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Tokyo Ghoul Root A – 08 »« Tokyo Ghoul Root A – 06

Tokyo Ghoul Root A – 07

「透過」 (Touka)
“Permeation”

And just like that, Tokyo Ghoul is all the way back. Raise your hand if you saw that coming.

It seems almost unnecessary to say that this was the best episode of Tokyo Ghoul √A, the gap between it and any that preceded it is so wide (though last week’s ep was very good – so the trend is positive). Rather, what’s interesting is that the recipe is so simple that it’s astonishing that it took seven episodes to get back to it. Focus on Ken, Touka and Anteiku. Take the time to let the plot breathe. Worry about existing characters rather than continually introducing new ones with no context. Really – is that so fucking hard?

I suppose rather than focus on the frustration that it took us so long to get here, it’s better to reiterate just how good this episode was. In my post on this week’s episode of Kiseijuu I mentioned that it was “the story I hoped Tokyo Ghoul was going to become and hasn’t – that of a decent young man caught in he middle of a tragic conflict between two species that co-exist inside him.” This episode gives me hope that Tokyo Ghoul still might become that story, though we still have a long way to go and frankly, it’s only earned a limited amount of trust from me.

The endless focus on unlikeable CCG hacks and endless battle sequences has finally abated, starting last week and especially this. It’s at Anteiku that the emotional center of Tokyo Ghoul resides, and among the CCG Shinohara and Juuzo are easily the most interesting pair. Add in the mysterious Takasaki being clearly up to something big, and the interest level in the plot has spiked enormously. About Tsukiyama the gourmet I’m less enthusiastic, but it’s certainly a blast hearing Miyano-san chew his way through the scenery in a dizzying array of accented foreign languages. El Dorado!

I guess everything starts and ends with Kaneki, who gets more action pre-OP than he did in the first six episodes combined. His vision of Rize is highly symbolic, of course, and it seems what we have here is a naive ghouman who’s literally bitten off more than he can chew. His reason for joining Aogiri seems more or less what one might have theorized – he wanted to get stronger because in the end, the goal is to protect those he left behind. It’s a bit flimsy and far-fetched to be honest, but at least we now have a reason, and it’s one that’s not entirely out-of-character. Kaneki, at least, seems to have recognized the futility of trying to follow the Kakuja route to growing stronger – “I thought I was eating other ghouls, but they were actually eating me.”

The first visitor to Anteiku this week is not Kaneki, but the Gourmet, who’s been spying on Ken for Yoshimura. He brings the news that Ken has been ritually cannibalizing for the purposes of becoming a Kakuja. He then proceeds to go on the creepiest-ever cafe date with Hinami (seriously – no one at Anteiku thinks that’s a bad idea?) where the latter meets up with the author “Takatsuki” while Tsukiyama is in the bathroom huffing Ken out of a Ziploc bag. Hinami, it seems, is now old enough to realize she’s in love with Kaneki and she’s asking everyone in sight about it. Takatsuki-sensei senses what’s on the girl’s mind and gives her the sage advice that she can’t be any help to Ken as she is now, seemingly encouraging her to leave her sweet and innocent self behind and become a troubled teen.

Just what Takatsuki is up to is definitely an important question this episode is asking. She shows up at CCG headquarters to interview Shinohara, and asks only one question of substance – “Can ghouls be made?” It’s not hard to figure out who she’s talking about, but since she should presumably already know the answer, the more logical assumption is that she’s planting that idea in Shinohara’s head. Couple that with the fact that she then gives him a tip about the cafe in the 20th Ward with delicious coffee and certain rumors, and it seems very likely that she’s trying to get Shinohara to uncover the truth about Kaneki. Why, specifically, is for the moment still a mystery.

Before Shinohara visits Anteiku, Ken does. We hear none of what happens here – he goes immediately into Yoshimura’s office but we don’t follow. But Hinami arrives back to hear the news, and she immediately goes to find Touka – which seemingly amounts to a concession on the romance front (given the practicalities, probably a mature choice). Touka in in the college library – she’s been cramming hard for her entrance exams – but she rushes back and just misses Ken. She catches him on a pedestrian overpass, and launches into some of the most tsundere behavior you’ll see – but in this case, I think we can say it’s pretty justified. Seemingly she pushes Ken away (punching him in the face makes that implicit) but I don’t know that Ken will see it that way. Yoshimura has invited him back in spite of what the Gourmet told him, and for the sake of the narrative I certainly hope Kaneki accepts.

Finally, we have Shinohara’s visit to Anteiku, and it’s truly a fascinating one. Of all the players we’ve met, it would seem that these two would be the most likely to be at the center of any non-tragic outcome in the human-ghoul conflict – both seem decent, reasonable and moderate-tempered. But whether such a thing is possible is highly dubious, and Shinohara’s comment that he thinks he recognizes the old man is obviously significant (it’s been strongly hinted that Yoshimura has another identity, though whether Shinihara made that specific connection is unclear). Shinohara’s “We’ll be back” tells us in no uncertain terms that he has strong suspicions about Anteiku, Yoshimura, and how they’re involved with Ken.

All in all, this was the episode I’ve been hoping for all season but was beginning to fear would never come. Only last week’s quite solid effort prevents this from being what I’d call a stunning turnaround, but it certainly is a whiplash recovery – now, can the series sustain it? If indeed the first half of the cour was the prologue and this marks the beginning of the real story, I think Tokyo Ghoul √A is in good shape. But there’s still reason to worry, because the series has dumped a dizzying array of characters and plot threads out there, and focus has certainly not been one of its strengths. But building on last week’s effort, I think there’s good reason to be hopeful at the very least. And that’s real progress.

February 20, 2015 at 6:06 am
24 comments »
  • February 20, 2015 at 6:26 amSilke

    • February 20, 2015 at 6:36 amTresBien!

      That scene was too funny. Tsukiyama also has the best entrances. EL DORADO!!!
      An episode with a lot of Tsukiyama is a straight 10/10 for me.

      • February 20, 2015 at 7:18 amApa

        Tres bien!

        Seriously though, I’m hoping all that jerky animation is because they’re saving the most godlike animation ever for the last episodes. Otherwise I’d be disappointed.

      • February 20, 2015 at 11:12 amAapjuh

        no waii, they saved it all to make hinami look so damn cute..!

    • February 20, 2015 at 8:07 amTrap Sama

      He was sniffing that hanky like it was a pantsu.

  • February 20, 2015 at 6:31 amApa

  • February 20, 2015 at 8:34 amAndré

    “It seems almost unnecessary to say that this was the best episode of Tokyo Ghoul √A”

    LOL… I tried to watch it yesterday, but decided to stop watching because it was too boring. I watched until the part the pervert asked the little girl to go to the cafe where Keneki and him met once.

    Until that part the episode was really boring… I hope it gets better.

    • February 26, 2015 at 3:03 pmAndré

      Watched it… Not a bad episode, but still, I can’t say it was good. Even in this season Tokyo Ghoul had some better episodes.

  • February 20, 2015 at 9:11 amchioneicedyrken

    Of course it was the best episode thus far. It’s the only episode this season so far that stayed mostly loyal to the original manga content.

  • February 20, 2015 at 10:01 amNo

    Never cared about the Anteiku-based melodrama in the first half and don’t care about it now, so I found myself fast-forwarding through much of this episode. I have nothing against human(ish) drama, in fact generally I love it, it’s just that in this particular series it has never been portrayed in a manner I could buy into. At this point I’m watching this pretty much only for the fights and the faction politics plot, not the characters (especially not the main cast). Thus, hardly the best episode for me.

    • February 20, 2015 at 4:56 pmpearthefruit

      dude the fights aren’t even good man, it’s all about the emotional conflicts within each character lol

      • February 20, 2015 at 11:49 pmNo

        dude the emotional conflicts within each character aren’t even good man, it’s all about the fights lol

        Seriously, you should read more carefully what another person says. It great if these emotional conflicts are working for you, but they aren’t for me for the most part, even if they should in theory. I feel very little emotion for Kaneki, Touka, Hinami, the whole Anteiku group, even though I know the anime is intending for me to care for them. The Doves are slightly more interesting, but unfortunately the least interesting of them, Amon, is getting the most screentime. The fights may not be “that good”, but at least they don’t have the problem of simply not working. For me.

      • February 21, 2015 at 12:17 amNo

        Btw, given that the thematic ED sequences stir noticeably more emotion in me compared to the anime proper, I imagine that my problem has less to do with the original author and more with the execution in the anime. So maybe if I read the manga, I’d feel different, but the problem is that because of the anime I don’t exctly have a compelling drive to read it…

  • February 20, 2015 at 10:07 amMgMaster

    Plenty of glorious Tsukiyama moments(one can never have too much Miyano) coupled with some touching moments from Hinami and last but certainly not least, Touka & Kaneki. This episode stood pretty damn well on it’s own, which is quite something considering the lack of build-up from the previous.

    Trying to become stronger to make sure his close ones as well as himself don’t get hurt, which also means coming to terms with the fact that he’s going to have to hurt others. So he went to Aogiri to force that mentality upon himself it seems. Please let this have a follow-up though and not just be something that the series wanted to quickly get out of the way. Expand on Kaneki’s mental state Tokyo Ghoul!

  • February 20, 2015 at 11:12 amKaye

    Kaneki getting more than 1 minute of screen time! Am I dreaming?!
    http://randomc.net/image/Tokyo%20Ghoul/Tokyo%20Ghoul%20Root%20A%20-%2007%20-%20Large%2032.jpg

  • February 20, 2015 at 12:26 pmCTT

    From the screen caps, it looks like Kaneki maybe gets that Touka punched him and yelled at him because she cares about him? It didn’t feel like he realized that in the manga.

    • February 22, 2015 at 1:20 pmTyco

      Actually he did realize what she was saying in the manga,Show Spoiler ▼

      With his self destructive habit Touka was the only one ballsy enough to not only point it out to him but to get it through to him with her fists, you could say she was beating some sense into him.

  • February 20, 2015 at 12:29 pmRukia

    Screw Touka. Ken saved her a few episodes ago. She had no right to treat him that way.

    Hope her death is excruciating.

    • February 20, 2015 at 4:57 pmpearthefruit

      gotta read more into it.. read the comment above urs..

  • February 20, 2015 at 9:46 pmsealouse

    This episode certainly seemed more normal. I just think it might be too little too late. Also the art wasn’t that great.

  • February 20, 2015 at 11:08 pmxxvanitasxx

    Well despite this being a “original” story. This episode really was tied very close to the manga.

    Like the only thing when you compare Tokyo Ghoul √A to manga is that Kaneki is suffering alone, in the manga he had people to talk to and cheer him up to a degree after he went through the kakuja transformation. Here Kaneki is just left suffering all by himself.

  • February 21, 2015 at 5:48 amReverseTales

    I think Takatsuki is trying to get CCG and Anteiku to wipe each other out.

    Then Aogiri could invade the 24th Ward. Kaneki would also lose all of his remaining ties to anyone but Aogiri, and start to really hate CCG. Also, because (I think) Yoshimura is pretty infamous as a ghoul, CCG would dedicate much of their resources to completely crushing Anteiku.

    In the end, Yoshimura and most of the CCG elites would ideally take each other out. With Anteiku out of the picture and CCG severely weakened, Aogiri would be able to take over the rest of Tokyo. Or do whatever it is that they wanted to do.

    • February 21, 2015 at 5:21 pmShadow

      all is cool but you are forgetting the Doctor that is creating Half ghouls…

      And all this leaves that a 3rd season is likely coming. Could be original or could return to the manga plot line, but for all of it to end in 5 or 6 more episodes seems unlikely.

  • February 21, 2015 at 7:02 pmNoragami!

    This episode could have been great if the earlier episode didn’t screw it up. I really don’t care for most of the characters at this point other than Hide, Juuzo, the Twins, and maybe that author.

    Tsukiyama is so horrible. I’m sure he got some development in the manga but he appeared like two times before this episode so him being kind of human didn’t work. Oh, and he began to masturbate to Kaneki’s blood anyways right after he showed some kindness so that ruined the scene for sure :v

    That bridge scene could have been great if the build-up wasn’t so shaky. I don’t like how Touka is doing everything for Kaneki. Individualize yourself, girl…

    Yomo is not a character anymore. Neither is Uta. So scratch THOSE supporting characters out.

    I thought one of the selling points to this series was Rize? Where is she? I know she is still “there” but the plot has moved onto Kaneki’s inner turmoil completely and dropped all the mythos and values the last show presented. Some direct ones like Rize is gone. Some indirect ones like the philosophy of humans vs. ghouls is at this moment shelved and untouched. Kaneki doesn’t get any intriguing screen-time though. He’s an emo warrior, and he’s a “cool guy,” and he’s so “tragic.” That’s nice, but all we see of him is him screaming and getting beat up by people.

    Oh yeah, did anyone catch the reason of Kaneki joining Aogiri? Apparently it was because he wanted to get stronger. Really? I’m pretty sure that there’s more to it, because there’s no way that’s the real reason, but if it does happen to be the actual reason, I’m going to laugh. It’s almost as stupid as the motive of SAO’s first bad guy.

    We still don’t know the point of that raid. We might get answers? Looks like we’re focusing our attention on a potential attack of Anteiku. We have five episodes left, and so many questions left to answer. It’ll be a writing miracle if it ends smoothly at this point.

    Speaking of questions, does anyone know why Kaneki went to the basement to free that one ghoul, then fought it, then got beat up by it, then had a super shounen power-up, then apparently KILLED the ghoul he was supposed to save.

    I don’t think that episode was that great either. It was definitely good, because it actually slowed down to do some stuff. However, it still is falling into the same pit. The previous episodes did nothing but spew out exposition, but failed to answer any of them. The result was an incoherent and confusing story. Now we got this episode, which still refuses to answer anything. We got some characterization I guess, but really, which character got defined even more than they already needed to? Gourmet guy? No, he still masturbates to Kaneki’s tissue blood. Touka? All she is doing is devoting herself to Kaneki. Kaneki? No, we still only know he’s an emo tragic white haired boy now. Hinami’s characterization was nice, but at this point, we don’t have time for characterization. We need to iron out the story first! Please?

    While this episode was pretty good, I wouldn’t even think that it’s a moniker of future quality to come. Not when you consider everything else that has to be covered. I’m failing to understand, what is this second season about? If it’s about Kaneki’s inner turmoil, it would be nice to be able to sense it past the barebones of the situation. Frankly, it’s just not that interesting.

    Plus, not even just above, but the animation is just poor. Amon’s head (I think it was last episode) was just like a yaoi magazine — his head was a peanut compared to the rest of his bulky body. The eyes of the character stretch to the sides of their foreheads in some scenes. (Exaggeration of course). The fight choreography? There were like…three fights this whole show. Episode 1 which was okay but nothing really interesting, Episode 4 which was…well, episode 4, and then Episode 5 which was basically “Jump whoose whee AH BLOOD.”

    Biggest disappointment of the season for me. At this point I’m just watching to see how it ends.