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Tokyo Ghoul Re Part 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read
Even when memories are changed, things remain the same.

Even when memories are changed, things remain the same.

What They Say:
Two years after the raid on Anteiku, Ken Kaneki lives a steady life as an officer in the CCG. His memories wiped, he clings to a new identity and a taxing responsibility as the leader of the CCG’s experimental Quinx Squad. This unruly team of humans uses ghoul powers to fight, and while Ken struggles to improve their teamwork, familiar faces stir his memory, unearthing a truth that could shatter the peace he holds so dearly.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this series is pretty good all-around as we get the original Japanese language in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 boost. Both of them are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec, so we get pretty much as good as it can get with the source material. The series generally finds a pretty good balance between its dialogue and action components so that one never really overwhelms the other. The dialogue is one that’s well placed as needed and with some good sound effects for various situations and costume designs. It’s generally a center stage approach as one would expect, but there is some good directionality to be had from time to time. The action side works more of an intense approach in a shorter period of time and that gives it more impact because it’s not overblown or overdone. There’s a welcome intensity to it because of the situations and it works in a ghoulish way. Both tracks are clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve-episode set is spread between two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Studio Pierrot, the show has a strong visual design to it with some great detail and color pop that it stands out in a great way. Though a lot of the show is the usual slower scenes to balance out the high action ones, the quality of the designs, backgrounds and the fluidity of the animation is very well presented. The characters are well detailed and the settings are great with all the backgrounds elements and the little things that enriches the world. Colors are heavy in the darks when it comes to the action side, especially at night or in closed quarters, but there are no murky aspects to it that make it unwelcome. Color pops elsewhere in the show, from the blood to the costume design and the world in general. It’s a very rich looking production and the end result is beautiful across the screen with clean colors and no problems to be had.

The packaging for the regular edition release of this series is solid as we get a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs inside for the two formats. With an o-card that replicates the same case artwork but with more vibrancy and pop to it, the front cover is a solid one with the familiar key visual that puts everyone (almost) in their white uniforms and looking serious. Even the Blu-ray strip along the top doesn’t run against it in a bad way. The back cover uses one of the familiar key visual image of the group in more of an action pose that gives it some vitality and movement needed to catch the eye. The rest is laid out well with a clean looking the extras and the premise as well as a few very small shots from the show. The technical grid captures everything well for both formats, making it clear how they’re put together. While there are no inserts within the release, we get a pretty good piece of artwork for the reverse side that shows off Kaneki with a few fellow ghouls.

The menus for this release are kept simple with the series logo across the middle while clips play behind it with a bit of a stylized filter. The show is generally a bit darker with some of its backgrounds so that plays well here in contrast to the character artwork and all the white coats that they wear and the spread of it across the menu works nicely. The navigation is kept to a larger block along the bottom where it’s got a sliver of purple where the disc number is while the rest is black text on white making for easy navigation. Submenus load quickly and access is easy throughout it. he back of the box uses one of the more used publicity image pieces with Kaneki in his waiter outfit with the mask on, eye red, in an attack position while there are splatters of blood from the spine of the box coming around onto it. It’s a solid-looking box overall and definitely sets expectations.

The extras for this release are pretty solid in general as they’ll please both sides of the language equation for fans. For the English language fans, we get some good episode commentary material from the cast and staff with the twelfth episodes. There’s also a good “Conversation” piece where we get to hear from both the staff and cast as they talk about the show. Add in the clean version of the opening sequence and a few of the promotional videos to get people ready for the season and it’s a good roundup overall.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The success of the original Tokyo Ghoul series was one that worked well all around and I liked that they managed the source material as they did. Rather than having a series that would be struggling to maintain sales going for thirty volumes, around the halfway mark was “ended” and relaunched as Tokyo Ghoul:re, which this series is based on. It’s a pretty US comic book kind of thing to and we don’t see it often in the manga world. It also factored in well to a change in the narrative where it made sense to do a relaunch in that while it’s not a new series or characters or anything, it has enough of a change that thematically you could relaunch it. The problem I ran into? It’s been four years since I last saw this series and very little of it was memorable in the sea of shows I’ve seen since then. That made this a very hard reconnect.

The general premise for it is painfully simple in that after all of the events of the first two-cour series, Kaneki is now living as a CCG officer. His mind has been wiped, he’s a shell of himself in a lot of ways, and there’s just not much life there. He’s certainly competent at what he does and progresses well, but after the very emotional first season and the way he had dealt with becoming half-ghoul and the like, the calmer and more subdued Kaneki isn’t something that draws you in. Especially since you know that eventually, things will start to break in some form, either through the incremental return of memory or something that just smashes the past back into him. Kaneki and the other Quinx members are all pretty solid here in that they function well as a team and deal with the ghouls that come into play, which means a decent chunk of the early part of the run is kind of formulaic in that sense. You know there are things being seeded but it’s all about showing us how life is for Kaneki at this point as he goes under the new forced identity of Haise Sasaki.

The way they’re keeping him sedated in a sense is amusing since the first episode as a moment where one of the ghouls basically calls him out by his real name and before he can really react the Quinx folks tranq him pretty hard. That’s the easiest way to solve things and kind of soft reboot him where he wakes up later and the whole thing is kind of hazy. But by the third episode, we’re back into this again with others calling him Kaneki and it just starting to nudge things bit by bit in the background. You’re left with that feeling that if this is the way they want to advance things, it may work better in manga/weekly installment form than with it happening in an anime form where multiple chapters make up each episode. By the third episode, it’s already covered sixteen chapters of manga, skimmed some areas, and overplayed others a bit especially in this area. It’s also problematic because you’re really just left waiting for the real Kaneki to stand up.

I do like that this season spends a decent bit of time at time with the ghouls themselves, showing us what’s going on there such as early on in regards to the auction and how they manage things when it comes to the captives that they have and even some good nods toward the larger business interests of the ghouls. Some of this feels like it’s touching on the past season a bit with areas that weren’t explored too deeply but are welcome because I like getting a fuller view of how everything works. The adaptation also handles things well when it comes to the way there are a few smaller arcs running from the manga so that by the halfway mark of this set we’re already thirty or so chapters in and it’s covered a few different things, going big with the auction house raid and pushing harder and harder on Kaneki when it comes to his real identity. The show works the action side well and though some of it may be a little odd in execution at times, I like the way it does play as rough as it does, not quite going for ultraviolence but not playing it quite as clean as some other shows do.

In Summary:
The first half of the Tokyo Ghoul:re project that we get with this set covers a lot of familiar ground. I do like that it tries to play it as a kind of soft reboot (let’s not even talk of Check A or whatever it’s called) by having Kaneki being “wiped” only to have the memories start to surface. It’s an interesting way to tackle recent events in his life while moving things forward even if it does largely play out in formulaic and familiar ways. The main problem I really had here was that it’s been three to four years between seasons and viewings and that’s an eternity for any kind of entertainment of this nature. I liked but didn’t love the original and coming back into it now has me interested but kind of wary because of what it’s doing by telegraphing so much of it. The show is put together well as Funimation has a solid looking title here with a very fun dub and a great slate of extras that will please fans wanting a little more of the experience. But it is the kind of show where I really think a rewatch of the prior work before watching this one is necessary, to do it as a larger marathon project.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Tokyo Ghoul:re: A Conversation with Cast & Crew, Episode 1 Commentary, Episode 12 Commentary, Promo Videos, Textless Songs

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: May 28th, 2019
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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