「円環」 (Enkan)

That was an interesting mix of the expected and the unexpected.

I think the broad course of Tokyo Ghoul has been laid in from the very beginning, and even if the order of events has apparently been moved around some in the anime version, the first eight episodes have pretty much been the prologue. It wasn’t so much about where we were going but how we were going to get there – and now, wherever it is we are it certainly feels like a “there”. The story has to transition to another phase now unless I’m seriously misreading the situation (and yes, manga readers, I’m quite happy to forgo your shared expertise and find out for myself).

I’ll say this much for starters: I very much like the scenario that’s been set up here but I do have some issues with the way it’s been executed, including in this episode. The notion of two sentient species with imperatives that are seemingly mutually exclusive, and the young man who stands balanced between them. is hardly novel in anime or elsewhere – hell, it’s practically archetypal. But there’s a kind of straightforward elegance to Tokyo Ghoul’s take on the subject. Ghouls need to eat flesh, humans need to not be eaten – it doesn’t get much simpler than that. But because there’s the full range of ethical and moral possibilities presenting in both populations, things could hardly be more complicated.

With that in mind, this episode was effectively the end of the beginning – the official stamp on the premise. I think it’s more a matter of stylistic preference than objective quality, but I wasn’t crazy about having Amon and Touka making the same speech simultaneously in different places, explaining the premise as the camera cross-cut between them. It felt like we were being hit over the head with something that was already apparent and didn’t need that kind of broad sledgehammer narrative – I prefer letting the pathos of the situation speak for itself.

The other element of this episode that didn’t click with me was Ken’s decision to employ passive resistance against Amon-kun. I have nothing against passive resistance, which is an incredibly powerful tool against evil and injustice in the right situation – but this wasn’t the right situation, for obvious practical reasons. Frankly, I would have expected Amon to simply kill Ken – why the hell didn’t he? He doesn’t seem temperamentally psychotic, but he’s clearly convinced himself that ghouls are incapable of recognizably human feelings and unworthy of restraint, and he was especially bitter about the death of Kusaba. True, Ken couldn’t have known about that specific matter, but he certainly had no reason to expect Amon to spare him.

Once Ken “woke up“, though, and accepted his responsibility that he had to stop Amon at any cost things got much better. Ken’s fundamental dilemma – trying to remain human despite having a psychopthic beast inside him urging him to kill and giving him the means to do so, and to find a way to foster communications between the species that make up his two halves – is the engine that drives Tokyo Ghoul, and it’s a powerful one. The quality of mercy is not strained, my ass – it looked pretty strained for Ken here. And it did make a sort of impact on Amon, confusing him at the very least – why would this subhuman beast disarm him rather than kill and devour him? There seems the very real possibility that Amon’s blind hatred may be starting to crack – though that possibility is shattered soon enough. Amon has frankly come off as a pretty weak fighter to this point, but from a psychological perspective he makes a much more interesting foil than Mado did.

Past tense? Indeed – as Ken and Amon are dancing and Rize cuts in, Mado is having a hell of a fight with Touka (truly, some of the best animation Pierrot has done in a very long time). I would argue that Mado was an even more outlandish villain than the Gourmet is, and for me at least his grotesquerie and sadistic nature undercut his effectiveness as the face of the human side of the story. But he’s a serious badass, and without any question he’s more than a match for Touka – he’s bested her twice now. It’s only when Hinami shows her teeth that the tide turns, and even if Hinami was unwilling to finish Mado off it was her attack that allowed Touka to do so.

There’s poetic justice in the fact that it was Mado’s sadistic delight in using Ryouko’s head to lure Hinami out, and Hinami’s parents’ kagune to finish her that finally awoke the beast in her. And while there are no easy answers in the human-ghoul dilemma (the fact that Tokyo Ghoul acknowledges this is a major point in its favor) I shed no tears for Mado. Whatever happened to his family, he brought this on himself. If an American murdered a Frenchman’s family, would we be willing to say the Frenchman would be justified in trying to kill every American he could, whether they were involved in any way or not?

At heart, I think Tokyo Ghoul is a tragedy, and people like Mado and Touka are tragic characters. Mado was consumed by his lust for revenge, and it eventually killed him. Touka is unable to rise above her own, and despite the concern and disapproval of those around her she continues down a path that will inevitably lead to her own destruction, miserable all the while. Part of the story is certainly going to be Ken’s efforts to get Touka off that path, though the main theme is surely his destiny to try and be a bridge over a seemingly unbridgeable chasm.



  1. I hate to use Naruto for this, but…

    It’s pretty much the cycle of hatred. (It’s not original to Naruto, but it certainly tried to really push that philosophy down our throats for a while.)

    Amon did look like he seriously thought about what Ken had said, especially with Ken (mostly) backing up his words with action, but now with the death of his mentor at the hands of Touka (and Hinami a bit), that fire of hatred and vengeance is ignited within Amon with a lot of gasoline and timber thrown on top. Unless something happens later, Amon will end up becoming Mado incarnate.

    And now that Touka also pretty much got her revenge for Ryoko’s death, it’s pretty clear that she’s not exactly satisfied about it. She was able to kill Mado sure, but it comes at the cost; Hinami being effectively scarred for life over these events. Hinami didn’t give in and just destroy Mado, but she’s probably not going to be able to look at humans the same way again either. That and the fact that the death of Mado, seemingly one of the top investigators and Ghoul killers, will only end up bringing down the wrath of the Doves on the 20th Ward because of something seemingly so strong and dangerous being there that was capable of taking out even Mado.

    Eventually, another Ghoul friend/ally will probably end up killed and Touka or someone will want to kill the Dove(s) who did so to avenge them, then other investigators will want vengeance for that death(s) and hunt down other Ghouls, and keep going until one side completely wipes out the other.

    Ken will definitely have his work cut out for him.

    1. On that point,hopefully the conflict between doves & ghouls won’t be resolved solely by a talk-no-jutsu 🙂 Although I feel that I’ve just insulted Tokyo Ghoul for saying something like that…

  2. Has no one done even a little research regarding ghouls? I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard for researchers to learn that not all ghouls are killers, something the likes of Amon and made seem completely unaware of.

    1. I don’t think that is some thing that is in the interest of Amon’s employers to inform him of. Or he already knows, just doesn’t think about it and blames every ghoul for the actions of the few. It doesn’t look like he will deal with the death of Mado rationally any way.

      1. It’s pretty much a whole paranoid blanketing fear that you see quite a bit in real life.

        Like a number of (foolish) people, especially since 9/11, think ALL Muslims are “terrorists” simply because of the actions of fringe extremist groups that claim to share their beliefs. Yet, hypocritically, many of those same people DON’T think the same thing if people “like them” do any sort of terrorist acts. How many of the normal humans in Tokyo Ghoul would even bat an eye at how Mado acts when killing Ghouls or knowing how their kagune are taken and weaponized for humans after? Most of them would probably look the other way or even say the Ghouls deserve to be treated that way without even considering the fact that Ghouls at least need to eat humans just to survive and, as we’ve seen, a number of them try to get around it by eating people who are already dead after killing themselves and such.

        Then again, I’m sure a majority of the Ghouls the people have actually seen/been shown have ONLY been those “bad” ones that enjoy killing and eating people (as a way to propagandize against them, much like how “news” these days is sensationalized, so we’re never really shown the Muslim leaders denouncing the actions of fringe extremist groups, even though many of them actually do). Otherwise, chances are that people have walked by at least one Ghoul almost every day without even knowing it because those Ghouls are the ones, like much of the 20th Ward, are trying to co-exist peacefully. Heck, Ken is one such person when it came to Rize and Touka.

    1. This one’s the best for me so far.

      I really like Mado, regardless of how the other characters overshadow him. I mean, he has the most amusing facial expressions, and his line of thought borders on cloud cuckoolander.

      And that scene where he JUST. REFUSES. TO. DIE. I’m expecting Mado to crawl out of his grave later and blindside everyone.

      Although the omakes do a complete 180, this seems entirely canon. Mado is so chill.

      I also liked the relationship between Amon and Mado to be the most intriguing one. I mean, no one likes Mado, and for quite obvious reasons. Yet all of his subordinates, Amon especially, seem to deeply respect him. And Mado himself treats Amon quite kindly, almost as someone dear to him.

      It’ll be interesting to see how (if ever) Amon recalls Mado’s teachings later.

      1. Expanding on that omake here:

        Those three people in that hot tub in hell are all “bad” ghouls the CCG had killed in the past (the old lady in particular was killed by Mado when Amon went on his first real mission, with Mado). The one line that was cut out was Mado going “who would’ve thought I’d still get to keep my job in the afterlife?” or something to that effect.

  3. I feel that i’am seeing the sequel to ‘Shiki’ here. Ghouls are furious because some humans kill them, yes, she was harmless as a ‘ghoul’ but the humans didn’t know that but even if they did that doesn’t change the fact that she was a Human’s predator. Amon is going to continue the circle of hate because there is no way that this story is going to have a happy ending.

    1. Well, the point Shiki made is that it is much more practical to eliminate the other species (i.e. highly practical Toshio), and stupid to try to gain peace and pursue ideals (i.e. naive Seishin); you could say Tokyo Ghoul somewhat tries to do the latter seriously which looks fake and not very interesting.

  4. At 8th episode prologue is finally complete! God above please confirm second season already so we can actually see an ending!!!

    And I 100% agree on tragedy at the heart of Tokyo Ghoul. The best part is, I think the characters themselves are self aware of the fact as well.

  5. I still can’t get over how the anime has seriously wimplified Kaneki. What’s up with the the Japanese and their penchant for MCs who are seriously weak character-wise before they get “bad-ass”, so to speak? I wouldn’t mind if this was what the author was aiming for and I hate to make comparisons with the manga, but considering it is the original source it’s unavoidable. Granted, Kaneki wasn’t an immediately “strong” character in the manga either but he wasn’t this weak either. The anime managed to stretch out his period of indecision and weakness way longer than was necessary. I hate to say this, considering the anime too has its own strengths, but I blame the disorganization of the arcs for that. Maybe it’s just me but, seeing what we have on our hands currentlt, it seems like it would have been a lot better for the anime to play the arcs straight. With the amount of stuff that has been removed due to time constraints, it would have made no difference to the overall length of the anime but would have, at least, been more faithful to how the author intended the series to be received.

    Oh well, at this point it’s just leftover disgruntlement at what the anime could have been had it had the time it deserved. I did like this episode though, outside of Kaneki taking so long to be Amon’s punching bag.

    1. I guess it was to pad out the episode.

      For the uninitiated, this is how Kaneki VS Amon went in the manga:

      Kaneki punches Amon, to no effect. Amon concludes that he’s just some random punk pretending to be a ghoul and getting in his way, so he goes easy on Kaneki to begin with. Kaneki, realising he can’t afford to let Amon get past him, decides to indulge his inner ghoul. Aware that he’s totally weak, Kaneki first taunts Amon into blindly attacking him so that his movements would be easier to read. Kaneki then dodges the attack, zips in and takes a bite out of his shoulder before giving Amon a beatdown and breaking his quinque.

      And yes, he spared Amon afterward. That and everything afterward was the same in the manga.

    2. Weak? More like stupid. I don’t understand why he had an internal monologue rather then answer Amon’s question. Their was as good time as any to point out that ghouls doesn’t have to murder anyone as people die natural deaths every second anyway.

    3. As leatherhead333 stated below,as well as last week,Kaneki’s weakness and/or naivety is why he can be the “bridge” between humans & ghouls. It makes him a stronger character AND help’s to prevent Tokyo Ghoul from turning into a “let’s just beat up the big bad dove oppressors” type of show. Although I also didn’t like how he let himself be Amon’s punching bag – he could’ve easily been killed there,which wouldn’t help Touka & Hinami’s situation at all. He was a bit too naive here and I guess the way it was presented in the manga as Hanabira Kage claim’s does sound better.


      I REALLY don’t think his words would’ve gotten through Amon 😛

  6. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Moral dilemmas are a topic that ANY good story involving killing should have in it. These matters should never be black and white (like Akame ga Kill seems to try to do far to often). If you want a recent example in real life a man was recently killed because the U.S did not pay the ransom for his freedom in time.

    Many people could argue that a human life should ALWAYS be put over money. But guess what? These same terrorists have been doing these ransoms with Europe for a long time now and have raised millions upon MILLIONS of dollars because of it. All that have to do is threaten to kill someone and they can score all the money they ever wanted. America doesn’t want to get caught in that scheme of course. After all, continuing to give into the demands of terrorists is stupid no matter how you slice it. So how do they attack the issue? They try everything they can to rescue the captive before they can be killed. They take the enemy by surprise after they’ve found them and attempt to rescue them. Take note that many lives are in risk when such a thing is done. But they are willing to put their lives on the line to rescue them. Sadly it didn’t work this time. However that’s the point I’m trying to make here. People finding a moral middle ground in situations like this. And that’s the appeal behind the series. Sometimes there aren’t any answers for making people understand each other. Understandably so in this case. But you can bet people are going to fight against that fate no matter how hard they have to try. That my friend is what makes the series hit so close to home.

    By all means humans have a right to want ghouls gone because their very existence poses a danger to them. If i remember correctly one human body will only keep a ghoul from going hungry for about 1 week. Needless to say it would be a messy business trying to organize a way to satisfy them and not piss off the people who want a proper burial. However just as all life they just want to live. They did not have a choice in the matter that they were born Ghouls. They are capable of human understanding and emotions as well. That’s what makes the issue here. Humans are not wrong for wanting Ghouls to die. However on the flipside Ghouls are not wrong in simply wanting to live, a function that nearly every creature on this earth wishes for. I love it ^_^.

    Oddly enough I’ve never found myself annoyed by Kankei’s weakness. In fact I think it makes him a stronger character. If he just went around killing in his way he would not be able understand each sides reasons for hating each other. He’d probably end up like Touka just going around picking fights with people who upset her. Which would ruin the point the show is trying to make. He’s the bridge for humans and Ghouls to understand each other. And the more powerful someone is the less likely they will be willing to try to reason with people who disagree with them. The fact he’s weak let’s him experience the cruelty of both humans and ghouls while being able to look into their way of thinking. Again works just fine for this story.

  7. They mixed everything around from the manga. I like this show, but this looks like a rushed job to get to the good stuff. Also, it’s 12 episodes so this is not looking good for the show. I hope it doesn’t have an original ending. This deserves a 2 cour.

    Corey Lucas
  8. The only thing I dislike about Tokyo Ghoul is the pacifist protagonist. I know he cant help it since he is both human and ghoul, but still….

    He is under the threat of a dead end, yet he still maintains his “I wont kill anyone” ideal? Is he Emiya Shirou the second? I hope he grows a spine before the cour ends

  9. My favorite part of this episode was Hinami knowing she didn’t want revenge, she was only sad. Among all those other fairly self-righteous monologues, Hinami’s felt the most heartfelt and honest to me.

  10. As you mentioned, I too don’t feel much pity for Mado. I’m just glad he got what he deserved. Also, I find Amon’s sense of justice to be somewhat twisted. I honestly cannot see how he doesn’t see what Mado does as wrong.

    1. It struck me in watching this ep play out that Amon has a bit of a Javert-like mindset – and might even play a braodly similar role. I think it’s obvious to us that Mado was no role model, but Amon seems not to have been exposed to any other way of thinking, and perhaps he isn’t the sort of person that naturally raises questions about what his role models tell him.

  11. I didn’t like Mado. I still don’t. But honestly I didn’t expect him to go so soon, and somehow this has made me very interested in his past. I think the story and underlying themes are good, or at least, very interesting to me. Though parts like Amon and Touka making the same speech, as mentioned, I felt could have been done better. I don’t really want to mention the censorship.
    I sort of expected a badass Kaneki in mask this episode, so I was surprised to see Hinami being strong and awesome this time. I can see her being depressed about this event for still some time to come, but I’m glad she doesn’t want revenge. I hope she’ll grow up well.
    We’re getting more rash actions from Touka, contrary to the cool person I had thought she was. I won’t say I like or hate it… but I do love seeing her kagune. Though I definitely hated Mado before, I suddenly wish he appeared a bit more. (No, actually, I’m just suddenly eager to know his story… D:) Whereas for Amon, while I don’t really care if he has any interesting past, I’d like to see where he goes from now. (I’m aware this whole comment doesn’t flow well and it’s a little random 🙁 )
    Anyway, I don’t think this anime is perfect but, I really do like what I’m getting so far. I hope everyone else continues to enjoy it too, because the nice discussions just make it all better for me. Cheers and have a nice day.

  12. The central conflict between man-eating ghouls and humans can be seen as a metaphor for so many things in real life. For example, rich people may view poor people as “welfare queens” leeching of the labor of hard-working people, making them the “ghouls.” Or the poor people may view rich people as “blood suckers” exploiting the lower class, making the opposite side the “ghouls.” Or the metaphor can be extended to race, religions, countries, or any “life-and-death” conflict that gets trapped in a cycle of revenge. So far this looks promising. Let’s see how the anime develops.

  13. using Ryouko’s head to lure Hinami out
    IIRC, they didn’t show the bag’s contents. Though I suppose it being her head makes the most sense, considering how she was killed.



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