Tokyo Ghoul 02 – Freudian Cannibalism

[DameDesuYo] Tokyo Ghoul - 02 (1280x720 10bit AAC) [DC532659].mkv_snapshot_16.56_[2014.07.11_21.18.12]

Friends don’t eat friends.

Shuhei Morita’s take on Tokyo Ghoul is unexpectedly sexually charged. It’s not uncommon for sex and horror to come hand in hand but a lot of the sexual undertones in this episode wasn’t in the manga. This leads me to believe that Morita has his own interpretation of your little ghoul’s dilemma. Cannibalism as a front for sexual awakening isn’t unique to Tokyo Ghoul and it’s not especially apparent but there’s enough in here to chew on.

Kaneki is still unable to consume human flesh, he’s taunted by visions of Rise who coaxes him to simply give in and enjoy a human meal. She plays the role of both the mother and the seductress for Kaneki, a side effect of the two personalities she exhibits right before her death. She’s the first obvious change in the anime adaptation, she has a strong presence in the anime but is almost non-existent in the manga. She becomes also becomes the ‘voice’ for Kaneki’s inner desires, something that the manga straightforwardly portrayed as Kaneki’s own thoughts.

The world seems bent on turning Kaneki into a full fledged ghoul. Even Touka and Yoshimura remind him that he’ll need to feed on humans if he wants to survive. Of course, Kaneki is still unwilling to prey on human beings no matter how unbearable the hunger has been for him so far.

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It’s Hide’s text message that calls him over to come back to the human world with a very ominous ‘You’ll die alone’ as a subject header.  It turns out he and Kaneki go a long way back and he’s probably Kaneki’s only real friend. Hide’s the most non-threatening figure in the series but it’s unknown how much he knows about Kaneki’s condition. In a way, he’s the one who symbolizes what the human world is to our lead.

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In a twist that surprised no one, it turns out that Nishio is their upperclassman. His identity is foreshadowed by him in the middle of foreplay with a female student, perhaps a parallel to how Rise was first introduced in a very similar fashion, except in that one we see her erotically feasting on a bunch of corpses in a Tokyo highrise.  This kind of stuff really makes you wonder why exactly would a ghoul like Nishio even bother with sleeping with a human girl, but it’s a thing that has populated horror fiction that can be likened to a vampire seducing an innocent female victim.

If Rise is the mother and the seductress, Nishio is the antagonistic alpha male (and the possible father figure in if you want to see it as an Oedipal situation).

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He’s very territorial. He likens the breach of territory and stealing of food in the same way as seeing his lover have sex with another man. It’s a very primal instinct that seems to be embedded in his DNA.  He lures Hide to come with him to pick up the class material from his place.  Hide tells Kaneki to go home alone but Kaneki is aware that Nishio may have something insidious planned. Things go awry when Nishio reveals his true colors and renders Hide unconscious with a hilariously sudden high kick.

Assuming that Hide was supposedly Kaneki’s next meal, he attacks our hapless male lead, insults him for his femininity and proceeds to vomit on Hide. He’s a major asshole, a misogynistic asshole who ironically enough, has been beaten and dominated by two female ghouls (Touka and Rise).

After he’s done violently beating up Kaneki. he returns to Hide and plans to finish him off with a suspiciously phallic looking tail that appears right in between his legs. Oh Mr. Morita…

[DameDesuYo] Tokyo Ghoul - 02 (1280x720 10bit AAC) [DC532659].mkv_snapshot_15.05_[2014.07.11_22.48.42]

One also has to wonder if there’s a slight homoerotic bent cast over Kaneki and Hide’s relationship. If Nishio likens a meal to a lover, his entire ploy is to thoroughly humiliate and emasculate Kaneki by defiling and eating Hide right in front of him. If he just wanted to eat Hide, he could’ve just killed Kaneki right then and there.

As if serving up some proper justice for the resident misogynist, Kaneki goes wild and brutally penetrates him with three tails with Rise’s (female) organs. The wild ride doesn’t end there though because just when he has successfully incapacitated Nishio, hunger rears its ugly head.

We all know he isn’t going to eat Hide. After all, how can someone root for a guy who eats his own best friend? That doesn’t change the fact Kaneki was dangerously close to doing so though. Rise returns and she’s back to dropping every single suggestive line she can muster just so Kaneki can start digging into Hide’s flesh. In the world of Tokyo Ghoul, it seems right that the victor claim his prize.

Luckily, Touko intervenes and saves Kaneki and Hide from the point of no return.

The episode ends with Kaneki having to come in terms with being the one caught in between. He doesn’t have to hunt humans like a ghoul like Nishio does but that doesn’t mean he can’t eat humans.  It’s a compromise Kaneki will have to deal with if he still wants to go on living.

So yeah, not a bad episode! The anime has a tendency to fall into battle anime cheesiness and I am sure we’re going to touch on the ‘Not all ghouls are bad’ theme this series seems to be hinting on heavily. Hopefully Morita keeps the psychosexual hints here and there so I can be sufficiently invested. It’s always fascinating to me to see a director take on the same material and interpret it differently.

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5 Comments

  1. I really like your analysis on this ep. I too noticed the sexual undertones placed in this adaptation of tokyo ghoul and feel that they are relevant to the tone of this series, but also like how morita has expanded RIze’s role. It’s almost like Aika from Zetsuen no Tempest, who coincidentally was also voiced by hanakana. There were also some changes that i appreciated such as Touka’s introduction to Kaneki the night he first eat human flesh.

    • I have to agree that I find Morita’s take is better than the original source material right now. Everything flows a lot better.

  2. Finally caught up on reading your blog entries! I actually thought Hide would be eaten by Kaneki in this episode, and thus become a part of the latter’s tragic backstory, but thankfully he was spared. I don’t follow the manga but I feel like Hide has the potential to grow into a really good supporting character if he is given more importance…but I guess that’s yet to be seen.

    I also like the way Rise represents Kaneki’s inner ghoul – considering what you mentioned about the manga, I think this actually works better!

    The animation is gorgeous, of course. There was a point when I didn’t like Studio Pierrot, but they’re doing an amazing job so far. Also, did Kaneki’s eye remind anyone else of Tegami Bachi, which Pierrot also worked on? …no? Has anyone even watched Tegami Bachi…? oh well…

    • I like Hide and I think he balances all the gloom and doom with his energy and kindness towards Kaneki. The anime has been making a number of changes that make the series flow a lot better!

      I haven’t watched a Pierrot show for a very long time but this one has me invested. Never saw Tegami Bachi beyond episode 1 hahaha!

  3. But it is not only the anime, in fact Tokyo ghoul manga has a lot of psychoanalysis (partial to jung, it seems) and sexual symbolism, like Uta eating a penis

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