Released in 2008 by legendary studio Gonzo, The Tower of Druaga is based on a highly successful series of video games that date all the back to the height of the arcade era, 1984, making it something of a legacy production. It’s also, in my opinion, one of the greatest fantasy animes ever made.
I say that, in part, because of the massive amount of world building that was done, and how quickly and cleanly they pulled it off. Most of the show focuses on a party of adventurers, known in this world as ‘climbers’, as they attempt to reach the top of the tower the show revolves around. Everything you need to know to get into the show is done in a way that never drags the story down, or eats up too much time, while still giving you all the info you need to get what is happening.
On top of that, the series is frequently very comedic, holding as many laughs as it does moments of intensity, and yes, heartbreak. It is an anime after all, and a fantasy series. Those moments are what make the show truly special, too.
If you’ve never seen it, The Tower of Druaga revolves around a young man named Jil, who dreams of being the greatest climber in history, the one who conquers the top level, gaining fame, admiration, wealth and glory. The only problem is that he’s not just a total idiot, but pretty much useless in a fight, as well. So much so, his older brother’s party refuses to drag him along with them again.
Everything changes when Jil meets the oracle Kaaya, and the two form their own party, determined to reach the top. Though he can never imagine the sacrifices he must make, the losses he will endure, or the cruel twist of fate that awaits him atop the tower, Jil dives head long into adventure.
One of the things I love about the opening credit sequence is how it pays homage to the story’s origin in video games by blending elements of the world of Druaga with elements of the real world. It’s clever, and a nice touch that shows respect some for the source material.
Another thing I love, is that this isn’t the only opening credit sequence of the show. There’s actually two, or possibly four, depending on how they mix and match certain things. In other words, it gives you little easter eggs for not skipping the opening sequence, and in the latter half of the first season, you’ll definitely want to, as the story gets pretty intense by that point.
The opening also gives some respect to some of the shows, and the fantasy genre in general, silliest and best elements with the happy, ear worm worthy song, titled “Swinging”, from Muramasa. There’s just something about it that makes you catch yourself humming it out of nowhere weeks and sometimes, years later.
Part of what I love about it is that it reminds me that some of the best, most memorable moments in fantasy, are the fun things. The silly moments, the happy moments, the just plain facepalming absurd moments. It’s something that just plain warms my heart.
Oh, and if you were wondering, it’s totally a theme they carried over into the second season, this time using the song “Questions?” by Yu Nakamura. Check it out below, and hey, a two for one this week!