Tokyo Ghoul √A decided it would be acceptable to slash away the good elements found in the first season. I can say that you're probably a deranged ghoul if you thought such a thing was a great decision. Now here we are, looking at this pile of mess we call the second season. Without a doubt, it has become a depressing scene that'll make you say "What a bummer”.
To describe this season, it's a lot less of the solid psychological massacre from the first season and more of a lousy breather to expand on the world of ghouls and humans. Or actually, breather might not the best term to describe it knowing that the majority of its potential was ruined. Yeah, it's more of a suffocating gas. You tried hard to breathe, tried as much as you can to understand and care about what's happening in the narrative, but the gas turned you into doziness and confusion. Shifting the spotlight away from the ghouls of Anteiku towards the bigger groups from both sides, the CCG and Aogiri, is a key factor that contributes to the poor execution as a whole. The appearance of many characters while lacking the knowledge needed to know their role feels really pointless in the grand scheme of things. They appear to fight and talk, and well, that's pretty much it. Introducing all these characters with little explanation or minimal context is a turf where questions arise. Why is everything happening? Who are you? What just happened? Even for existing characters, particularly Kaneki and Touka, they too suffer from this mess, getting downplayed into characters who leave a phantom trail behind. Along with the jumbled up pacing, the story turns into a disconnected piece deprived of coherence. It's not good for what should have been a multidimensional world mixed with ghouls and humans. Short glimmers of backstory are not enough to expand on things. Small dialogues that come and go can only give us a gist off their relationships, but that's not enough to be impactful when they die or mourn. Investment is never there in the first place. A lot of plot elements are hanging at the end, barren and abandoned in the midst of everything.
If the story and character bring things down, then it's up to the art and sound to score a few points. And well, at least the audiovisual is better when it comes to presenting enjoyment. The muddied up colors of purple and red bring in a depressing tone, fitting the miserable state this anime consistently spews out. I'm not saying that in a bad way because it did refine how the characters feel with how much they were surrounded by violence and darkness. Of course they'll find themselves fighting each other quite a lot. However, a lot of the fights feel awkward with lacklusting choreography and drawn out attacks. Connected loosely together with the narrative, the miniscule amount of tension packs little impact and serves only to show clashes with no motives. Thankfully, from the climax thereon, the fighting animation becomes an improvement, somewhat increasing excitement towards the end. While the characters may be empty inside, their outside appearance is a shell giving off prominent coolness. We have the ghouls with their menacing looks bursting with predation and the folks of CCG equipped with their titanic armors and weapons. It's not lying to say these fights have a badass side to them, especially when they were backed up by good soundtracks. Sentimentality floats in the air with the atmosphere reeking despair for both sides. It's not a fight that comes without consequences, and the deaths and grieves the characters face complement with the music. Deep trembling of orchestral music is truly some powerful stuff. As for the insert songs, they have a profound feeling of emptiness which matches the hollow story. It's weird, but them playing is kind of ironic knowing they're probably meant to be emotional, not insubstantial. Just like the visual, the sound didn't fix much in the end anyway as it becomes an individual piece of enjoyment rather than a balanced whole with the narrative.
It's such a shame how Tokyo Ghoul √A decided to scrap away numerous aspects, degrading a lot of things from interesting all the way down to meaningless. It's a season where I could only grasp the surface of what's going on, and that's not going to do anything good to my enjoyment, safe for a couple of episodes. What a bummer.