12 Days of Anime #5 – Tokyo Ghoul’s Finale Was Stunning

Tokyo Ghoul started out strong. It had gore, it had violence, it had some of that “I’m going to show you sexy stuff”, all that makes one think a show is trying to pass itself off as “mature”, but is anything but, right? But if you read my notes for the first episode (the only ones I published), you’ll see I actually saw something there, it reminded me of werewolf and vampire stories, and how often they’re used as allegories for sexual awakening, or of growing up. I saw something similar in Tokyo Ghoul’s premier.

Tokyo Ghoul Anime - Kaneki Ken

The question at the heart of any story about growing up, and also many horror stories.

Now, aside from horror at what the protagonist has become, horror at the world he’s found himself from, which seems to be the tension and hallmark of most psychological horror, this show did indeed have quite a bit of a “shounen battler” feel, which wasn’t the greatest. At least they spent most of their thematic time on the topic of recreating horror, of people replicating what has been done to them, and that the true horror is how people treat one another, how they “Other” each group they don’t belong to, and allow themselves to replicate the atrocities that had been done to them, an endless vicious cycle.

But yes, it’s true, there was a big drop in the focus on horror, especially psychological horror, as the series progressed. The two episodes leading to the finale focused almost entirely on action, on plot (“stuff happening”), and the penultimate episode even ended on an action cliffhanger. Then the finale came, and gave us a tour de force episode that was nothing but psychological horror. How did the cliffhanger from the previous episode resolve? We don’t know, and honestly? I don’t really care.

Tokyo Ghoul Anime - Kaneki Ken and Kamishiro Rize

A small scene from the finale, that was worth the price of entry.

A whole episode revolving around someone going through hard times, a whole episode of someone being caught in a nightmare, and it only being made worse with each passing minute. The show it most reminded me of was Aku no Hana (the Flowers of Evil), which was probably the best anime horror series I’ve ever seen, which also focused on being caught within your own flesh in an impossible situation. Even the visuals were similar. They even tied it to the main theme I was discussing, of horror being replicated, of those who suffer unleashing the exact same suffering onto others.

How good was it? I’m not sure one could follow just the first episode and the finale, but I do think this finale was worth watching the entire series for. That good.

So, dear readers, any episode in anime this year that was worth the entire series? Alternately, what was the best finale you’ve watched this year? Bonus points if it’s not from your favourite series.

3 comments on “12 Days of Anime #5 – Tokyo Ghoul’s Finale Was Stunning

  1. modestSEAN says:

    The ping pong finale was my favorite of the season, not just in how the story was completed but in how the animation portrayed everything. The montage near the end of the episode gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

  2. Paul Teevan says:

    I’d have thought it was great, but wasn’t crazy about the bullshit power level jump, which also helped set up the comparatively shit second season. I mean couldn’t he just fought his way to escape, rather than going from a rookie to someone able to defeat an SS rank ghoul with years of exp?

    And Since his power level had gone up he could now be a generic save everyone (well almost everyone. And of course it wouldn’t be the annoying useless Tsundere girl who season 2 would make you hate) Shonen hero no matter how little sense it made.

    • Guy says:

      That’s sort of irrelevant to what this post is about, which is not Tokyo Ghoul as a whole, but the finale. But even if we go there (and ignoring S2 as truly irrelevant), that’s sort of how such things often work. It was also important thematically, with “accepting the monster within” being connected to stronger power. He also was always strong, if you pay attention, it was mostly about being unwilling to let the monster out, and to use his power.

      I also think it’s a bit silly to focus on the power-level. This isn’t the point. The point is not “How strong is Kaneki?” but “What does Kaneki do when he’s powerless?” and “How does Kaneki use his power when he has it?”

      Everything else is focusing on the shounen aspect, which is not what this show cares for (IMO), and not what I watched it for either. I guess it’s fine, but you’re accusing it of having a focus and failing at doing it well when it’s not the focus at all.

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