Tokyo Ghoul:Re Series Review: This Franchise Demonstrates How Not To Adapt Something

Given I stopped doing episode reviews after episode 4, it should be fairly clear that this anime didn’t really do much for me. And normally I would just drop it and call it a day, but I decided to finish watching it. Mostly because the madness of creating an anime season that follows on from the manga but not the previous anime season just struck me as being a particularly harsh slap in the face for anime fans.

Review:

Let’s get the biggest point out of the way and then I can get on with reviewing this somewhat troubled narrative on its own merit, or lack of it, rather than the perceived slight of being literally dropped into the middle of a mess without any attempt to bridge where anime viewers were left after the previous season and where this began. I actually do get that a lot of anime exists just to sell manga or for fans of the source material. That’s all fine. But I have to wonder if even fans of the manga are happy by how this played out. It isn’t as though they can watch the anime from start to finish and get a coherent story. Instead they’ll get an introduction, a trainwreck of original material and then a jarring leap back to the source. Without heavy reliance on the source there is genuinely no way to follow this leap because characters aren’t where they were and half of them are either unknown or poorly introduced. As someone who never read the manga, I can assure you it is incomprehensible without at least some reading on various wikis and fan sites.

And that is not okay.

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Who is entertained by this? Anime viewers can’t possibly be because this franchise has no rewatch on its own without using the manga as a bridge. Manga fans may as well just read the manga because at least the story might be cohesive rather than what this presented. This is possibly the worst decision they could have made. A full reboot would have been better. A filler original series to somehow skew events back in line with the manga might have satisfied. Honestly, a ten minute character narration explaining events from point A to B would have been something.

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But no. That kind of courtesy is apparently not given when there is a clear expectation by producers that people will watch this franchise regardless of what dribble they drop on them. And given I watched it all the way through, I can’t say they were wrong. And yet, I know on hearing the announcement that Re was getting a second season, my only thought was that I was done. I have no desire to revisit this franchise. Not even the first season which I actually quite liked. And that lack of desire for more comes from the issues in this story on its own rather than from the annoyance that they did nothing to soften the jarring change in narrative for anime fans.

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Standing on its own, Tokyo Ghoul Re is riddled with issues. The central conceit that Haise has no memories of who he is and somehow this is a journey to find himself is poorly executed at best. With a visible transference of hair colour to indicate his current mental state (something that doesn’t play well given Kaneki’s hair went white due to trauma and that is a believable phenomenon whereas hair changing back from white sure isn’t) essentially everything about this struggle is blunt forced into the story bringing the current action sequence to a screeching halt while Haise/Kaneki play around in mental la-la land.

While it might be argued this mirrors Kaneki’s original transformation with Rize acting as a guide, this lacks any of the finesse or poignancy of that encounter. Superficially it is much the same and yet it is inelegant and, to be perfectly honest, quite dull to watch play out.

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Equally, the new characters introduced under Haise’s care are incredibly flat and one dimensional. They barely get screen time and when they do it is to the detriment of the story. And while some new bit players isn’t the worst thing Tokyo Ghoul drops on its audience, it seems it doesn’t realise that nobody cares about these characters building to what is set up as a tragic moment during its final episode that falls flat because to be perfectly frank I was more than happy to see that particular character bite the dust. I only wondered why more hadn’t joined him.

They are clutter and distractions from the older cast members who really just make cameo appearances. Arima gets talked about a lot but barely appears on screen. Touka shows up briefly and Haise gets all teary, but nothing ever comes out of this sequence. He then just moves on. Tsukiyama spends the majority of his time being crazy for reasons unclear to anime only viewers, and then his fate makes up the majority of the final battle sequence and I’m still not sure why anything about that plot line mattered.

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Basically, this entry into the franchise lacks any kind of central theme or driving force. Done better, Haise’s identity might have carried the episodes, but it really didn’t have anywhere near enough power to do that in its current state. And there’s literally nothing else. They go out. They investigate ghouls. They fight. Occasionally a ghoul investigator gets killed (or lots do) and everyone acts all outraged. There are some large scale fights with even more ridiculous antics going on than earlier seasons and none of them look very good.

I guess if you are a really big fan of this franchise there might be something here to cling to, but I didn’t find it. I watched the final scenes play out and breathed a sigh of relief that I was done. So clearly I’m not recommending it.


Product Links:

Tokyo Ghoul:re Mug Cup
Tokyo Ghoul: Re Mug Cup

Super Figure Tokyo Ghoul: Kaneki Ken Awakening Ver. (Re-run)
Kaneki Ken Tokyo Ghoul


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Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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14 thoughts on “Tokyo Ghoul:Re Series Review: This Franchise Demonstrates How Not To Adapt Something

  1. That’s unfortunate. I haven’t watched this one yet and since you and others are not liking it, I think I will just stick with the manga. People do say that the manga is a lot better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, lots of people have told me I should read the manga, however it is one of those stories where I already know I won’t like reading it. As much as I enjoy the over the top action and the dark world constructed as an animation, I would really dislike reading it in manga form no matter how much better the story is. As a result, I’m probably done with Tokyo Ghoul for good at this point.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m kind of glad I didn’t latch onto Tokyo Ghoul (as much as some of my friends wish I did) back when the first season aired since it means that I don’t have to worry about the mess the franchise (or, at least the anime part of it) has become. I still feel bad for the people who do like it since I think we all know how painful it is to see a bad adaptation of a work you love.

    At least the opening is really nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember how much I loved the first season of Tokyo Ghoul. It didn’t really explore some of the issues I wanted it to, but ultimately it was pretty satisfying viewing. Unfortunately that seemed to be the pinnacle of this series at least in anime form.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That moment when you bought a Funimation subscription just to watch Tokyo Ghoul Re… and don’t actually watch it.

    Sorry, I don’t exactly pirate anime anymore.

    Should I read the manga or not?

    Like

  4. I’m really sad about this. One of the animes that I did watch during my hiatus was Tokyo Ghoul seasons 1 and 2, and I absolutely loved those. But I already heard this about season 3, and that’s why I so far have skipped it. I completely agree..it doesn’t make sense to assume people have read the manga. I haven’t either, and if, in that way the anime becomes something that can’t be followed in a normal way, that is just stupid. Real shame this 😢

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like what you said about it and honestly I agree, but like you said, fans of the series will find something to cling to and that might even blind them to the disapointment that was season 3, me included. I consistently felt like the best was yet to come and I kept forgiving all the nonsense. I didn’t like the season either, but I let my bias influence me, to point where in my last TG review I didn’t know what to say about it. This post is an eye opener lol, thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if you’d read the source material there was probably something fun about seeing events turned into anime that would have helped carry things, particularly if the readers had greater attachments to the characters already. Yet without that, it just doesn’t hold up and really this ended up being a worse viewing experience than root A and I didn’t actually think that possible.

      Liked by 1 person

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