By giving us more insight into the new key players while also bringing back some all too familiar faces, Tokyo Ghoul: re‘s second episode balances intrigue and fanservice to keep us viewers on the edge of our seats. When will Haise learn what’s really going on, and how big will the fallout be when he does?
We pick up right where we left off last episode, with Haise facing down Orochi after he barged in during the Quinx squad’s pursuit of Torso, the taxi driver ghoul responsible for some serial murders around the city. During the fight, Orochi’s mask is knocked off and he is revealed to be Nishio, stirring some uncomfortable memories in Haise’s mind that he cannot make sense of. Later, Urie is demoted from squad leader and undergoes a risky surgery to unlock his untapped power, valuing strength above all else. Haise, Shirazu and Mutsuba head out to hunt the Nutcracker, a female ghoul who likes to destroy men’s testicles, after the Torso case is taken away from them, but a chance stop in a local coffee shop exposes Haise to even more complicated feelings that he is unable to explain.
First off, can I just say how much the opening is growing on me? Although it’s no unravel, it has a certain vibe that reminds me of the second opening for Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, which I love. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to bring myself to skip it no matter how hyped up I am for the action.
If you thought that the first episode brought up some interesting mysteries, the second episode doubles down on that in a big way. With every familiar face that was introduced I felt the anticipation grow, bringing me to such unreasonable levels of hype that I’m finding it hard to handle the fact that the next episode isn’t already here. With Nishio, Arima, Hayato, Yomo and Touka each making an appearance, long time fans are most likely screaming at their televisions with confused, delighted, downright exasperated energy. I know I was. There were definitely Too Many Emotions happening.
So, between Hinami and Nishio, we have at least two members of the old Anteiku family who have now joined Aogiri Tree. For those who don’t remember the exact significance of Aogiri Tree, they were a group of terrorist ghouls headed up by Eto Yoshimura, the One Eyed King, that included notable members such as Jason and Hayato. They wanted to overthrow humanity and install ghouls as the dominant race, and were considered very dangerous by the CCG. After the battle two years ago and the increase in CCG influence since then, more ghouls may be feeling like they have no choice but to support them as a way of getting back even an inch of power. I’m curious to know how those two ended up joining and who else may have gone with them.
Along with that, Haise is already having flashbacks to his previous life, as it has been established that he doesn’t have any memories further back than the last two years. I’m honestly surprised that there have been this many clues for him this early on – I thought they would wait a bit longer to have Haise start questioning his memory, but they jump right in, having his other self take over in the battle with Orochi and his encounters with Nishio, Yomo and, most importantly, Touka have a profound effect on him. When will he start to recognise them? How do they keep themselves from telling him who he used to be? I have to know!
Outside of Haise, we start to get more development for his squad and an understanding of what sets them apart from the rest of the CCG. Unlike Haise, the rest of the group aren’t technically considered half ghouls. They have been implanted with a kakuho, but the power of it is limited on a scale of one to five frames, with the higher frames being more powerful but also more dangerous. To have it strengthened they have to have an operation which is signed off by various superiors to ensure that they are not given power that they are unable to handle.
The squad member who gets the lion’s share of the spotlight this episode is Urie. Man, I do not like this kid. Urie stopped having any faith in people when his father died, and now walks around with a giant chip on his shoulder not listening to authority or having any basic human respect for people. He’s a manipulator who seeks power, and he’s not going to let anybody get in his way to get it. He’s already found a way to get around seeking proper permission for his kakuho upgrades and I cannot imagine that will result in anything good.
Despite Haise’s best efforts to get along, he and Urie inevitably clash and we get an understanding of his real feelings. Urie can not, will not, respect Haise. At the end of the day, he’s just a ghoul. The CCG are supposed to exterminate ghouls.
Most of all, it was the final scene at cafe :re that really sold me on Tokyo Ghoul: re. From the music, to the voice-over, to the framing, every aspect of the moment where Touka and Haise are reunited is crafted to create a feeling of wistful nostalgia. The two stare at each other, Touka in disbelief, Haise from an emotion that he cannot possibly begin to express, and at that moment it felt like Tokyo Ghoul had reached into my chest and grabbed my tiny little heart. It’s hard to watch Haise when he has no recollection of the found family that used to be so important to him. And yet, his feelings for them are there, deep down, giving us both hope and concern for the future. Will he be able to reconcile with his old friends? And if he does, what will become of the new? How will he reconcile his collusion with the CCG after everything that happened at Anteiku?
Toe to tip, this episode was a doozy! I didn’t even get a chance to talk about Nutcracker, the dominatrix lady-ghoul who loves to crush men’s testicles. I normally would have been all over that! But I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities to talk about her next episode when they finally hunt her down. The real best ghoul will have to wait until next time.
Overall, episode two of Tokyo Ghoul: re topped an already stellar first episode in basically every way possible. If it can continue to soar on this upward trajectory then we’ll have a truly great series on our hands, the kind that the first two series of Tokyo Ghoul could never be thanks to the deterioration in animation quality, overzealous censorship, and the strange and unnecessary story changes. All we can do is wait and hope that re doesn’t fumble the ball somewhere along the way.
After all, we wouldn’t want Nutcracker to get her hands on it! Ha ha! Get it? Balls.