Winter 2015: Tokyo Ghoul √A
To start off the new anime season, I watched the anime I was most looking forward to – Tokyo Ghoul √A. It is a second season to the original Tokyo Ghoul that aired between July and September 2014.
Before anything else, I want to mention my original expectations for Tokyo Ghoul √A. I loved how the first season started. It quickly became one of my favourite series that season. Since it was too slow and my anticipation was big, I picked up the manga. Now it is one of my favourite manga series of all time. Seriously, it’s good. The first anime season went out with a bang. Of course I would have high expectations for a new season. I heard it would be following an anime-original story, but believed I couldn’t dislike the new season, no matter what. I was wrong.
Let’s start from the very beginning of the episode – the opening. It might be harsh, but I haven’t disliked an opening this much for a while now. Nothing about it is good. Minimal animation. Just Kaneki’s naked upper body in the center of the screen, being touched by some hands. The song is too slow and peaceful. Is this even Tokyo Ghoul anymore? I could accept it as an ending song, because I normally don’t watch those, but for an opening it is a very strange choice. I’m not even comparing it to Unravel – it’s a weak opening on its own. At least the ending of Tokyo Ghoul √A is better. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the real opening.
The overall atmosphere felt like a completely different anime. This is how a last episode of a season should be. Calm and peaceful. Instead we get that in the first episode, which should be paving the road for the rest of the season. Are we to expect that the rest will be the same? If so, I’ll be even more disappointed. Wait, there was a fight in this episode? I didn’t even notice. The Ayato vs Kaneki fight felt like a walk in the park. Probably because the sound effects felt off.
The art is still pretty good. Kaneki now looks more like Ginko from Mushishi, though… Compared to Ayato’s epic looking kagune, Kaneki’s kagune looks like a lazily done blob. Everything in this episode looked better than Kaneki’s kagune. Also, where did he suddenly get a new badass outfit? Don’t think I will just criticize Tokyo Ghoul, though. There’s something I absolutely loved in this episode. There were no black screens! The censorship is either gone, or toned down enough to not have scenes where less than 10% of the screen is visible. Thanks for that, at least.
As I mentioned earlier, Tokyo Ghoul √A follows a different story from the manga. Even the title of the series can be interpreted as a hint – Tokyo Ghoul route (root) Aogiri (A). A bit farfetched, but it fits. To be honest this is the part I have least complaints about, even though I expected the opposite. It would be nice to see something fresh for a change. A different perspective, different characters, different developments. It will all begin from Kaneki joining Aogiri, as opposed to leaving with Tsukiyama and Banjou in the manga.
What happened in this particular episode? Kaneki left the torturing room, fought with Ayato (Touka’s brother) until the fight was interrupted, walked around looking at the dead bodies and destruction, and finally left with the Aogiri. Meanwhile we saw the One-Eyed Owl fighting a few CCG inspectors and beating them, Eto discussing Kaneki’s progress with Tatara, Hide riding around on his bike and observing Kaneki, and Nico showing off his Pierrot clown mask. A lot of characters were introduced in one episode, without revealing too much.
Overall, as you probably noticed, I am very disappointed in Tokyo Ghoul √A. I didn’t set my expectations too high, but even so, it wasn’t anywhere close to what I wanted to see. I’ll take any story, just to see more Kaneki in his badass mode, but when every other component of that story is half-assed, the only thing left is to be disappointed. I might catch up to the anime closer to the end, but for now I’m not too keen to watch it every week.