Previously on Tokyo Ghoul, ‘Tragedy’
Kaneki sinks further into the ghoul underworld when he has to deal with resisting the hunger and figuring out his new place in the world. Questionable choices are made, leaving us to ponder our maturity and more breadcrumbs are left for unanswered questions.
A Helping Hand
The show picks up where the first episode left off. Kaneki has a mouth full of a corpse hand and Toka is holding his mouth shut. He has no choice but to swallow it, which sends a shockwave throughout his body. The relief is short lived as Kaneki retches and whines about what he has just done. Toka has had enough, so she decides to rattle off a 10 hit combo on Kaneki. He had struck a nerve because her life as a ghoul is nowhere near as privileged as a human’s. Ghouls don’t get peaceful lives, other than other ghouls, Toka namedrops the CCG as threats. Toka is called off by an old man appearing from the shadows. The old man is also a ghoul and takes Kaneki with him. Toka objects but is reminded that their policy is to help other ghouls.
At the old ghoul’s closed restaurant, Kaneki gets a little tender love and care. After some hesitation from Kaneki, he learns that the only human food that ghouls can enjoy is coffee. It won’t cure his hunger, but it’s all he has left. Old Man G sends Kaneki home with a package of human meat and tells him to come back when he needs more. Toka can’t comprehend what she’s seeing. The old ghoul explains to her how Kaneki became a ghoul, and how it is a first, which softens Toka. She only refers to him as “sir”, which, in my mind, makes him the polar opposite to Mister in The Color Purple. One is all about helping his people and kindness, with the other, well, if you haven’t seen The Color Purple, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life.
Back at Kaneki’s room, it doesn’t take long before he is going back through flesh withdrawals. His mind replays his earlier conversation with Toka when a familiar voice butts in: Rize. Rize can’t understand why Kaneki won’t embrace the life of a half breed, among the “livestock”. She tempts him with that type of sexy seduction that ScarJo tries to exude. Kaneki is soon popping his ghoul out, and about to tear open the package but stops short when he gets a text from Hide. Kaneki hasn’t been to school in months.
No New Friends
Kaneki pops up on campus sporting an eye patch over his ghoul eye. He doesn’t make it far before Hide tackles him and fires off a barrage of question like he did when they were kids. Hide is on his way to get some material from an upperclassman and invites Kaneki along. On the way, Hide casually asks if Kaneki has been eating. Hide noticed that Kaneki is pale which reminds Kaneki to stay on his game. He knows Hide is perceptive and that could be a problem with his new lifestyle.
The two of them reach the building only to barge in on “Mr. Nishio” rounding second base with a coed. Nishio doesn’t have much time to be irritated with them for not knocking. As he cracks about hating when people violate his territory, he and Kaneki lock eyes. Nishio is Nishiki, the ghoul who kicked a field goal with the other ghoul’s head in the alley. Nishiki menacingly welcomes Kaneki before flipping the switch back into character. Nishiki invites Hide to his house, where he left the material at. Kaneki insists on joining them, scared that Nishiki will kill Hide the first chance he gets.
Bro Out, Show Out
The three of them set out for Nishiki’s house, but stop at a shop for a pastry first. Just looking at the food makes Kaneki nauseous, but Nishiki is unfazed. Kaneki is amazed watching Nishiki eat the pastry with no problem. He makes no attempt to eat his and just bags it. As they pass under a bridge, Nishiki suddenly turns around and punts Hide hundreds of feet into the darkness under the bridge. He grips Kaneki by the throat. Nishiki is convince Kaneki is going to eat Hide and wants to beat him to the punch while eliminating a ghoul in his territory. To his surprise, he easily punches into Kaneki and tosses him to the side.
Nishiki makes his way over to Hide. He regurgitates the pastry in complete pieces. It tasted like horse manure to him, but apparently, it was worth it. Nishiki stomps on Hide’s head while he asks Kaneki when and what parts he was going to eat of Hide first. Hide’s head is starting to bleed badly. Kaneki swings his bag at Nishiki but is kicked through the air and tumbles a good distance away. People are livestock and even Nishiki knows it is too risky to be friends with Hide. Nishiki flips off the eye patch and feeds Kaneki a few more kicks, the last one sending Kaneki to the ceiling and back. Nishiki is making his way back to Hide and this is where things took a turn.
Did you chuckle? Did you clutch your pearls? Did you tilt your head before you scratched it? That blue trouser snake is Nishiki’s kagune, or more astutely, his ghoul tentacle. Who thought this was a good idea? Was this a joke? Either way, my immature mind couldn’t handle what just popped through my eye holes. To this point, the only kagune we have been shown have come from the small of the back. Why is this one seemingly popping out of his ass? Is it a lifestyle choice? In a genre that has a history of tentacle porn, this can’t help but be a joke, right?
Back with Hide, Nishiki is ready to give the finishing blow. Realizing Hide is unconscious, he pauses for a moment. Kaneki remembers that Hide is his only real friend and digs deep. The anger, fear, and determination cause Kaneki to power up. Kaneki’s ghoul eyes pulsates, Rize’s kagune burst from his back, and he’s on the attack. After dodging Nishiki’s counterattack, Kaneki rides Nishiki’s butt kagune back to him. Things end badly for Nishiki when Kaneki blocks his kick and stabs him, with lightning fast speed, repeatedly to the ceiling. Kaneki and everything in the area is splattered with Nishiki’s blood. Nishiki is tossed into the grating near the ceiling and his head is stuck.
Kaneki retracts his kagune and begins to calm down. Before he can catch his breath, Rize is back in his head. Kaneki resists until she makes him take a closer look at Hide. He waffles back and forth before deciding that his best friend is his special treat. Kaneki gives into his hunger and his appearance is every bit as ghoulish as his intentions. Before Kaneki can get his first bite, Toka appears. She tries to talk some sense into Kaneki, but he is too far gone. Like an animal in the wild, Kaneki can’t have any threat come between him and his food, so the kagune come back out. Toka tells him this is the only time she will take it easy on him.
Good News, Bad News Situation
Kaneki wakes up back at Sir’s place with blood in his mouth and questions. Sir takes him to see Hide, who Toka brought back with Kaneki. He’s been bandaged up and is healing. Kaneki realizes his hunger is gone and asks about the blood. He has to have Sir spell it out for him which, of course, causes Kaneki to cry. He feels like he has no place, but the old man assures him that he has a place in both the human and ghoul worlds. Sir offers Kaneki a chance to join Anteiku and find his path while getting a chance to understand ghouls. No answer is given, but as they close the door behind them, Hide opens his eyes.
Back where Rize fought the man in the hockey mask, 2 men are investigating what happened there 3 months ago. I type this with a heavy sigh, but the man in the hockey mask is named Jason. A little more imagination with the name would’ve been nice, but it is what it is. These 2 men mention the 20th Ward Branch report had Rize and Jason as “S-rated subjects”. Mr. Mado, the older, more eccentric of the 2, is calmly chatting when something in the rain catches his eye. He jumps across the roof to proudly hold up Jason’s pliers Rize stole.
Tokyo Ghoul S1E2
Tokyo Ghoul is the show my 10-year-old self prayed for. The show is emotionally complex, bloody, unforgiving, and unpredictable. That being said, being unpredictable doesn’t always pay off. I would have never have guessed that I would be watching a blue butt tentacle fly across my screen before I pressed play. It isn’t a huge gripe, but it took me out of the show for a minute. On the plus side, I tend to handle these things better than my 10-year-old self.
Big blue trouser snake aside, there isn’t much to complain about with Tokyo Ghoul. The writing is solid, the animation is top notch, and the voice acting is almost great. Almost. I’m not a fan of Toka. I understand that she is supposed to be reserved, but the voice actor for her could do more than sound like cardboard. We’ve seen Aubrey Plaza do it on Parks and Recreation as well as Raven on Teen Titans. They could do it, and you can do it too, please.
Full disclosure: I watch each of these episodes twice. First, I watch it dubbed with my wife, and then again subtitled. Normally, there isn’t much of a difference between a shows dubbed subbed episodes, but this is where Tokyo Ghoul is an odd bird. In the scene where Nishiki receives the million kagune shank attack, the subtitled versions turns everything on the screen blue. For the old anime heads out there, it’s akin to Fist Of The Northstar blurring the screen during some of the early violent scenes in the movie. In a show that counts gore as one of its charms, it feels widely out of place. The dubbed version, on the other hand, doesn’t have this edit. Are you getting soft on me, Japan?