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.
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.
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.