Please note this review contains heavy spoilers for Volumes 15 and 16.
Volume 16 sees the conclusion to the overall Tokyo Ghoul story as Kaneki, alongside his friends and allies, work to take down the sinister Furuta and the mysterious Organisation known as V, who have some sinister tricks in store for their enemies and the cooperation of the remaining Clowns who revel in the chaos.
The story continues from Kaneki, Urie and Saiko’s retreat following a risky battle with some Dragon spawn as the new CCG-Ghoul alliance discusses their next move to take down the Dragon and prevent the spread of the deadly toxin.
To make matters worse, an army of V members takes to the streets to wipe out the remaining forces that stand in their way. Kaneki, accompanied by Ayato, decide to journey underground to the ward where the Toxic Oviduct is located at the instructions of Kimi, whilst the alliance takes to the streets to keep V at bay.
This final battle gives our supporting cast their chance to sign as, whilst Marude and Hide lead the charge from the CCG headquarters, the various Investigators team up and showcase their individual abilities and fighting styles, courtesy of the distinct Quinques they possess.
There’s also Urie leading the recon squad, which gives Mutsuki and Aura an opportunity to redeem their past actions somewhat.
What makes the battle more tense is that V are backed by the Clowns, namely Uta, Itori, Nico and Donato, who utilise their key weapon in the form of a monstrous being that resembles the Owl.
This allows Ui, who had been disgraced by their manipulation by Furuta, to step up and finally move out of their mentor Kishou Arima’s shadow.
Making matters worse is the appearance of Kaiko, the leader of V, whose sneering nature and key ties to the Sunlit Garden give him a tactical advantage over the former Arima Squad members leading the charge.
The fight against Owl and V is full of twists and turns as every time the Alliance seemingly gets an advantage V have tricks up their sleeve and give over their humanity to the Dragon Toxin to enable bodily regeneration like their Ghoul opponents.
A neat moment comes when Hinami and Miza, both still injured from earlier fights, use their heightened senses to discover and locate the Clowns controlling the Owl, following the revelation that the Ghouls on the battlefield could hear a whistle-like signal being used.
What follows is Yomo and Amon taking on the Clowns, namely Uta and Dotaro as it’s friend vs friend and son vs father. Whilst the fight between Yomo and Uta is more about a strained friendship and serves to finally show off Uta’s full abilities, the clash between Amon and Donato is more emotionally raw due to their familial bonds.
Despite Amon initially holding back, he eventually summons up the strength to take down their adopted father with some encouragement from a familiar face who gives him the push they need.
The final moments from this conflict are sobering as both father and son share a tearful moment. Donato was definitely a monster of a Ghoul, but here we get a fleeting insight into their background as they took their Priest facade to heart and truly gave Amon some memories that stuck. It’s a subtler moment amongst all the chaos.
Less subtle is the final fight between Furuta and Kaneki, as the former continues to ramp up their demented nature, taunting and antagonising Kaneki, who’s having none of his shit.
The battle here, which was one of the many aspects that felt rushed in the anime adaptation, is as manic as you’d expect as Furuta drops his goofy facade and unleashes his full powers, the same that took down Eto and the same that put him at the very top.
It’s very much a battle of wits as, whilst Furuta throws everything and the kitchen sink into his fighting style, Kaneki is constantly reflecting on his past failures, finally taking the time not to throw everything away – unleashing his final form and manipulating his Kagune into a pair of wings to stand a chance against Furuta’s monstrous strength.
Furuta’s recklessness ends up their undoing, however, as Kaneki lands a crucial blow and finally gets some insight as to why Furuta set the wheels in motion. Without divulging too many details it would seem that Rize was the catalyst for both his and Kaneki’s journeys. Their final exchange is poignant and touching and the final two-page spread (which I won’t spoil here) is unexpectedly moving in its simplicity.
Reflecting on the individual fights throughout this final volume, I find they not only serve to provide an action-packed finale but also contain little moments that ingrain them into various characters and give them a purpose.
As Mutsuki uses their Kagune to suppress the Owl, Nishiki finally acknowledges the Quinx Squad, as Uta and Yomo tear each other apart, Itori drops her mask of deception and thinks honestly about why they became a Clown.
As Amon and Dotaro clash, Seidou and Tomoe watch from afar as the latter loses their desire to avenge her brothers (the Bin duo from the original manga), realising their similarities with Amon due to this sense of loss and desire for revenge.
All of these extra details exemplify what I’ve enjoyed about Sui Ishida’s style of storytelling as it gives a sense of closure to some of the various side stories throughout Re.
The conclusion of this long and tiring battle is the utter defeat of V, though not before they unleash a grizzly trump card that felt like it could have used more build-up considering its emotional stakes. The CCG and Ghouls are assisted by the Owl herself who temporarily regains control of their body following Donato’s death. There’s also the arrival of the White Suits, led by Naki who has survived their injuries from Volume 13.
As the clashes die down on the surface, Kaneki gets a final monologue as they fight to teach the top of the Dragon to take out its nucleus: Rize. He finally gets some closure putting Rize out of her misery but gets engulfed in the decaying Dragon’s mass.
This leads into an epilogue chapter, which answers some questions regarding the fates of certain characters but leaves certain mysteries, like the origin of the original One-Eyed Ghoul that ravaged the underground, and desired character interactions, like Mutsuki reconciling with Kaneki, to the reader’s imagination.
I won’t spoil everything that happens here but there are some satisfying call-backs and unexpected outcomes as a result of the post-Dragon defeat, namely due to the medical advances that Kanou had been researching and Kimi had passed onto the CCG Alliance.
There’s also the fates of our core characters who are all still adjusting to the changes that have resulted from Ghouls no longer being hunted down and persecuted (aside from the remaining antagonistic rogues.)
It would perhaps have been difficult to explain away every aspect of the lore and showcase so many characters in a limited amount of pages but an epilogue manga of sorts to bridge the gap between the two final chapters would have been welcome and I would have liked to see more details on certain characters, as opposed to learning about how many kids Miza and Naki had for instance.
That being said, judging this final volume on what it is, I feel that mangaka Sui Ishida did a decent job concluding the story – even if some of the twists towards the end could have used some more development and the big bad that was V wouldn’t fall quite as quickly. Some character reappearances were unexplained and raised a slight eyebrow when they suddenly popped back in to the fray.
An aspect of the epilogue I appreciate is that Sui Ishida is careful not to paint his world as being free of danger but we instead get to see that the CCG is now being put to better use against the remaining Ghouls that still pose a threat and the remnants of the Dragon spawn.
We also see the research being carried out behind the scenes to create synthetic meats for Ghouls and how the new TSC (Tokyo Security Committee) has been integrated with the various Alliance members taking key roles either defending Tokyo or taking on the aforementioned rogue Ghouls.
To conclude, Volume 16 delivers the finale of Tokyo Ghoul: re with some impressive action and emotional highs, and though the epilogue leaves some questions unanswered and the story features some questionable character reappearances, it does provide a sense of satisfaction finally seeing these characters with genuine happiness in their lives and a genuine sense of hope and progression.