Episode 2 recovers Tokyo Ghoul:re’s rocky start.
Warning: The following review has full spoilers for the episode.
Talk about a complete 180 degrees turn, huh? The premiere of Tokyo Ghoul:re filled me with questions and concerns, whereas Episode 2 has left me completely speechless with its powerful look at the psyche of Sasaki Haise and an emotionally charged ending scene. “Fragments: Member” gives the necessary focus that was sorely lacking in the premiere. The entire episode has a natural flow to it, transitioning perfectly from each important revelation to another without feeling all over the place.
Kicking right off with the conclusion to the Orochi fight was an excellent way to pull the viewer in and provide some pure fan service. Everything about the action between Sasaki and – surprise! – Nishiki felt familiar, even featuring callbacks to their original fight from the first season. Nishiki is quick to address any concern over where exactly Kaneki is now, saying his seemingly taboo name and driving Sasaki crazy in the process.
Though we now know for sure that Sasaki is Kaneki, it only helps to enhance the mystery surrounding the tragic hero. Will Kaneki take his body back from Sasaki? Could they ever coexist together? Orochi revealing himself as Nishiki snapped the few strings holding Sasaki’s mind together, unleashing Kaneki and forcing the CCG to intervene in apprehending him. I’ve always thought Tokyo Ghoul was at its finest when it dealt with the mental state of Kaneki, and such was the case here. It revealed that everything that happened before still matters, giving meaning to the rest of the episode.
Sasaki’s personality struck a complex balance between the jarring happy-go-lucky side seen in the premiere and the despairing nature of the former Kaneki.
It was nice to see Sasaki given a more varied personality in this episode, too. He struck a complex balance between the jarring happy-go-lucky side seen in the premiere and the despairing nature of the former Kaneki. From his conversation with Arima to the alarming discussions regarding him that Akira has, he comes off in the second episode as a genuinely layered and distraught protagonist. The episode is all the better for dedicating the appropriate time and care to focus on the chaos ensuing inside his mind. His utmost desire to remain himself alongside his Quinx “family” is compelling and had me conflicted even though I would love to see Kaneki return.
Sasaki wasn’t the only character to improve, as the second episode shed some much-needed light on the rest of the Quinx squad. Learning what exactly distinguishes a Quinx member from a normal ghoul during the scene with Urie and the doctor gave some crucial exposition that was missing from previous seasons. Urie was also much more interesting to watch this time around, as his selfish decisions actually had meaning because of the insight we got into his motivations and resentment regarding his father’s death. The more lighthearted tone in the first episode was better incorporated here with the introduction of the Umaru-like Saiko who shirks her duties in favor of playing video games and eating entire hams. This gave a nice bit of levity in the middle of Episode 2’s return to the familiar, serious tones of Tokyo Ghoul.
The true highlight of this amazing episode was the final scene with Sasaki and Touka. This moment elevated the quality of everything from its artistic direction to the clean writing. From the second Sasaki and the others enter the cafe, the warm shades of bronze and bright lighting act as a perfect contrast to the moody dark tones of the world. The decision to limit the number of words spoken in this scene allowed the background music and terrific facial animations to emphasize the importance of Sasaki and Touka meeting. Though brief, the look in their eyes during the interaction speaks volumes to the history and depth of their complicated relationship. Here’s hoping we get to see more of that in the near future.