Tokyo Ghoul √A is the second season of Tokyo Ghoul, released in 2015, and everyone had really high expectations from it. Why did Kaneki join the Aogiri? Why does he kill like there is no tomorrow? What is happening between the ghouls and the CCG? And many more questions that were either answered by anime clichés or not answered at all.
The setting is still the same as in the first season. Ghouls exist and they are feeding on humans in order to survive, with the only exception that a ghoul organization called Aogiri Tree is going on a rampage and kills everyone on their sight. Many of the Wards in Tokyo have been taken under the control of ghouls and CCG significantly loses power. Their goal is to get back all those areas that the ghouls have taken over, destroy their leader, The One Eyed Owl, and their organization.
Plot & Story
Kaneki as a member of the Aogiri carries out missions that include taking over Wards in Tokyo, freeing prisoners, and killing the CCG in order to make Aogiri’s power even stronger. In his journey to understand who he really is and to become stronger, he develops new powers that he can’t control and turns into an uncontrollable beast when his instincts take over. The focus this season, besides all the blood, killing, and fighting is the so-called ‘Owl Ghoul’ who was a thread to the CCG since a while back and has given them a lot of reason to kill him. When the CCG realizes that the ‘Owl’ is behind Aogiri, they decide to exterminate him by any means possible. So we learn a bit of a backstory on the ‘Owl’ but nothing else is really explained to us. Also, a variety of new characters show up in this season, some play more important roles than others, but then again, nothing major is really pointed out.
Art & Music
The animation and the artwork of the anime are both great. Pierrot has done a fantastic job and the high-quality production is something that has to be mentioned. Great use of shadows, awesome visual effects (the snow at the final scene of the last episode is remarkable), good staging, well directed, and unique character design. The background sometimes lacks detail, but other than that, everything is really well made. The music of the anime is very immersive with beautiful songs. What is most noticeable is the insane background piano instrumental that makes you shiver from the intensity it adds to the scenes. The voice acting is amazing as well with great performances from Rie Kugimiya (Kagura in Gintama, Taiga in Toradora!) who voices Juuzou Suzuya, and from Maaya Sakamoto (Princess Tomoyo in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Ciel Phantomhive in Black Butler) who voices Eto Yoshimura.
Themes & Trivia
Aogiri Tree and the Phoenix: アオギリの樹 (Aogiri no Ki) basically translates to Chinese parasol tree, a tree used to make Chinese musical instruments. It is well known that Ishida Sui is fond of Chinese poetry, and after looking into some poems that are associated with the Chinese Parasol Tree there are a lot of things that can be symbolized in the anime. Kaneki can be associated with the Phoenix, (from Liu Yong’s poem ‘Phoenix Perched on the Parasol Tree’): in Greek mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. Sounds familiar?
Kaneki is an interesting character despite all the ‘I want to become stronger to protect those around me’ kind of attitude. He has come a long way and he doesn’t win his combats only with power and violence but with psychological means as well, and he always tries to argue with his enemies, which for me is something refreshing. Needless to say that his fashion taste has become so much better since he joined the Aogiri. I believe that what he has become now is truly terrifying for him and for us as the viewers. He started as a kid who was hesitant to eat human flesh and now can even cannibalize another species, which makes you think how powerless he really is when the instincts take over. That is kind of scary.
Another thing that is worth mentioning and that it was clearly the highlight of the whole season was Amon’s quote when he was with drunk Akira in her apartment and went in the balcony to do push-ups until the next morning saying to himself: ‘ I AM SUCH A ROOKIE!’. Good self-control right there.
What cannot change can only be broken.
- Character development (Kaneki, Amon)
- High-quality animation with good aesthetics
- Beautiful background music
- Detailed character designs
- Didn’t love the opening and ending songs as much as the first season’s
- Not enough backstory to realize what is happening
- Some plot holes
As someone who is a great fan of Tokyo Ghoul, I really enjoyed the second season even if it had its ups and downs. Sure, it was more about combat and less about the plot but in the end, it was still interesting and engaging enough. I am really looking forward to the third season called Tokyo Ghoul:re that is coming out in Spring 2018. The events take place two years after the Anteiku raid, so I am very intrigued to see what Ishida has to offer!
Tokyo Ghoul √A