Tokyo Ghoul ep8: why don’t you understand?!
I’ve never been a huge fan of justice. It’s not to say I don’t feel that those who break the law shouldn’t be punished, nor do I feel divine retribution or karma are wasted hopes and dreams for the weak. I just have come to the understanding that justice is relative. Just as good or evil can be a matter of perspective and circumstance, so can a person, culture or society’s views on punishment and retribution. I’m not telling you that the person who bombed a bus a bus of civilians or shot up a school or mall is in the right, or should get off without issue. It’s just that when you see a horrific action, it should be the burden of those who witness it to think about why it occurred. What is for the other side a demand for justice may have been the very thing that spurned that action forth. If you don’t think about how you contribute to the cycle, and where you are in it, then there’s no way to figure out how to stop it.
As if it were not already apparent how important a bridge Ken is between worlds, we actual get to see his fate blossom before him. It’s far from any kind of surprise that Toka’s brazen actions would have immediate repercussions. Attacking a police officer or a federal agent would bring the whole organization down on your heads. So to see several agents attacked and a couple murdered not far from their base of operations is going to bring a swift response. The only thing here is, I believe the Investigators are part of a secret government organization, so their response was going to be more measured. And the word “measured” is a very apt description.
Mado, who may be a crazed and sadistic operative, is well prepared. His attempts to capture Toka, who he codnames Rabbit, are only another step in his long and measured hunt of ghouls. He’s taken quite a liking to Hinami’s parents, and in the cruelest way possible uses their scent once again to hunt the still grieving ghoul child. With his partner Amon bringing up the rear, he hopes to capture them in one swoop. And his efforts very well may have succeeded, if not Ken and an unlikely source had not embraced their ghoulish sides to turn the tide.
Most of this episode was an extended fight scene, so a play-by-play would be unnecessary. What really mattered here were the emotions and thoughts. They were all especially passionate this episode. Firstly, there are the two investigators, Mado and Amon. I was not expecting Mado to not endure further into this show. He just seemed like the kind of character that would haunt the show for most of its length. And in the end, we only get a small taste of what he was about. While it appeared that he was as motivated by his fascination of ghouls and their abilities as anything, there’s an untold story of hatred and revenge that we only get hinted at by the episode’s end. We learn he is, or was married. We learn that he holds a grudge that he speaks of even in his dying moments, too. It’s out of hatred, not fear, that he regards ghouls as less than human. And he dies with those thoughts.
There may be hope for Amon though. He too holds onto a strong, but not quite as deep hatred as Mado. He’s seen many friends and comrades die at the hands of ghouls. But his sense of duty combined with a fair amount of logic seems to dominate his personality and views towards ghouls. When Ken confronts him with hopes of slowing him down, Amon doesn’t go in with bloodlust, but through the fight we see his hatred and disgust towards ghouls come out. Amon definitely feels like the person who Ken needs to reach out to for mutual understanding. His best friend Hideyoshi may be a little too close to him, and have too little experience and power to make a difference, but Amon has the right combination of reasons to hate ghouls, while still have the calm and capacity for rational thought under stress to possibly see a possibility of peace. The fact that Ken clearly defeated him, but allowed him to live while fighting his ravenous instincts may have left a positive impression, it may also have just baffled him. The only problem with my little theory is the discovery of Mado’s dead body surely has pushed Amon closer to the side of thoughtless slaughter. It’s hard to view someone or a group evenly or equally once they’ve murdered someone close to you.
Ken this episode did as he was supposed to as the main protagonist. He grew a little, he struggled a little, and he steeled himself for harder tasks ahead. It was painful to watch Ken fight Amon in the beginning. Without tapping into his ghoul abilities, he really is just a little boy amongst men. The problem is that there’s no gradual build up to when he’s a real threat. He’s either a deer, or a a raging lion once he’s tapped into his ghoulish blood. Like I said in the beginning though, the most important thiing he does episode to episode will be to understand the conflict between humans and ghouls from the most objective perspective that anyone can have when they’re personally involved in the conflict.
Hinami and Toka had the roughest time of all (well beside the murdered Mado), with Hinami falling right into Mado’s trap, and Toka getting sucked into it as well while trying to track her down and protect her. It’s interesting to see Toka act like this ruthless beast at times, as she runs around fueled by her anger. But she’s quite humbled this episode as Mado only needed to make minor adjustments to essentially beat her. There’s also the interesting moment when, as she appears on the verge of death, she somewhat pleads to Mado’s humanity. She states how she only really wants to live like normal humans do, but she can’t because of her ghoul body. Everything she says is true. She can’t help that they specifically need human flesh to live, or that she has the instincts to kill that she does. But she does not go about hunting humans ruthlessly or mindlessly (which isn’t true for every ghoul). It was one of my favorite moments of the episode. It also reminds me of a nice scene in the middle of the episode where we see both Amon as he fights Ken, and Toka as she fights Mado, give speeches that the other side could very well give, too. Amon speaks of the pain of being hunted, and seeing friends and family slaughtered like prey before beasts for no rhyme of reason. It’s almost the exact same little speech that Toka gives in different words. This choice in situation and dialogue isn’t unique, but it’s not overdone either. And I enjoy it when a scene like that is used elegantly and without lingering on it, and to good effect.
All this conflict comes to an end at the hands of Hinami, which came as a surprise to me. Throughout this episode, I could see her as not much more than a liability. Sure she was in pain and mourning, but leaving on her own was dumb and dangerous. And during the whole fight between Mado and Toka, I couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t just run away while it was going on. It would have helped Toka by removing a distraction from the battlefield, and it would’ve been the safe smart thing to do since the person seeking to murder her was in that very area – actively trying to murder her! But I think Mado pushed her too far by using the special abilities of both her parents in the fight and taunting her. Though she says afterward that she didn’t wish for revenge, the combination of seeing a friend being killed in front of her; seeing and smelling the distinct ghoul abilities of both her parents on display in front of her by their murderer; the threat on her own life, and the constant heartless and cold-blooded taunting of Mado all came together to make her snap. He was no match for the eerily beautiful combination of both her parents’ abilities in her tiny body. And while we learn that Mado seems to have his own reasons for hunting down ghouls, they weren’t justified enough to make me not feel good that Hinami got revenge and saved her friend. Desptie the whole episode being about the sins and conflict of both sides of this hidden war.
Another really good, entertaining episode of Tokyo Ghoul. Some of it appeared little too slow and talkative to me, but for the most part I enjoyed it. It did an excellent job of sending home the message that neither side is necessarily right or wrong. That this may be more a matter of survival than anything. And I especially liked how the whole thing is summed up well at the end, when Hinami asks her friends if she has a right to live. Ken closes the book on that well enough, telling her that her mom probably told her to live. And I think that is more than enough of an answer. Now whether she has a right to continue living is a right she’s gonna have to continue to fight for.
Note: the omake gave a surprising amount of closure for me. Sure, it’s just a bit of comedic nonsense tacked on at the end of an episode, but for this episode and the material in it, it felt nice.