For once the manga readers are almost as much in the dark as the rest of us as Tokyo Ghoul Root A sets off on its mysterious journey. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting this week, but it probably wasn’t a slow-paced episode focused on the CCG and the introduction of a spate of new characters (and re-acquaintance with old ones). I wouldn’t call it exciting, but it was certainly interesting – and it follows this series’ usual pattern of taking its time in setting the table before finally serving dinner.
There was a veritable cavalcade of faces parading across the screen this week, some familiar from last season and some not. It starts with a flashback to what appears to have been ten years earlier, and likely the battle where Mado lost his eye. A character named Arima makes a silent appearance here, and judging by the reaction of those around him it seems likely he’s a significant one. From there it’s a roundtable around the CCG – starting with a meeting of the higher-ups where it’s announced that Aogiri Tree has steamrolled through the 9th and 10th Wards, and continuing to a look at those who’ll make up the team in the 20th (under Shinohara’s leadership).
Who else is important here? It’s hard to say, but the freaky Juuzou is obviously a key player based on the S1 finale. Takizawa Seidou seems to be the resident butt-monkey, though he was 2nd in his class at the CCG Academy – second to Mado’s daughter Akira (Seto Asami), briefly introduced last season, of whom he’s insanely jealous. In his defense Akira is a tactless, arrogant jerk with no discernible social skills, which rather sets Amon’s nerves to jangling. There’s also a part-timer running around CCG headquarters delivering mail – Hide-kun, who introduces himself as “Seidou-san’s gofer”. Presumably this is an effort on his part to find out what’s happening with Kaneki, who’s presumably given his friend no information about where he’s gone or what he’s up to.
Of Kaneki himself there’s almost no mention – we see him briefly on a couple of occasions on Aogiri Tree missions, and he’s cited by CCG as the ghoul in-charge of their assaults on the 9th and 10th. He’s also got a couple of admirers (or stalkers) keeping close tabs on him. If you hoped to be enlightened as to why he’s made the choice he has, you were certainly disappointed with this ep – that remains very much an open question.
Finally, there’s the gang back an Anteiku – which is finally ready to reopen after the disastrous events of the S1 finale. It seems more and more likely that Yoshimura-san is the Owl – that’s certainly what’s being hinted at – but for now he’s back in his role as den-mother to the “good” ghouls. Touka is the only one showing overt signs that she misses him, right down to sitting exams for Kamii University in the seeming hope that she’ll meet him there. The lack of interaction between Ken and the Anteiku cast – especially Touka – certainly leaves a significant hole in the narrative structure of Tokyo Ghoul, and to be honest it’s not clear to me yet what (if anything) is going to fill it. And that, for me, is the most important question staring at us as Root A unspools its story.