Previously on Tokyo Ghoul
Ghoul is finally back! It’s been a long three years since Kaneki and crew got a proper series, which is a long time for the creators to mull over √A‘s complaints. In the aftermath, original director Shuhei Morita was replaced by Odahiro Watanabe, along with a new character designer in an overhaul that would usually derail a show. However, matching the behind the scenes changes, Tokyo Ghoul: re veers into a bold new direction, despite the cliffhanger we were left on. Picking up 2 years past the finale, the world, the lens we see it through, and the tone have all changed.
Although Tokyo Ghoul has followed both ghouls and the CCG, our main man has been Kaneki. He’s always been our anchor, even when we barely saw any of him, which is the first element out the window. Now we follow the Quinxes, a group of ghoul half-breed CCG agents meant to become stronger than the great Arima. Sporting quinques and kagunes, they could be a force, but they haven’t learned to work together.
Our first taste of CCG’s special division sees them split down the middle, mostly due to their Captain, Urie Kuki. Intelligent, stiff, and arrogant, he never misses a chance to lord his intellect and grade 2 status over Shirazu Ginshi, his fellow grade 3 member. Together, these two are something this series hasn’t had consistently before: the comic relief. Urie gets inner monologues (which can also be serious) while being the straight man to Ginshi’s lovable fool routine. Poor Ginshi gets the short end of the stick the opener in the depth department, but we get a decent look at Shirazu’s determination and a peak at his past. Between his dad’s death and not being able to handle playing 2nd fiddle, my man has some issues.
Meanwhile, opposite Urie and Ginshi are Sasaki “Mr. Sas” Haise and Mutsuki Toru, the best and worst of the squad. Mutsuki is so horrible, she still can’t control her ghoul eye or use her kagune. Out of action, she’s weak, yet on the job she’s a fighter. White-haired Sasaki is the leader despite being horrible at it and Urie being captain. As the only 1st grade member, he is the most powerful but resists using his ghoul powers until pushed enough.
Over the squad is an older, hardened Akira Mado. She’s tough on Sasaki, and she has to be with the pressure she’s under. Other doves aren’t happy having ghouls in their ranks, let alone underachievers chewing up the budget.
In our introduction, the Quinxes are forced to work with Senior Investigator Shimoguchi’s crew to hunt down Torso, the ghoul killing women and keeping their torsos (duh). As they move, Aogiri Tree warns him with another familiar face, Hinami! Now a teen, that whole watching her mother be savagely murdered by doves thing has pushed her over to the radicals.
What Torso doesn’t get warned about is the mysterious Orochi, an S rated ghoul with no love for CCG or Aogiri Tree. Most the information we get on him is how strong he is, but based on how they hid his unmasked face, I’m sure he’s someone we know.
Gone But Not Forgotten
In the final act, Mutsuki leads the crew to Torso, who quickly overpowers them. The next few minutes make the show. First, desperate to surpass Mr. Sas and not retreat (like the doves years ago which led to his father’s death), Urie begins munching on his arm trying to reactivate his kagune. A character development that’ll make you wince, but a needed one to show there’s more to him than just jokes and failing plans. More importantly, after Sasaki makes the save and is outclassed, an unexpected visitor appears.
Like Rize before him, Kaneki is in Sasaki’s head, meaning at least a part of him is in Sasaki. Also like Rize, he’s the tempter, practically begging to be unleashed. Unlike Kaneki, we don’t have to wait a season for Mr. Sas to get with the program. After popping his kagune, the last thing we see is the signature finger crack.
Compared to the first two seasons, TG: re moves at a breakneck pace. It’s the gift and the curse. Ghoul was always at least moody and at a deliberate pace. This new chapter speeds up to match the competition, complete with animated comedy bits sprinkled in that can be hit or miss. The Gourmet was animated, but it felt organic. Watching Sasaki emanate an angry aura, coupled with a few slapstick moments, feel s so foreign for Tokyo Ghoul but this is the world we live in now. Life is easier as a CCG agent, so it works to a point, yet it could stand to be tightened up.
What worries me about this new pace and tone is how this will impact the depth. The original pace could be maddening at times, but it made the payoffs hold more weight and feel more earned. Case and point, the long walk of pain Kaneki ended last season on could never play under Odahiro’s direction. It was a gut wrenching moment that honored Hide, captured the pain, relief, and fear of the aftermath, and set up a great (albeit wildly incomplete) scene. It’s clear there won’t be long quiet scenes any slow playing under this regime. The action looks like it’ll be good, we’ll get the broad strokes with twist and turns, and that’s not bad, but the emotion won’t be the same.