This season is taking steps in the right direction, even through a few stumbles.
I’m very much in favor of the series’ renewed focus on Kaneki, as his presence hung a cloud over this episode and all of the show’s various characters and groups. From Hinami stumbling through words while reading, Kaneki’s appearance on the news, and to the book-signing of his favorite author—even though the guy is far from Anteiku, he has certainly made an imprint on its employees. The time spent exploring Toka’s motives for applying to Kaneki’s university are explained with just enough subtlety to come across, I think, very effectively. It’s interesting to note that Toka only met Kaneki once he became part ghoul, and was really only exposed to that side of him. She never got to know he who actually was before his transformation—who he was when he was human. By applying to Kamii, she’s attempting to discover who this guy really was—what kind of life he was living, his interests—his world. She wants to better know the person she and her friends are missing so dearly. And as she gets to know more, so too do the viewers, for we also really don’t know much about Kaneki apart from how he’s handled his life as a ghoul. But as her closing comments revealed, he’s not the same guy anymore (“The star of a play, huh? It doesn’t fit him”). The Kaneki whom she has gotten to know is special in his own right, and so too are the memories and bonds. Perhaps by discovering what made him human, she can draw out that side of him once more to redeem him.
Nagachika also gets more screen time, as his reasons for becoming associated with CCG become more apparent. To be honest, I didn’t fully recognize him at the season’s start—I blame the red cap, threw me off. It’s cool, though, to see that he’s got some basic common sense, since he recognizes the eye-patched ghoul as, you know, his best friend. Hell, the fact that he not only still accepts him as a friend, but is now actively and intelligently looking into what’s really going on speaks volumes of their friendship.
Speaking of CCG, now that they have a lead concerning the identity of the eye-patched ghoul, it’ll be interesting to see how this organization handles discovering that this ghoul was originally a human (which he still might be). At the very least, it’ll certainly throw a wrench into their own personal philosophies. More specifically, it would be interesting to see what effect it would have on Amon’s black-and-white ideals–maybe something similar to the sort of confusion he displayed during his first encounter with Kaneki. It’s an interesting direction to go, and ties back into Kaneki quite nicely.
However, I don’t think enough screen time went to Kaneki himself, for his only significant development was that he’s still got some good left in him—or at least some level of sympathy, displayed when he helps out that poor dude spell out “Yamatori.” Perhaps the very fact that he is still literate on some level implies his preserved humanity.
The mention of Yamatori, though, confuses me. As far as I could tell, he barely played any significant role before his death, since he was deficiently developed as a character (all he really did was push the plot forward). The fact that we’re introduced to a character who is so significantly tied to him troubles me, for if this character starts to play a larger role, the plot might suffer under the weight of its own baggage. His role in opening the door to this ghoul internment camp (which will undoubtedly play a larger role down the line) seems to imply such. Also Tsukiyama’s resurfacing baffles me–the fact that he’s accompanied by yet another mysterious character makes me afraid that this series still means to introduce characters left and right with little to no foresight (what’s the deal behind those one-eyed girls–and the author?). It’s troubling that there’re this many threads to follow so early on–there’s entirely too much to keep track of. Maybe it’ll all be cleverly handled in the end, I don’t know, but these certainly aren’t missteps the series hasn’t taken before. I mean, the fact that they’re still holding out on unpacking the mystery behind some already introduced characters alarms me. Just how many times am I going to have to hear that bandaged girl giggle Kaneki’s name to herself. I get it, you’re mysterious, geez.
Overall though, I would say that this episode did more to benefit the progression of this season than hinder it. Though the series still has many issues to fix—some which it continues to exacerbate, I remain optimistic, if only for the development of Kaneki and those close to him.