the tower of druaga ~the aegis of uruk~ 1

Normally, I don’t make it a point to blog Gonzo series, but as with all things in life, there are exceptions and loopholes. The Tower of Druaga ~The Aegis of Uruk~ falls into (or is it through?) a few of those.


The big promising thing about The Tower of Druaga ~The Aegis of Uruk~ (yet another ridiculous name) is simply one name: Shoji Gatoh. He’s the genius behind the Full Metal Panic franchise and even penned an Haruhi episode (along with Lucky Star). The second is Koichi Chigira, the director behind three of Gonzo’s more palatable series: Full Metal Panic, Gate Keepers, and Last Exile. Needless to say, if there’s ever a chance of Gonzo rising up from generic trash like Dragonaut, messed up trash like Red Garden, or desecrated trash like Romeo + Juliet Samurai 7.

The first episode shows the potential of the series by not showing the potential of the series at all. The best I can explain it is remember this scene as well as this post? I had no idea what I was stepping into, and I quadruple-checked my TV to make sure it was playing the right anime. Wait, why is there a bunny girl holding an AK-47 with footage that looks like it was shot with a 1995 Sony Handicam? But it did it’s job brilliantly in introducing a series by going the roundabout way of introducing it. I feel this episode of Tower of Druaga tries to do that, to a lesser extent. (I could swear that whomever wrote the script to this series must be a Haruhi fan– oh wait, he is!) There’s a lot of slapstick, a lot of nonsense, a lot of WTF, and one big “A-ha! I see he’s auditioning to write Gundam 00 ~Setsuna of the Rebellion~ Zwei” epitome.

We’re rather shoddily introduced to the main protagonist, Jil, and his merry party through Jil’s twisted lens, which is neither no more or no less broken than Haruhi’s, as they traverse through the namesake of the series, the Tower of Druaga. Unlike Haruhi where we do have a firm grasp of the source material, this series is more of a blank slate. It borrows elements and names from the original 1984 (1984! How many of my readers were even alive back then, let alone coherent?) arcade game. Needless to say, a lot will be riding on Gatoh’s scriptwriting. The funny thing is that while the anime feels like an RPG gone horribly wrong, the original game was a maze puzzler and not an RPG.

Save Points

High Def Raw
Crunchyroll High Quality
Crunchyroll iPod

Hey, someone in the anime industry is wising up, and, gasp, it’s Gonzo! I’ve advocated before the instant digital distribution method, and someone actually is trying it out. I’m liking Gonzo’s approach to The Tower of Druaga (and Blassreiter) where subs are available immediately upon airing through sites like Crunchyroll and Google Video for a “pay as much or as little as you like” pricing scheme. I think there’s a few kinks that still need to be worked out, but it’s a fantastic effort by Gonzo to do something more productive than suing their fans.

I purchased the first few episodes to Tower of Druaga (happily) and Blassreiter (regrettably) through Crunchyroll, and the service works fairly smoothly. The subtitles are accurate, the quality is passable, and it’s fast. Downloading direct off of Crunchyroll’s servers maxed out my connection. Better yet, the low quality (relatively, still higher quality than YouTube) Flash stream is free. I’m happy with how this service turned out.

Now, some kinks that I think they need to work out: the downloadable files are only available as Xvid avi files, and I always prefer soft subs (makes blogging so much easier). The quality is DVD grade, but for a file almost 100mb larger than a random HQ raw I downloaded, the blocking and quality is worse. They really should have provided a h264 / mkv / real high def option. Also, the iPod mp4 version that is provided needs to have the subtitle size adjusted a bit. A bit too small for my tastes, and it’s optimized for the classic iPods rather than an iPhone or Touch. Also, they need to work in episode numbers for the files. Minor complaint, but goddamn it, that’s not a “nice to have,” that’s almost a “must” in my book. After I downloaded the first three episodes, I was like, “WTF, which one to watch first?” I shouldn’t have to waste brainpower on this triviality. Finally, they need to add in translations for the songs.

(The irony is that method“>my last post that blasts the anime industry for not adopting instant digital distribution features an article that has Gonzo’s chief steaming at anime fansubbers. But, if anything, one big thing Gonzo’s presentation of Tower of Druaga has done, as I predicted, is kill off fansubs for the series. No legit group will work on it, and, if you’re the anime industry, I think this is the only way to go. Go after the big fish, and cede the small fish that you don’t have the resources to work on *cough* Ookiku *cough* to the fansubbers. As I also predicted, there will always be people who are cheapskates and won’t buy a product no matter what, but I think it’s a bad business practice to go after these people rather than those who are willing to buy a legit product.)


My first hint that the episode wasn’t normal fare: when Jil “defeated” “twenty” bad guys by just blocking with his shield. Whether WoW or FFXI, shield bashes just don’t do a lot of damage. That should be a clue. Second, there’s a lot more than just “twenty” bad guys there.


Ouch. Pobrecita gets dumped. I do like how Jil and friends are on this quest for 10 years, yet they don’t look like they have aged a day. Plus, they’re in the middle of some heinously dark tower without carrying any food supplies. I know, I know, trying to rationalize a Gonzo series is like trying to rationalize a Sunrise series.


The animation quality is very good, which makes it average for the new season. I haven’t even watched a quarter of the new shows for this season, and most of them are already blowing away old benchmarks for animation quality (Code Geass, wudathunkit?).


A nice Zaku moment. The Dark Knight… err… Black Knight is one of the obstacles in the original 1984 game. But, more importantly, I’m not sure if I should file him under a potential ally for Lulu and Kallen or file the “I’m getting married after I return to my homeland” as a doombitch phrase.


A nice Eva unit 1 moment. I hope that Jil doesn’t (a) assume the fetal position and cry (2) doesn’t pleasure himself over Fatima’s dead body (III) have an OH GEASS NO moment with Utu and/or Neeba.


A nice Shaft-like moment where I wondered, “Wait, there’s 4 knights, and Crimson is already taken.” Maybe this is Gatoh’s secret plan to audition for the lead scriptwriter for Pani Poni Dash season 2. I laughed.


A nice Epic Movie crossed with Gurran Lagann moment. “The souls of my allies are etched in this sword!”


A nice Horie Yui moment. Honestly took less than 5 words for me to realize, “Hey, it’s Horie Yui!”

(Andohbytheway, has she recovered from that sex scandal yet?)


A nice boat moment. Sorry, couldn’t resist.


Like the OP, Swinging by Murasmasa. I like the juxtaposition of the modern day with the fantasy as well as the R.O.D-ish way the credits appear in the background.


“I don’t want to fight you, but if you absolutely must fight me, then you must defeat me!”

Wow. Impervious logic is impervious logic.


I think best case Tower of Druaga turns into a fun romp, like Slayers, or even a more serious adventure like Scrapped Princess. Worst case, it’s the next Prism Ark or Star Ocean EX. With Gonzo, you just don’t know.

(Silver lining has to be if Gonzo screws up, there’s definitely some odds that the sequel can go to Kyoto.)

19 Responses to “the tower of druaga ~the aegis of uruk~ 1”

  1. 1st! =p

    And don’t forget about the alternate episode that aired along with “this version” of Episode 1. The alternate version explains a lot about his “glory”.

  2. Point of information for everyone’s reference. Many are assuming this animation is based on the 1984 NES game of the same title. This is a very very very wrong assumption. In Japan, there’s an extremely popular re-make of the NES version that plays exactly like an MMORPG called Druaga Online: Story of Anon, released in 2006. This is an Online RPG, however it’s played only in the arcades. Has the graphics one might expect out of a nice Japanese PS2 RPG.

    The animation is based both on this arcade MMORPG and similar to the .Hack franchise, is part of a larger project–The release of a PC MMORPG Known as Tower of Druaga: Recovery of Babylim.(Website is in Japanese) Coincidentally said PC MMO is being produced by Gonzo Rosso, the same company that brought us Masters of Epic, and as one would guess from their name, has close ties to Gonzo, thus why Gonzo gets the anime–to promote the PC game that released last year.

    So while Druaga is a shameless self-promotion, it does include bits and pieces from the Tower series throughout the ages which has had work done by several game companies.

    Anyways, that’s why it feels like an RPG. It’s an MMORPG turned anime. Similar to the Masters of Epic Anime, I expect things to go wrong, as it’s a game adaptation, and those rarely work well for MMOs. However, they do seem to be lumping a nice budget into the series, so I hope I’m proven wrong. It hasn’t disappointed me yet.

  3. Ah thats very nice. I love this idea. I’ll watch an eps and if I decide to keep watching it I’ll drop something at Crunchroll.
    btw… it helps if you give a link to where we can get the series.

  4. You HAS to insert a Nice Boat, don’t you?

  5. I’m confused. Isn’t Crunchyroll just monetizing from free fansubs? They seem to have a deal with Gonzo this time but everything else on Crunchyroll seems to be fansub rip-offs. So if you’re paying them you’re not supporting the anime studios but only Crunchyroll. So it’s really nothing but online (disc-less) piracy. Yeah, “piracy” not “file-sharing”. That Gonzo cooperates with commercial pirates leaves me somewhat dumbfounded.

  6. Blassreiter kinda sucks IMO, but I instantly liked Druaga after watching the parody version and the alternate version. Been paying for the series ever since happily as well :D It’s probably one of the better shows this season.

    But I’ve been wondering about this – does any of the money paid to Crunchyroll goes to Gonzo? It’s understandable if they split it between the 2, but it would kinda suck if CR is keeping everything. One of the major reason I’m paying to download the HQ version is to support Gonzo’s effort.

  7. Hilarious first episode, and even the stereotype-filled second episode was well executed and brought back fond memories of my early Dungeons and Dragons playing days. Assuming Gonzo gets a cut of the donations, I paid for the download, with a bonus amount to reward them for their good idea. The legit and timely delivery people have always wanted is here, and the show at the head of the revolution isn’t bad at all.

  8. Episode 1 is a parody and NOT a indication of the series tone.

    It goes into serious mode in episode 2, even if it ended on somewhat of a cliché at the end of episode 2 we had it vanishing on episode 3.

  9. #jason,

    no comments on the :I am your father” or the InnKeeper?

  10. The money paid to Google Video, BOST, and CR goes to Gonzo, after each of their respective fees. If you haven’t noticed lately, CR has been removing series left and right for licensing, and I think that’s a provision of this deal with Gonzo. I chose to go with CR just because they have the easiest payment procedure, so I don’t know if the other guys offer softsubs or whatnot. Still, I think it’s a win-win for fans as even if you don’t want to pay, there’s still a really good quality version for free streaming.

  11. No, CR started to remove at least 2 seasons ago … I remember when that happened, I still lucked out and got to watch E7 before the pull.

    Now the moment its licensed, CR removes it …

  12. Druaga is the best show this season, easily.

    >>Point of information for everyone’s reference. Many are assuming this animation is based on the 1984 NES game of the same title.

    Judging by Episode 3, it’s actually a sequel to said 1984 NES game.

  13. I’ve been using BOST’s service, but probably won’t continue past using up the points I have left, which is like for 3 more episodes. The quality of the streams have been very nice with the softsubs of course. Even watching at full screen (only 1024×768 for me) didn’t seem to visually impact the quality too much. Though the price tag on each episode is a fixed $1.99. Sort of got suckered in through a misunderstanding in their policies, which involved free DRM-free downloads. It was downloads designed for PSP and iPod, “Playable on PC”, not “and” downloads for PC, which caught me.

    And don’t remind me of the Star Ocean anime…..I literally tried to watch that series twice. I mean tried as in I literally fell asleep less than half way through the first episode both times. So, as much as I liked the game and wanted to like the anime, it didn’t give me a chance.

  14. Actually, the Black Knight is more of a Gyan than a Zaku in terms of aesthetics… By the way Jason, did you try watching the ‘alternate’/omote version of Episode 01?

  15. >> By the way Jason, did you try watching the ‘alternate’/omote version of Episode 01?

    There’s an alternate 01? I don’t see it on CR.

  16. Dammit, Jason!

    You could’ve at least mentioned *this* when referring to “doombitch phrases.”

    It, and other phrases like it, have been signals for “incoming manufactured tragic death” for a long time now.

    And I heard about the alternate 01, which I couldn’t find on the Youtube when I’d heard of it, which basically centers around the *real* entourage. That, you know, you see in the ED.

  17. The alternate version was streamed on GyaO, a video-on-demand site associated with Gonzo. It was pirated on NicoNico for a short time before they pulled it. They will probably include it as a bonus on DVD 1.
    The “ura” episode showed what happened to Jil’s group while they were carrying him unconscious after he was knocked out. It had also an earlier introduction of the other characters (Kaya, the redhead, the golfing mage and his caddy). The funny thing is that the lines Jil muttered in his sleep matched perfectly the lines he was saying in the “omote” version at the same time.

  18. That really made me laught when he included a “slime” (see dragon quest for those who do not have such knowledge) in the friends (nakama) he was fighting for. XD

  19. Theres 2 Types of ep 1 Existed!!!! So far i see no English sub has subbed it!! But…Chinese Sub have Both Version subbed and i seen both of them!!

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