It’s so hard to classify this as a good or bad adaptation when it sporadically enters both in a matter of minutes.
If there’s one thing I can praise about this show, it’s that it always keeps itself busy. Not one minute goes by without some new plot point being brought up, an action scene taking place, or some character arc is coming into play. Aside from that, it never hesitates to explore its themes of the struggle between competing predators. Sure the shonen elements occasionally drag these themes down to a black-and-white level(Tsukiyama and Mado), but it doesn’t stop the show from blurring morality lines between humans and ghouls. We’ve seen the danger that ghouls pose towards humans, but seeing investigators use the remains of dead ghouls as weapons or the utter lack of sympathy for hunting peaceful ghouls brings to question whether humans are really the victims here. We’ve also seen how ghouls are struggling to bond with humans in society, but seeing a human knowingly bonding with a ghoul brings a fresh perspective into a conflict that could easily become one-sided. It’s this mix of good and bad between two different species that make up for the predictable parts of this theme.
Much of this can be attributed to the characters, as they define the aforementioned themes more than anything. Whether it be Touka trying to consume Yoriko’s cooking despite it poisoning her or Kimi staying with Nishiki at the risk of him eating her, the sense of mutual sacrifice to bring ghouls and humans together is ever present here. Nishiki’s backstory is in stark contrast to his villainous self in ep 3, showing someone who was previously betrayed for trusting humans before fighting for the life of one dear to him. Amon’s comrades have an understandable reason for why they have to be so cruel when hunting ghouls, and Hinami’s loss of a family perfectly illustrates a victim of a conflict too large for her. The one character I really have an issue with, aside from the cartoonish Tsukiyama and Mado, is Kaneki. I find his growth as a character far too slow for a main lead and irritating to watch with his pathetic attempts at seeking peace. I get where he’s coming from as a victim of both ghouls and humans, but it’s about time he returned to his powerful side from ep 3. While I still consider characters to be one of the weakest parts about this show, it’s not because of how they’re written.
No, the biggest problem with this anime is its INCONSISTENT PACING. For all the content that’s been crammed into these episodes, it fails to tell a straightforward narrative by delivering nothing but the most basic of details. It captures several moments of intensity and drama, but doesn’t always capture the context or breaks to make it work. This leads to lack of emotional investment, the illusion of character inconsistency and sporadic plot elements thrown in a matter of seconds. Why is Touka allowing Kaneki to help only to brush him off at the start of the next episode? How do the Doves have numbered profiles on ghouls down to their battle type? Questions like this constantly pop-up with no answers and only distract the audience(specifically me) from focusing on the action at hand. It doesn’t help that the action at hand isn’t always impressive, with great art direction mixed with low frame rate, gory details obscured by black lines, and attempted emotional scenes set to forgettable music.
Ultimately, it’s hard to really classify this as either a solid horror-action show or an edgy, gory mess. For every entertaining moment it offers, there’s a serious lack of context and an awkward moment to go along with it. I hear that the manga has already ended, so I can expect a 2nd season to fully complete the story. If it does, I hope they take there time with it unlike the blob they have here.