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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar He says:

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

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