Please note that the following review contains major spoilers for the events of Volume 12.
Tokyo Ghoul: re is the sequel manga to Tokyo Ghoul, written by Sui Ishida. It’s a psychological action-thriller of sorts that explores the conflict between the flesh-consuming Ghouls of Tokyo and the CCG, an organisation whose main purpose is to exterminate Ghouls and keep the peace.
Tokyo Ghoul was given an anime adaptation back in 2014 and became quite popular, especially thanks to a memorable opening theme (though for me, the ED is also great.)
It was followed up by a second season, Root A, which adapted the storyline for the CCG characters fairly closely to the manga but went in a completely different direction for everyone else, resulting in a very mixed bag.
The anime adaptation for Tokyo Ghoul: re also followed this pattern, though instead of the second season diverting from the manga, it condensed 121 chapters into 12 episodes, removed bits and pieces and generally just stumbled to the finish line.
Thankfully, viewers who were disappointed can still experience the story as it was meant to be told, and we’re here today to look at the twelfth volume, recently released in English by VIZ Media.
Volume 12 presents a considerable turning point in the overall narrative as Kaneki finally finds true companionship in Touka, we get two weddings and investigators within the CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul) begin to see the problems with Furuta’s vicious regime.
Story-wise, Volume 12 starts from where 11 left off as Kaneki and Touka come face-to-face with an unhinged and obsessive Mutsuki, backed by the sullen and vengeful Shinsanpei Aura and an army of Oggai soldiers. The confrontation erupts into a brawl as Café Re becomes a battleground and the duo barely escape with their lives. It is here that we see the continuing downwards spiral of Mutsuki, one of many tragic figures within the world of Tokyo Ghoul.
Mutsuki as a character has been on a downward spiral since the events of the Third Cochlea Raid/Rushima Landing Operation, wherein having been kidnapped and tortured by Torso during the raid and subsequently losing their mentor in Haise, is now fractured and volatile.
During the volume we get some dialogue between Mutsuki and Urie in which it’s explained that Furuta, taking advantage of their obsessive compulsion towards Haise/Kaneki, tasks her with training a ruthless rabble of child soldiers: the Oggai. The Oggai are infused with parts of Rize’s Kagune, like Kaneki, and are a deadly force to be reckoned with.
Shinsanpei Aura, meanwhile, is the disgruntled nephew to Ghoul Investigator Kiyoko Aura who lost their legs during the commotion Kaneki caused when freeing Hinami from Cochlea. He has very little character outside of a raging hatred for Kaneki and the anime adaptation made a (rare) wise move in removing him from Mutsuki’s side completely.
Narrative-wise, Kaneki and Touka manage to escape and what follows is an entire chapter dedicated to the two consummating their love. Ishida manages to pull it off with delicacy and maturity and it never feels like pure fanservice, despite the sudden nature of the encounter.
Indeed, Volume 12 seems to have more focus on relationships than other parts of the story have had so far as Ishida makes an interesting choice to showcase the wedding between Yoriko (Touka’s human friend from the original manga) and Kuroiwa (son of the eyebrow-heavy CCG investigator) and then have Kaneki and Touka get married within a few chapters. Said marriage is spurred on due to the revelation that Touka is pregnant.
The rest of the volume sees several ongoing storylines as the remaining Ghouls struggle to survive underground, especially as Furuta and the Oggai have exterminated roughly 80% of the Ghoul population. Kaneki continues to bear the mantle of the One-Eyed King, having inherited it from his now-dead mentor Arima, but is struggling to keep his people alive and his own health is also at risk. Kaneki isn’t consuming human flesh – vital to Ghoul survival – and is also unable to properly regenerate his limbs.
To make matters worse, an alleged orphan Ghoul “Ko” is introduced, and having infiltrated the base under the pretense of being protected, turns out to be a spy named Hajime, working under Furuta and the CCG.
There’s also conflict for the Q’s as Yoriko is unexpectedly detained by Mutsuki as a means to lure Touka out – much to the chagrin of Kuroiwa and a frustrated Saiko who is becoming disillusioned by the decisions of the CCG.
This leads to a confrontation between her and Urie and there is some nice character development between the two as they discuss their troubles and doubts at the situation unfolding before them.
Both characters have changed quite a lot since their initial introductions, Urie becoming more level-headed and considerate and Saiko putting effort into her work and training the new generation of the Q Squad.
These doubts are also shared during a bench-side conversation between Investigator Koori Ui and the should-be-dead Okahira, who escaped from Kanou’s lab earlier on in re. The common thread being concerns of Furuta’s ruthless regime and methods of extermination.
These interactions are vital to why the story of re is enjoyable as Ishida weaves characters in and out of the narrative with callbacks and character development.
On a different note we also briefly get a look in on Ayato who has been absent for a while on his quest underground. Here he comes across some inhabitants: children who may or may not be Ghouls.
This is followed by a happier moment as we witness the Ghoul wedding between Kaneki and Touka, an all-too brief reprieve from the ongoing issues that plague our protagonists.
We get to see that Ghoul weddings are apparently extravagant and fun, especially if Tsukiyama is pulling the strings behind the scenes. Just keep Yomo away from the booze (and Nishio’s glasses!)
The end of the volume sets up events I won’t dare spoil here but, needless to say, you’ll want to pick up Volume 13 when it releases!
The translation for Tokyo Ghoul: re Volume 12 was carried out by Joe Yamazaki who does a solid job of conveying the dialogue and sound effects too (I can only imagine trying to translate some of Chapter 125).
Overall, Tokyo Ghoul: re Volume 12 presents an emotional turning point for several of its key players and I found Ishida’s storytelling to be as engaging and gripping as ever, though Mutsuki and Aura’s subplot felt a bit over-the-top in places.
TOKYO GHOUL:RE © 2014 by Sui Ishida/SHUEISHA Inc.