r#116 – tokyo ghoul:re

Like many other fans of Tokyo Ghoul, it all started in 2014, which is the time when I wasn’t a fan of the franchise yet, not until it’s first anime adaptation was released and came to my notice. I finished the TV show and I loved it. A year after, I watched the continuation of it and I quickly learned from a lot of people that the anime adaptation was actually far below the level of its original manga.

From that moment, I had to hold back from reading its source material because I know if I read it, it will ruin my enjoyment when I watch its anime adaptation later on. But since the production schedule was so slow, or whatever were the reasons that made them took so long to produce this sequel, I decided to read the original manga. It made me love the franchise even more, and considering the numbers I gave as the rating towards the anime adaptation, I had to give the manga an 11 out of 10.

Basically, the only reason I didn’t drop my score towards the anime adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul is that, if people watch this adaptation without reading/knowing the manga, I believe they would see this as a decent series to watch, even possibly great. So even though I have realized by now that it was a bad adaptation —very bad even, to the point where they changed a massive amount of its narrative just so the anime could tell the story a lot easier— it is still a decent production. And so, I felt like I have to appreciate their effort nonetheless.

But then Tokyo Ghoul:re came out, and suddenly I thought, this is stupid, and I can’t stand it anymore.

synopsis.

Tokyo has changed quite drastically since the riot between the Doves and Anteiku happened two years ago, and now the city is pretty much under the control of the government and the Commission of Counter Ghoul aka the CCG. Tokyo Ghoul:re follows the amnesiac Kaneki under the new identity of Sasaki Haise, a mysterious result that CCG keeps covering up from Sasaki himself. Without memories of his past, Sasaki is now the mentor of a special team of investigators known as the Quinx Squad; a CCG group that underwent a similar procedure as Sasaki, allowing them to obtain and use the special abilities of a ghoul inside them in order to fight the other ghouls, while still being able to live as normal humans.

The first episode starts with the Quinx Squad leader, Urie Kuki, and his frustrating underling named Shirazu Ginshi supervising Tokyo for the look out of a ghoul known as Torso; a serial killer who has been killing women and eating their torsos while leaving the rest of their bodies for a mysterious reason. When the mission of capturing Torso comes across Sasaki’s investigation, it leads him to fight a strong ghoul known as Orochi who’s able to massacre all of the Quinx Squad members with just a little effort. Little does Sasaki know that underneath Orochi’s mask is the face of Nishio, a friend of Kaneki back in the day.

On the other side of Tokyo, the Gourmet aka Tsukiyama Shuu who’s obsessed with Kaneki is now ‘bored’ as the result of his unhappiness. The missing Kaneki has made him fall into a state of deep depression to the point where he must be looked after by the family employees. One member in particular who’s constantly worried and concerned over Tsukiyama’s terrible conditions, Kanae von Rosewald is ready to do anything to recover the strength and happiness of his master.

my takes towards tokyo ghoul up to this point.

Now listen to this, something that I’ve heard somewhere on YouTube, an anime reviewer guy stated a similar thing like this; almost every anime is always about the people or aliens or gods or dinosaurs or robots that act like people —and if I may add here, also ghouls that act like people. And when you ask why or how, that is because at the end of the day, we cannot relate to anything that’s similar but us, ourselves; one of the people.

One could say that this fact is true and they’re happy with it, but there’s actually a huge consequence caused by the current anime industry for being dominated by this similar themes and concepts; that is in one night if you would, you could finish a dozen of franchises that have the same ending to each other, same turning point, with the very similar main character being on top of their world. I personally am very bored with this exact same idea, since I have watched too much of it; watching again and again about how a certain character would deal with their problem and stuff … you know?

Of course, I wouldn’t forget the few great shows that managed to give me impactful influences and shape the person who I am today, while the rest are —let’s just say— not that great … it doesn’t change the fact that basically, I have become bored with all of this. It’s pretty hard to fully enjoy a show when you can’t just, simply enjoy it. I have said this in the previous review and I will say it again, so much of today’s anime is all over the place to the point where I should exhaust my brain to compensate for the show’s lack of focus. And I found Tokyo Ghoul:re is not different from the most of today’s anime.

The greatest thing that happened to Tokyo Ghoul, even though it’s not that great, was how it could represent it’s secondary world in the same way as its main world. There’s no surprise for a viewer like you who’s obsessed to explore any kind of anime that happens to have a different world from real life, but can also be relatable at the same time. And when the first season of Tokyo Ghoul was released, it managed to take this concept so much further; they introduced us to not one, but two different worlds at the same time, one side where humans are living in and another where the ghouls are breathing in.

I could speak for many people, that the worldbuilding on that first season was remarkable, most people who only watched the anime and didn’t read the manga would agree that the show has successfully drawn them to explore these two worlds to the point where they could explain how the worlds worked only after watching the first episode. And of course, the development of the characters in both worlds was the ‘thread’ that the viewers were relied on to fill in the margins of these two worlds —its gaps, its backstories, and its histories.

Personally, I was so consumed by the act of worldbuilding in the first season of this franchise. But then Tokyo Ghoul:re came out and when I watched its first episode, suddenly I felt like everything is 10 times rushed than before. What happened? Suddenly the show doesn’t have a focus to tell, suddenly the narrative is all over the place, suddenly I noticed so many threads that are left out and became a loose end.

script.

Anyone who has realized how bad the anime adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul is, most wouldn’t want to invest their time to watch the next anime series that will come out later on, and instead, they’ll only just stick with the manga. But here I am, together with a little few other people who are still willing to watch the anime series, mostly because of the reason that I have explained earlier; even though Tokyo Ghoul is a series with a history of bad adaptation, it is still a very good anime production nonetheless —or at least until the last season before this one.

It’s pretty easy to nitpick so many mistakes with Tokyo Ghoul:re, and from each blunder you’d find, it’ll grow even more questions regarding the gaps and the show’s inconsistency in delivering its storyline. From where I’ve seen it, all the problems are caused by the fact that Tokyo Ghoul:re is not created as a good anime adaptation, but at the same time, it’s also not created as a good anime production.

See, when an anime studio adapting a source adaptation such as a manga or a visual novel, either they intend to create a show that’s as good as its source material, or they make a series of publication and advertise it’s source adaptation so the viewer would read the original set of pieces instead. The previous two seasons of Tokyo Ghoul on the other hand, they weren’t trying to advertise the manga nor trying to deliver the exact same adaptation as the initial manga readers were expecting.

Here instead, Tokyo Ghoul the anime was initially created for the people who enjoy the anime cinematography such as pieces of a great soundtrack, great worldbuilding, or even great character development … the message was clear that the show demands it’s audience to not expect the same amount of information to be converted from the manga. Yes, I understand that it upsets a lot of people, especially when the second season (Tokyo Ghoul √A) came out and it took a different direction from the manga … but guess what? It works very well in creating a good anime production even though it’s not the greatest anime adaptation ever.

Now after I explained all this, I want you to understand that Tokyo Ghoul the anime initially had a commitment in the making, and that’s the reason why it was such a booming when the first series came out. The sad thing is that —and I want you to understand this too— Tokyo Ghoul:re doesn’t have this kind of commitment, resulting the anime to be known as a bad adaptation, and at the same time it’s also a bad anime production. From where I’ve seen it, now in this season of Tokyo Ghoul, :re consists of poor soundtrack choices, poor character development, even blurred and cramped worldbuilding.

casts.

Especially in a character filled with tragedy backstories like Kaneki Ken, I enjoyed a performance from a character more than the results of his performance, I tried to enjoy his attitude and tried to understand his way of dealing with the past that haunted him. And once again, not the result; I’m always caring less about how a story will come to an end and how a certain character will change, but instead, I’m always more interested on how the story can be lead to an end and how a character can overcome their obstacle in life … I personally used to enjoy more the process to that finish line, and couldn’t care less about the finish line itself.

Here in Tokyo Ghoul:re, I wasn’t able to enjoy that because the show didn’t give me any direction to focus on. From one episode to another I kept watching, I was so confused about where the fck is the centrepiece of this show, or from which character’s perspective I should observe this world these characters are living in. We all know that Tokyo Ghoul:re is not a perfectly balanced saga where everything will get an exposure considering that it only consists of 12 episodes, but at the same time, I also cannot accept if the show just insists me to assume that all the Quinx Squad members including Sasaki Haise are the centre of all the attractions.

It’s not that hard to argue if the show does indeed try to make the Quinx Squad as the centre of everything, because clearly the show also gives us the chance to explore their backstories, their family tragedies, their reasons to fight the ghouls, the show even tried too hard developing all these characters —remembering that we don’t get to see the ‘dance’ between Kaneki and Sasaki until the sixth episode. And yes, I said “too hard” because the show actually doesn’t have to. Even a nerd like me knows enough that to get all these characters lively developed, just 12 episodes won’t ever be enough screen time.

Their choices were clear; whether to get each and every one of them to be the main character, which will requires a lot more screen time or at least way more clever directing; or to not give any exposure towards these characters, and instead, to give the audience a focus by delivering everything from only one point of view, which most likely will be Sasaki Haise’s.

Up to this point, we all know that Tokyo Ghoul most likely won’t ever be as good as anyone’s expectation, but despite that matter, the show was initially serves as an excuse to explore something much smaller yet much important; the character. And this is one of the main reasons of why, despite how bad the fight scenes were, how narrow the show had depicted the world of ghouls, even the countless plot holes that eventually discovered … there’s always one thing that holds everything else; the character. But not anymore in Tokyo Ghoul:re.

I still remember when I watched the first season of the franchise, when the show still managed to manifest Kaneki’s reaction to everything that happened around him, how a smile from people around him can give his life more weight and meaning. I still remember when I watched the last episode of that first season, when the change happened to him, when his character transformation had given me something to hold on, when the emotions of sadness and cherish were rolling around my head … it’s all because how good Kaneki’s character development was at that time.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see this kind of presentation in Tokyo Ghoul:re, I didn’t get to feel the sort of truth from the characters in it. Since most of the time, the things that always made me smile —or even cry— is a character that can present a thread of real life to me, whether they’re funny, happy, sad, angry, or lonely … but there is always something that can make me think, I know that situation, I’ve been there, I want to be there, I used to be like that, or I want to be like that..,..

Sadly, I didn’t get to think about these thoughts since all the characters in Tokyo Ghoul:re had to change too many times in such a short amount of time, I couldn’t even relate to one character since all of them was trying too hard to become the forefront of the narrative.

For me, any stories and fictions that similar to Tokyo Ghoul are mostly fables that require the characters to strike the exact right direction for the viewers to follow the pace, because it’s only the casts who live inside the fable that can make all the tragedies, histories, and any kind of plot points come to life. The character … is … the fable. I always thought that Tokyo Ghoul is the kind of fable that tells about a person rather than the fable that tells about a world surrounding the person. What I want from Tokyo Ghoul is to never be about how bad or how cruel is the world around Kaneki, instead, I want Tokyo Ghoul to be always about how Kaneki would react to everything the world throws at him.

visual and arts.

Okay, now let’s forget about the comparison between the manga and the adaptation, and finally talk about the aesthetic value of this show.

Once, Tokyo Ghoul was filled with so many palettes and shades that are dark and colourful at the same time, it’s almost like a magical girl anime but instead, the show is filled with the emo and edgy high school bois in a much darker city. It was a very good execution! I genuinely appreciate the visual director of the show back then, when they still managed to deliver such amazing pace and planning, the times when just a drop of blood on screen could affect the character’s nature and change the pace of the whole show’s direction thereafter. There were times when the opening and ending themes in each episode were filled with great tracks and you’d be bombarded with the highly beautiful and epic artworks … there were times, but not anymore.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to feel this kind of luxury when I watched Tokyo Ghoul:re. Moreover, if the fight scenes at the end of Tokyo Ghoul √A didn’t get yourself ‘a boner’, you’ll be even more disappointed when you watch the ending of Tokyo Ghoul:re.

Every fight here is slow-paced, poorly planned, and poorly choreographed. Even the first ‘important’ battle in the sixth episode, Haise’s character is entirely marred by a static characterization; the show describes him so poorly by hiding his eyes to bury his emotions, until finally he gets choked to death and passed out in the end. The lazy storyboard is even more evident everytime Haise dives inside his head and meeting with Kaneki, which often happens when a fight takes place, so many emotions such as remorse and sadness were supposed to be shown by these two characters’ mental outlook and facial expressions … but the anime just decided not to show those and instead, the weight of the narrative poorly relied on the characters’ conversations which basically consists of Q&As between Kaneki and Sasaki.

I’d still like to give the voice actors an applause for their great job in portraying every word a character would say, so if there’s anything that is lacking from a certain character, that must be caused by the cramped storyboard or the bad writing composition —totally not caused by the seiyuu who’s giving that character a bad characterization. For the opening theme, it’s a great track even though it was never get backed with the same quality of animation —except the introduction for the characters in the show, there are no hidden meanings here, which is the exact opposite of the awesome first season of Tokyo Ghoul’s opening theme. As for the ending theme … it’s a meh, I don’t even think the track would fit the whole atmosphere of Tokyo Ghoul:re.

Now, we all understand that the initial story of Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul:re are two different fables, even features different characters in each of it, and to be honest, the manga of Tokyo Ghoul:re doesn’t have an awesome ending as the original Tokyo Ghoul. But the manga quality never dropped this far below. And here I am, screaming while writing all these. I’m just so disappointed that after the three years gap from the previous season, after I can finally get Kaneki on my TV screen again- I’m so disappointed that the anime was executed so poorly to the point where I could pick so many scenes and times when the characters just moved statically. *sigh— 

closing – nesha’s final verdict.

Up to this point, I’m too lazy to figure out exactly why the directing quality of Tokyo Ghoul has slipped here and there. I totally understand how hard it is for the anime viewer only to grasp everything since there are so many things have been left out, from the important plot points to little details of symbolism. For the reason that the result has spoken for itself; the fact that I didn’t get emotional in the last episode just proven how weightless this show is. Because I should be crying, considering that when I witnessed the death of Shirazu Ginshi in the manga, my face was full of tears … yet there I was, not feeling a thing when I watched the exact same scene in the anime.

Speaking of death, have you ever thought about how sacred the death of characters in anime is? If you really think about it, essentially as the story lines up, Kaneki has been dead until he’s resurrected as Haise Sasaki, and we felt the weight in the previous seasons. And do you know what I felt when I watched the ending of the first season of Tokyo Ghoul, witnessing the Black Dog and the Devil Ape get killed? You knew it, I burst out into tears. Even in the second season of Tokyo Ghoul, the death of Yoshimura was something that is so heavy to witness. Yet here in the Tokyo Ghoul:re, a character died, and the fact that he’s one of the main characters considered … I still felt nothing.

So to summarize this lengthy anime dissection, Tokyo Ghoul the anime just threw me away from being its loyal fan as the result of the show is now lacking the only —yet also crucial— point that’s keeping myself invested; its great character development. So please, Ishida-sensei, I’m not asking for an awesome worldbuilding or a spectacular fight scenes, I’m not even expecting the breathtaking anime adaptation with the same amount of information from the manga … but please, bring back the good character development just like the good o’days!

Personally, I’m no longer need the worldbuilding since I already familiar with the world of Tokyo Ghoul, and it would be easy for me to relate myself back to Kaneki’s character since I still am loving him. I even cried in the episode seven, which is a chapter where there are no fight takes place and there’s no important plot point happens on screen, it’s the chapter where Haise and the rest of the Quinx Squad are just having a peaceful and happy dinner … along with their smiles on the table, I cried. But those tears were not thanks to the anime, they were there because I already read the manga and I was just happy that I could see their smiles on my TV screen —I totally doubt anyone who’s only watched the anime would cry on that scene anyway.

So here it goes, my rating for Tokyo Ghoul:re the anime..,.. I’ll just get back to cherish the manga.

additional pieces of information.

material resources: official siteAllcinemaANNWiki (en)AnisonMAL, and 

* this image is available to be downloaded!

Hi, everyone! I hope this long rant has been a good read for you!

By the way in the past few days, I’ve been exploring the Amino Apps and trying to find a niche way to fit myself in the community. I’m planning to post my anime reviews on there too in addition to this blog as my main medium. I won’t recommend you to use the app (yet) since I still don’t know how good the app is, don’t know how great the community or how huge the ‘cancer’ there, but you can follow my profile if you happen to have already an Amino account (click here).

Anyhow, thank you for reading my blog! Consider supporting us on Patreon or buy us a coffee on Ko-fi if you like what we do! Lastly, don’t forget to keep watching anime, and I’ll see you again in the next one! Bai-bai now~

© written by nesha5971
proofreaded by sliceofalfredo
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13 responses to “r#116 – tokyo ghoul:re

  1. These are basically my feelings on the TG:RE anime word for word. On its own, someone could watch it just fine, if a little confused about the pacing. But once you’ve read the manga and have a feel for the huge amount of emotion in the character’s narratives and how beautifully it is portrayed – the anime just falls apart at the seams. The characters are always so static and expressionless, except in random breakout scenes, like Urie’s frame-out in the Auction Arc, which looked fantastic for no reason. I really wanted to like this anime, but I honestly just can’t. The opening themes are incredible, though I will say that.

    • yaaaash! TK has always been nailed every song he inserted to an anime. by the way, I haven’t dive into the second season of :re, it’s been a while so I’m kind of hoping the series to get better on presenting the true meaning of its manga.

      thank you for reading my review! ❤

  2. Pingback: Mel’s Round-Up Week #100 – Mel in Anime Land·

  3. I watched the first two seasons of Tokyo Ghoul and I never really saw the appeal. Probably wont end up watching re

    • it is too bad, i really want to recommend this franchise to the wider audience but i couldn’t do that —all these bad points i noticed from the show, just made everything more difficult, especially to those people who is new to the franchise

  4. Always wondered why I felt so uneasy with this season. I had so many expectations for it, because season 1 was so good. But while watching RE, I really had to wonder why it was so scattered and boring. Like you said the death of Shirazu meant very little compared to what I know it should’ve felt like. This series rushed the plot so much and tried to fit so much narrative in such a short season, that it ruined the experience, especially in terms of building a connection with the cast. At first, I didn’t know if I was being too harsh or if the season was a real mess, I have given bad ratings to anime before but I couldnt beleive TG would be one of them, so I let my bias influence me, which is why in my last TG review, I didnt know how to rate it. Another blogger made a similar post to yours and it was pretty much the same experience, this season is absolutely disappointing to someone that only watched the anime adaptation of TG, for a manga reader, it must be tragic.
    Great post 🙂

    • well, thank you for reading my ramblings~ and thanks for the compliment!

      i felt the same, it is so hard to give a score to a certain show that you like the most while at the same time knowing how bad it was executed. it is disappointing, and if this still only acted as a building up for the next series, the first season of :re should have been a movie instead … stepping up a bit the production quality with the less screen time, make the story tighter.

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