The Spring 2018 Anime Preview Guide Tokyo Ghoul:re
How would you rate episode 1 of
Tokyo Ghoul:re ?
What is this?
How was the first episode?
Alright, let's just get it out of our systems right away: "Haise Sasaki" is obviously Ken Kaneki. The timeskip isn't fooling anybody, and frankly I don't think it's trying to fool anybody. No, Tokyo Ghoul:re is pulling what I like to call a "seaboot." It's a sequel that looks like a soft reboot, thanks to a timeskip, large cast turnover, and maybe a sprinkle of amnesia if you're feeling frisky. Berserk did it, Code Geass did it, lots of long-running series do this when they may have peaked already but must continue with a muted "now what...?"
If that sounds like a needlessly negative judgment right out of the gate, maybe my perspective on the first two seasons will help clear the air. I really loved the first season, warts and all, and I wanted to love the second season, even as its rushed developments and struggling animation threatened to undercut all the great material it had been building up. While my feelings on the end result are mixed, I thought the final confrontation between Kaneki and Hide (and the long unbroken shot that followed) were pitch-perfect. That last episode left me with a ton of thoughts, but I ultimately decided that this was where I wanted to leave Tokyo Ghoul's story behind. I still can't listen to Glassy Sky without gettin' a little glassy-eyed if you know what I mean.
And yet, here we are. At some point in the editorial process, Sui Ishida and Shueisha decided that the show (er, manga) must go on. My heart wasn't really ready to revisit those first two seasons, but after the first episode of TG:re, I'm glad I didn't, because that's one of the biggest points in this third season's favor. I was astonished by how incredibly easy it was to follow the new plot and become attached to all the new characters. It's a testament to the strength of Tokyo Ghoul's material that I could remember everything three years later with little effort, and this episode jumps right into the action without bothering to try and refresh you. Even if I disagree with his decision to seaboot his manga, I have great respect for Sui Ishida's talents as a storyteller, and despite the middling animation and totally-not-Kaneki obfuscation about our new protagonist, I was already getting hooked back in all over again.
Anyway, it's too early to say whether Tokyo Ghoul fans (who haven't already read ahead in the manga) will rue the continuation of Kaneki's story, but I dig his new hairstyle, and I appreciate that he doesn't actually seem to have amnesia either. (He might be faking it to get the CCG on his good side and try to bury the psychopathic strain of his personality that almost destroyed what was left of his humanity.) This is also the first time we're seeing Kaneki act as a mentor to other adults, and I'm eager to see him face down a quarter-life crisis while having to take care of all these other little one-eyed ghouls who are just like he was once. (His new charges are all surprisingly lovable in their adolescent frustrations, and I'm curious what the show is planning to do with Mutsuki especially.)
I came into Tokyo Ghoul:re with nothing but doubt on my mind, but found myself (tentatively) falling in love with this story all over again. I don't know yet whether it'll be worth setting sail on this seaboot, but I guess I've been reeled in regardless.
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