It’s been two years since the CCG raided the Anteiku coffee shop, and while the organisation has more influence than ever before, the ghoul problem is still ever present, with the terrorist Aogiri Tree still proving to be a significant threat to their plans.
However, with their new soldiers, known as Quinx; humans who have undergone surgery to gain the power of ghouls for themselves, the CCG hopes to gain one final advantage to destroy the last remaining ghouls once and for all. The leader of these new soldiers, Haise Sasaki, is a half-ghoul, half-human has been trained for this very purpose. However, there’s far more to Haise than meets the eye. He’s constantly haunted by memories that aren’t his own.
Out of all of the hugely successful Anime and Manga franchises that have come out in recent years, there’s none that I’ve wanted to get into more than Tokyo Ghoul. The very premise of the series has always been one that interested me, the story of a man becoming a monster and slowly losing his humanity, all the while being surrounded by constant bloodshed and death and some awesome artwork to top it all off.
And I got that story! …In an Anime called Parasyte. Unfortunately I can’t say I got much of that from the original Tokyo Ghoul series.
Tokyo Ghoul had one of the best first episodes I’ve ever seen from an Anime. It set up the story nicely, and the scene of Kaneki’s initial freak out upon being transformed into a ghoul was executed masterfully in how it was presented, both visually and narratively. But afterwards, the series started being less about Kaneki losing his mind and struggling with the monster growing inside him and became more about being a poorly conceived battle shounen series were monsters fight policemen with weapons made from other monsters.
That’s not to say the series was all bad, in fact, the final arc of the first season of Tokyo Ghoul was where the series began to show promise again, with one of the most iconic and memorable final scenes to come from recent Anime. Kaneki’s transformation from a useless, snivelling coward, into an insane, broken, killing machine was again, handled masterfully.
Then Tokyo Ghoul Root A happened for some reason and sent any hope I had left for this franchise careening off a cliff, by being not only a terrible sequel, but one of the worst Anime I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching to completion.
So yeah. My relationship with Tokyo Ghoul as a franchise has been incredibly rocky, and full of a lot more lows than highs. And yes, I’m well aware that I can go and read the Manga which is “objectively” better, but we’re not talking about the Manga. We’re talking about the Anime.
Which brings me to my main problem with Tokyo Ghoul:re.
If, like me, you’re an Anime only watcher who has never read the Manga to Tokyo Ghoul before, and think you can just jump straight into this series after watching Tokyo Ghoul: Root Of All Evil, the answer is: Yes, but you’ll be very confused and annoyed that you did so.
Because the events that happen during Tokyo Ghoul: Square Root of A are vastly different from those that occur in the original Manga, and Tokyo Ghoul:re is a sequel Manga that takes place after the events of the original Manga. And because Pierrot decided to not bother adapting the huge gap between Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 and the beginning of :re, if you’re an Anime only watcher, you’re out of luck.
And sure, we can just go read the Manga, but we shouldn’t have to. If an Anime adaptation of something exists, we should be able to experience it without needing to have prior knowledge of things from external material.
That’s not to say that the episode is completely unwatchable without this knowledge. If you’ve seen Season 1 and Root A, then there are plenty of things you’ll be able to figure out on your own through assumptions. But there’s also plenty of things you’ll be insanely confused about, including the oh so important question of “Who is this main character who is most definitely, totally not Kaneki?”
That’s a pretty damn important detail, and so far :re has done nothing to address it for those who haven’t read the Manga. There’s a chance they will later on when the series gets further into the story, but for now, it’s a real head scratcher.
I know why, but that’s because I ended up reading things to find out because I was pretty confused, which I shouldn’t have to do.
Anyway… Outside of my issues with the nature of this adaptation, the story so far isn’t as bad. There’s been a pretty big timeskip since Tokyo Ghoul’s ending, and the CCG seem to be far more influential than they were in the past. They’ve also got new soldiers who are all half-ghouls, led by totally, definitely, absolutely, not-Kaneki, which is a pretty interesting and hypocritical development that I didn’t expect to see.
And of course, despite my complaints about him, Kane- *cough* Haise is a pretty interesting protagonist so far. He has a far more optimistic personality than basically anyone else in this series, along with signs of a very interesting conflict dwelling deep inside him. The shows first look into this inner struggle towards the end of the episode was by far the biggest highlight, and was a huge moment of hype for what we can expect down the line. This inner struggle is easily the best thing I’ve seen from the franchise so far, because it seems like it’s actually going to take the series more down the route that it should have taken in the first place: a man losing his humanity to the monster inside him!
But outside of that, not a lot is going on so far. We’ve got Kan- *sneezes* Haise and his half-ghoul sidekicks chasing down a ghoul called Torso, and we get some insight into who they all are and how the world has changed, and… That’s it really. I feel like a lot of what was presented was done so at far too quick a speed. Everything felt a little rushed and all over the place, which I’m inclined to believe is the case considering that this first episode alone adapted six Manga chapters. Oh my… You’re at it again, Pierrot!
That being said, on the art and animation side of things, Pierrot have really stepped their game up with :re. The show isn’t their finest hour, but it’s a big step up from the original Tokyo Ghoul and Root AAAAAAAAAA!!! which is welcome. The action scenes in particular look really nice and there’s some really nice directing thrown in there too, especially in the final scene of the episode, which is just spectacular looking.
And of course, the music is great. Tokyo Ghoul’s biggest strength was always its music, and once again it does a stellar job, with a fantastic opening and a great soundtrack. The voice acting is also fine, if a bit spoiler-y.
So do I hate Tokyo Ghoul:re? Nah, not at all. I think it’s alright so far, and it’s already vastly improving on the original series in a lot of ways, particularly with the way it seems to be handling Kanek- *twitches uncontrollably* Haise and his inner demons. It has the potential to become something really great.
However, it’s also only going to be 12 episodes long, which is a huge concern, because the :re Manga is long. Very long. And it’s still ongoing to this day. Will we get a second season down the line? Will it eventually fill in the gaps that weren’t adapted into Anime?
Because if these things don’t happen, I can’t really see any reason for this adaptation to exist, as harsh as that sounds. It won’t appeal to Manga fans because it’ll be an incomplete, and therefore inferior, version of the story and it will struggle to appeal to Anime only fans because it’ll be stupidly confusing and force them to read a Manga that they have no interest in reading.
But all of these issues are easily fixable. There’s a chance this could become something very, very special. There’s a chance this can be a show that’s worth my time. There’s a chance I can finally get on board with Tokyo Ghoul.
Let’s hope so.
What are your First Impressions for Tokyo Ghoul:re?