Welcome back to Anime Pocket Reviews!
A mixed bag this time around. Later one we take a look at a classic slapstick comedy series, but first we cast our eye over the final season of the Tokyo Ghoul saga!
(2018, S2, 12x24mins) Action, Sci-Fi
Following on from Season One of Tokyo Ghoul:re, the war between the government CCG and Aogiri Tree rebels reaches a head, in a battle that leaves both on the verge of collapse. Kaneki (front), having regained his memories prior to joining the CCG, leaves the government in an attempt to form a human/ghoul alliance out of the rubble. Meanwhile, Furuta, a seemingly ordinary CCG agent, takes control of the organisation and shapes it onto a hard-line, anti-ghoul authority, threatening the small hope of peace that Kaneki had left to create.
Basically Plot: The second season of Tokyo Ghoul:re, following ghoul/human Kaneki as he attempts to form an alliance on both sides of the historic divide.
Honestly, it’s hard to say much about this because, much like the first season, the series as a whole has been taken down a very strange path since the success of the very first season of Tokyo Ghoul. It’s for that reason that I have only just finished the series, about three weeks after its actual conclusion. Overall, I think that this season is around the same level as the first season of Re. However, given the magnitude of the story it was telling – seemingly rounding off the entire Tokyo Ghoul franchise – it does not surprise me that this is a show that has not been warmly welcomed.
As mentioned, this is probably a slight improvement on Tokyo Ghoul:Re, a series that, for all intents and purposes, wasn’t that bad. The popular characters from the franchise all take on starring roles in this season, while the politics of the world is always a draw about this series. The main reason this series was better than the previous, though, was its storyline, which had much more impact than nearly any Tokyo Ghoul series before. However, this incredibly weighty, hugely important storyline was both a blessing and a curse for a series that, in all honesty, looked more comfortable as a light action series.
Looking back on it, there are so many things that were done well in this season that it’s surprising how lukewarm it is in general. The juvenile group from the first season are split up, hardened and twisted beyond recognition, which makes seeing them as part of the overall battle very interesting. There was a touching reunion between the love interests of the very first Tokyo Ghoul anime, which concluded in marriage and a child for the main character we have followed since his early days. Even the main villain was a joy to watch, as were many of the other cast members – there were very few loose ends in this regard.
The huge problem with this season, as with the infamous Root A season, is that its timing is completely off at every turn. It’s the type of show which leaves you wondering if you had forgotten something, because unless you have photographic memory it is impossible to keep track of what you are watching. The opening battle spanning the first few episodes is a prime example: beautiful to watch unfold, yet half the time you’re desperately scrambling to remember who on earth you’re watching, what side they’re on and where it all ties into the plot. Great moments from the season that we mentioned above are also passed at an extraordinary speed – the fateful reunion between Kaneki and Touka went from talking for the first time in ages to married with children in barely over 24 minutes! In any other anime worth its weight, you could (should) base an entire season around that plot point alone, yet in this it was old news within two episodes.
This season delivers much of what is good about the Tokyo Ghoul franchise, giving weight to the conflict between man and ghoul with great action and a good storyline. However, yet again the material is held back by terrible timing and structure that leaves this series feeling bland when it should have been spectacular.
ANIME RANKING: #23 – Given how much this series took from the original Tokyo Ghoul, it is now impossible to view the two series as separates. Unfortunately, the great first season of Tokyo Ghoul has been let down by three mediocre follow-ups, leaving the Tokyo Ghoul franchise as a whole in a still very respectable position.
If you liked this you’ll love: Bungou Stray Dogs (#21) – Following a group of misfits with superpowered abilities, Bungou Stray Dogs is one of the best action-fantasy series out there. With a protagonist trying to find his place in the world and evil organisations aplenty, this is another dark and heavy-hitting fantasy series worth a viewing!
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
(2016, S1, 24x24mins) Comedy, Sci-Fi
Kusuo Saiki (right) is a high school student born with all manner of psychic abilities. While on the surface this should make his life incredibly simple, the series follows his daily struggles as he tries to live a quiet high school life. From trying to cover his powers to dealing with the annoying people who seem to circle around him, it turns out that life is a constant struggle for the gifted boy!
Basically Plot: Follows a superpowered high-school student as he struggles to live a quiet life while surrounded by idiots.
It feels like a while since we watched an old-school gag anime, and Saiki K is a great example of how to do it right. First of all, this is one of those series where the plot is so beautifully, effortlessly simple that it drags you in immediately – a guy who can basically do anything trying to live a normal life surrounded by simple minds. Once you get that initial premise right in comedy anime, it’s all about the scenarios which, for the most part, are really engaging in this series. It’s not the best ever comedy in this regard, but with a handful of different situations every episode, every episode delivers something to get into.
The next big thing for any anime comedy is its side characters and, again, Saiki K delivers a really entertaining bunch. The show does a good job of hitting most of the high school clichés but also throws in some really interesting twists, such as Teruhashi, the humble school idol addicted to attention and Kuniharu, Saiki’s suck-up father. There are plenty of interesting and engaging characters for this series to use and while we would have liked to see more variation per episode, the series does a good job of giving everyone a moment to shine.
Overall, this was a really entertaining series that we happily binge watched. Quick, slapstick comedy delivered by interesting characters makes this enjoyable, if unremarkable comedy viewing. However, the story’s prod at society, school life and slightly dark humour make this better than the average gag anime.
ANIME RANKING: #43 – A good ranking for a very funny comedy, placing it just behind heavyweights such as Nisekoi and The Devil is a Part-Timer!
If you liked this you’ll love: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless – While slightly toned down compared to Saiki K, Tanaka-kun is a series that plays on the high-school clichés for great slapstick comedy. Tanaka-kun is slightly more realistic – Grand Blue is the anime for those looking for a heavy-hitting comedy like Saiki K – but the way this show balances silly comedy and genuine storyline makes it definitely worth a watch!
I would love to hear your thoughts on Tokyo Ghoul! I hear a lot of people asking for a ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ style reboot – would you give this story another chance if it was retold in a few years? Let us know in the comments or on our social media channels, and make sure to subscribe to The Culture Cove for regular anime reviews and recommendations! Coming up next is our Winter 2019 half-term report, featuring Mob Psycho II and Boogiepop!