I’ll admit I was pretty pessimistic watching the first few minutes of this episode of Tokyo Ghoul √A. I really didn’t want to see the series return to a focus on the CCG, first of all, since they’re generally (though not universally) less interesting and likeable than the gang at Anteiku, and that was one of the things that dragged down the first half of this season. I also feared we’d be looking at the prospect of yet another numbingly long and bloody battle taking up the entire episode, with another dump of characters we barely know or don’t at all in crucial roles.
Fortunately, those fears proved largely unfounded. While I wouldn’t put this ep on a par with the last two, it was still a strong one. The action and the contemplation were nicely balanced, and that action was quite well-animated (which hasn’t always been a given). This was a fight that we understood in context, and in which we’ve been reason to care about the people involved. Not only that, it’s quite clear that it was a totally unnecessary fight – one that was instigated by a meddling troublemaker and is more about retribution for past offenses than any present threat.
After a brief introduction focusing on the concept of the testament letter – effectively pointing out that an assignment to an attack on the Owl is tantamount to a death sentence – we pretty much jump right into the action. There’s a lovely bit of direction from Morita-sensei as we follow a paper airplane that Juzou has made of his letter, first through our eyes and then Ken’s, which eventually leads to him seeing an announcement of the imminent attack in the 20th Ward. Touka sees the same thing on television, and both of them respond as you’d expect – unwilling to stand aside and watch as all their closest friends are killed.
I’m not sure you can necessarily blame Shinohara for what’s happened here, because the Owl has killed an awful lot of CCG men over the years and a man in Shinohara’s position has a certain responsibility to act on what he knows. He does what’s expected of him here, but that’s kind of a shame, really – it would have been interesting to see him defy expectations and choose not to instigate a fight against a man who’s clearly trying his best to make amends for his own sins. By doing what he does Shinohara is knowingly sentencing a great deal of CCG men and women to certain death in order to solve a problem that doesn’t exist – unless the problem is that the past is very hard to forget or forgive. I don’t blame Shinohara, but whatever minuscule hope of ending the endless cycle of violence and despair rests on men doing the exceptional – which is exactly what Yoshimura-san has done with this (seemingly) final chapter of his life. It’s a pity there aren’t more like him, but if Shinohara can’t rise to his standard I certainly have no hope for anyone else at CCG.
Kaneki is heading back to help (despite the lone comedic moment of the episode, Tsukiyama’s crying an ocean of tears begging him not to), and seemingly so is Touka – most interestingly because Yomo declines to stop her. Nishiki is fleeing (after one last round with his girlfriend) since anyone associated with Anteiku is now a wanted fugitive. The old guard – Devil Ape Koma, Black Dog Irimi and finally, Yoshimura-Owl himself – is laying waste to the front lines of CCG attackers. But the sense is that the three of them fully expect to die here, which leaves the question of what comes next. I have no doubt Kaneki and Touka will survive, and the One-eyed Owl remains out there. Is there any hope for peaceful alternatives in a post-Anteiku world, or does Tokyo Ghoul simply turn into a shounen battle manga?