My, what big teeth you have~
|I’ve had a fair number of complaints about Tokyo Ghoul thus far. It’s full of one-note villains who all have the same “evil as fuck” personality. It lays on the drama so thick you could choke on it (from laughing so much). It also has the nerve to throw away any interesting notion of the ghoul vs human morality spectrum to focus on the poorly choreographed fights with weird ass-tentacles. After all this complaining and waiting, finally, I think Tokyo Ghoul got things right.|
Eight episodes in, Tokyo Ghoul has become the show I want it to be. I don’t have to jump through hoops of suspended belief or forcing a “not thinking too hard” mindset just to enjoy it. Finally, it became more than a dumb shounen show! What’s changed so drastically in one episode? Not much. Tokyo Ghoul always had an inherently fascinating setting and concept, it just misused it terribly. I’ve always been interested in the underlying clash between the lives of ghouls and humans and the varying ways they intersect. Can ghouls and humans ever live together harmoniosly? Who is the bad guy here? These hard-hitting questions are only now being asked with enough weight behind them to have a lasting impact.
In this corner we have the sketchy humans in trenchcoats…
The ghouls have been given preferential treatment up until now. As mysterious creatures who murder humans, it makes sense that you’d have to do quite a bit of explaining to get the audience on their side. So I see why they’d try harder to sell us on the whole “but ghouls are good too!” bit. But even after we understood that not all ghouls were bad, the same point was repeated over and over. In fact, it was oversold. There became no reason to side with the humans because they didn’t possess one shred of good will. The only human we ever saw acting decently to ghouls was Nishiki’s girlfriend, and her appearance was very brief. Other than that, the so-called “heroic” Doves were even worse than the ghouls. While ghouls kill out of necessity – and sometimes they avoid killing altogether – the humans are mostly lashing out without provocation.
Of course, it’s not so simple an issue as to say the ghouls are the ones in the right just like that. It’s a deeper issue than that. But they certainly were cast in a very positive light so that they became the good guys. Killing the humans (their enemy) seemed like a reasonable goal because the humans deserved it. I couldn’t even feel bad for the humans even though I’m (obviously) a human myself. That’s how much they made me empathize with ghouls! I was defending a species that can only survive by eating us simply because they seemed that much more honest. It didn’t help that Mado was so whacked out that he fit the role of a villain perfectly.
…and this corner we have ghouls with vicious tempers!
Well, the joke’s on me because it turns out Mado wasn’t such a bad person. He was still crazy as hell, but he at least had another side to him. A side that had a wife – maybe kids. He had a side that wanted to protect Amon and work diligently alongside him. It seems that a lot of terrible things happened to make him act this way, as suggested by how determined he was to kill a certain one-eyed ghoul. I’m excited that we get more foreshadowing of this elusive half-breed like Kaneki, because it’s going to make his appearance even more exciting. But I digress…I don’t know what that ghoul did to him, just that it must have been pretty bad to make him want to kill ghouls so desperately. It doesn’t excuse any of his actions, but it makes you stop and realize that even the most heinous people can have surprising lives outside of the ill deeds they perform. Much like Touka, perhaps I was too quick to judge him as being pure evil.
But then again, he did torture two girls in an abandoned tunnel so yeah, he’s pretty evil. However, seeing his ring was a powerful moment because it represents the unseen sides of those we call “the enemy.” Both ghouls and humans immediately label each and every person of the opposite species as their enemy. Simply by being born that way, they are persecuted. They refuse to try and see any redeeming qualities that would prove otherwise. That’s why Touka doesn’t even stop to think about Mado having a life beyond being a Dove. It’s also why Amon is extremely confused by Kaneki – his mortal enemy – letting him live. It’s very easy to kill another person when you see them as “just another ghoul/human” and generalize them all to be bad. Once you get to know them and their more “human” traits, it becomes much more difficult. So, to become an efficient killing machine, you must stop yourself from getting too close to the enemy. It’s easier to kill a monster than a friend.
Kaneki’s declaration ties all of this together really nicely as well. The parallels between his encounter with Amon and Touka’s encounter with Mado were really well-planned. Then Kaneki announces that he’s going to try and fix the problem by uniting both sides. It’s a herculean task, but he really is the only one who could do it since he’s from both sides. It’s a great direction to take the story in as well because I really love seeing the moral debates between ghouls and humans. It’s so much more fun than just watching them slash at each other blindly. Now some doubts have been planted as some characters realize not everyone from the other side is necessarily evil. It’s an interesting dilemma and clearly everyone is going to struggle between wanting revenge and just wanting to live peacefully and harmoniously.
Not only is there a delicious moral dilemma, the fight scenes are actually impressive too! The action is mostly from Touka’s side, but I was still quite pleased to see Kaneki not only wear his mask but go into berserk mode and use his kagune again. But really, the show stealer for me was watching Touka use her speedy skills and then have Hinami finish the fight with her combined mama-papa kagune. I thought Kaneki would rush in to save them but nope! The little girl was able to hold her own. I think Hinami will continue to be one to watch because she has the ability to kill, but she isn’t corrupted enough to want revenge as badly as Touka. She just wants to live a normal life. Thank goodness they didn’t kill her off! Tokyo Ghoul is really headed down an interesting road and I think the time for redemption is upon us! It might be too little too late, but I can’t complain in the face of such lovely gifts.
…I did burst out laughing when Amon screamed like a banshee over his friend’s death though.