Author’s Note: Please avoid any and all manga spoilers in the comments, which I know is going to especially tempting given how much unexplained material the anime offered this week.
For a breather episode, there sure was a hell of a lot going on there.
I haven’t read much of the Tokyo Ghoul manga, and I’m not looking for answers (or clever hints) from those who have – I’m merely an anime-only viewer speculating on the meaning of everything that was thrown at us in this episode. An optimist might look at the flood of new characters and potential threads that were introduced here as evidence that the production committee saw the decent Stalker numbers and huge bump in manga sales and gave encouraging signs about a second season, but the realist in me knows the anime production cycle doesn’t move that quickly. And the pessimist wants to theorize that what’s happening is that all of the future arcs are being combined into one clusterfuck of an anime-original ending, but I’ll choose to ignore him…
As it stands it’s hard to know just what to make of this episode, coming only three weeks from the series finale. There’s no possible way even half of what this ep hinted was important could be fleshed out in three episodes, so if there’s no second season on the books it’s interesting to ponder why it was there at all. I was expecting a segue into the arc that would likely close the season and maybe the series, not the seeds of what seem like about five or six different arcs, bit maybe the intent was to get across that there’s a lot going on in the manga that the anime hasn’t covered. If so, it did a pretty good job of it.
Rather than try and weave them into a narrative, there are so many new faces (and big name seiyuu) it’s easier to just list them out…
- Arima Kishou (Namikawa Daisuke) – an obviously important higher-up at the CCG
- Shinhara Yukinori (Nakano Yutaka) – a colleague of Mado and friend of Amon who seems to be in-charge of the contention 11th Ward
- Takizawa Seidou (Tachibana Shinnosuke) – one of the two Doves assigned to keep an eye on the 20th Ward and an admirer of Amon-kun
- Houji Kousuke (Hayami Sho) – the other, and the more senior of the two
- Muramatsu Kie (Doi Mika – the narrator on Mushishi) – the 68 year-old ghoul Mado uses as an object lesson to his new partner Amon in flashback
- Kirishima Ayato (Kaji Yuuki) – the younger brother of Touka, who we meet as a young boy
- Kirishima Arata (Uchida Yuuya) – their father
- Banjou Kazuichi (Kentarou Itou) – an 11th-Ward ghoul of some standing, and apparently big trouble
- Koma Enji (Katsu Anri) – the barista at Anteiko who we’ve met before, but who finally got some meaningful screen time here, mostly referring to himself as “Devil Ape” and being ignored
- Hetare – “Loser” (Amamiya Sora) – the foul-mouthed cockatiel that’s adopted by Touka and Hinami
It’s not as if any of these characters come off as extras, either – there’s a hell of a lot going on here. Ken is trying to research Rize, to see if he can understand the beast inside him. Hide is dropping more and more hints that he knows what Ken is, but at the very least he’s a ghoul otaku who knows more than most humans do about them (my bet is he became interested after finding out that Ken was now a Ghuman). Hide has also coincidentally overheard Jason bragging about how he’s going to get Rize once and for all – and his reaction could be further betrayal of the fact that he knows the connection between Rize and his best friend.
Rize is a theme running through a lot of what happens in this episode. Both Banjou’s group and Ayato’s group seem very interested in taking her out, which means invading the 20th Ward and causing trouble. Speaking of Ayato, he seemed like a kind and timid little ghoul boy in the flashback we see – he’s even squeamish of the worms tomboy Touka is gathering to feed the wounded sparrow they’ve found (clearly, this incident will end up being responsible for Touka’s professed dislike of birds in the present). But now he seems like a nasty piece of work, with no discernible regard for his sister. How that came to be is one of many potential arcs teased in this episode.
That’s not all that’s going on, either – Hinami is living with Touka now, and Ken is pickpocketed by a strange young delicious-smelling girl with tattooed (or scarred hands), which feels like a pretty important incident, especially given the possibility that she could be the same girl we see visiting Mado’s grave earlier. Mostly there’s a sense that all hell is about to break loose in the 20th Ward and that Rize is the primary cause of it. It almost plays like throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall and seeing what will stick, but of course Morita-sensei knows exactly what the next three episodes will cover and what they won’t – which makes this episode an unusual albeit quite entertaining narrative choice. In the end I suppose it’s an either an attempt to introduce as much of the mythology as possible to keep options open or one last burst of sweep and breadth, but one way or the either the focus of Tokyo Ghoul is surely going to narrow considerably starting with next week’s episode.