“Chinese Parasol Tree”
Author’s Note: I realize the temptation is overwhelming, but please avoid any manga spoilers in the comments. Most of you have shown admirable restraint thus far – please continue to do so for the remainder of the series.
Damn, this has turned into one crazy-ass show.
I’ve reached the conclusion that it may be best to stop worrying about what’s going to happen with Tokyo Ghoul, and just enjoy the ride. This has become the Silver Streak of the anime season, a wildly out-of-control express train that’s throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the audience over its last couple of episodes. There’s really no hope of making sense of all of it, much less seeing any meaningful percentage of it through to fruition.
I can say this much for sure – if there’s no second season (and right now I’d put the odds at about 50-50) I’m going to be seriously pissed off. And that’s a compliment, because the reason I would is that I find Tokyo Ghoul to be a pretty compelling series. We’re seeing what feel like the beginning of about six different arcs over the last two episodes, but each of them is an arc I really want to see (though preferably not all at once). These new characters are intriguing, the developing scenarios are compelling, and the overlying story is one that I’ve come to genuinely care about. It’s going to take some skill not to seriously undo much of the good the show has accomplished if the next two eps are as rushed as they seem destined to be, but there’s serious skill on display both in the source material and the adaptation.
To start with, we do at least get a bit of a clarification on some of the avalanche of plot and personnel introduced last week. The nasty organization from the 11th Ward is called Aogiri Tree, and Touka’s otouto Ayato is clearly a fairly important member. Banjou appears to be a flunky more than anything, a hothead who’s basically a decent guy, and also one who happens to in love with Rize. He’s not exactly a formidable fighter despite his looks – even Ken has no problem stopping him dead with a well-placed head butt – but he’s at least enough of a banchou to have thee flunkies himself (all of whom wear gas masks and – conveniently – numbers on their hoodies for easy identification). The organization is apparently headed by a ghoul called the “One-eyed King” – a significant title if I’ve ever heard one – and he has an underling named Tatara (Yusa Kouji) that we meet briefly.
Rize seems to be the cause of all the insanity that’s playing out as all these threads converge into what looks like a major cataclysm. Banjou is after her to tell her to run, because he knows his bosses are after her. And so is Jason, why gives the impression of being the nastiest piece of work we’ve met (and that’s saying something). He shows up at Anteiku right after Banjou and Ayato with the wildly effeminate Nico (Tsuda Kenjirou) in tow, and immediately smells Rize on Ken. What follows is a display of really shocking brutality, so much so that even the now-bloodthirsty Ayato is repulsed. It’s a great scene in a terrible way, and really reinforces the impression that Yakumo is somebody everyone on both sides would rather avoid dealing with if they had a choice.
In the end Jason kidnaps Ken, and takes him back to the 11th Ward (whether the 13th Ward-based Yakumo is permanently allying himself with Aogiri Tree or merely did so for the purposes of finding Rize is unclear). Just why is everyone so interested in Rize, and who was it that killed her? It’s not as though the CCG is going to be finding out anytime soon, because they have their own problems – their entire 11th Ward detachment has been wiped out by Aogiri Tree. They seem quite unprepared to deal with the notion of an organized and purposed enemy, and they’re clearly hamstrung by the fact that their hatred for ghouls prevents them from fully grasping that they’re dealing with an opponent that’s of human intelligence, not a bunch of mindless beasts drunk for blood.
There’s another X-factor for the Doves, and whether it’s a strength or a problem (most likely it’s both) isn’t 100% clear yet. That’s Suzuya Juuzou (Kugemiya Rie), the “only 3rd-Class Investigator” and the strange boy (not girl) with the scars (or tattoos) that picked Ken’s wallet last week. He introduces himself at the emergency CCG meeting as “Shinohara’s underling”, talks (coincidentally) to an absent “Rie-chan”, looks about 12 (but according to his file is 19) and is clearly much more than simply an underling. Just what his role is going to be isn’t clear (we should have a stamp made up to that effect for the last two episodes) but the impression is certainly of someone very important – and of someone almost akin to a Dove Jason, someone the rest of the cops would rather not deal with. And if all that weren’t enough, did we just get a hint that Amon’s father was a ghoul?
Given the sheer volume of plot and new characters that have been introduced in the last two episodes, the miraculous thing is that things are not only still pretty coherent, but genuinely engaging. For now at least, it appears the focus is going to be on the manageable morsel of Anteiko gang trying to rescue Ken – a high-risk operation for which Yoshimura has brought in none other than Tsukiyama, the Gourmet. I suppose the operating notion is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and anyone who plans to steal Ken off Tsukiyama’s plate is his enemy – that, and this is a measure of just how much Yoshimura considers the odds to be stacked against his side. Apart from that it’s anybody’s guess what’s going to happen in the next two weeks…