Tower of God Episode 1 & 2: Recap & Review

Bam meeting the Black March in episode 1 of Tower of God.
Bam meeting the Black March

The Black March and the Tower of God

In episode 1, the caretaker of the tower, Headon, explains the rules. For someone who hopes to climb the tower, they must pass a test on each floor. The first test is to reach and break a ball guarded by a giant white steel eel. Bam heads towards the ball unarmed and unprotected. However, he’s stopped by Lady Yuri and her companion Evan. They gift him with a “Pocket” that has vital information about the tower and can translate the tower’s language and the Black March. A powerful sword that is given to Yuri, it can cut through anything. Despite the possibility that she could be executed, Yuri lends Bam the sword anyway. 

The Black March requires the user to ask for its power. The Black March psychically manifests as a blond woman. She asks if Bam “desires the strength to climb the tower.” Bam says he only wants the “strength to find his friend.” Amused, the Black March offers her power because Bam is so “cute.” Yuri questions if the Black March helped Bam “because he’s a man.” The Black March confirms that this is indeed the reason. Bam passes the first test and is transported to the next floor. 

The next test and meeting his teammates

Bam wakes up in a field of grass. A voice explains that the second test is designed to cut down the participants in half. 200 regulars need to be eliminated by the allotted time. Violence and death surround a bewildered Bam as he tries to avoid conflict. Elsewhere, Khun Aguero Agnes and Rak Wraithraiser, take notice of Bam and the Black March. Khun is a highly intelligent and occasionally ruthless young man. He seems to detest anyone that “follows the rules” of the tower too much. Khun finds Bam to be “interesting” because he possesses the Black March. 

Rak is your typical battle obsessed trope. A humanoid alligator (don’t call him an alligator), Rak isn’t one for complex language. He calls his friends and prey, “turtles.” He considers Bam good prey. Rak is likely going to be the primary source of comedy in this series. Eventually, the fighters finally dwindle to 200. The announcer warns the contestants against continuing to fight. Now everyone must group themselves into teams of three. Bam and Khun trick Rak into becoming their third ally. 

Rankers and the Shinsu

We some more worldbuilding in this episode. The Test Administrator, Lero-Ro appears. Khun tells Bam that he a Ranker, someone that managed to climb the tower before. Due to the size of the survivor’s group, another test is required to “cull” the numbers. Lero-Ro uses Shinsu a massive tidal wave that is the source of the Tower’s power. Everyone that fights inside of the tower uses the water. The culling test is simple, each team must pass through the Shinsu wall. If any member of a team fails the entire team does. Khun is certain that Rak could do it, but he is concerned about Bam. However, the initial tidal wave didn’t push Bam back with the rest. Lero-Ro considers this “lucky” and passes Bam. 

As Khun noted, it’s too much of a coincidence that Bam mysteriously avoided the Shinsui wave. Lero-Ro is up to something. While the others try to pass the dense water wall, Lero-Ro bets with Bam. If one chooses the first person to get through correctly, they get to ask any question they want. They both choose “the green girl.” She easily walks through the Shinsui. Lero-Ro offers to answer any of Bam’s question since there was a tie. He asks about Rachel of course. Lero-Ro answers that he hasn’t seen her. Bam then asks about “Irregular’s.” Lero-Ro explains that an Irregular “does not follow the rules of the Tower.” He describes the layout of the Tower’s three sections. There’s the residential Outer Tower, the Inner Tower (their current location), and the Middle Area that connects the two. 

What’s wrong with Khun?

Bam realizes that this means everyone was born and raised in the Outer Tower. He assumes that he and Rachel are the only exceptions. I think it’s more likely that they both are from the Outer Tower. Irregulars aren’t chosen by Headon to enter the inner Tower and are considered stronger than average. Regardless, the other contestants struggle to get past the Shinsui. The Sniper becomes consumed with jealousy, as Bam never had to take the test. He shouts that he is stronger than Bam and Lero-Ro. We get to see what else Shinsui can do. Lero-Ro tells the sniper that Shinsui is “unlimited” and it can “make a person immortal if they can withstand its power.” He traps the sniper in Shinsui and he goes mad. According to Lero-Ro on the 30th floor and higher participants must endure this level of Shinsui. The Sniper collapses in despair. Meanwhile, Rak and Khun easily pass through the Shinsui. Lero-Ro leaves Bam with a warning, don’t get too close to Khun. 

So far Khun is the most complex of the three primary characters so far. While Bam’s backstory is interesting specifically why is he has no memory, his personality is simple. Rak obviously has a backstory but the story hasn’t hinted at it yet. Can Khun be trusted? I’m not sure. However, he may have bad motivations now but Bam’s innocence could change that. Were are in the worldbuilding phase of the series and I’m the most interested in the culture of Outer Tower. Finally, clearly something is up with the administrators because there’s no way Bam just “happened” to avoid the Shinsui. Tower of God has become more fascinating than the first episode suggested.

Is Tower of God Good?


Is Tower of God Good?

Headon and Bam at the first test of the tower, in episode 1 of Tower of God.
Headon and Bam at the first test of the tower

Tower of God is a South Korean web manhwa written and drawn by Lee Jong-hui. Lee goes by the pen name S.I.U. (“Slave In Utero”). As of February 2020, Tower of God has been viewed over 4 billion times worldwide. Serialized by Naver Webtoon since June 30, 2010, the series has produced over 400 chapters. On April 1st, 2020, the Tower of God anime adaptation was released (episode 4 was the most current). The story centers around Twenty-Fifth Bam. Trapped with his friend Rachel underneath the mysterious Tower, he follows her into the Tower. Bam encounters challenges on each floor of the Tower as he searches for Rachel. 

Generally, I only read Japanese manga and American comics so I can’t comment on too much on manhwa. For those who may not know, manhwa is the Korean term for comics, it was popularized back in the 1920s. Manhwa was influenced by manga. Manhwa artists and writers are called manhwaga. With the digital manhwa gaining popularity, webtoons have increased in popularity. Webtoons originated in South Korea, each episode is published in one long vertical strip, they are mostly in color, and may feature music or animation. 

Is Tower of God Good though?

Based on reading only two chapters 475 and 476, I’m not sure. First I don’t like the art style, I’ve seen worst but it’s not very impressive to me. The coloring isn’t great and I don’t like the vertical panels. Since manhwa separates them it makes each panel feel disjointed. It’s really hard to follow the action that way. Admittedly, I’m an art and animation snob. However, the art style doesn’t mean the story is poor. This is where I the most ignorant. Glancing at two random chapters does nothing to tell me about the quality of the story. 

As I mentioned the anime adaptation of Tower of God was released at the beginning of this month, having released 4 episodes. When I first watched episode 1, I was underwhelmed. I didn’t think anything was bad, just mediocre. While on twitter I saw some animation from the fourth episode and thought I should rewatch the series. I’m glad I did. Tower of God gets better after the first episode. It doesn’t recreate the mold, at least not yet, but is interesting regardless. So far Bam, the main character, isn’t all that interesting, Rak is the typical mindless fighter type. Khun, on the other hand, is more complex. 

Should I watch the Tower of God anime?

I would highly recommend the anime over the manhwa. The animation style might take some getting used to but it’s consistent and fluid. I like the character designs and the action is good. The worldbuilding so far is intriguing. What are the 13 Month Series? What was the betrayal that caused Khun to be abandoned by his family? Why does Bam have no memory? Is Rachel as terrible as she seems? Right now I can only say the Tower of God is good, with the potential to be great.