Tokyo Ghoul – 04

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As anime episodes go, that one was quite the slap in the face.

It’s not like the first three episodes of Tokyo Ghoul were low-key and discreet, but the insanity was sure cranked up in a big way this week.  It was brought off with a lot of style by director Morita-sensei and a seiyuu performance for the books by Miyano Mamoru, but I’m not quite sure I like this over-the-top freakshow version of Tokyo Ghoul as much as the more sinister and reflective one we saw precede it.  Then again I’m not completely sure I don’t, either – we’ll see if it digests better than karaage in a ghoul’s stomach.

Without a doubt the driving force of events here is the Gourmet, Tsukiyama Shuu.  It was pretty obvious from the moment he walked onto the scene last week (before, in fact) that this ghoul was big trouble, both for Kaneki Ken-kun and for the 20th Ward.  It’s a bit irritating how easily Ken is seduced by Tsukiyama’s sweet talk about books and loneliness – especially given that he was snowed exactly the same way by Rize.  One might also argue, however, that Yoshimura and Touka should have done a better job making sure he was fully aware of just how dangerous the Gourmet really is.  Touka did say so, but she’s normally so hostile to begin with and the mention so brief that it’s not surprising Ken didn’t really register it.

In fact, it’s Yomo (Nakamura Yuuichi, with a lot of Grizzly-san in his performance) who takes the most hands-on approach in trying to continue Ken’s education, in his own tough-love sort of way.  That means teaching him how to fight (he certainly knows how to dodge) and taking him to meet Itori (Takagaki Ayahi) who runs a Ghoul bar called Helter Skelter.  This is a nicely atmospheric scene, but it most importantly seems a pretext to introduce the concept of human-ghoul hybrids into the story – a subject which Itori seems quite knowledgeable about even as she dismisses such one-eyed “super-ghouls” as urban myth.  They’re not, of course – I don’t think we have a story otherwise, and it seems a safe bet now more than ever that all of the events on the night Ken’s life changed forever were planned.

For the most part this ep is a showcase for the Gourmet, and he’s Miyano-san at his most (v)amped.  He really pulls out all the stops here – peppering his speech with French, English and German, orgiastically responding to the smell of Ken’s blood on a handkerchief (apparently shards of ceramic are able to cut his skin while a knife is not) and generally throwing everything he has at making Tsukiyama a ridiculous yet simultaneously menacing figure.  I’m pretty sure no one else could have played the character the way Miyano does, and if it’s not subtle it certainly makes one hell of an impact.

Tsukiyama’s aim all along (though he denies it later) is to lure Ken to his gourmet club, where he and his Epicurean friends can enjoy the rare feast of a half-ghoul.  And Ken is, as mentioned, an easy mark – soon enough he’s involved in a grandiose and perverted spectacle that frankly feels a bit out of place with what we’ve seen from Tokyo Ghoul before it.  It’s sort of a cross between Fight Club, Anne Rice and a Venetian masquerade ball, complete with twisted ghoul guests like Madam A (Asano Mayumi) and her “scrapper” Taro-chan (Taketora).  He may be the most grotesque thing in the episode, a barely literate mass of flesh in leather bondage gear whose job it is to slice up the main course for the ghoul feast.  Ken has at this point been drugged (it was in the coffee) but his survival instinct does kick in when his life is on the line.

Was the Gourmet’s plan from the start to put Ken into this situation and force his Kagune to reveal itself, or did he genuinely intend to feast on this rare delicacy and impress his like-minded friends in the process?  I’m not 100% convinced either way, but when Ken’s true one-eyed nature (that seems to be the key sign everyone is looking for, as referenced by Itori) reveals itself, it’s the Gourmet who steps into the pit and slices Taro-chan in half as the menu substitution.  However this started in his mind it seems Tsukiyama’s mindset now is that he’ll feast on Ken alone, this meat being too precious to share with anyone else.

I think in lesser hands an episode like this one could certainly have come off as ridiculous and not much else, but because of the quality of the writing, direction and performance by Miyano this was stylish and grotesque in a good way.  This side of the ghoul world is clearly an important part of Tokyo Ghoul’s mosaic, but I do hope this kind of ep is the exception rather than the rule because I think the burnout factor would kick in pretty quickly if it becomes the norm.  As a change of pace is works a treat though, because the more I see of the strange and exhaustively detailed alternative world this series has created, the more I want to learn about it.

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  1. t

    quite a slap in the face, indeed.

    Tokyo Ghoul anime looks good and sounds good. VA are also into the characters pretty good and there is an interesting story consist of several layers here. and it's good.
    the only problem is the form of the adaptation. and I am sorry to say it and maybe sound look a broken record here…I just wish they'd done things more accurately. now look, I have no problem with slight modifications or a bit change of events. it happened in the first 3 eps and I didn't care too much because the anime still felt right and control the pace. but this is…way too much. sure, you can cut some small details here and there, but by doing so more and more it accumulates and has an effect like snowball: changing order of events and the events themselves..this has become troublesome. I felt this episode's pace wasn't right.
    a similar case happened with Inari Konkon as more and more details were cut off. some are OK to miss. but when you do so too much, you lose control of the pace, you also lose something of the story.. how subtle the story goes. and I assure you, the manga dictates the pace gradually, making the story really interesting.

    I am not gonna spoil anything, I'll just say they skip some events, change quite a bunch of details and even events during this one. lots of info that makes the story interesting, arrange the pace and makes the characters' development, just cut off. some of it will sure comeback in one way or another, but it won't change my disappointment.
    don't get me wrong, I am still enjoying Tokyo Ghoul, I stated this above. but being familiar with the material, makes it tough for me (you said that yourself in you last Barakamon cover).

  2. G

    That's the problem with being a source material reader. I'm only watching the anime and the series seems fine to me.

  3. t

    yeah I know.
    it's kinda a double edge sword. on the one hand, being familiar with the material is one's problem if the anime is doing well. on the other hand, if everyone repeats how original is so good and all, maybe they know what they are talking about…
    there is a lot of room for discussion about that. but for now, as for Tokyo Ghoul, I think first 3 eps weren't bad despite some changes, and I understand that sometimes anime medium should make changes. yet, I still think, regardless if one is familiar with the source or not, something was a bit off in this episode.

    I am not here to say "anime is sucks go read the material", because I think the anime is doing well in the other levels and is still worthy despite the changes that happen this time (because it's not like I "search" for every little change), and I just point out something that went a bit wrong/far this episode IMHO. it's not like the series is doomed or something.

  4. Z

    Is it absolutely fantastic material to start off with though? I only say this since I hear people say "go read the manga it's way better!" a lot, only to find out that said manga/source is only marginally better anyway.

  5. s

    Ive also had such an experience and I think that it comes down to the expectations people have regarding how they personally feel they wanted something that they enjoyed reading adapted onscreen. Yes, at times, the source material is only marginally better but a lot of people dont tend to see it that way because of the differences within mediums. With manga and novels, the reader can let their imagination run wild in regards to what they are reading, which tends to create a blinding effect when assessing the merits of an adaptation versus the source material. Then there's the group of people that just like to nitpick every single detail, which tends to result in them insisting that the adaptation is not up to snuff when that may not be the case. But to answer the question, is the source material of higher quality than this adaptation?…No, it's a matter of apples and oranges. I personally thought the anime was handling the material better until this ep, but im not ready to say make that my final statement just yet until I see future eps. All i know is that you didnt have to be a manga reader to feel something slightly off….not that this ep was bad., its just the weakest one so far for narrative reasons.

  6. s

    Ive loved ever decision Morita and the team have made with the production so far but this is the first time i was scratching my head a bit as to the choices made regarding the adaptation. Time will tell if this was the right decision (I can see reasons why the choice was made to progress the adaptation like this in this ep) but this was the first time that I felt like the quality Tokyo Ghoul was off.

  7. m

    I think the story would have enjoyed a more gradual introduction of Tsukiyama since like you said, he's so over the top, it made the narrative disorienting. And he's a little… conventional of a villain (though I certainly enjoyed Mamoru Miyano's performance)

    And I agree Kaneki is a little too naive, I mean… as soon as Tsukiyama mentioned he was close to Rize it should be obvious. Rize is pretty batshit mad, what else would be expected of Tsukiyama. Granted, Kaneki's curious about Rize, after all she's who's in his body so…. I guess I can accept that.

  8. c

    Miyano san makes such an outstanding creepy villan!!! Whilst Taichi Mashima is my favorite Mamo performance, this hit me in the stomache…………this whole episode left me feeling a bit queasy…..why do i want more?

  9. m

    I agree that this ep wasn't nearly up to the level of the previous ones. Not bad per se, but the high level of the others made this look weaker than it probably was. It's a silly thing to be hung up on, but I also had an issue with Ken not being made fully aware of a guy like Tsukiyama. He is obviously such a huge problem, and a danger on par with the ghoul hunters, that it seems like the only reason Ken wasn't appropriately warned was so that he could fall into his trap. Considering they are training Ken in case the hunters find him, it isn't unreasonable to think they would warn him of all of the most dangerous individuals around. Also I'm not a fan of Tsukiyama's character. I've never enjoyed those over the top facial expressions and weirdly sexual response to the notion of doing whatever "evil" scheme they have planned. He reminds me of Papiyon from Busou Renkin, and that is never a good thing. All I thought when I saw him was "when does he die?"

  10. F

    They skipped around 15 chapters between this and the previous episode (thought they're probably going to go back at some point). They skipped him getting his mask, him and Touka fighting "certain people". But hey, I'm assuming they had some sort of plan and thought it would flow better like this so I'll go along with the ride (like I have a choice) and enjoy it as much as possible.

  11. H

    The new character is a fun addition to the show, but I find the MC to be quite bland and wimpy, yet predictably overpowered. Touka is clearly shelving her issues, but I'm finding that process bland so far. I think the adult characters, especially the detectives, are winning me over though.

    I wanted to love this show, but so far it's not delivering near the amount of tension or thrills I was hoping for from the trailer.

  12. s

    On Kaneki falling for the same bait and switch tactics with Tsukiyama as he did with Rize, the anime actually skipped over some information in this regard. In the event that the anime chooses to go back and rehash what it's bypassed, I'll refrain from specifics and just say that there was definitely more incentive for Kaneki to follow Tsukiyama into his lair than simply a mutual interest in books. It's a pity that the anime chose to skip over those details because for all that Kaneki may still be considered an innocent, he's not nearly as naive as the anime has painted him.

  13. That seems to be the overwhelming consensus. Oh, well – as a Barakamon fan I can sympathize with what the manga readers are going through, but I'm definitely still enjoying the experience.

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