I’ve watched other shows this week, but I’ve been both pre-occupied and at a loss for words for some of them. Akame Ga Kill and Argevollen were so horrendous that I don’t really want to touch them with a ten foot pole, and Aldnoah Zero’s pilot was largely a set up episode trying to plunge through as much exposition as possible. That said, Tokyo Ghoul continues to excel. For how much longer, however?
As discussed in the last post, the ghouls appear to take an almost sexual pleasure in killing and eating their victims. Characters such as Touko seem to not care one way or the other, she accepts it as a fact of her existence that ghouls will have to eat humans. Rize and Nishiki, however, exemplify the idea of ghoul as predator. Rize is prominent throughout the episode, a devil resting on Kaneki’s shoulder tempting him into eating, trying to rationalize his base desires to consume. Kaneki, however, continues to resist even as he is driven more and more insane. There’s a reason why the writers decided to make Kaneki a half ghoul, and for once it’s not just to create the fantasy of ‘the chosen one’ who is unique amongst everyone else in the planet. Kaneki is the only ghoul thus far in the show who still clings to human morals, who still resists to urge the reason to eat. The show presents him both perfectly rational and completely irrational reasons for eating, but the truth is, Kaneki is still part human. Not only is his anatomy different, the way he thinks is different, too. Thusly, his relationship with human flesh is also completely different. For him, flesh isn’t a rare, well-earned treat after putting up with the crap of day to day life, quite literally. For Kaneki, flesh is an addiction, a sentiment which confuses the ghouls, including Rize, the ghoul who is literally a part of him, a side that manifests as the inherited power of his murder during a particularly brutal action scene. The duality of his nature is something the show goes to great length to remind you of, not only through the dialogue, but the directing and animation too. Characters see their reflections throughout the episode, scenes with Kaneki’s friend are shown parallel to flashbacks, as are the ghoul’s eyes and Rize’s ever seductive, intimidating on screen presence.
The animation is top notch, not only moving wonderfully and making great use of colour, (the shift between light and dark surroundings, and the red hue Kaneki’s surroundings are soaked in whenever Rize appears to tempt him) combined with the music and vocal performances makes Tokyo Ghoul a very enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, there’s a heavy amount of censoring during a major action scene, which is fairly distracting.
The problems from the first episode do continue to exist, granted. Namely, the history and the biology of the ghouls work better as metaphor than they do as actual, believable creatures. Those who like to nitpick or otherwise enjoy their plots best when their plots are as flawlessly constructed as can be will find plenty to criticize and question in Tokyo Ghoul.
Juxtaposed with the other action shonen offerings from this season however, a juvenile gamer power fantasy and an exploitative, unfunny romp through the fields of unpleasantness, Tokyo Ghoul is so far standing out very proudly from the rest. I doubt the quality will remain consistent, but here’s hoping that future episodes will continue to hold some unique worth outside of a bloody spectacle.