Tokyo Ghoul √A – 11

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For me, there’s no question Tokyo Ghoul is the most vexing show of the season.

What a strange series this is.  There’s definitely some Kiseijuu in its genes, but the spin it puts on its tragic storyline is novel and interesting.  But for every moment where it seems as if the series is going to fully exploit the inherent pathos in its premise, there’s one where it spins off on a tangent or loses itself in an extended, mind-numbing bloodbath.  For every time we get deeply into the head of a really interesting character, we’re bombarded with two new ones and given little reason to care about them.  And for every moment of abstract beauty or directorial flair, there’s a patch of jumpy animation, off-model characters or bad choreography.

I’ve said this before, but given a choice between shows that are really good some of the time and really subpar some of the time and shows that are just generally so-so, I’ll always take the former.  That’s in spite of the fact that those are the far more frustrating series to follow, because they’re always teasing you with how good they can be and then breaking your heart when they crash back to Earth.  I’ve seen far worse cases than Tokyo Ghoul, which in my view is never awful even when it’s off its game – but this is definitely a show that falls into this category.

I think we saw in this episode what the limitations to the approach taken by “Root A” are.  It’s a payoff episode, naturally enough as the season is ending – but the payoff really hasn’t been earned.  As with the big battle at the end of Season 1 (though not quite to the same extent) we see a long, drawn-out massacre that relies too heavily on characters we barely know (unless we’ve read the manga).  What’s the name of the guy with the moustache?  Why is this Arima guy such a badass?  Just why are these ghouls at the head of Aogiri as sadistic as they are?  We may have gotten hints at some of this during this season, but it’s hard to keep is all straight when it all flies by the camera in a blink, and ever harder to really care.

I think a big part of the schizophrenic nature of “Root A” stems from the fact that it never really seemed to decide if it was anime specifically for manga readers or for the general audience.  So it’s really no surprise that the best parts of this episode involved the characters we know well – Kaneki’s duel with Amon, Shinohara’s act of sacrifice and Juuzo’s subsequent pathetic “battle” with the One-eyed Owl (confirmed to be Eto, as I figured), Takizawa’s (not unexpected, as it’s been flagged pretty hard) meeting with destiny.

Sadly, it seems as if the characters on both sides who actually have a bit of perspective and decency are being killed off systematically – though as I speak of Shinohara and Yoshimura perhaps I should rethink that assessment based on the last scene of the episode. It seems as if Tokyo Ghoul may just be approaching Aldnoah.Zero levels of fake deaths – and here, you can’t be sure even if you have seen the body.  The really tragic thing here is this fight didn’t have to happen – Shinohara went after Anteiku based on old wounds, not fresh threats.  As for Ken’s duel with Amon, we get an actual acknowledgement from the latter that there ought to be something better than reflexively killing each other – though not any kind of follow-up action.  And Ken manages to suppress his kakuja, which I think we can safely assume is the only reason Amon is alive (and I think it’s pretty safe to assume he is).

The other big confrontation of the episode is between Eto and the mysterious Arima, who I guess we’re just supposed to accept is the most overpowered agent the CCG has.  And indeed, he certainly gets the better of her, though she’s already killed (unless he isn’t dead) Shinohara by this point – though strangely, she leaves Juuzou alive.  Beaten, the One-eyed Owl flies away – but not before swallowing Yoshimura’s body.  Later, she regurgitates it and and confirms what was already pretty obvious – he was (in fact, is) her father.

That ending…  The thing is, I really like Yoshimura – as I said last week I consider him the true hero of Tokyo Ghoul, even if Kaneki is the protagonist.  But his death was handled so well, and it seemed to make such poetic and prosaic sense at this point in the story, that I feel cheated that he didn’t die after all.  It makes last week’s emotional crescendo feel somehow hollow and false in hindsight.  We’ll see where that goes – and the other interesting thread to follow is that Hide has (after seeing Takizawa meet a grisly fate) finally outed himself to Ken, who’s taken refuge in the wreckage of Anteiku to sleep off the wounds Amon gave him because Ken was too merciful to kill him outright.  This friendship was one of the best things about the first half of the first season, but it’s been a complete non-factor since – I’ll be fascinated to see how the rest of that conversation goes.

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  1. s

    Enzo dont you find it odd that Noro turned to face hide after takizawa bit the dust and yet he still gets to meet kaneki at the coffee shop? either hide hid himself (wow, unintentional alliteration right there) before noro noticed him and that scene was done for tension sake, or this is all just a figment of Kaneki's dying imagination. Touka is still running (it's clear to me that she was actually looking for her friends to die with them in battle which is why she never attempted to fight stray ccg members) and i think she actually might be heading to anteiku. If that is actually hide, perhaps it will be the three of them in the end the last ep focuses on (although we know it will primarily be about kaneki due to the title) which would make sense given the episode where hide and touka had met and sort of bonded over missing kaneki.

    But yea, it doesnt make sense how hide could have made it out alive unless noro didnt see him (how??) or that he let him go (why?? unless he felt it was a waste of time). Once again like in season one, It seems that morita is going to focus the final ep on ken's psyche once more, ultimately making the conclusion to tokyo ghoul be the wrap up of his character arc this season; which was almost non-existent because like you mentioned Root A has had an identity crisis this entire season.

  2. A fair point. He certainly struck me as real, but I have no idea how he escaped.

  3. E

    Yeah, Tokyo Ghoul is a real mess. Two seasons ago I thought the series was much better than Aldnoah Zero but now it seems the roles of the two have switched. The action is pretty incredible and I still have a small sense of sympathy for the characters that I know, but after the closing of an episode I feel lost with no idea where the author is taking the story…

  4. F

    It's not the "author", but the studio that's animating his work.

  5. O

    I agree. Root A has too many characters and too little time to introduce and develop them. Even the primary players haven't had enough screen time in my opinion due to the large cast. Notwithstanding, I still find myself enjoying the series.

  6. g

    The worst part was Kaneki was almost non-existent during the whole season. He fought sometimes, spoke rarely and generally maundered somewhere in the background in an emo mood.

  7. C

    What the hell was the point of making Touka go to the Anteiku Raid, one of the very few divergences from the manga, if she ended up doing jack shit anyway? Holy crap who's writing this?

  8. m

    Unfortunately the manga suffers the exact same problems. They often focus on random characters who come in and ruin the story. Arima is equally randomly inserted in the manga, and essentially is a huge part in ruining the manga. The manga ending was literally so bad that it feels like a slap in the face to anyone who followed the series. Like the Author didn't care at all, and couldn't be bothered to put together anything coherent with the storyline. So much so that I will never read anything Ishida Sui does, and I hope the editor of Tokyo Ghoul got fired for allowing that trash to go through.

  9. l

    Speed read much? None of the ending was simply thrown together and every piece of the ending was meticulously thought out by Ishida. Arima had his background slowly built up since near the beginning of the manga. At least read the manga from the start and not just from where season 1 ended and don't simply skip over pages with characters you don't like.. Jesus.

  10. C

    The ending coincides perfectly with what Kaneki said in the start of the manga about his life being a tragedy. Regarding Arima, I think you just read the manga instead of looking up the TG page on wikipedia.

  11. O

    "The Fool's Journey", that's the keyword that explains almost all of the manga's story progression, including why the manga ends like that (and why there's a sequel).

  12. n

    Arima is randomly inserted? Are you reading the same manga as I did?

  13. A

    Huh? Arima is built up a lot more in the manga than he was in the anime and doesn't come out of nowhere. Kaneki actually got screentime where we really understood his inner conflict which this season glossed over almost entirely. I will concede that there are still too many minor characters introduced out of nowhere but even then the anime cut out a lot of scenes that characterized them a little more.

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