Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tokyo Ghoul √A (2015)


Tokyo Ghoul √A takes place in Tokyo where a breed of monsters called Ghouls, looks like human except that they have additional powers.  All ghouls have something called a "kagune", a sort of weapon that grows out of the ghoul's body which they can manipulate.  Each ghoul's kagune is unique and to further distinguish them from humans, their eyes are black with red pupils.  Tokyo Ghoul √A continues straight after the first season, taking place on the same night that Kaneki morphed into his more powerful persona, white hair and all, and defeating Jason.


At the end of the battle, Kaneki withdraws from Anteiku and joins the opposing organization Aogiri, who had captured him in the first place.  To confuse the viewers, we are not immediately given an explanation of the reason why and when we finally do get the reason from Kaneki later on, it doesn't make much sense.  √A introduces the One-Eyed Owl, a super powerful ghoul that the police CCG targets.  However, the series breezes past too quickly the reason why CCG is so intent on destroying the One-Eyed Owl, particularly since it is not part of the more of significant threat of Aogiri anyway.


Despite the Owl's powers, he loses as expected and Kaneki, despite all of the powers he had gained, is still so useless.  √A retains all the flaws of the original and they are all significant.  The worst offender is while Kaneki has grown more powerful, and being the main character, the anime gives him the aura of being near unbeatable, he is still weak.  It is very frustrating, even when Kaneki further unlocks his powers, he is thrashed easily by other characters.  His fluctuating power levels is annoying as one moment he's strong (or appears to be), then the next he's thrown around like a ragdoll.


The other serious flaw is that the plot is messy and directionless.  You get more than halfway through the season and you're still not sure why things are happening or where it is heading towards.  The uneven pacing, where the scenes are dragged out to oblivion when it doesn't matter, would then suddenly skip any major plot explanations and go straight to the fight scenes.  Once the characters start fighting, they slow it down with character monologues, memories, flashbacks and the like; it's infuriating and hard to stomach when you can't empathize the reason of why they are fighting in the first place.


There are a lot of unresolved plot points even after the ending, such as Kaneki's connection to Rise, or rather, why everyone seem to be so interested in that connection.  Then there are the new characters introduced whom you thought would take on a more central role as it kept focusing on them.  Sorry, they are promptly ignored after three episodes with no resolution.  If you hadn't already realized in the first season, then you'll definitely realize it now, and that is that all the characters are crazy, even the human characters.  They are all unlikable with odd personalities and √A doesn't make it clear what their roles are supposed to be.  They just seem to be... there.


√A tries to set up a sad premise with deaths of major side characters but since the pacing is horrible and there is no meaningful character development, it loses a lot of its impact.  The CCG is put in such a bad light and the unfairness of it all is so severe, since you know the ghouls whom you slightly empathize with will lose, is more frustrating than anything.  There is a rule that you cannot set up these types of scenes where the viewer is left feeling helpless and frustrated when you don't back it up with overpowered revenge fight scenes or rescues, and √A broke that rule.


Overall, Tokyo Ghoul √A has a mess of a storyline that serves to confuse the viewers.  It's occasionally interesting fight scenes are ruined by them being broken by character monologues or flashbacks or Kaneki being the weakest main character ever.  It's not the fault of the manga, the source material and inspiration for this anime, it's the fault of the writer and studio for deviating and creating new "plot elements", producing such a bland show.

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