Please note this review contains heavy spoilers for Volumes 14 and 15.
Volume 15 continues the Kaneki rescue mission as he has a crisis of his own to deal with.
The story starts where #14 left off as Mutsuki attempts to sabotage the rescue mission and re-awaken the Dragon. Thankfully, their former Quinx Squad members Urie and Saiko are on hand to try and stop their interference.
Meanwhile, Mutsuki’s lackey, Aura, is being his usual edgy self as he battles his own team members Hsiao and Higemaru, struggling to comprehend why they’d team up with Ghouls. It’s an interesting parallel from a storytelling perspective that gives some depth to two characters that have been relatively uninteresting the past few volumes.
Kaneki’s story throughout this volume revolves around his guilt from becoming the Dragon as they retreat into their subconscious. Throughout Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul: re, Ishida has depicted Kaneki’s reason for doing so as a coping mechanism for the various horrific and unfortunate circumstances that have befallen them.
In this instance, though, it is more severe in that they have no idea whether their friends survived the destruction. This despair manifests itself as Rize, the Ghoul whose organs he came to possess. Their depiction here is chilling as Kaneki must face up to his mistakes and try and move forward despite the odds.
Mangaka Sui Ishida uses some intriguing imagery, representing Kaneki’s subconscious as a void of empty shrines, vast bodies of water and torii gates. It’s an appropriate contrast to the damaged and murky Tokyo.
Kaneki’s retrieval from the Dragon isn’t depicted as a victory, especially as a sinister presence returns to inspect the Dragon and the Nucleus takes the form of an unlikely host.
Kaneki’s comatose body is taken to a medical room and examined by Kimi who detects brainwaves but cannot act beyond this due to the presence of unknown organs, a side effect of fusing with the Dragon mass.
This room is soon populated by his friends – humans and Ghouls alike – as they eagerly hope for his recovery. It’s a great little segment seeing all of these characters finally in one room: Touka, Tsukiyama, Yomo, Ayato, and the return of Banjou alongside Ichimi, Jiro and Sante.
Even Saiko ends up tearfully sitting by his bedside. It forms the emotional bedrock of this volume, as when Kaneki does finally awaken, he is surrounded by those who care about him.
The climax of the volume sees Kaneki being allowed to walk around outside the CCG with Urie and Saiko in tow as his presence brings trouble in the form of a Dragon Spawn attack.
A real highlight for fans though will be a long-awaited reunion that is notably poignant yet reserved; I won’t spoil what happens here, though, needless to say, it’s very moving.
Taking a moment to reflect on the story up to this point, it’s worth noting that Sui Ishida took a lot of risk with the events of Volume 13 and beyond. As the theme of parallels was prominent in the series, some speculated that the story would end on Chapter 143/144 which was used to drive Kaneki’s devastating defeat and the subsequent fake-out ending.
The idea of having the Ghouls and CCG team up to defeat the Dragon is something that makes sense from a narrative perspective, though the return of Hide being the driving force is the glue that holds it together.
The subsequent retrieval of Kaneki from the Dragon is given further emotional stakes as both Mutsuki and Aura have to face up to their ideologies, having both been driven by unnatural obsessions with others.
Kaneki’s redesign is also interesting to see here as he now possesses markings under his eyes and a powerful Kagune that looks like a pair of wings, almost like an angel or saviour figure. This is only further exemplified by the fact that he is immune to the Dragon toxin, a deadly smog that causes humans to become Half-Ghoul. He is the only hope to stop the Dragon that he created, and, as he puts it, “I’m tired of not being able to do anything”.
Overall, Tokyo Ghoul: re Volume 15 is straightforward yet engaging in its story as Kaneki’s friends desperately fight to save him from the Dragon, confronting their comrades along the way. The subsequent events and reunions are also emotionally satisfying. With only one volume to go, the end of Tokyo Ghoul’s story draws nearer.