Episode Review: Tokyo Ghoul: re Episode Three – Sasaki Haise’s Drag Race

By trying to do too much at once, this week’s episode of Tokyo Ghoul: re suffers from a lack of cohesion. Although each part of the grander puzzle is interesting on its own, the way the pieces are jammed together without fitting into their own place makes it so that it’s hard to appreciate the drips of information that are being fed to us. There has to be a way of covering this section of the story more elegantly. At least we get to see a few more familiar faces even though they don’t quite get a chance to shine.

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Tokyo Ghoul: re had a difficult job this week. After last week’s final scene, which is my favourite in the whole anime thus far, they had to come out with something good to capitalise on the hype. Unfortunately this episode is… not bad, but kind of wishy washy. Lots of things happen, but the development doesn’t feel as organic, and we jump around to scenes that have no payoff yet and probably won’t for a few more episodes at least.

This week’s episode starts off with a glimpse at Tsukiyama Shuu, who has taken to living like a depressed 18th century fop in the years since Kaneki’s disappearance. He sits alone in his ornate four poster bed, too overcome to do much more than sniff a pair of boxer briefs brought to him by his servant, who waits in the large empty parlour that is apparently Tsukiyama’s bedroom. Is it bad that this was my favourite part of the episode? Tsukiyama has always been my guilty fave because he’s just So Much, and it’s interesting to see how these two Kaneki-less years have impacted him. He’s not even been trimming his nails. Someone help him.

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From there, we get into the actual meat of the episode. Urie’s had his operation, which has strengthened his kagune but unfortunately still hasn’t made him into an enjoyable human being. Throughout the episode he continues to be standoffish, rude, and unbearable to be around. Seriously, every time I see this boy I just think to myself, “I’m so tired.” We also find out that Arima was the one who gave him the sign off to have his operation. Does he have plans for Urie in the future?

Meanwhile, the actual fun members of the Quinx squad are teaming up with Suzuya Juuzou’s squad on the hunt for Nutcracker. Contrary to my predictions from last episode, we do not see nearly enough of this woman busting balls and instead she just sort of… standing around in a club. She does this so that she can kidnap young women and sell them off in an auction to other ghouls who want to either eat or enslave some humans, whatever takes their fancy. But to find this out, our group of unlikely protagonists have to go incognito.

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So they go to the club, we learn that Shirazu can’t blend in and that Mutsuki’s actually a fun character when he’s drunk, and they get a lead on the case. For the rest of the episode, the group gear up to infiltrate the auction. Big Madame will also be there so, you know, it’s a big deal.

But interspersed with all of that stuff, we also have yet another conversation where Haise wonders what would happen if his memories returned, this time while talking to the Priest again. It feels like every episode they try and sneak in more and more references to Haise’s missing memories, and it’s getting to the point where these scenes are kind of intruding on the actual plot that’s happening in the meantime. I would love it if Tokyo Ghoul could learn a bit of subtlety, but I should know by now that that’s not what this show is about. We’ve got at least a few more episodes of repetition before we can start to see Haise actually remember something!

In addition, we also have a scene with Chie Hori, the photographer from the first episode, and Kanae, an employee of Tsukiyama’s. They talk about the underwear that Tsukiyama’s been sniffing (of course they’re Haise’s) and Hori has a flashback to her college days with Shuu when she was his only human friend. It’s an interesting bit of backstory, but it comes up at a point in the episode where it doesn’t feel especially relevant and we’re halfway through something else entirely, so I had a bit of whiplash while I struggled to remember who these people were and how important this scene was.

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They also show a scene with a robed ghoul holding a staff on a rooftop a couple of times, and also they show Ayato talking to Eto about how he’s going to be working as a bodyguard at the upcoming auction, and again it just feels like I need a flow chart to keep track of everything that’s going on. I had hoped for even a small scene of chill times at Touka’s cafe, but instead we just get a billion other things thrown at us and no mention of that whole scene whatsoever.

None of the material in this episode is particularly bad, but it was in desperate need of a reshuffle to make it a bit easier to follow. Have both scenes relating to Tsukiyama happen closer together, push Haise’s flashback to talking with the Priest and Ayato on the roof closer too, and then there will be less interruptions to the episode’s A plot. That way I can focus rather than them constantly cutting away and basically going, “But on the other side of town, OTHER machinations were afoot…” I don’t mind scenes being laid out this way in a more abstract narrative, but Tokyo Ghoul, at least in its anime iteration, is basically an action thriller with some mild psychological content mixed in. It doesn’t need to be this complicated.

Overall, this is the weakest episode of the bunch for me so far. With how I loved last week’s episode it makes sense that I held this one to greater scrutiny, but the messy plotting and some slightly off model artwork throughout the episode did not help to tilt the scales in its favour. Hopefully next week, with a big event coming up in “Operation Auction Sweep”, Tokyo Ghoul: re will tighten the reins and give us a good spectacle. If it would also like to show some of its hand regarding what’s been happening over the last couple of years then I wouldn’t mind that either… just saying.

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