Following the success of the first “Tokyo Ghoul,” a new chapter of the live-action adaptation of the celebrated manga was sure to follow, resulting in this sequel arriving two years later. With Masataka Kubota reprising his role as half-human/half-ghoul Ken Kaneki and new directors Kazuhiko Hiramaki and Takuya Kawasaki on-board, Funimation is proud to present a special three-day theatrical release across North America and Canada of this new effort.
Still adjusting to his destiny, half-human/half-ghoul Ken Kaneki (Matsukata Kubota) tries to balance his personal life as a high-school student and his private one feeding on the flesh of humans. Trying to get his mind on track with fellow ghoul Tôka Kirshima (Maika Yamamoto) who’s training him to realize his new powers, they run into the main fear of ghouls being that the humans they need to feed on will not be able to see their human sides again after realizing what they’re capable of. While he’s working on himself, vicious serial killer Tsukiyama (Shôta Matsuda) descends on the city killing all those who he believes holds a special delicacy towards his refined tastes, eventually putting Ken and Tôka in the middle of his efforts and having to stop the deranged madman.
Overall, ‘Tokyo Ghoul S’ was a solid if flawed follow-up. One of the more enjoyable aspects is a rather enjoyable and fun over-the-top sense of action and horror present, led by action coordinator Makoto Yokoyama. He manages to give gives the film’s battles and encounters the flamboyant and spectacle-riddled grandeur that’s required in this type of story about super-powerful ghouls that are capable of inhuman feats and actions. This is quite apparent in the brawls and confrontations with the various ghouls in his life, as he tries to get with his true form as a half-man/half-ghoul. On top of that, there’s also some great gore and bloodshed present here as the sequences within the ghoul-populated restaurant that treat humans as we would treat cattle provides the film with some stellar moments. The entire final half feels even more like a frantic race to unlock his powers to stop the mad Gourmet Ghoul which features plenty of flashy fights and more bloodletting. Topped off with an absolutely bizarre and demented villain in Tsukiyama who’s eccentric and grandiose in the best ways possible as he steals the movie, there are some enjoyable elements present.
However, there’s little else worthwhile here. The main factor is a wholly lackluster story from writer Chûji Mikasano that seems to pile on ridiculous cliches and bland tropes quite frequently in the narrative. The idea of Ken wrestling with his newfound powers and being unable to match Tôka’s abilities simply screams out that he’s going to find the power, later on, to overcome his own past and rise up against the threatening and more powerful Tsukiyama. However, with that being pointedly obvious from the very beginning, it’s an acceptable setup that could’ve delivered in spades where the struggle to tap into his true self and finally live free without fear of persecution or rejection could provide the launching point for an engaging human drama. Here, Ken just comes off as a moping, angsty teenager who’s constantly told what to do by whoever’s on-screen with him at the moment, and this is neither interesting or enjoyable. This ends up resulting in his final destiny being painted from the start and doesn’t achieve any kind of sympathy that is trying to be placed on him.
Moreover, the story here ends up featuring another troubling issue in an overlong running time filled with too much melodrama for its main audience. That comes about mainly due to the film’s tendency to overplay it’s subplots to near-ludicrous methods which encompasses way too many characters who have no place in the storyline. Despite all the best efforts to the contrary, the subplot involving Tôka and Yoriko’s relationship simply for the sake of keeping up appearances, since neither one really can relate to the other, is completely unnecessary here, beyond the need to separate the species. That goes the same for his friend Nishiki and Nishiki’s girlfriend Kimi who knows about the ghoul nature but loves him anyway as long as parameters are set-up in the relationship. Since these subplots simply provide more characters to follow that mess up the dynamic of the serial killer Tsukiyama hunting him down, as these end up dragging the film into an endless cycle of melodrama simply for the sake of dragging out the running time. None of them are unique or memorable and thus make it feel rather ordinary as a result.
As this does manage to feature several huge missteps with the overall storyline and a lot of melodrama placed inside, “Tokyo Ghoul S” suffers mightily when it strays from the Action/Horror hybrid that emerges from time-to-time. Really only look at this one if you’re a fan of the first film or tolerant of these melodramatic action/horror/fantasy efforts, while those looking for a more cohesive time should look elsewhere.