While rewatching some clips, I clicked on the Kaneki vs Jason fight from Tokyo Ghoul (background music: the very nice Ling Tosite Sigure track ‘Unravel’). Couple minutes in, I thought, hmm… this reminds me of something else I’ve been putting on loop obsessively. As in the Garnet vs Jasper fight from Steven Universe to the tune of ‘Stronger Than You’.
I’m not saying the Jasper and Garnet sequence is inspired by Tokyo Ghoul oas such (Steven Universe is a very anime show and direct homages tend to be completely obvious; they don’t care about ‘hiding’ it). A lot of it is just certain visual conventions in your typical fight sequence between a Big Beefy combatant vs a smaller one, and the camera angles similarities are a product of that. Still, I thought it was fun to do some shot-to-shot comparisons. There are certain emotion beats in common, so to speak, and thematic ones.
SU and Tokyo Ghoul share a lot of themes but come at them from completely different directions. SU is tremendously optimistic, joyous, and loving while Tokyo Ghoul is nihilistic and tragic, and every time someone tries to make joy and happiness it’s burned down within the next episode. Children hate their parents vitriolically. And that’s before we get into the gender stuff, though that’s almost moot since Tokyo Ghoul is a graveyard of dead women or woman who inhabit living hell.
Kaneki happens to, like Garnet, contain more than one person, even if in Kaneki’s case the other person – Rize – is a hallucination (which, to be fair, Jason also appears to see). Kaneki is an amalgam of destroyed hope, PTSD that manifests as the woman who seduced and tried to eat him (not in a sexy way) acting as the devil on his shoulder, and eventually amnesia and an entirely new persona. He’s everyone’s tool and the only way he escaped Jason was by becoming Jason in a lot of ways. Garnet, on the other hand, is a love anthem and an act of resistance; unlike Kaneki she doesn’t need to become her captor in order to break free.
Steven is what Kaneki might have been if Kaneki hadn’t inhabited a world with toxic masculinity, extreme brutality, and a lot more gore – both are half-human hybrids that were created specifically to deal with war.
Story beats: Kaneki snapping and freeing himself from imprisonment and lashing out as his captor/torturer; Garnet freed from imprisonment and defeating her captor/torturer. Jason and Jasper occupy not just similar roles but are similar character types – big, contemptuous, arrogant, a ‘higher caste’ of being (ghoul or gem – Jasper is a gem class that’s considered by homeworld as higher-caste than a Sapphire or a Ruby), and cruel.
Kaneki when he started off reminds me a lot of Steven: kind, eager to help, being okay with support roles while more experienced (and female) ghouls duke it out against enemies, but in Tokyo Ghoul a kind heart doesn’t suffice – a commitment to brutality and genocidal force is all that’ll let Kaneki survive. Well, that and Kaneki gets tortured for (I think?) days.
Probably a bunch of things could be said about the body horror in common, but pictures illustrate better than text shitposting:
(Oddly, both short-haired blue-to-purple-haired girls also regain their wings through being ‘healed’ by the support male.)