Tokyo Ghoul:re
Episode 10

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Tokyo Ghoul:re ?

Each season of Tokyo Ghoul spent its last collection of episodes steadily building dread as each of its characters race toward an inevitable bloody climax. Tokyo Ghoul:re has proven to be no different. The Tsukiyama family's last stand only begins in the final moments of this week's episode, but everything beforehand has lent our characters enough pathos to ensure that the outcome of the battle is going to be tragic.

We begin with the wild card for the upcoming fight, who turns out to be Kanae of all people. Shu's most loyal devotee screwed up when he asked Aogiri Tree for help, and his punishment is delivered by Eto. Despite her big role in the previous season, Eto's stayed in the background for much of :re, so it's nice to see her up front and active in the story again. Her “temptation” of Kanae drips with biblical references, down to her holding an apple the entire time, and while in another story this might stand out as too blunt and shlocky, it fits perfectly into Tokyo Ghoul's overall tone of no half-measures. In what's now an all-too-familiar pattern for this story, Kanae's positive emotions, his love and devotion to Shu, are corrupted and twisted into fuel for hatred, jealousy, and wanton murder. His love is certainly one-sided (Shu doesn't mention Kanae once this episode), but that doesn't mean Shu doesn't care about him, and it doesn't mean that killing Sasaki will help him win Shu over (it would almost certainly do the opposite). However, it does fit Eto's agenda to catch Sasaki. Kanae hasn't been the most sympathetic character this season, but he deserves better than being mutilated at Eto's whims. The final scene of him kneeling wordlessly like a doll in Eto's garishly colored world makes for one of :re's most striking images.

Elsewhere, the Quinx Squad finally don their ghoul disguises to gather intel for the upcoming battle, but the main story is the continuation of Shirazu's arc. The girl in the hospital is indeed his younger sister Haru, who suffers from some kind of kagune-like infection on her face. His entire reason for joining the CCG is to earn enough money to take care of her, and it's probably also the reason why he did something as risky as becoming a Quinx. As selfless as his motivations are, his actions have come with their own high cost. He has a repeat of his short conversation with Sasaki, this time with Fura, but Fura elaborates that agonizing over killing Nutcracker isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means he's human and still possesses a sound heart and mind. He also acknowledges something that we haven't seen many other investigators talk about—that ghouls are people, which means they're taking a life when they kill ghouls. Otherwise, he doesn't have any better advice than just saying it gets easier with time, which is sobering even if (perhaps especially if) it is true. And if we look at the kind of investigators who make up most of the CCG, most aren't like the empathetic Shirazu. The most successful ones share the bloodstained grimace of Kijima as he tortures and kills for no reason, or the mysterious grin of Ihei as she gets ready to cut down dozens of ghoul grunts. I don't want Shirazu to look like that, but I don't know if there's a different future waiting for him at the CCG. Nevertheless, Shirazu commits to continue helping his sister and even gets an Important Haircut™ to commemorate the occasion.

Meanwhile, Sasaki continues to unravel. Disguising himself as the Eyepatch Ghoul seems to hit him uncomfortably close, and he can't help but dig into any possible leads to figure out who he was before he became Sasaki. Amon's name finally comes up, and we finally see a Kaneki wracked with guilt over killing Amon at the end of last season. Sasaki doesn't want to accept his past, but he's also reached the point where he knows that he'll eventually have to remember and deal with the consequences of his actions. He's stuck in a horrible double-bind, knowing that he's Kaneki but not wanting to give up the life he's made for himself as Sasaki. Ideally, he wants to remember everything on his own terms, but I doubt Tokyo Ghoul will be so kind. As much as he wants the old Kaneki back, Shu painfully realizes that the few pleasurable days they spent together are forever in the past, even if he does return somehow. Sasaki already resembles Kaneki too much for Shu to do anything to hurt him by bringing his memories back.

For Akira's part, she has too much of a vested interest in keeping Kaneki's memories suppressed to help, but she cares too deeply for Sasaki not to hug him as he breaks down in front of her. She's hugging the person who killed her old partner, but the moment is beautiful and genuine in a way that speaks to how effectively Tokyo Ghoul builds to these emotional climaxes, even when the plot surrounding them is labyrinthine. The real MVP of the episode, however, is Natsuki Hanae's heartwrenching voice acting, injecting his scenes with all of the desperation and sadness that's been building in Sasaki since he first woke up to his past identity.

I can't believe how much this show has made me care about Shu and his family. He almost seems like a completely different character than the guy we met in the first two seasons, but this fits :re's larger thematic concern of looking at how the passage of time has affected all of its characters. It makes sense for Shu to have mellowed out, especially after recovering from being bedridden and delusional. His decision to walk away from Sasaki was a painful but mature one, but it's Shu's father who steals the show by the end. We saw him at the auction previously, so it's not like Tokyo Ghoul intends to delude us into thinking that the Tsukiyamas are helpless victims. But they're still people, and his decision to surrender the manor rather than let his servants die is a powerful moment. Of course, this is Tokyo Ghoul, and we need to have a huge brawl to play us out, so this moment is undercut by the revelation that this is a distraction to help Shu escape to another location, where another battle to protect him will probably take up the remainder of the season. But I'll be damned if I didn't get a little choked up as Shu realizes that his father is sacrificing himself to protect him, just as the guardians of Anteiku did for their “children.”

With this episode, Tokyo Ghoul:re has done another commendable job weaving its seemingly endless stream of characters and plot threads into one big confrontation. I just hope the confrontation itself proves to be as engaging. The other big battle at the auction was unfortunately the low point of the season so far, juggling too many action scenes and not enough of the psychological and moral complexity that lends Tokyo Ghoul its strongest material. Some of the story's pet themes, like the bonds of family, the frightening power of love, and the tenuousness of identity, all remain in play. As long as these ideas remain in focus, we should be in for another thrilling and heartbreaking conclusion.

Rating: B+

Tokyo Ghoul:re is currently streaming on Funimation and Hulu.

Steve is a longtime anime fan who can be found making bad posts about anime on his Twitter.


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