by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 19 of
Tokyo Ghoul:re (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.8
When the ghoul eats your eye
Like a big pizza pie
Apologies for that awful introduction, but love is surprisingly in the air in this episode of Tokyo Ghoul:re. It's a weird way to follow up all those clown murders from last week, but at this point Tokyo Ghoul's narrative has grown too big and too fragmented for me to expect anything resembling tonal or thematic consistency across its run. I've accepted that, and I actually appreciate that we're finally seeing threads—some from way back in the first season of the first anime—getting tied together. These are the first signs that we're gearing up for an honest-to-god conclusion, even though I shudder to think how the anime is going to wrap everything up in 5 episodes. That's a problem for future me to wrestle with, however. Today, we're talking about love.
Before we get to our main couple, there are a few other smaller romances explored in this episode. This is another place where my ignorance of the manga comes through, because I don't know if all of these subplots happened simultaneously there as well, but if not, I have to commend the anime for at least trying to condense things in a way that makes some thematic sense. We open on Akira and Amon, which is a short but sweet scene because I don't think there was ever any doubt they'd get together. That said, it's awfully convenient how quickly she's able to go from being a professional ghoul slayer to kissing the hunky half-ghoul Amon. The steps in between are there, but we just don't get the time dedicated to them outside of a line or two of dialogue. Her journey has been one of the more interesting ones, and I hope she gets more of a conclusion beyond “becomes Amon's girlfriend.” I want to see what her life looks like now that it's free of her hatred of ghouls. Elsewhere, Mutsuki is caught between his love and hate for Kaneki, so Tokyo Ghoul decides to make him go full yandere. Everything to do with Mutsuki this season has been eyebrow-raising, and I don't have much to say that I didn't already say last week. He basically just shows up to permanently shoo Kaneki and Touka out of her coffee shop, and I can't say I'm looking forward to the future of this love triangle.
Of course, Kaneki and Touka are the focus of this episode. They've been together since the beginning, with plenty of ups, down, fights, lies, and bouts of amnesia complicating their journey. They're old friends at this point, and as proof, Touka manages to bring out some sides of him we haven't seen in ages—specifically, the big awkward dork side. Yes, he's been psychologically broken countless times, gotten tortured to hell and back, and he's currently leading an underground resistance army, but he also spits out his coffee after being asked about his virginity. Despite all the ways Kaneki has been forced to grow up, there are plenty of areas where his development remained stunted. Naturally, one of those areas is sexuality (and we'll get to that soon), but another area is his sense of self-worth and preservation. Thankfully, Touka recognizes this and pulls him back before he leaps into another battle without thinking. It's as simple as telling him that his life matters to other people, but it's something he still needs to be told. He can't do everything by himself, but hopefully by the end of the series, he'll be able to love himself as much as people like Touka love him.
Now we arrive at this episode's centerpiece: Kaneki finally gets laid. This is probably a consequence of this season's heavily condensed pacing, but it's amusing how quickly Touka and Kaneki progress from barely managing to brush their pinkies against each other to jumping straight into the bone zone. To its credit, the scene is uncharacteristically tasteful for Tokyo Ghoul, focusing more on their bond than on lascivious shots of Touka. In fact, we get some pretty good looks at Kaneki's sinewy build, and I have to give the animators credit for not taking the coward's way out and actually drawing his nipples. The scene is a little cheesy, peppered with flashbacks of their time together, but the lovely insert song does a lot of work to make it feel like a sweet and cathartic moment. Kaneki even cries at the end, and who can blame him? He's finally found someone who loves him back, which is in many ways what he's been searching for all this time.
The post-coital shenanigans are a little more head-scratching, but this plotting waits for no one. There's some unintentional hilarity in how Touka suddenly realizes she's pregnant in the middle of scarfing down a giant burger. The timeline gets fuzzy here, but since everything is crammed into one episode, it seems like it only took that one round for him to knock her up with his powerful ghoul jizz. (Practice safe sex, kids!) Nishiki's oblivious fumbling of the truth and Kaneki's awkward attempts at talking to Touka about it are adorably cringe-worthy. It feels like it's been a long time since Tokyo Ghoul let itself be this goofy, and even though the pacing makes it feel like a shotgun wedding, I'm truly thankful for this respite of lighthearted romance. Ghouls having their own culture separate from humans, complete with symbolic gestures and traditional wedding garb, seems like a weird thing to only just now introduce, but it's good to see these characters living it up. They have to enjoy the calm before the storm while it lasts.
Meanwhile, troubles continue to brew in the CCG. Furuta stands atop a pile of dead ghouls while issuing a threat to Kaneki's crew on live TV. Juzo and Urie try to avoid dealing with their department's slide into fascism because they don't otherwise know how to stop it. Mutsuki commands a merciless squadron of investigators who drive motorcycles off rooftops (which was the most I've laughed in a long time, thank you Tokyo Ghoul). Nevertheless, frightening times always have their share of normal moments, so Takeomi finally marries his sweetheart Yoriko too. In case you forgot (because I sure did), Yoriko was best friends with Touka early in the series. Unfortunately, Furuta seems to know this, and he intends to use her past affiliation with a ghoul as leverage for some reason. We don't know anything about what he's trying to do, except that he has a giant green glowing egg now. I'm sure that'll be fun. The most positive development surrounding all this is Saiko finally putting her foot down and refusing to follow the CCG's orders anymore. It's a shame she doesn't get more focus, because she's one of the few Tokyo Ghoul characters with a consistent moral compass. Thankfully, she sways Urie too, who didn't need much convincing. They can tell something is afoul among the CCG's top brass, and when Saiko is right, she's right; it's better to be a NEET than a fascist.
Despite its bumps in the road, this is a shockingly pleasant episode of Tokyo Ghoul:re, giving Kaneki and Touka's romance some space to blossom before the looming horror inevitably swallows them back up. Because I know Sui Ishida, I can't be too happy about Touka's pregnancy, and I'm hoping against hope that nothing horrible happens to their child. Similarly, I hope Touka and Akira continue to be important characters, since shoving them to the side once they've settled down with a man would be pretty eye-rolling. I don't know if I'd call myself optimistic about the rest of the reason, but this episode was at least a nice reminder that Tokyo Ghoul isn't always a constant barrage of despair. Now to take a big sip of coffee and wait for the next episode to arrive.
Steve is an anime-reviewing zombie who can be found making bad posts about anime on Twitter.
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