a band of questionable heroes as they try to climb a tower to save the world, but that’s where the generic stuff ends. Finally there’s another series that’s put a bit of thought into its setting, and a lot of ideas went into it to keep things interesting. I especially liked the magician who fights with golf-clubs.

The real charm of this series, however, is that it knows exactly how much it should take itself seriously. It’s not entirely silly, because you can never get a good story out of it, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously at times, which helps swallow the fact that this remains a story about a young inexperienced male on his first adventure. There are a few hilarious episode that successfully parody and homage a number of classic games, but there are enough episodes that focus on the more realistic side of the setting, and Jil (the male lead) is constantly reminded that he’s just an inexperienced attention-seeker, both by the other characters and by the story itself.

When compared to other similar series, Druaga no Tou did a pretty good job, but the fact remains that it’s a miracle that the main party survived, considering that they all were just inexperienced, especially considering the huge amount of people who failed to do the things that they did.

Gonzo had been quite pathetic ever since Bokura no ended, with their only contributions to the past Autumn and Winter season being the crappy Dragonaut and Rosario to Vampire. Special A also went nowhere, and Blassreiter still misses something because it keeps focusing too much on emo, but Druaga no Tou really delivered once it caught steam. I’m glad to see that 2009 will see a second season, because there’s enough left for this series to play with, and with a bit of luck the characters will really warm up and develop significantly there.

5 Responses

  1. BlueYoshi says:

    I’m really really REALLY hoping that the second season develops the characters some more and answers the questions that these 12 episodes have still left. I really enjoyed this anime, but it did have its share of flaws for me.

  2. Wyrdwad says:

    Honestly, I actually think fantasy game adaption anime tend to turn out pretty well. In addition to Druaga, PopoloCrois, .hack // SIGN, and Master of Epic, some other shows of note include:

    – Mahoujin Guruguru (which did actually start out as an RPG from Enix, and I have yet to meet anyone who’s seen it and HASN’T loved it!)

    – Ys (a lot of people dislike it, and it admittedly has pretty low production values, but it’s really written quite well, and has very good character development, especially in the Ys II arc!)

    – Wild ARMs (another one people tend to dislike, but I’ll stand in defense of it anytime, as it was extremely charming and fun!)

    – Tales of Eternia (haven’t seen it personally, but everyone I know who has says it’s extremely good!)

    – Final Fantasy (not Unlimited, but the original… oft maligned, and rather ugly, but when it comes down to it, it’s highly amusing, and lots of fun to watch!)

    And shows that go against the mold, and turn out pretty crappy? Shining Tears Xwind is the only one I can really think of off-hand that’s generally maligned.

    It’s a good genre overall. Many more successes than failures IMHO.

    -Tom

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Wyrdwad: just be glad that you didn’t watch Star Ocean Ex, Ragnarok the Animation, Blue Dragon, Maple Story, Night Wizard, Wizardry or Utawarerumono, and thank you for reminding me that there are still enough good series in the genre that I’ve yet to check out. :)

  4. Autonomous Monster says:

    One thing that really impressed me about this series was Neeba’s characterisation. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a series where a character was simulataneously so developed whilst being so unlikeable (well, okay, there was Akio in Utena). Hell, he got less likeable over time, which is impressive.

    And it wasn’t your standard brimstone and baby-eating villain characterisation, either. There’s no attempt to foist it off on some childhood trauma. It’s just… very well done.

  5. He says:

    Actually i thought that Utawarerumono was a great series but all others probably apply

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  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 05:37 AM)
    True, assuming of course that the latter installment is indeed better. Resident evil 5 was no 4. That’s for sure.
    I liked that you could time R1 to give you more damage for attacking with Quall. And it was nice that summons leveled up. So that your earlier summons don’t become completely useless in the endgame.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 03:46 AM)
    I also enjoyed FF8 quite a lot. I appreciate cinematic presentations and 8 delivered that with a lot of style. The visuals were amazing and the the music was great, and if you learned the GF BOOST ability you used the much-maligned long summon animations to stack up on some damage.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 03:42 AM)
    @Aidan: I used a common example, but of course everyone had a different experience with the FF series, but the point being that it’s often hard to go back to earlier titles after playing the better later installments; especially for DS which is just a modified and improved DeS.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 01:28 AM)
    Anyway the main reason I amnot wanting to linger on Demon souls is just that I have far more games to play and don’t really want to spend my entire vacation on it. I got the uncharted’s to get though after all.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 01:26 AM)
    Kafka was a good villain but everyone really has over-hyped him. FF7 is overrated but FF6 is put on too high a pedestal. Like FF9.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 01:26 AM)
    @Bam, bad comparison for me. FF7 may be overrated as all hell but it still is to me the best Final fantasy. I played ff6 and found it downright tedious. I had more fun playing FF8 and everyone seems to think that’s the worst one…though I don’t. I barely remember any of the story of FF6 and I just found it a slog to get though. Mostly finished it out of obligation.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 10:57 PM)
    It’s always a little bit underwhelming when you play an earlier game of an improving series before the later ones. It’s like playing FF6 as kid as your first FF game and then going and finding FFV and playing that while hoping it’s as good as 6.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 10:52 PM)
    The levels are simple and rather small and linear, but each world has a great and unique atmosphere and variety. The Tower of Latria is specially atmospheric and the game suddenly takes on a much darker and almost horror game feel to it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Aidan: yeah I could see how somebody would just want to run thru the game once, but there are a lot of cool weapons, armor and story quests that you can do with tendencies. The PVP is fun and simple as well, and weirdly has much better collision detection than DSI&II.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 02:49 PM)
    I wasn’t keen on the levels though. There were not quite as visually interesting as dark souls environments.

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