Tokyo Ghoul, Ep 8: Two sides of the same eyepatch

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If there’s one thing I appreciate about Tokyo Ghoul, it’s how it portrays a complicated situation between two opposing forces; or more accurately, multiple forces within the two broader groups of humans and ghouls. Both the broad human and ghoul sides of the conflict has their fair share of sadistic, perhaps even cartoony antagonists, such as Mado for the humans and Tsukiyama for the Ghouls. But looking at the broad picture, the show makes it clear that the ghouls only kill because it’s essential to their survival, and the humans of course retaliate in response. And well, war is hell no matter how you cut it.

The fundamental nature of the conflict causes each side to Other each other, and develop a multitude of misconceptions. The humans see the ghouls as deranged criminals at best, animals at worst, that need to be exterminated for the greater good of humanity; and often they’re not exactly wrong, albeit as Ken puts it this week, “Not all ghouls are like that.” Whereas the ghouls naturally think of them, or the “Doves” in particular, as heartless monsters themselves for not being able to see the humanity in ghouls. And unfortunately, the ghouls can’t really do anything to prove the humans and Doves wrong. They have to murder and eat human flesh in order to stay alive, and so they’re damned to keep adding fuel to the fire.

It’s a sticky situation, which surely couldn’t be resolved nice and neatly. But hey, as Ken tries to express in this episode, the first step towards making the situation any better is to forge a dialogue, and have a mutual understanding between each sides. Then it’d be a matter of figuring out a system in which the ghouls and humans can coexist without one murdering the other in order to stay alive, which would be the hard part. Unless the humans could develop some sort of synthetic human flesh that the ghoul’s could consume, they would, at best, have to give up their morals surrounding cannibalism in order to let the ghouls live. Since remember, even with the good guy ghouls of Ken and the gang, they still have to feast on the flesh of suicide victims to stay alive. And I don’t think humans would be so willing to accept that, and with good reason.

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The show does show a bit of a bias towards the ghouls though, with them being the protoganists and the ghoul hunters generally being a more antagonistic. Mado especially comes off as rather psychopathic with how much joy he has at murdering the ghouls, which can be a bit much. But even then I’d say that the attitude of his partner, Amon, balances things out quite a bit. Amon has a clear sense of justice and wants to kill ghouls not because of some power fantasy, but because of a genuine misunderstanding of how terrible he perceives the ghouls to be, and only wants to keep the ghouls from taking other lives.

All this is best exemplified by the two deaths leading up to the climatic confrontation of this week’s episode: Mrs. Ryoko gets murdered, which rightfully outrages and saddens the small ghoul community she belonged to, which provoked Touka to murder one of the Dove’s members. This, then, leads to the doves to be outraged and saddened in returned, especially Amon and one of his coworkers, who are both utterly torn by their colleague and friend’s death. You could say that the Doves were the ones who started it by murdering Ryoko in cold blood, but remember it’s part of a larger conflict with roots and causes that go much deeper than just “human on ghoul discrimination.”  Sometimes killing someone is unavoidable, but even if it’s justified or necessary for whatever reason, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s absolutely a terrible thing.

Now, as for my what I think about the rest of Tokyo Ghoul…eh, I’m still not a big fan of the action. It’s doesn’t exactly get in the way of the broader themes of the story, and by episode 8 I’ve gotten used to it and find it entertaining for what it is, so I wouldn’t necessarily call the action bad or detrimental to the overall narrative. But I’d probably still like the show better as a straight-up horror like how the first episode was, rather than how it is now as an action horror. It’s just like I’ve said before, it’s cartoony. It’s silly. And having the humans like Amon and Mado joining in on the superhuman kagune fun doesn’t help much either. Of course, I appreciate that it’s not trying to be super realistic or anything either, and so the fact that the kagune and how they work doesn’t make any sense isn’t the problem. But the lack of realism there just seems to clash with the otherwise more realistic and horror-laden tone of the rest of the series. But again, it’s decent for what it is, I would just rather have this be straight-up horror.

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I find it interesting how they decided to give Amon an eyepatch for his right eye this episode, even if it’s a bit jarring considering that at no point in the previous episode do we see his eye getting injured. It’s the eye opposite of the one which Ken covers with an eyepatch most of the day, and in fact the same eye which is covered when Ken wears his mask as he fights Amon. What’s clearly being communicated here is that Amon and Ken are foils to each other, as they’re the characters who have the strongest sense of justice and good on their respective sides of the conflict. The key difference of course, is that Ken as a half-ghoul sees the humanity in both humans and ghouls, whereas Amon’s actions are fueled by all the understandable misconceptions he has about ghouls.

On twitter I mentioned my disappointed that Tokyo Ghoul (as well as Rail Wars!,) is merely a 1 cour series instead of 2 cour, though now that I’m actually caught up on the show I’d say I’m content with its length. The story certainly doesn’t seem like it’ll have a concrete resolution within the next four episodes, but if it’s popular I’m sure it’ll get greenlit for a second season. And I’m fine waiting for whenever that comes out, especially since I’m not even that big of a fan of the series, albeit it’s certainly one of the better shows of the season.

I’m also just satisfied with the way the show is pacing itself and developing. It’s doing well to build up conflicts in the matter of story-arcs, like how the last few episodes focused on the Doves, and the few episode before that on Tsukiyama. As opposed to say, providing more questions than answers with each episode and building onto a more intricate conflict and mystery, only to eventually make sense and be resolved towards the end of the series. You know, something like Kingdom Hearts. And there’s nothing wrong with that sort of story structure, but it’s just a bit more annoying when that’s split up into different seasons. Plus the manga only started a little less than a few years ago, which I’m guessing is only a couple years before the anime started production, so Studio Pierrot didn’t have much source material to work with anyways.

Ken’s mask is also pretty dumb and silly in my opinion, but then again, so are all the other character’s masks.

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