Tokyo Ghoul is the hit anime series based on the manga of the same name. In Tokyo Ghoul, we follow the life of Ken Kannacky who has recently become a kind of ghoul-human hybrid after receiving a transplant of Ghoul organs while in an accident. Tokyo Ghoul Root A is the second season of this series and continues on almost exactly after the end of the first season. However, it seems as though there is a shift in tone, storytelling and directing. It is released by Madman Entertainment here in Australia and the English adaptation is done by Funimation.
Right off the bat, Tokyo Ghoul’s story throws us straight into the action with the resolution to the Police vs. Ghouls raid that was taking place at the end of the last season. This battle, while probably true to the source material, really doesn’t quite translate well into what made the first season of Tokyo Ghoul popular and instead gives you the impression that this season will be focusing on power-levels and shonen-tier action while shying away from the introspective and cruel arcs of the first season.
For the first 6-8 episodes of this season, this feels like it is actually true. Somehow, Tokyo Ghoul managed to become the polar-opposite of what the first season gave us, and it was really, really quite laughable to watch. Even more disturbingly, the whole direction of the show had changed as well, with a lot of scenes taking on much more simpler angles, almost as though it was trying to really convey that less complex level of storytelling. However, the story and its direction does start to head back down into the territory that made the original so great, but unfortunately, it is literally right at the end of the season.
It’s just so strange how quickly this series turned to crap. How do you go from a strong first season, that while not for everyone, was certainly interesting and something different to a series that literally follows the formula of a shonen fighting series? It’s not even that, a lot of the character motivations make no sense and in one episode, even Ken Kannacky makes a full 180 degree turn on his own thoughts and feelings.
You can literally pin-point the moment this series was doomed, and it’s the moment in the first or second episode where Kannacky tells the blue-haired girl, who’s name doesn’t immediately come to me, that he is joining the bad guys. It literally comes out of nowhere, especially when you consider that just moments before the decision he was condemning and actively fighting against the people in that organisation.
Did you have a favourite character from the previous season? Was it one of the many interesting villains? Well they’re all gone now. Only one notable Ghoul shows up in this season that wasn’t one of the two main characters, and that was the creepy Ghoul that wants to eat Ken. And he only appears right at the end for a brief moment. The police squad get plenty of air-time though. Too bad it’s all police politics and barely anything that moves the story forward.
Unfortunately, it just feels like the quality of the story has gone completely from Tokyo Ghoul, and the quality returns far too late to really care. For that reason, I honestly can’t advise watching this if you were expecting more of what made the first season so great. However, if you were looking for a more shonen-fighting series take on Tokyo Ghoul, you’ll probably really enjoy this season.
Tokyo Ghoul Root A continues with the aesthetics set forth in the first season. However, there are a few notable differences when it comes to character design. The biggest of these is the design of Ken Kannacky himself, who now sports a white-hairdo and wears more gimpy clothes. Even more, it seems as though a lot of characters were put in to look cool during combat, rather than for any sense of uniqueness that was made to appear important in the first season. As though the entire part where they go into the mask makers shop was completely forgotten about. But then again, it seems like this series has completely forgotten what it was about in the first place.
Heck, even the animation in the opening animation seems like it was seriously phoned in. The first opening, while probably not everyone’s cup of tea, was a really creative animation. I can’t imagine anyone really saying that it wasn’t. But this second season. It is literally a just still of Ken Kannacky with various colours and shapes moving around. There’s no creativity here. There’s nothing that takes advantage of the unique ability for animation to be animated. It feels like something that was slapped together to seem artistic at the last minute, much like everything else in this season.
I have to admit that the shonen-tier fighting sequences were actually pretty decently done in this. They weren’t overly amazing to watch, but they also weren’t immensely boring either. If you’ve seen a fight in a shonen anime recently, you know what you’re getting into here.
Much like in the first season, the audio in both the English and Japanese dub were okay at best. Nothing to complain about, but nothing to really praise either. Because of this, I can recommend watching this in English over the Japanese. They’re both pretty similar in quality. Moderately average.
As previously talked about, the opening song in this is pretty bad. However, it’s quality in sound is only beaten in terribleness by the lyrics that fail to make any kind of sense. Why are people eating paint, what is even happening? It just felt like art for the sake of art, rather than an actual attempt at doing anything meaningful to anyone. However, the saving grace of this show musically is the ending song and accompanying animation. I really liked that the ending animations changed for each episode too. Simply great job there.
Overall, Tokyo Ghoul was a series that I really enjoyed, and so I really thought that I would enjoy this second season. However, this was simply not the case as the quality of the show had nose-dived. I can’t recommend this at all. And I seriously feel for everyone else that tortured themselves with this show.
Rating: This makes no sense, why did the quality drop, why is everything wrong? /10
Tokyo Ghoul Root A comes thanks to Madman Entertainment. This review is based on the BD version as provided by Madman for the purposes of review. You can buy it on their site for ~$55.