Shu the Magnificent returns!
Shu tears through the manse in his wheelchair. He learned that Kaneki is alive, and can’t wait to see him! However, the man that Kaneki became, Sasaki, has no memory of Shu. Heartbreak all over again. Worse yet, he risked exposing himself to the CCG! Fortunately, the Quinx Squad has business elsewhere. They head to Uta’s shop for their mask fittings. Since they are part-ghoul already, getting masks like them will help the quinxes to infiltrate ghoul society and hunt down the ones that are trouble. The team is less than happy at the concept, and even more unhappy that they’re getting them from a ghoul. Still they sit in with Uta for a session.
The brass shuts the whole undercover plan down. They’re still leery at the idea of the Quinx Squad, and have issues with him in undercover situations, where lines of loyalty are blurred. Speaking of blurred, Shiki Kijima takes the lines of morality into the blender and hits frappe! He releases a video showing his torture of Shu’s servant, hoping to draw the others in a trap. There’s a board of inquiry on the matter, and the move is practically suicide, but he holds no regrets.
Shu has a plan to get his man back, however. If he can jog Sasaki’s memory of being Kaneki, he can use their connections to rescue the servant. To begin the courtship of the dove’s recollections, Shu sits with him on a bench in the park and talks literature. Sasaki’s taste in literature has changed, and the quinxes continuously interrupt Shu’s meetings. In response, Kanae show him the second of Hori’s three photos. Kaneki’s missing posters from when he became a ghoul. But what does this mean to Shu?
Kanae decides to give Shu his meeting with Sasaki. She sicks Aogiri Tree thugs on the Quinxes. Between Tooru and Urie, the strongest of the ghouls have no chance. Sasaki wipes out the rest. But where’s Saiko? Tooru told her to hide, but one of the ghouls found her. He tries to eat her, but a man in a black cloak launches him with a single punch. Who is that cloaked man?
From the comments on the Funimation page for this episode, most of the fans of this show are crying out that this season is going far too slow. They whine that Sasaki is a weaker protagonist than Kaneki. They want more action and combat. Bah. Humbug. This show, though gory and dunked liberally in duels and donnybrooks, has never really been about the action. It’s about psychology, sociology, and the fear of “the other”.
Tokyo Ghoul talks about the formation of identity and personal will independent of the bounds of class, creed, or race. Kaneki has his whole sense of identity torn from him when he became a half-ghoul. From there, he attempted to control his urges, resisting and denying the truth in an attempt to return to what he deemed normalcy. He spent most of the original season WHINING. That is, until he found something he cared about.
Then, he pulled out of his shell, bit by bit. Still, he lacked the emotional resolve to face problems head on, often relying on others to save him. That is, until the ravages of vicious torture broke his psyche completely. From that point on, in the anime at least, Kaneki dove head-first into life as a ghoul, only allowing his original self to emerge at the end of the second season. This was Kaneki’s life. Denial, Whining, then mindless indulgence.
Here, we have Sasaki. He’s gentle, I’ll grant you, but he takes issues by the horns. He allows himself to be defined by his compassion, and respected for his stalwartness. This episode shows the difference in him. He can’t read books by the woman who used to be his favorite author, because she kills people off that he gets attached to. At the same time, he voluntarily takes on over a dozen guys to give his people the best chance. He’s a completely different person. Some would say this makes him less interesting. Let me ask you, though: have you considered that the reason he is compassionate and strong is not in spite of Kaneki, but because of him?
Kaneki was a thoroughly compassionate person, but it was his unwillingness to accept his situation that led him into decline. Sasaki has no such problems. He may not know how he came to be the way he is, but the more he explores, the more the mystery takes shape. Sasaki investigates, but not bullishly. He takes things strategically, holding his knowledge close to the chest. The memory loss was for a reason, and he doesn’t want to hit that reason inadvertently. This makes his thought processes far more intriguing. Is some of his gentle demeanor calculated? I feel that Sasaki is closer to the true personality of Kaneki than the Eyepatch ever was.
Oh, I guess I should talk about the episode some…. Action was a good appetizer. Definitely setting up the next conflict well. The animation is great throughout, and I liked the overlay effect of Shirazu’s memory of killing Nutcracker. It conveyed his shock and revulsion, but kept things more focused than a flashback. I want to see what the Nutcracker Quinque can do. The voice acting is okay. Yeah. Okay. I’m still laughing at some of Saiko’s comments, but she’s starting to feel like a one-trick-pony. It’s hard to put emotion into someone who is intentionally monotone, but I challenge Sarah Weidenheft to try. This could be a really fun character, and Sarah definitely has the capability.
The highlight of the episode for me was Uta and his HySy ArtMask Studio. Is it bad that I wish it were a real place? I want to go there and see what kind of mask he’d make for me. As an artist myself, I wanted to see more of his process, delve into his interview questions and what they meant for his art. It was a fun segment for me, and tragically short. Hopefully we will see the results soon.
So yeah, people might think this season is slower. That's just because they are looking at it only from the surface. The characters are far more interesting for me. Of course, the animation is great. I have higher expectations for the voice acting, though, and have yet to find satisfaction. I give the episode eight new masks out of ten. I want one.