Tokyo Ghoul:re
Episode 20

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 20 of
Tokyo Ghoul:re (TV 2) ?

The good times never last long in Tokyo Ghoul. Poor Kaneki and Touka barely get to enjoy their wedding reception before Mutsuki and his gang of Kaneki copycats crash their party. Then again, nothing lasts long in this heavily abridged second season of Tokyo Ghoul:re, so it's not like I'm surprised by their revelry being cut short. Our immediate descent into battle makes for another action-heavy episode, which continues to not be the anime's strongest point. At least this time the events are straightforward enough to follow without getting too lost in the flurry of kagune. Goat fends off the CCG while Urie and the elder Kuroiwa confront Furuta and his calamitous cavalry of clown combatants.

I have to give Tokyo Ghoul some credit; it doesn't let you believe for a second that Furuta was actually going to be deposed by a couple dudes strolling in and demanding an injunction. Fascist regimes don't get snuffed out by bureaucracy, and it's naive to think otherwise, so Urie and Kuroiwa really should have been better prepared for a fight. Roma gives us some insight into the Clowns' philosophy, but it's a predictable hedonism rooted in the perceived meaningless of the universe, basically what you expect every villain dressed like a clown to say. She also transforms into a giant chicken-clown monster, which is at least weird enough to make this battle more interesting. In the end, Marude storms in and finally lodges a bullet in Furuta's forehead. Of course, it's not that simple, but at least we now have a contingent of the CCG actively working against its takeover.

By far the best part of this scene is Urie, and it's worth reflecting on how much he's grown since we first saw him as an arrogant, vindictive, and deceitful investigator. Much of that hate was directed toward Kuroiwa, who was a member of his father's squad when his father was killed, but now he's grown up enough to recognize Kuroiwa's strength of character. He goes out of his way to save him, and when an injured Kuroiwa apologizes for his father's death, Urie finally confronts his true feelings. Urie's disdain of everyone around him was a projection of his own self-hatred, stemming from his feelings of powerlessness when he was confronted with his father's death. In truth, there was nobody to blame, but Urie was too young to properly process that. He's a lot like Kaneki in that sense, internalizing and bottling up everything until it adversely affects both him and everyone around him. Like Kaneki, however, he's been able to gradually open up as others have opened up to him. It's been painful, but through that pain, he's been able to replace his grudges with support from his friends, and his arc stands out as one of Tokyo Ghoul's most satisfying. In short, Urie is a very good boy.

Oh, Hide is alive. This gets dropped so unceremoniously in the middle of the episode that I had to rewind and make sure I read his name right. That's literally all we get for now, so I'm also dropping it unceremoniously in the middle of this review.

The fight between Goat and Mutsuki's Oggai Squad is fairly unremarkable. Most of the Oggai members are nameless masked goons, so there are only a few matchups worth mentioning. Mostly, emphasis is placed on Kaneki's friends trying to evacuate as many of their allies as possible, especially the children (thank you for not making me watch ghoul kids get slaughtered, TG:RE). Goat also make a show of purposefully not killing any investigators per Kaneki's orders, which set them apart from every other faction we've seen in the show. The high-profile matchup is Kaneki vs. Juzo, but like most of what we've seen this season, it has neither the animation proficiency nor strong enough storyboarding to make the combat interesting. This whole scene is also super dark, washed out, and not fun to look at. The crux of everything is that Kaneki gets thrown into a crowd of Oggai members who have also been infused with Rize's kagune, so they proceed to tear him into bits.

If there has been some grand villainous plot directing every part of Tokyo Ghoul, its only directive seems to have been to make Kaneki feel as hopeless and miserable as possible at regular intervals. He can be in the middle of literally the happiest day of his life, and a bunch of goons will leap out of nowhere and turn him into a giant wailing centipede monster. Plot-wise, it's pretty ridiculous, but as a metaphor for depression, it's spot-on. Indeed, Tokyo Ghoul's strongest thematic core has always been Kaneki's battle with the many incarnations of his own trauma and depression. The entire Kaneki crew shows up in his head, and while his relationship with Touka seems to have staved off his more self-destructive impulses, he's still entirely too willing to give up his humanity. Kaneki has come a long way, but he still carries a ton of trauma he needs to work through, and hopefully he can do that before he levels all of Tokyo.

Anyway, it seems that making Kaneki eat enough Kaneki clones to turn him into a giant centipede was somehow Furuta's master plan, and at this point I'm just rolling with it. Furuta remains frustratingly undeveloped and unexplored, as much as I enjoy the pillow shots of him catching up on some shonen manga while his Clowns do the dirty work. As seems to be the case with most of this season, the action scenes remain lackluster while the character beats have just enough care put into them to make them barely land. It's worth noting that this season undoubtedly owes a lot to the work put into Tokyo Ghoul's prior seasons that established these stories and characters. Without those, this would be a confusing trainwreck. With them, this season is still a confusing trainwreck, but it's a confusing trainwreck that I'm emotionally invested in.

Rating: C+

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

Steve is an anime-reviewing zombie who can be found making bad posts about anime on Twitter.

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