by Jacob Chapman,
With the terror of Kureo Mado behind us and the gentle yet ghoulish denizens of Anteiku much worse for wear in its wake, Tokyo Ghoul enters a new story arc full of new antagonists. At first, Kotaro Amon seemed the most likely candidate for a new threat. He's been left humiliated and adrift after the death of his mentor, but he's also been promoted in the Anti-Ghoul Investigation force, and given his own impressionable underlings to potentially lose in battle and blame himself over. Episode 9 takes those expectations and turns them on their head, as Kotaro's thoughts drift to his "enemy" Ken Kaneki as much as his deceased superior. Could Amon also become a bridge between worlds, as his perspective on the issue shifts and he gains more power in a corrupt police force?
Well, before we can arrive at any answers, the episode hopscotches back over to our main cast for more coffeehouse comedy schtick that forms the weakest part of the show and it's most shonen-manga-reminiscent core. I wanted to mention the coffeehouse comedy specifically because it's literally the only time the show isn't engaging, even when it's an entire episode of foreshadowing like this one. It's all about micro-setup and micro-payoff, even within a macro-setup episode. Ken finds out his human friend Hide is rapidly becoming a ghoul otaku, and it's funny at first because Hide has no idea Ken is a (reluctant) ghoul himself...but things turn deadly serious when Hide becomes witness to our new antagonists at work. There's a huge pack of fresh ghouls in the 20th ward, and Hide is now one of the few people who knows their wicked intentions. Hide's feelings on ghouls are already changing and it makes us wonder how he'll view his best friend when forces inevitably clash and reveal Ken's recent transformation.
There's also a micro-setup of a flashback to Touka's happy childhood. We know from her reaction to Mado's death and the cafe's orphaned parakeet that something drastic must have happened to her own family. In that sense, the scene is a sad reflection that gives us a good idea of where her head's at when she refuses to share her feelings out loud...but then we find out who is in charge of that new ghoul gang that Hide ran across. It's a tragically familiar face from the flashback, and the episode ends abruptly right at that haunting payoff, leaving viewers foaming at the mouth for more. This is to say nothing of the two or three other scenes setting up new characters and ideas while weaving them with contextually important information. (There's a new "face" in the screencap above.) Tokyo Ghoul continues to be well directed above all else.
Episode 9 is doing its best to prepare us for a real big bang. It's a little frustrating to go from gory glory to talking heads, but we are coming down from one hell of a high in episode 8 and there are ways to make all that setup engaging. Tokyo Ghoul's "hopscotch technique" never stays with any one character for too long, and gives the end result a nice citywide punch that brings the stakes up high and leaves us hungry for the three episodes to follow. Really, the only question in front of us is how they're going to deliver on all this new buildup with such a short amount of time remaining.
Tokyo Ghoul 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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