Tokyo Ghoul √A
by Jacob Chapman,
Okay, now Shinohara's dead. The real One-Eyed Owl took him out.
Takizawa is also dead. Some of Aogiri's top brass tore him in half.
Things are not looking great for Amon, either. That was Kaneki's fault.
All of this is Kaneki's fault, but then again, maybe it's everyone else's fault for putting the weight of two worlds on his shoulders. Yoshimura expected him to become a ghoul that could speak for their kind, but Kaneki couldn't do that because he still saw himself as human. Amon expected him to be a ghoul that could prove the inherent humanity of his species, but Kaneki couldn't do that because he had to embrace his ghoul nature to survive. When Kaneki was lucky enough to find friends who accepted him for what he really was, (Touka and Hide,) he was already too far gone in the process of isolating himself. All of those mistakes across multiple parties have led to this, and holy frijoles, is it depressing. We all knew the endgame was not going to be pretty, but this is getting really hard to handle. At least Yoshimura is still alive! That's right, he's barely alive thanks to some mild regenerative healing assistance from the other One-Eyed Owl. She healed him just so she can laugh in his face! He'll probably be dead again after this, but...
Okay, there's no getting around it. This episode was just a massacre. Its sole purpose was to tear our heartstrings out as the chaff of the cast is cruelly swept aside by Aogiri's extermination effort, and shunt the few center-stage survivors toward their endgame through a few key final battles. As such, there's not much dialogue compared to the previous episode. There's nothing left to say. From the moment the "real Owl" shows up and her friends at Aogiri drop down from the sky, the fate of the battle has been stamped out in stone. The CCG barely takes out Anteiku, and Aogiri takes advantage of this to destroy the CCG and take over the city. Instead of preventing the destruction of everything he loved, Kaneki's decision to embrace his ghoul side accelerated the process. Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Loneliness begets loneliness. Kaneki is the bridge that burned, and now everyone else is going to burn along with him as the snow falls silently around them.
I keep using feminine pronouns for the Owl because her identity has finally been revealed. Yoshimura's lost child is a lost daughter: Sen Takatsuki, Kaneki's favorite author. She's also Eto, the bandage-bound, red-hooded little girl of Aogiri who watched over every battle, but never really engaged. It's funny that her fiction always resonated with Kaneki, because now he knows how she feels on a much more powerful level. When these two meet, there's going to be some fireworks!
So why haven't they met yet? Well, there's other characters to dwell on before the curtain call. One of them is poor Juuzo Suzuya, who easily set a land-speed record for quickest shift from "character I want to scrub out of the show" to "precious baby who is too good and too pure for this world." Giving Suzuya a father figure really put his life into perspective. He may be a human whose only purpose in life is killing ghouls, but Yoshimura's coffee bean speech applies to him completely. Suzuya's circumstances are not his fault, and with love and patience, he can become the best of himself. It's a chance that everyone deserves, and it's heartening to see that Suzuya will not become another Jason, even if it takes a long time to rehabilitate him into something resembling a healthy human being. When all the other members of the CCG have been slaughtered by the Owl or retreated, Suzuya stays and fights, lashing out in grief over the loss of Shinohara. It's a fascinating contrast with the way he used to fight. He used to constantly ask his "mother" if she was watching as he mutilated his foes. Was he doing a good job? Would she acknowledge him if he did this for her? Shinohara is gone now, and even though his wish was for Suzuya to live on, Juuzo fights on in a gesture of true love for his "father," not to earn his approval, but to honor his memory and avenge his death. These two really loved each other, and it's gut-wrenching to see it end this way, but it will all be worth it if Suzuya can survive and learn from the heartbreak.
His battle is interrupted by the episode's greatest hiccup, unfortunately. Remember "Arima," the white-haired, stoic combat leader of the CCG? I barely do. I remember that his testamentary note always gets turned in blank. They made a big deal out of that a few episodes ago, probably in preparation for his spotlight role this week. Like Shinohara, he was one of Mado's few surviving colleagues in the original battle with the Owl that haunts so many CCG members' memories, but that's literally all we know about him. He arrives on the scene just as Suzuya is running out of steam, and turns out to be a martial match for the Owl, also presumably driven by vengeance for the events of many years ago. I say presumably because even though his fight scene is great, (budget hiccups aside, all the fights in this episode are great,) we don't know anything about this guy. Arima is one of about thirty characters this anime adaptation could and probably should have written out in the interests of sculpting a standalone story. We have no emotional connection to his righteous smackdown of the Owl, so we can only assume it's a cool-looking stall for time until Kaneki can get up there and end the war somehow.
This finally brings us back around to Kaneki, who finds himself at the business end of Amon's quinque. "I don't want to fight you," he tells Amon. "I'm afraid that's not an option," Amon replies. The time for talking is long past. In a happier story, these two could have worked together to reform the CCG, ghoulkind, and their relationship from the inside out, but even though these combatants acknowledge that they once saw good and the hope for change in one another, it just wasn't enough to change their respective fates in this final battle. They take each other out, and while Kaneki crawls away to bleed out in an alleyway, Amon's fate is left unknown. Akira finds his body soon after, but her reaction isn't telling one way or the other. I think it would be pointless if he were truly dead yet, but he's definitely out of the fight.
With the CCG and ghouls dwindling in number, still firmly at each other's throats, it's only fitting that Kaneki wakes up in a place outside of it for only a moment, somewhere he can re-center himself before committing to the best decision left open to him. He wakes up in the Anteiku cafe, a now-vacant safe haven for happier memories spent with his best friends, Hide and Touka. Touka can't be far away at this point, and I'm sure she'll have a role to play in the final episode, but for now, it looks like this will be a farewell to Hide. He's the one who dragged Kaneki to safety out of the alleyway and into the cafe. Now wearing a CCG combat jacket, he approaches Kaneki with a cup of coffee and smiles. I don't know what's going to happen, but outside of the episode's needless focus on Arima, I have nothing but faith in the finale to come next week.
Tokyo Ghoul √A is currently streaming on Funimation.
Hope has been an anime fan since childhood, and likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.
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