Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Tokyo Ghoul √A

You ever go to a theater to see a really hyped up movie and then leave feeling slightly underwhelmed? It happens to all of us. But let's say it's a year after you saw that movie and then you hear about that movie getting a sequel. Surely, you'd expect that movie to be as underwhelming as the original, but you hear this faint voice in your head telling you that it might be that diamond in the rough sequel that far supasses the original. So you say screw it to your own hesitations and go see the sequel with your expectations held reasonably low but your hopes high. And then the movie is over and you wonder how you possibly could have deluded yourself into thinking that movie could have been good in the first place.

Such was my experience with the 12 episode clusterfuck that was Tokyo Ghoul √A. The first season wasn't great, but it was at least enjoyable enough: it made me want to read the manga and perhaps even more importantly the anime held up well enough on a second viewing. 

Tokyo Ghoul A was a bit enjoyable, but it was also a directionless mess. Its convoluted storyline was ruined further by a lack of character development and a nonexistent protagonist. Kaneki Ken is literally in each episode for just a few minutes where he is relegated into the "brooding hero doing mysterious stuff" role. He's a cardboard cutout of what could have and should have been an interesting character. His transformation in the first season may have been rushed, but at least it was "reasonably rushed" and somewhat understandable.

In this anime Kaneki Ken was reduced to a Naruto Shippuden Sasuke knockoff. Considering that Studio Pierrot is actually responsible for both anime, I can't say that I'm surprised. The lack of ideas they displayed in the endless and most recent six month long Naruto Shippuden filler arc clearly blended into this anime.

Touka's character is reduced to a Sakura role. She used to be a badass, but now she's relegated to just wanting to be a schoolgirl now that Kaneki abandoned her and the Anteiku group. To me, that's wasted potential.

And for our Naruto? Well, there isn't really a Naruto type of character in this anime so score one point for Pierrot. See? I'm fair.

As to why Kaneki abandoned Anteiku in favor of the Aogiri Tree I do not know. The only reason given is that he "wanted to be stronger," but I recall him killing and eating the S-ranked Jason in the finale of the previous season. I recall him having the powers of the binge-eater Rize as well.

Soooo that leads me to believe he is already quite damn powerful. Why betray Anteiku then? Answer: He just does because he's the "brooding hero doing mysterious stuff." Maybe the manga explains things better. Hell, I sure hope so. In fact, I hope most of this season was just made up on the spot by hack writers and that the manga is completely different.

Whatever Kaneki and Aogiri is doing isn't explained. The presence of the two twin human girls that somehow became ghouls is also not explained. There's a clown character and a guy named Anima, but who are they? No fucking clue. It ain't explained.

"Nothing is explained" should be a subtitle for this anime.

However, this anime does spend time getting to know some lesser characters and breathing life into them. Those are nice moments, though ultimately unrewarding since they do not further the plot in any way. But still, it's nice to know at least some of the characters. Amon Kōtarō probably benefited the most from this season in terms of getting to know him although his fight with Kaneki at the end was ridiculously underwhelming.

The conclusion as a whole was ridiculously underwhelming. It did nothing for me. All the ending was were some lame fights, Touka running in the snow, flashbacks, and Kaneki walking in a melancholic state. Just... ugh.

There was one thing in particular that annoyed me about the ending... even more so than just about everything else that annoyed me. Touka is supposed to be a badass. She's powerful and known as the rabbit because of how quick she is. So why the hell does she trip and fall in the snow and seem to struggle to keep running when it comes to chasing after Kaneki? I mean, she's a freaking ghoul. I know the writers want to play the emotion card and make it seem like Touka is always chasing after him and she'll never catch up to him, but the concept makes no sense because she is a freaking ghoul that excels at speed.

All of the characters get moments where it seems like they'll die and they give these fond farewells, but it's tough for me to think of a single ghoul that died in this series aside from Rize and Jason and Hinami's parents... which all happened in season one. Ghouls never die. Like never. No matter how much damage seems to be done to them ghouls seem to get up and be relatively fine. But why do some ghouls die and others not? Well, because plot. That's something that was wrong with the first season, but I never really bothered with it. Rize's death was stupid in the first episode of the first season. Who the hell gets killed by falling beams? I mean, once you can see just how tough some of these ghouls are you begin to realize that getting killed by some steel beams is just stupid. Ghouls get freaking eviscerated and beheaded and shot and stabbed and then appear a few episodes later like nothing happened. But a few steel beams fall down and suddenly one of the strongest ghouls is down for the count? Granted that's a season one flaw and not a season two flaw, but the very concept applies to all of the absurd death speeches each ghoul gives. Ghouls don't die unless poor writing decides they should.

Trying to paint these ghouls as sympathetic but cursed heroes just doesn't wash, either. All ghouls eat people. All of them. So why do they consider eating people a sin? "I'm dying to repent for my sins..." Blah, blah, blah, you're a freaking ghoul. Act like it. You'll be just fine after you eat some dead homeless guy. My heart bleeds. You won't die, but I will from boredom if you won't start actually doing something other than whining about how you think you're dying before you get conveniently rescued by the main character.

I appreciate the concept of a ghoul that doesn't want to kill in order to live. It's no different than a vampire that doesn't want to do the same. But I don't want to be beaten over the head with it. Of course, eating people is bad. No shit. Now go eat some people or something. Make this anime interesting instead of a bunch of emo hogwash.

Someone needs to remake this from scratch. Season one was passable, but what was wrong about that season is even more wrong in this one.

I still want to read the manga, but I hope it is so much better than this.

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