Japanese anime and manga, far from being a uniquely Japanese phenomenon, have grown beyond national borders and into an international movement. While this can easily be grasped in the case of anime from a Western perspective, in South East Asia, nothing proves this better than the emergence of South Korean manhwa and webtoons. That world is, however, set to enlarge as the legendary manhwa Tower of God and Noblesse will be getting anime adaptations.
The news was announced on August 2 at Seoul Comic-Con during a panel concerning the ‘Creation of a South Korean webtoon IP’ and initially broke by anime content creator YonkouProductions. A more concrete source, however, comes from Korean technology and media site Bloter.
Now, I must admit that I know next to no Korean. But I was able to glean some key information through selective computer translation that confirms most of what was initially shared. Alongside a more general discussion on how South Korean webtoons could become ‘the next Marvel,’ the article does indeed confirm that Tower of God and Noblesse will be getting anime adaptations. That being said, I wasn’t able to confirm that these adaptations would be done by Japanese studios.
It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if this turned out to be the case, however. The Japanese animation industry is more developed than the Korean one, and being produced by a Japanese studio would boost the production’s profile quite a bit – which would be especially useful if the producers want South Korean webtoons such as Tower of God and Noblesse to become ‘the next Marvel.’
Tower of God and Noblesse are certainly good choices with this goal in mind, as these two South Korean manwha published online as ‘webtoons’ are some of the most popular to come out of the industry.
For those not in the know, manhwa are basically just Korean comics. They’ve been heavily influenced by Japanese manga throughout their development, which you can see in the name. That being said, manhwa do maintain several key differences from manga – language aside, they’re most notably intended to be read vertically. Key figures such as Boichi have influenced the landscape of Japanese manga, in turn.
Manwha also made the jump to digital much more decisively than manga in the 2000s, which lead to a boom in ‘webtoons’ – manhwa that are published exclusively online, usually through paid subscription services.
Tower of God and Noblesse were, in fact, two of the key properties behind the webtoon boom due to their unique, engaging stories and art styles. Tower of God began in 2010 by Lee Jong-hui, better known as SIU, and follows the ongoing story of Twenty-Fifth Bam as he fights his way through the mysterious ‘Tower.’
Noblesse, on the other hand, was written by Son Jeho and illustrated by Lee Kwangsu, and follows the story of Rai, a powerful noble who wakes up in modern-day Korea after an 800-year slumber and must uncover the secrets of his past.
Both of these stories are definitely worthy of an anime adaptation, but I’m particularly excited to see how the crazy battles of Tower of God look in motion. More importantly, however, the fact that SIU’s manwha along with Noblesse are getting anime adaptations speaks volumes to the growing importance of the South Korean comics industry, as well as the internationalization of the anime and manga aesthetic.