It’s a dark and gritty picture that Sui Ishida paints when he spins the tale of the world of ghouls and humans. Already spanning two seasons with Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul √A, the franchise has decided to give us a look at a piece of history for one of the more popular supporting characters… the man simply known as God to many. This is Tokyo Ghoul Jack.
The story follows Kishou Arima during his younger days. He is on an undercover mission with the CCG in order to hunt down a ghoul named Lantern, characterized by the pumpkin that they wear on their head. One day, Lantern attacks, Ryou and Aki, two high school students who are friends with Taishi Fura, another high school student and baseball club dropout. Aki is injured and Ryou is killed in the incident. Now Taishi begs Arima to team up with him in order to hunt down and defeat Lantern so he can avenge his fallen friend. Arima accepts and the adventure begins.
A young Arima
It was a nice, simple story that was capped off with a twelve year time skip that ties up this mini-story with a nice little bow. Being only 30 minutes long, the OVA accomplished quite a lot. Arima, despite being young, is still as amazing as ever with his investigative and battle skills, however, there was one moment during the OVA that it looked as if Arima made a rookie mistake showing that he, too, is not without flaws. It also humanizes Arima a bit as well after his amazing battle against the owl in Tokyo Ghoul √A depicted him as an unstoppable monster.
All in all it wasn’t a story that was “blow you away” amazing, but it was still a nice little touch that they added to one of Tokyo Ghoul’s most popular characters that’s not in a main role.
Since we already know about Arima from the main series, I’ll detail the side characters here a little.
He’s our second main protagonist who was once part of the high school baseball club. After a pitching injury, he walked away and became a delinquent by skipping school and hanging out with other like-minded drop outs. One day he returns to class and rejects Arima’s assistance when Arima lends him a textbook. He’s kicked out of class and ends up wandering the streets where he witnesses Lantern’s attack on his friends Ryou and Aki.
Taishi is one of those hot-headed high school punks. You know the type… the one that’s always grabbing people by the shirt and growling “TEME!” at them. The only thing that really sets Taishi apart from all the other run-of-the-mill high school delinquents is the fact that he becomes very loyal to Arima and actually has a good heart that’s in the right place.. even if his brain isn’t there alongside it. Despite being so cliché, Taishi was a semi-enjoyable character, but he’s still not anything that you haven’t seen a dozen times already.
She is attacked by a ghoul and saved by Arima and Taishi. When Marude (a YOUNG Marude, at that), tells Arima that he compromised his undercover investigation and has to move, Minami, along with Taishi swear not to reveal Arima’s identity and convince Arima to stay so he can “live a normal life” just a little bit longer. Minami wants to help Arima and Taishi as well and spends her time gathering information on ghouls and their locations for Taishi and Arima to hunt.
Minami is another typical character. She wants to help as much as she can, but Arima continuously keeps her safe by never bringing her along on any hunting missions. This causes her character to take that typical “I’m going to help no matter what!” turn that you could see from a mile away. Whether or not the payoff to that character trait was worth it in the end, it was still rather flat and boring.
Now this one came out of left field! If the name sounds familiar then you know that his was Jason from the first season of Tokyo Ghoul… the one that tortured Kaneki and turned him insane. He and Lantern end up forming an alliance once they realize that Arima and Taishi are the ones hunting ghouls in the 13th ward. Nice to see Jason here!
Now ask yourself… what’s one thousand minus seven?
Art, Animation, and Sound
The art quality seems to be just a tad better than the television anime, but not by much. It seems that they upgraded the CG just a little bit and the Kagune that come out of the ghouls seem better rendered. They actually seem more solid with better textures and it makes me like how the kagune look the OVA over the television anime series. The fight scenes were animated pretty nicely as well with a lot of fluid motion. Nothing really seemed out of place.
The character designs were handled nicely as well. Everything looked different, but familiar at the same time with the one exception being Marude. I almost didn’t recognize him in his young age… maybe it’s also due to the fact that he’s not on his knees crying over his motocycle! Jason also looked very different as well and it wasn’t until I saw Minami’s sketch of him that I made the connection, but once you do make that connection, everything seems familiar despite it being different.
The soundtrack was okay… there was no opening or ending theme per se, but the ending did get a rather generic rock instrumental. The background music was sparse and nothing to write home about once something was cued up, either, but for a 30 minute OVA, I wasn’t really expecting much from the sound department to begin with. Honestly, I thought they would reuse music from the actual first two seasons, but they didn’t. In fact, whenever Arima fought, I expected his theme from √A to get cued up, but when it never did, I was a bit let down. Oh well.
From beginning to end, it was a balanced OVA. There was enough attention on the side characters that didn’t make Arima an overpowering star of the show. Everyone got enough screen time and it was pulled off in such a way that each character benefitted equally. Although some of the characters felt flat and stereotypical, they were still enjoyable to an extent. The story could have been a bit better, but in the end, it was just another typical ghoul investigation case. I would have loved to have seen Arima’s path fleshed out some more and how he become what he is today, but this OVA didn’t really do anything in that regard.
Tokyo Ghoul has had better outings and this isn’t going to be a must-see special, but at least it did highlight Arima and if you’re a fan of his character like I am then you’ll probably enjoy this.
Tokyo Ghoul Jack
A short side story that doesn’t really accomplish much unless you’re just hankering for more Arima. Then it accomplishes plenty
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