Note: This review contains spoilers. I've hidden them under the spoiler tags. If you haven't watched the show and hate spoilers, you better be careful reading this.
Have you ever wondered about an alternate 'what if' route spun to a good story? If it is utilized properly, it could be a good alternative route that could possibly rival the original story. But, if it was handled poorly, it can turn horribly wrong and end up becoming a trainwreck.
Unfortunately, Tokyo Ghoul √A is a show with the situation of the latter.
A continuation to the an adaptation to the manga with the same name, Tokyo Ghoul √A tells an alternative route diverging from the manga, which follows Kaneki's adventure after the event of the Aogiri arc, which has him joining Aogiri to protect his friends.
Note: From here and out, I'm going to review Tokyo Ghoul √A from standalone, not relating or talking about the manga to determine its quality, because the two as a whole are very different things.
While the concept of Kaneki joining Aogiri is interesting to say at least, it comes off as horribly executed and came out of nowhere, and feels forced. First off, what for did Kaneki join the group that tortured the living shit out of him? The show did not explain it further and executed it without any thoughts. What's worse is, the subplot was abandoned when
he decided to leave the group in Episode 7 which is made more confusing since they did not explain how did he left the group, and the plot adds nothing to the main story as a whole.
√A also had a habit of introducing subplots that came out of nowhere, and ends vaguely without adding any meaningful development to the main plot at all. For example,
there is an instance about them saving a guy named Shachi from Cochlea. A few episodes later, Shachi disappeared without any explanation at all.Then,
the twins also did nothing to the story at all, and like Shachi, they also disappeared after the Cochlea raid.
The ending of the show would be the biggest disappointment of the plot. It just had
Kaneki walking through the road with Hide in his lap, then he meets Arima and BOOM. The screen goes black all of a sudden. The ending did not solve anything at all, leaving holes open wide for the story.
Most of the time, the characters would compensate for the poor plot. Unfortunately it's not the case for √A, since it handles the characters so poorly. Kaneki, who is the most prominent character in the previous season, is downgraded to a doll with no emotion. He just spends most of his screen time wailing and screaming in agony. His motivations are also vaguely hinted, and they had him joining Aogiri for no apparent reason other than 'protecting his friends' which is of course illogical.
The other characters are also pushed to the background. Touka becomes completely useless, Tsukiyama has no role other than being a comic relief, and the rest are just there. From the CCG side, the show had a habit of introducing them, and then pushing them to the background and it's hard to connect with the characters when you know almost nothing about them. The only developed characters are probably Ayato, Suzuya, Amon and Hinami.
The soundtrack is good. Most of the background music are well-handled and fits to the show as a whole, and the ending theme is definitely superb. The main criticism would have to go to the opening, which lyrics are unreasonably very un-catchy. The voice work is average, although I have to admit that Kaneki's screaming can get irritating sometimes.
Now another criticism goes to the animation. Most of the time, the animation was fine, but when it gets poor, it was really bad. Take a look at Shachi and Kaneki's fight in Episode 4, as well as the scene of Irimi jumping at Hachikawa and his squad in Episode 11. You can see that the budget of the show went down when you see the keyboard scene in Episode 6. The art is good, although sometimes it gets QUALITY art, such as Arima's chin being too long and Kaneki being poorly drawn after jumping from Tsukiyama's attack in Episode 10.
One merit to this show however, is that the fight scenes are still brutally entertaining, and can be a good watch if you're looking for some action.
With all that said, Tokyo Ghoul √A had little to no redeemable qualities in my opinion. This is a show that I would not recommend to most people, given its convoluted plot, forgettable characters, and average to poor animation.
Story: 1/10 (Convoluted and full of plotholes)
Art and Animation: 5/10 (Fine, but very bad when it gets poor)
Sound: 6/10 (Great BGM/ED, average voice work, opening is poor)
Character: 2/10 (Forgettable, only a few of them are developed)
Enjoyment: 1/10 (Definitely not)