Box Set Review
Well, it isn’t the awesome special edition version like we saw for season 1, but at $50 on Amazon, it’s not a bad deal for 12 episodes of high-quality anime. The packaging is standard, but I have to say the alternative cover art (pictured below) is one of the better ones I’ve seen recently.
The episode commentaries are fairly standard, and there isn’t a bonus episode like in the Assassination Classroom set to shed any additional light on characters or backstory, which is kind of a bummer.
That being said, if it’s not broke, why fix it? FUNimation appears to have a great template for their blu-ray sets, and largely produce streamlined products at reasonable prices. Sure it’s fun to dive into their limited edition sets, but as we know it’s not meant for every release.
There is no denying the kind of pull Tokyo Ghoul has on the anime community. Its a dark, horrific, tale of self discovery and acceptance, a departure from the widely popular anime titles. With a healthy dose of intriguing characters, engaging action moments, gorgeous visuals, and overall high end production quality, there are multiple reasons why Tokyo Ghoul has amassed such a cult following. The question is: Was Tokyo Ghoul Root A- season 2- able to do the same?
Season two picks up in this very vulnerable- for lack of a better phrase- place for the main character, Kaneki. He just survived hell on both the mental and physical plane. The man is broken in both aspects. If his world wasnt turned upside down enough by being a half Ghoul, it was messed up even worse with a serious case of PTSD and a second voice living inside his head telling him he beyond help, he has been utterly weak his whole life so what are you going to do about it? Answer? Anti-hero to the MAXIMUM.
But I’m not going to try and spoil it because I realize the second season of Tokyo Ghoul is still fairly new.
What I will say is that this season of Tokyo Ghoul was said to be “original” content; varying from the manga source plot lines.There are some very different situations, things are handled in new perspectives, and the ending is close but not the same.However, hardcore Tokyo Ghoul fans will nit pick and say the two are entirely different. I beg to differ and say it’s a fairly close adaption, nothing that truly warrant’s an original content label.
That being said, season two did do quite a bit of things right for Tokyo Ghoul. The continued character development, and not in the typical anime fashion, scores very high on my scale. I love how Tokyo Ghoul deviates from the standard anime path, and instead of Kaneki coming back from his god awful situation as a more grounded, righteous, lawful character… he goes OFF THE RAILS. Its not a secret I give mad props to Tokyo Ghoul for taking its “golden child” and just drenching him in violence and angst; it was a very smart story telling and character development decision, but the execution of this side to Kaneki falls short and even a little cookie cutter.
What I did like about the character development in Tokyo Ghoul is that we’re running these parallel stories of not just the main character; but his supporting cast as well, particularly Touka. Touka, I would say, has some the best put together development, and what I really enjoyed about watching her own story was how contrasting it was to Kaneki’s. Watching two polar-opposite characters, essentially switch places and points of views, during the same story line- living the same situations- is fascinating. Touka starts out as a very hardened character, with the mentality that only the strong survive, there little to no room for emotion. Kaneki, on the other end of the spectrum, is very kind (to a fault) and a little too trusting and reliant on others. In the end, we watch both Touka and Kaneki not only switch places, but become better (questionable in Kaneki’s case) versions of what their counter part use to be.
WARNING! SPOILERS BELOW
Touka, by the end of the series, has grown up quite a bit and had the most positive character growth. She sheds her calloused skin, knowing that she cant live life the way she was: by herself and finding fault in others. She finds this balance of knowing her actions have consequences, and both the actions she takes and the consquences are her’s and her’s alone. Switching over to Kaneki, he was able to bury his humanity and emotion, so far and so deep- under the pretense of protecting those who he valued- that he capable of truly monstrous acts that Touka found herself hesitating on.
But this is where some of the great character development stops. I feel like the progression and layering of characters was really spent the most on Kaneki and Touka– everyone else in the cast has moments, some very slight, but nothing major. They’re introduced, you get some background, and then they’re kinds dropped off the face of the planet. Unlike in season one of Tokyo Ghoul, the supporting cast had major developments because it served as a plot device for Kaneki and his understanding of the Ghoul realm.
The biggest fault that I can find with Root A is–again, bringing back to this idea of “original content”–is that the overall story is there but it’s full of holes. Like, they knew where they wanted to go, had a general direction, and went for it but it seemed like a really half ass attempt. This decision and execution of the story, just really BLOWS my mind. I understand anime and mangas are always going to different but when the manga is doing exceedingly well, earning all kinds of praise left and right for it’s writing and plot, you would think the anime production company would attempt to replicate that success with little struggle. I mean, you have the damn map in front of you: FOLLOW IT.
To add insult to injury, as I’ve stated before, the second season of Tokyo Ghoul doesnt greatly differ from what’s in the manga. It’s not exactly original content. So they decided to nix a whole bunch of character development and world building, in favor for some lengthy and flash fight scenes, and allowed all kinds of holes to appear in the plot. Are we really not going to address that there are other (SPOILERS) one eyed ghouls besides Kaneki? They’re introduced for a single episode to never return. SERIOUSLY? We’re not going to address this? Is this not of importance?! And this is just one instance during the second season where world building is thrown out the window, and the story is left feeling incomplete.
Overall though, Root A does a great job in finishing the series. Granted, the way the series ends it very vague for several character–with the exception of one.However the vague ending, and lack of supporting cast development, isn’t enough to take away from Root A. It is a good series, with some fresh perspective on character arc types, with amazing production quality. Tokyo Ghoul: Root A deserves a watch and is a good addition to the series, and a isn’t a terrible way to end it either.