A review of the 2015 winter anime “Tokyo Ghoul √A”
Remember that fireworks analogy I made in my Tokyo Ghoul review: suspenseful start, awkward wait, explosive finish? Well, I will now describe √A using a continuation of that comparison, let’s say, what the actual firework looked like. If the first season was the bang, then this sequel is the tiny bursts of light that follow. Bursts so minor, dull and utterly disappointing that by the end of the display, you’ve realized that you purchased a cheap firework, and the only way to get your money back is by reading the manga.
***Spoilers for Tokyo Ghoul ahead
√A picks up right where we last left it. Kaneki gives into his inner ghoul and, battle after battle alongside “Aogiri Tree” unleashes more of the deadly, uncontrollable powers that Jason infected him with. Over at CCG, superior officers and Amon handle new recruits, one being Mado’s daughter, Akira. The finale takes us back to every ghoul’s favorite coffee shop, “Anteiku,” where the monstrous “Owl” reveals his identity. Carnage ensues.
And that’s about all I got. Whisked from one large-scale bloodbath to the next, there’s never a moment to just stop and think about the what’s going on. As such, there’s not really time to cram in motives for most of the major ghouls introduced in this season either. You desperately try to grasp onto any connections within the show, but nothing pieces together correctly; the plot is far too choppy.
Also, I could give one finger less about the CCG dudes and their struggle against the ghouls – Why can’t we uncover the secrets surrounding the ghouls already: Where did Ghouls come from? What determines their powers? Do the Kagunes have special properties, and how can normal people wield them? What can a half-breed do better than anyone else? How did Rize actually die?? My previous questions still go unanswered 😦
Other than Akira Mado, whose incredible intel and willingness to seek out the truth seems fresh since NOBODY ELSE KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON, the characters in this sequel also stand as unremarkable. Even Kaneki, my previous fave attends the sidelines right up until the end, where the “plot” makes the decisions for him. I couldn’t even call his big revelation character development; it was ridiculously unreal, forced maturation. The new detectives and ghouls that come out to play also only get a ten-second flashback to fill you in, then the fight continues. What the actual f*ck? Literally, I don’t know any other characters besides the Anteiku gang. They were pretty chill ~
Animation was just as enjoyable as before, but there were several more obvious derps. For instance, during on one of the fights, they panned out to a downwards view of a ghoul in the air and some CCG dude on the ground was sliding parallel with the ghoul. So either that guy can glide over concrete or the ground was shifting below him :’D A coincidental fog also happens to blur out most of the background during the prison fight and the final confrontation. Studio Pierrot, that’s plain lazy!
Sound quality remained one of the best aspects, with phenomenal voice acting for Tsukiyami, Juuzou, and Kaneki (whenever he actually spoke) and an epic orchestral OST to back up all of that combat! There was one particular grand, foot-tapping string instrumental that caught my ear each time it played, but I can’t seem to find the name. While the opening was sadly annoying as all hell, the ending “Kisetsu wa Tsugitsugi Shindeiku” by Amazarashi had vibrant still visuals depicting the cast, which was pretty neat.
You’re probably wondering, “Takuto, if the plot was a disaster, the characters were rushed and bland, and animation is kinda sloppy, then what is there commendable, if anything, about this show?” I have to give the sole reason I liked this series to the final episode. By the end, nothing really gets accomplished, nothing is answered, and we still don’t know whom we are cheering for, but the reuniting of two characters – Kaneki and his old best friend Hide – brings EVERYTHING to a halt, where something very special happens.
In the midst of the bloody chaos on the ruined streets: wounded and dead, male and female, adult and child – all lying on the ground, Kaneki finally embraces his harsh reality in a very cold yet artistic and heartbreaking scene that chilled me to the bone. I was reminded of ALDNOAH.ZERO‘s first cour ending.
Tokyo Ghoul as a whole is extremely flawed. √A leaves off hinting a third season, but honestly, it’s not worth watching. In my defense, I have never read the manga, which I know has several significant variations, explanations, and development in it. Thus, I rate Tokyo ghoul √A a “Bread” here at the cafe, and a recommendation to ONLY watch it if you are a desperate fan of the manga. It had a beautifully choreographed ending, I’ll admit, but everything else is a complete wreck.
“I was wrong. I wasn’t eating ghouls. I’m the one . . . who was being eaten.” – Kaneki Ken
“Whether we die or not isn’t really that big of a deal.” – Insane boy Juuzou
+ Epic orchestral OST and voice acting make overall sound a near-perfect
+ Artistic and heartbreaking ending
– A mountain of unexplained plot holes, and there’s still more to the story
– Too many characters to balance, especially when all we get is combat and no pensive conversations
– Who are we rooting for again?
What did you guys think of √A? It wasn’t so bad compared to what I thought it’d be, but it was still incredibly disappointing. *sighs* If the prison scene was the climax of this season, which was built up by explanations and proper introductions of the characters, some drama here and there, then this would have been a great season. This way, the Anteiku clash could have been the third season’s climax, with even more character development and secrets of the ghouls revealed. Gosh, maybe I should have directed this series, haha, maybe . . . Comment below with your thoughts and until next time, this has been
– Takuto, your host