Tokyo Ghoul:re is a Spring 2018 anime based on Sui Ishida’s manga of the same name. It takes place in an alternate Tokyo inhabited both by humans and ghouls, the latter of whom need to consume flesh in order to survive. Tokyo Ghoul:re was proceeded by the manga Tokyo Ghoul, which has already received two anime series and an OVA. It told the story of human-turned-half-ghoul Ken Kaneki and how he was thrown headfirst into the battles between humans and ghouls while fighting the urge to eat human flesh.
The anime adaptation of the sequel Tokyo Ghoul:re aired for 13 episodes in Spring 2018, and we got to follow a new hero, Haise Sasaki, and his friends. Haise works with a group of people called the Quinx Squad, who all have abilities of Ghouls. What at first seems like a completely detached story soon finds itself connected to the happenings of Tokyo Ghoul through the appearances of some familiar characters. Haise himself also holds a big secret.
The first half of Tokyo Ghoul:re finished airing in June, with the second half scheduled for October 2018. It has also been announced that the manga it is based on will come to an end very soon.
MANGA.TOKYO were lucky enough to be given the chance to interview series director Toshihiro Watanabe and producer Yoshito Danno! Please note that this interview was conducted during the production of the first season and before the second season was officially announced.
Season 1 Review | Season 2 Review | Similar Anime
Tokyo Ghoul:re is totally different from the previous Tokyo Ghoul series. Our reader Lionel Joshua from Malaysia wants to know: ‘how did you intend to make this manga\anime?’
We received a similar question from abhi_tha_kahan: ‘it has a slightly different art style compared to the earlier series. Want to shed some light on that?’
Yoshito Danno (Producer)
The original manga Tokyo Ghoul:re started running when the first season of the TV anime Tokyo Ghoul ended. I was talking to the staff members about creating an adaptation of it at the time. I think it was around summer or fall last year when the production of Tokyo Ghoul:re actually got started. The production was realized because of the great response to the first and second seasons.
I heard that the original creator, Sui Ishida, wanted to reset the story, including its world, to change its vibe. Previously, Tokyo Ghoul had a heavy subject matter, therefore the protagonist Kaneki was inevitably depicted as being very serious. Ishida wanted Tokyo Ghoul:re to be lighter and the anime adaptation followed this change. Although the new season is the sequel of the previous two seasons, the main characters, including the protagonist, have changed drastically. I think viewers will feel like it’s a brand-new anime series.
Shuhei Morita, the director of the previous two seasons, decided not to direct the new season as he felt that he did what he wanted to do with the other two seasons. So, we tried to find someone who would create it with a different taste. Eventually, we asked Toshinori Watanabe to be the director and Atsuko Nakajima to be the character designer. As for the screenplay, we asked Chuji Mikasano to reprise his role as the job requires frequent communication with the original creator and he has already built a trusted relationship with Ishida.
What did you pay attention to regarding the characters and story setting?
Toshinori Watanabe (Director)
The story was depicted from Kaneki’s point of view in the previous seasons. For :re we wanted to center on not just Haise but also the other members of the Quinx Squad, who have the same abilities as the ghouls. We focused on expressing their emotions and tried not to become too serious. For instance, Shirazu has shark-like teeth. We wanted to keep manga-like depictions such as that. As a result, the action scenes and scenes with kagune attacks became more extreme. In that respect, this series was different from the previous ones.
There must be a limit to how extreme you can be as a TV anime.
There are scenes of violence. Although we don’t want to just show that, we can’t escape from such scenes. So, we’re challenging the limits. I want to create scenes which have the same anything-goes spirit and excitement of the manga.
Urie mumbles a lot in this season.
I wanted to depict his dual personality and his sharp tongue. I put a lot of thought into him visually. He acts like a protagonist at first, but his character will develop towards the latter half of the season. Obviously, the other three characters will also develop. I think Shirazu is the character to whom viewers can relate most because he behaves in his bad boy fashion but is actually deeply concerned about his sister and friends. I’d like to show the four young people’s development by the end of the season.
What parts do you think you did better than you expected?
Basically, I tried to make it different from the previous seasons, like by applying a darker color scheme. The story revolves around their fights against ghouls. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I think the visual expression in Episodes 1 and 2 is well made. When talking with the cinematography crew about the last scene of Episode 1 when Haise’s kagune appears, I said ‘I just want it to look cool. I want to finish this episode in style.’ They did a great job with a lot of flashiness. I’m happy with the result.
The cast members were also great. They were perfectly into their role from Episode 1. I hardly needed to direct them, as they have superb skills in voice acting. Urie sounded just how I imagined and the role of Haise was clearly understood from the start.
Watanabe is in charge of the storyboard for every episode, therefore the whole season has a sense of unity with the same style. Regarding the voice acting Watanabe has just mentioned, every voice actor performed better in the studio than they did in auditions. The main characters in this season have changed from the previous seasons, and therefore so has the cast members. Everyone is new to Tokyo Ghoul, except Natsuki Hanae who of course portrayed Kaneki. However, they have been perfect since Episode 1, which was beyond my expectations.
Questions from overseas.
Excel S. from Mexico wants to know: ‘Who are your favorite characters from the series?’
I like Shimoguchi, a first-class ghoul investigator. I prefer an older character like him, so I added some extra scenes in which he appears that didn’t exist in the original scenario. I also like Kijima, an associate special class ghoul investigator. I enjoyed the performances of those experienced voice actors. Obviously, I love the performances of the Quinx Squad, too! [laugh]
I used to pick Shirazu as my favorite character. However, as the production progresses, I find Urie more interesting. I like him because his character matures along with the story. He was selfish and acted in a self-righteous manner at first but cultivates his mind and develops as a human being. His development isn’t straightforward, because of his twisted personality. I think that’s why he interests me.
tenshishimu asks: ‘What did you think about the Tokyo Ghoul series when you found out about it for the first time?’
marwanhusny wants to ask Watanabe: ‘When you took the job to direct your first Tokyo Ghoul series, what was the first thing that came to your mind? How did you feel when you were given the opportunity to direct it? Were you nervous or excited?’ anitrendz also wants to ask Watanabe: ‘Did you watched the first two seasons or read the original series before directing ‘:re’?’ Lastly, neko.person asks: ‘What were the various pressures and problems you had to face while doing the show?’
I joined this company when they had just begun planning the anime adaptation for the first season. I only knew the title of the original manga at that time, so I began reading it and got totally into it. I thought it would be difficult to create an anime adaptation, but at the same time wanted to challenge such a difficult task. I think I was lucky to get involved in the anime adaptation of this brilliant manga.
I came to know Tokyo Ghoul when I was offered the directorial job for :re. I was just a fledgling director at the time and the president of the anime studio Pierrot Plus gave me a shout. I instantly accepted the offer thinking: ‘Great! I can do a directorial job again.’ Later, I asked my friends about Tokyo Ghoul and was surprised to learn of its huge popularity. I was given the manga series to read. After reading the whole series, I thought: ‘Seriously, do they want me to adapt this into anime?’ I watched the previous anime seasons. I was totally captivated by them, so I watched them all in one go. I casually accepted the offer but gradually felt a lot of pressure piling on top of me. However, once the production got going, the only thing I could do my best, which gave me a bit of mental relief. Now I’m just focusing on creating good anime.
Keith from the Philippines asks: ‘Is Tokyo Ghoul: re the most challenging task you have ever encountered? Will the series give more emphasis to the story or to the action scenes?’
At the beginning of the season, it focuses on entertaining viewers. That’s what I do best. Once the story kicks into gear and there are changes in some characters, I think I must depict their changes of mind more carefully than the previous seasons. It can be difficult. Haise’s situation changes as the story develops. His old enemies become his allies and vice versa. I want to depict such changes from a neutral point of view, focusing on depicting their emotions rather than visually spectacular expressions. I want to depict each character’s feelings painstakingly.
Excel S. from Mexico asks: ‘Was Ishida Sui in any way involved in the development of this adaptation?’
We asked him to supervise the screenplay, storyboards, and settings. We also took his requests into consideration such as when we were looking for artists for the theme songs. He strongly recommended Cö shu Nie to play the opening theme song. They were active as an indie band in the Kansai area and this single is their major debut. I believe their track is reminiscent of the story. the anime’s ending theme song was sung by Zyoou-vachi, a unique 4-piece rock band. Both the opening and ending visuals were created based on Watanabe’s storyboard.
Ishida gives us his opinions about story arrangements. I feel like we are creating the anime together. When I showed my design works for the kagune, he seemed to be interested in how I optimized his kagune images for the anime.
Here is another question from abhi_tha_kahan: ‘Would parts of the original storyline be cut to fit production? If so, then how would you guys make up for it?’
Syhmirsydan has a similar question: ‘Is it necessary to make the anime a bit different from the manga?’
In recent years, anime production companies, including us, try to be faithful to the original stories in general, as we understand that’s what fans of the original stories want. The more they love the original, the more they want a faithful adaptation.
There are some ways of expressing a story that are specific to manga. For example, it can insert a huge frame across a double-page spread that is really impressive when you turn the page and see it. On our end, we have to summarize the original story in order to fit it in a 30-minute anime slot. We can’t assign one chapter to one episode, otherwise, the anime would continue forever. We must also create emotional ups and downs in 30 minutes to make viewers want to watch the next episode. This means that is essential to make some changes from the original story.
I remember making a big change in the composition of the first season of Tokyo Ghoul. We swapped the chapter in which Tsukiyama appears with the chapter of Amon and Mado. While the original manga was serializing, we didn’t know how many chapters it would end up being. For anime, however, the number of episodes are predetermined, usually 12 or 24. We need to allocate chapters to each episode. We thought it would be better to swap those two chapters in order for viewers to understand Kaneki’s feelings. Ishida agreed with our proposal. That’s the big difference when it comes to producing anime and manga.
tenshishimu asks: ‘Would you rather become a ghoul, human, or both?’
I probably prefer to be human because otherwise, I can’t eat delicious food.
If I were guaranteed to become human again, I’d be curious to know how it would feel being a ghoul.
How about becoming a Quinx?
That’s a good idea. I can get the best of both. I can’t imagine eating humans, but it’s great to use kagune and have those brilliant physical abilities. Well, I’m probably too optimistic. Otherwise, Kaneki wouldn’t have struggled between the two.
anitrendz asks: ‘Did you draw any lessons or strategies when producing :re?’
Since I’ve heard what it was like at the studio during the previous seasons, my principle of the season is to meet the deadlines. [laugh]
It was a long story. After we started the production, we had very little time before the broadcasting date. We did everything we could do at that time, so I have no regrets. However, I think we could have had more choices if our schedule had been open.
I also spent too long discussing the series composition when we were creating √A and regret it. It’s an important process as well as an essential part of anime production, so I spent quite a long time on it. However, it ended up taking quite the toll on the production staff and I feel bad about it. At least, I’d like to make the most of what I learned from the experiences.
We are on track so far.
As you can see from the many questions we received, Tokyo Ghoul is popular overseas. What do you think is the reason for that?
Since I haven’t directly heard the opinions of the overseas fans, I only can presume that one of the reasons is the universal subject matter of the original story. It has a timeless story and settings. It depicts the unique existence of ghouls and, although it might sound strange, their human side in depth. It has the fascinating characters of both ghouls and humans. I guess the fans abroad understand these features of the story and that’s why they like it.
The fact that the title contains the word ‘Tokyo’ might help. [laugh]
It stands out from the crowd, I guess.
I’m pleased to hear that it’s popular outside Japan, even though we had to work faster in order to meet deadlines for the overseas streaming… I think there must be differences in out Japan when it comes to how things are expressed, but I don’t worry too much. I just want to create generally exciting anime.
I’m interested in how the fans overseas reacted. I’d like to know what they like about it and I’d like to know if there is a difference between which characters are popular in different countries.
Tell us your must-watch scenes of the season.
All of them. I also want viewers to pay attention to Haise’s hair color. Many characters from the previous seasons are going to appear as the story progresses as well. Please wait and watch them.
Please give a message to our readers.
I’m doing my best to create an exciting anime that will captivate viewers. I would be really happy if you would watch the anime to the end.
Tokyo Ghoul has a huge following and a wide range of fans. The official Twitter account has more than 300-odd thousand followers. I don’t know many anime which are on par with the popularity of Tokyo Ghoul. I feel that it is all worthwhile when I receive some reactions from viewers. Your reactions are important to me. Please tell us your thoughts on the anime via Twitter or just talk to your friends about the anime. I would appreciate if you could let me know your thoughts on what you think of the anime.
Please don’t be too harsh on us. [laugh]
Born in 1979 in Kyoto prefecture.
Joined Marvelous Inc after working for Frontier Works.
He has produced a number of anime works including Higurashi When They Cry, STEINS;GATE, and Yona of the Dawn.
Born In Hokkaido prefecture.
He started his career as an animation director with Bokurano and Linebarrels of Iron. He then worked for Valkyrie Drive and Super Lovers as an assistant director. His directional works include NARUTO Shippuden Shikamaru Hiden: A Cloud Drifting in Silent Darkness and Soul Buster