Tokyo Ghoul – 06

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Whatever else one might say about Tokyo Ghoul, you can’t argue that it doesn’t keep itself busy.

It looks like Tokyo Ghoul is set to do pretty well commercially.  The Stalker numbers look decent, and all of the back issues of the manga have started to chart again – always a good sign that an adaptation is pushing the right buttons.  That doesn’t mean a second season is a lock of course, but the early signs are promising – which makes it all the more critical what the anime decides to include and not include in this cour.  I haven’t read much of the manga but I know things are being reorganized in a pretty significant way.  So far it’s mostly working for me, but here’s hoping it doesn’t burn through any more material than it needs to, just in case we get that sequel.

Superficially it would seem this show is anything but subtle.  Larger-than-life villains, fountains of censored gore, action set-pieces – bombast is definitely the order of the day here.  And that clearly suits the material well.  But there’s actually a lot of complexity in the character interactions when the show is at its best (not with the Gourmet, mind you, but with those broadly gathered under the good guys umbrella).  And for me, it’s that quality that makes Tokyo Ghoul arguably the best new series of the summer when it’s right.

I’m not so sure it was right this week, though this was still a pretty good episode.  The bombast played off against the character dynamics is the combination that makes Ghoul go, but when the character dynamics lose their subtlety that’s where things start to misfire.  There are a couple of major issues I have with this week’s story, the first and most simple being that Mado is nowhere near as much fun as the Gourmet.  Ridiculous scenery-chewing baddies are part of the fun here, but Mado is sort of uninteresting and Amon basically a cipher.

A bigger problem with the ep for me, though, is that there’s a kind of lowest common denominator quality to the drama.  Playing with the emotions of the audience by showing a little girl crying for her father and tearful mother-daughter bonding and self-sacrifice is pretty low-hanging fruit.  I would have also liked to have seen Dr. Fueguchi’s character given a bit more of an opportunity to make an impression, because it’s hard to muster much emotion for somebody who’s basically never shown his face on-screen and whose total presence can’t be more than a couple of minutes.

There were a couple of headline moments in the episode that did work well, the first being Touka’s moment of decision as she stood over Kimi’s body once the Gourmet had been subdued (so many light beams).  There’s an obvious hypocrisy to Touka’s declaration that Kimi had to die given her own lifestyle, as Ken pointed out.  But the moment does a good job of highlighting the dilemma of being a ghoul trying to live a “clean” life in the modern human world.  And Nishio joining the staff at Anteiku is certainly a form of penance in addition to a practical necessity if he wishes to be be one of those ghouls.  His redemption may have come about too quickly for some tastes, but I thought it was very effective.

The other headline-grabber is the battle between Mado and Jason, which by appearances seems to be one villain vs. another.  These are two baddies who so far don’t have the grotesque magnetism of Tsukiyama, nor do they have Miyano-san’s unique charisma to draw on, but they both have high-octane veteran seiyuu behind them.  It’s hard to draw much conclusion on their relative strength based on their brief encounter, though Jason was certainly strong enough to break Mado’s Quinque (I believe that’s the first time we’ve heard the doves’ weapon referred to by name).  I suppose these two big fish are going to continue snapping at each other for quite some time, though Mado is only too happy to wipe out as many small fry as he can while in the process of trolling for larger game.

That encounter of course directly led to the demise (presumably) of Fueguchi-sensei, and thus provides the impetus for the aforementioned drama surrounding Hiromi and her mother.  What happens there is sad, certainly, but it’s very familiar and it’s easy – too easy to really spark any deep emotions in me.  To the extent that Hiromi’s situation can be used as a device to shine more light on an important element of the larger issue of Ghouls integrating in modern culture it’s a good thing, but the more it steers clear of the shameless heartstring-tugging the better off the show will be.  Grey morality and adults facing hard choices seem to be a better catalyst for bringing out the best in Tokyo Ghoul.

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Omake:

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7 comments

  1. f

    I think the reorganization is done right here. As delightfully entertaining as tsukiyama is, he doesnt instill the fear Mado does as the mono drone killing machine. He's also not nearly as hate worthy as Mado is, who provides an albeit extreme, but necessary counterpoint for how a ghoul is to be perceived. Up to this point, the conflicts had all been ghoul on ghoul crime, now we get into the real crux of the dilemma of trying to exist in a hostile human world while trying to retain pacifism.

    Plus, ken's coming of age moment where he finally comes to terms with his identity in the heat of battle sets up nicely for any subsequent seasons.

  2. H

    I'm out. I couldn't finish the episode.

  3. E

    It must be because the drama. Halfway through the episode, when the kid started crying for her dad out of nowhere, I was like "Oh please, not this sh*t again." And the next scenes, it really happened. LOL.
    I cried a lot of times while watching various anime, but this episode certainly does not work.
    It's such a lame attempt at tugging the viewers' heart string. It doesn't feel sincere at all.
    It feels like it got taken out directly from a book "Writing 101" or "Writing for Dummies"

  4. G

    I love anime but really hate when unarmed villians easily dodge long reach weapons of armed ones. Jason just casually sidestepping all those attacks pissed me off as being unbelievable. Better they hjit him and do minor damage then them all missing.

    Also did not like the censorship (reminds me of the censorship in Blood-C). We have to guess what happened to the gourmet. If you are gonna give us that level of censorship have one of the characters at least say "Holy Shit she cut him in hslf" or something similar.

  5. S

    Pretty sure it was just showing how powerful Jason is, and what does believable or unarmed have to do with anything Jason is not human and those Doves seemed superhuman at least reaction wise also he was armed with that wrench and his kagune but in my personal opinion I thought the coolness came from the fact that he wasn't even using his tools but was just blitzing around dodging everything as if his senses were heightened to the point that he doesn't even need his eyes open…

  6. s

    I'm trying really hard to give the Tokyo Ghoul anime the benefit of the doubt, but I must admit that this episode was a misstep for me. Admittedly, I did enjoy the concluding scenes of the Gourmet arc, but my enjoyment dissipated in the wake of the second half of the episode, which felt uncharacteristically heavy-handed. Also, the fact that the anime brought in Fueguchi-sensei* just so that he can be killed on-screen is a little too obviously emotionally manipulative** even for me to handle. It makes me wish that I hadn't read the manga first because maybe then I'd be able to muster a little more sadness at Fueguchi-sensei's passing, but as things are, I'm mostly just annoyed.

    Also, while I do think that introducing Jason early on was a good move in terms of providing story cohesion, I don't think that it's worth further deviation from the manga/the addition of more anime-only scenes.

    *We never see Fueguchi-sensei in the manga as at the time of Ryouko and Hinami's introduction he had already died.
    **Not to say that the manga doesn't cover similar mother-daughter bonding/self-sacrifice "lowest common denominator"-type material, but at least it's a slightly subtler when it's trying to tug on my heart strings.

  7. Z

    This show has turned out quite differently than I expected from initial impressions – and not in a good way.

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