Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe that well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then the characters who are dull as dishwasher will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: Ken Kankei, the main character of “Tokyo Ghoul.”
So this is a revisit of Ken Kankei for the second season of “Tokyo Ghoul” which is called “Tokyo Ghoul √A.” It has been a while since my first article on Kankei, so let’s go back over the synopsis. “Tokyo Ghoul” is set in modern day Tokyo where there are creatures called Ghouls that look and act as normal human beings. They are, however, superhumans with strange abilities. They have enhanced strength, reflexes, and regeneration along with a strange organ that comes out of their body and is used as a weapon called a Kagune. They also have creepy black and red eyes. The big problem, though, is that ghouls can only eat human flesh, so they consume people to survive. People assume that ghouls are evil monsters because of this, so there is an anti-ghoul force known as Commission of Counter Ghoul, or CCG for short. Kaneki is a body who was born human and turned into a Ghoul when the organs of a Ghoul were transplanted into his body. In “Tokyo Ghoul √A”, Kaneki left his friends behind and joined a Ghoul group known as Aogiri in an effort to become stronger.
In the first season of “Tokyo Ghoul”, I raged on Kaneki pretty hard for being a whimp of a character who made no effort in trying to become a better fighter or learn about his ghoul abilities. His only saving grace was at the very end of the first season when he went nuts and killed Jason, a fairly powerful Ghoul who was torturing him. After the whole final battle between Aogiri and the CCG, Kaneki decided to leave Anteiku, a small coffee shop were only Ghouls worked, and join Aogiri. All of his friends from Anteiku were pretty distraught over him leaving, and he didn’t explain his reasoning. From this point. Kaneki changed dramatically. He becomes extremely powerful and fights like a beast. Aogiri attacked the CCG and Kaneki is right up front, shredding through the enemy. Where before Kaneki had a kind of childlike, innocent demeanor, now he is quiet, collected, and powerful. You almost begin to hate Kaneki as he seems to become almost emotionless. He is working with a group of Ghouls that the show has built up to be pretty awful “people” and he seems to have lost any care for his previous friends at Anteiku. The show also has built up the human characters at the CCG and started to make you feel for them, also. This show actually does a very good job of making you feel bad for both sides of the fight. Kaneki’s actions in the start, though, make you feel like he is devolving into an almost evil character. This doesn’t stick around, however.
At this point, Kaneki is developing and becoming stronger, which is good and deals with my original issues with him. Now, though, he is making me almost hate him because of his actions. As you watch more and pay attention, you understand that, Kaneki. much like everyone in the show, is both wrong and right. He doesn’t really have “main character protection” in his actions; some stuff he does is bad, and some you agree with. He left his friends to become stronger to actually protect them, but he is also helping a group of Ghouls that are doing some terrorist-like acts. On the other hand, Kaneki and Aogiri got forced into this because the CCG is killing them all simply for existing. CCG, however, is killing Ghouls as self-defense and justice because Ghouls kill and eat people. This struggle goes back and forth, and you can’t pick a side; but, most importantly, Kaneki is right in the middle. Kaneki doesn’t want to be a killer, but has no choice. He didn’t want to leave all his friends. but he had to grow stronger. Kaneki’s whole character is based around the idea that he sits in the exact middle. He is half-human and half-ghoul; he bridges the gap between the two sides. This puts pressure on him and makes him have to take drastic action. It comes down to one second you hate him, and the next you don’t. This moral quandary makes for a great character and story, and you are constantly thinking if you would have done the same or if he really had to do the things he chose to do. So Kaneki has developed further, become stronger, and creates food for thought. All good things, but what about his overall attitude change?
In the beginning, quiet Kaneki was a fairly innocent kid. In the second season, though, that is all completely out of the window. Kaneki has been basically totally broken; he was tortured and forced to fight and kill people to survive. His whole will has been broken, and he has lost a lot of hope. He learned the hard way that there is no peaceful solution to this battle, so he reluctantly took up arms. It really shows what this kind of horrible world could do to someone who got thrust into it out of nowhere like Kaneki. It makes you feel pretty bad for Kaneki, as well as everyone else. This anime does something that I am a huge fan of, and that’s the idea that there is no villain. Everyone is a little wrong and a little right, and that makes it hard to continue to fight. Kaneki is the center of this idea. Sometimes he seems like he is being more evil, and other times more on the side of good. The end to the second season pulls at the heartstrings hard as basically every character has some pretty rough things happen to them. The final scene with Kaneki, which I won’t spoil of course, encompasses the destructive nature of the battle between CCG and the Ghouls. Kaneki is seen as the mediator.
My verdict on Kaneki after watching the second season is Good. He became a much better character, creating moral debate, showing the stress of this world, and growing as a fighter and a person. He may have become a more broken and empty person, but it makes sense that this would happen to someone in a world of this kind of awful violence. This anime is excellent, and does really well at making you care for many different characters no matter which side they fight for or why they fight. I highly recommend this anime if you are looking for some dramatic and action-packed storytelling.