“Tokyo Ghoul: JACK”
Still Tokyo Ghoul, Still Rushed:
Tokyo Ghoul is back for the first of two OVAs focusing on a few side characters. Neither Jack nor Pinto are advertised as essential viewing, but for anyone who consider themselves a fan of the Tokyo Ghoul series, or at the very least a fan of the characters being focused on, then these one-off episodes are sure to tickle your fancy. My story with Tokyo Ghoul is probably similar to many: I watched the first season and really enjoyed it, was inspired to read the manga – and loved it – and then when Root A came along… well, I decided to ignore its existence. I only got one episode in, but the changes were already painfully unbearable, so I dropped it there and then and haven’t looked back since. I did not want my appreciation for the manga to be tarnished by a D-Grade shambolic half-anime original second season.
When I saw that Jack was released, I decided to give it a shot even if the second season was nightmare fuel (for all the wrong reasons), because these side stories surely can’t be ruined as well? Well, so far, so good. It’s still Tokyo Ghoul, which means it’s still rushed as rushed can be, but we got some intriguing insight into the life of a 16-year-old Arima Kishou (Namikawa Daisuke), and his two classmate friends, Fura Taishi (Kimura Ryouhei) and Minami Uruka (Hayami Saori – one of my personal favourites).
This 30 minute episode storms through an entire volume of material (7 chapters) which sounds awfully rushed, but it actually wasn’t as bad as some parts of the main adaptation. One of my gripes with the anime has always been its breakneck pacing and its refusal to take its time; I have to assume there were complications with the episode counts they were given, because each respective season very easily could have been twice the length and covered the exact same material. Alas, that’s the main storyline, and this is Tokyo Ghoul: Jack, which turns out a rather pleasant ride compared to what we’ve gotten before… if only the content was as easy to digest. It’s gory, unforgiving, and massively entertaining. Just like that, my Tokyo Ghoul senses are tingling again after the disappointment that was Root A.
Ghouls of a Tragic Past:
Going into this, I kept my expectations neutral. After all, Arima has never been a character I’ve been that keen on. He’s cool and mysterious, for sure, but I was content with what we’d seen from him in the main series. He’s not got the most charming personality, but the fact that he’s arguably the strongest individual in the series makes him one to look out for in the grand scheme of things. And after watching this episode, I’m grateful to get some insight into his highschool days. We may not have gotten any massive revelations – instead opting for an one-off story about friendship and betrayal – but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a valuable addition to the series.
In a way, it was Fura that was the lead here. Most of Jack was told through his point of view, as he learned the truths about ghouls from Arima and then first-hand through Minami. Perhaps the big reveal could have been a little more surprising (I guessed it about 10 minutes in when the set-up was a little too heavy-handed), but the moment when Minami turned on Arima was still heart-racing, right up until he cut her down and stabbed Jason through the floor. If anything, Arima was even more epic in this OVA than he ever felt in the series… at least from what the anime chose to adapt. The manga is another beast entirely. All things considered, I left Tokyo Ghoul: Jack much more invested in Arima and Fura. They’re both present in the current timeline, and now that we’ve witnessed this heartbreaking past they share, I’ll be more likely to root for them going forward – should we see more of them, of course.
Overview – What’s Next?:
Well, that was surprisingly good. Of course, Tokyo Ghoul has always been good, but there have been plenty bumps along the way as far as the anime adaptation is concerned. If there’s one thing I’ve taken from this, it’s that I’m inspired to read Tokyo Ghoul:re. I originally started the sequel manga but put it on-hold for no particular reason. As I’m writing this I’m already two volumes in, and I have to say, I may enjoy it more than the original series (at least if you compare the equivalent amount of chapters from the original). If it ever gets an anime adaptation in the future, I hope it isn’t as rushed as the previous installments… but I’m not holding out for a miracle.