I saw a comment about this episode (from an ASF poster named Blakstealth, FTR) that sums it up as well, I think, as any can: “I hope the next episode takes some time to explain what the fuck is happening.” Frankly I really should stop right there because anything else I add to that can only complicate matters, but of course I can’t do that – so far starters, my response would be “Don’t hold your breath”…
I think there are really two main questions at play for with me Root A – the first being the obvious “what the fuck is going on here?”, and the second being “should I care?” To the first I can offer no answers, but to the second it still seems to be “yes” – though I can’t quite say why. This series is a mess, in my humble opinion – right now what I’m seeing plays like a bunch of loosely (and poorly) interconnected vignettes of censored gore and inexplicable dialogue, interspersed with unexplained flashbacks. Yet somehow, I still feel as if I should care. Go figure.
As to this episode, it should be said for starters that it looked a whole lot better than the last one. It was action-driven once again, but the choreography and animation were a whole lot smoother and more imaginative. But while I won’t go so far as to say it was a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, just what it did signify is pretty much a mystery. There were several threads that ran into each other, starting with a flashback to Amon lecturing at the academy to the particular interest of three young students, one of whom was Juuzo (then known as Rei) and the others were Kurona and Nashiro. There was a third girl, too, but she died sometime between then and now – and it’s already too damn hard just to track the names of the characters that are still alive.
What can we take from this sequence? Well first, the absolutely excruciating line of dialogue “Can even females become great CCG agents?”. Certainly, that Rei was pretty much a freak even then. And from the present, that the two girls have somehow become ghouls – a growing trend of note – and that Juuzo may be the biggest badass on the CCG side of things. But before we have time to consider all this much the action zips along to more fights – Shinohara taking down Ayato but being unable to finish him, flashing back to his father (who he’s named his Quinque after, after all). And then Shinohara being taken down by Kaneki, who flashes his new centipede form – which Shinohara refers to as a “Kakuja” as if we’re supposed to know what that means.
Afterwards, Kaneki appears to be dining on Shinohara when Amon walks in on them and the entire building is flooded with CRC gas (which is a kind of asspull plot device that seems to render ghouls weak and impotent – which is the only way I could see Amon beating this Kaneki). Amon still wants answers from “Eyepatch”, and so do I – but we’re not getting them yet. It is notable that when the gas kicks in, Kaneki loses his bloodlust and starts crying (maybe it’s Amon’s face). There’s other stuff happening too – facedowns between characters we’ve barely met with big-name seiyuu. But the big moment comes when the One-eyed Owl finally makes his appearance, and he doesn’t disappoint – he’s an order of magnitude larger than any ghoul we’ve seen so far, and he grasps Kaneki and Ayato in his talons like Frodo and Sam and takes off (though, I suspect, not for Rivendell).
All of this is, in short, a mess. It’s an interesting mess, but unless this story stops expanding and starts coalescing around what it really cares to be about, it’s hard to see the rest of this season amounting to anything of real consequence. There are just too many characters, too many plot twists, too much that’s left unexplained – I need Tokyo Ghoul to show me what it cares about before it’s worth my while to do the same. As well, both the Ghoul and CCG sides have become so thoroughly unlikable that it’s hard to feel anything for either – a sad turnaround from where we were halfway through the first season. Right now there’s way too much “what” (and who) and not nearly enough “why” – and until that changes, I just don’t see how this show can right the ship.