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.
Clearly, the gearshift lever broke some time ago.
One thing’s for sure – either Tokyo Ghoul has a second season announcement in its back pocket or this is one of the greatest rush jobs in anime history. It’s a fun ride but exhausting, and it would be a shame if the “Locomotive Breath” pacing of the last few episode is for no higher purpose than to cram as much action into this season as possible. Still more new characters continue to join the fray, the angst gets more profound, and the violence more graphic and shocking. It’s quite a trip.
Much of this episode is a straightforward depiction of what’s effectively an all-out war between the CCG – under the direction of Marude Itsuki (Ueda Yuuji) – and the assembled ghoul forces of the 11th Ward. The TV news cameras are on-hand and the action is hot and heavy – there are over 1000 humans in the attack force, and Ayato notes that it’s arrived faster than the Ghouls expected. Neither he or the other higher-ups seem especially worried, but it’s clear that they’re expecting a serious fight.
Not a part of that is Jason, though he is at the heart of the episode’s other main thread. He’s got Ken tied up in his “room“, which is basically an ad hoc torture chamber set up under the dome of the shopping center Aogiri has commandeered. This is tough stuff – torture porn, bordering on guro, and there are very few occasions where I see it used in anime and don’t consider it taking the cheap path to shock value and titillation. It’s a tough call with Tokyo Ghoul, though, because even before the reveal at the end of the episode it’s clear that this torture is an important plot point – that it’s going to change Ken in a profound way. And would we get a sense of that if we were spared the gruesomeness of what Jason is doing to him?
We are spared some of it, of course, courtesy of black bars, and I’d be very surprised if the torture sequence in the manga wasn’t much longer and more graphic (they usually are). But the message is clear enough, starting with the hypodermic through the eyeball (a sure-fire wince moment from the audience) and continuing through every one of Ken’s increasingly agonized screams. Jason may not be the strongest being yet introduced in this series (I suspect we met him late in this episode) but he’s certainly the most evil and sadistic we’ve seen. Shinohara explains to Amon that it came as a result of a hideous torture session at the hands of a “problem officer”, but however he got there, Jason has arrived as a pretty disturbing place. Banjou and his friends do what they can to ease Ken’s suffering but that’s not much – that’s clearly on the shoulders of Anteiku, who’ve launched a rescue mission using the CCG assault as cover.
There are opportunities for various characters old and new to show off their powers during the battle. After a brief encounter with the Rabbit Amon takes on the S-Class “Bin Brothers” using Kura – the Quinque bequeathed to him by Mado. The Gourmet (who apparently recovered by feasting on himself) and Yomo are fighting side by side, for the very practical reason that Yomo isn’t planning to let Tsukiyama out of his sight, and they end-up matched against Mr. High-C – a presumably superpowered ghoul who’s new on the scene. And Juuzou steals Marude’s beloved motorcycle in order to make a stylish entrance into the ghoul stronghold, where he proceeds to wipe out everything in his path.
But the main event here appears to be the arrive of the “One-Eyed Owl“. He (presumably) makes a creepy entrance past the window next to which Amon is standing, and turns up on the roof – which is where Shinohara and Amon have headed. I don’t know if this is the same ghoul as Aogiri’s One-Eyed King, but it seems likely it’s not given that he was quite specifically referred to by a different name. Whoever he is, it’s clear from everyone in the CCG’s reactions that he’s the baddest badass they could have feared facing here – Marude’s instructions to Shinohara are basically to send most of the men away, because there’s no point in everyone on the roof dying there and then.
I keep expecting the story to be dialed back at least a little, to narrow in focus as we near the end of the cour, but we’re still in the expansion phase. Everything depends on what happens after the 12th episode, because there’s no way Morita-sensei or anyone else is enough of a miracle worker to tie all these loose ends together satisfactorily in two episodes. He is enough of a miracle worker to keep things coherent and relatively orderly despite the breakneck pace, which is no small achievement and a big reason why Tokyo Ghoul continues to be such an entertaining series.
One final note: It was announced today that the Tokyo Ghoul manga will be ending this month, which seems to have taken most of the readership by surprise. No way to know what impact this might have on a possible second season for the anime – or indeed, whether there could have been an impact going in the other direction, though that seems unlikely.
The Fall 2014 Season Preview is live at LiA! Please swing by and check it out, and vote in the Fall 2014 series poll.