Hello, guys! In this article, I want to talk about one of my favourite manga and why I consider it to be a masterpiece. I strongly advise you to read Eto Yoshimura's Complexity/ The One-Eyed Owl (Tokyo Ghoul Characters Explained). In it, I explain a lot about Eto's overall point of character and her importance in the show. I would like you to have gone through it beforehand since it is Eto that serves as the role of a token in the manga and it also mentions all of the story's vital components. Here I will yet again focus mostly on Kaneki and Eto but that comes in natural since they are the avatars of Tokyo Ghoul.
How Do Some of the Characters Know They are a Part of a Story?
When I was reading the Tokyo Ghoul manga it came to my attention that some of the characters managed to realize they were themselves a part of a story. And that goes beyond the boundaries of Kaneki and Eto, at least when it comes to me (As i said before when talking about symbolism everybody perceives it differently.). But first, let's take a look at our protagonist.
Since the beginning, Kaneki is shown to have, up to some point, a kind of self-awareness that he is fictional. Of course, he is not the only protagonist that is aware of that fact. For example Saiki from Saiki K and Deadpool from Deadpool. However, Kaneki has it way rough. Not only because he is stuck in a Tragedy rather than a comedy, but because of his inability to do something to change the trajectory of the story, he is placed as the main character in. That is the first major thing that contrasts him and other protagonists.
Kaneki is an avid reader. He lives and breathes with the characters he is reading about. The books help him see the misfortunate world of the story and also help him understand it better. He draws parallels between himself and the stories' characters. That's how he mistakenly perceives his life as an embodiment of the tragic genre when, in fact, it is not that his life was enveloped in Tragedy, rather than it, it was just a series of bad events, that he had to undergo before we see him introduced in the story. His own personal Hell begins when the plot picks up in the manga. Before that, he is just an ordinary high school boy who likes to read, as he himself said. So, let's take a look at this manga panel.
Since his passion is books and around them revolve a lot of the show's turning points, it is not a bad approach that Kaneki finds his true self in their pages. He sees his own story reflected in the novels he reads. Kaneki has established yet another parallel between his life and his passion for reading. We can safely say that the novels are the lens through which he looks and later on makes him savvy to the world the characters' reside in.
However, that self-awareness he displays since the beginning of the show is somewhat limited. No right-minded person would just jump to the conclusion they are made up because of a thematic pattern they spotted in their life. It is for this reason alone when his Tragedy happened it was still unexpected for him, which makes Kaneki's life all the more tragic. He manages to correctly identify his story's genre but his tremendous mistake was not grasping it completely. As the plot progressing further on, however, he sees it clearer than ever before. Not without the helping hand of somebody else, of course. So, who would be a better fit for the role than the author Kaneki takes such great joy reading the work of? Yes, Takatsuki Sen, as he knew her to be, was the one who opened his eyes. Eto was firmly resolved to find a new successor for the One-King title that she conveyed her ideas through her novels. She wrote on the pages of the book we are holding - the pages of her world. Kaneki quickly recognizes himself in them, having personally gone through similar misfortune. So, it has come to the point that Eto is again the first chain in the tragic cycle that is Kaneki's life. She was the roots for Kaneki's Tragedy to begin with. Takatsuki Sen's novel was the one that got Kaneki to go on date with Rize and that's where Kaneki's little Garden of Eden is completely destroyed. Not only does he almost die but his life is turned upside down for the worst.
What is left for him now is to come to terms with his Tragedy, or is it? At, first he silently accepts his fate, shouldering all the burden on his own. Before his mother's true nature is revealed, later on in the manga, that's what he thought she had done. Kaneki is trying to emulate her ways and protect his loved ones doing so. Right then Rize makes him lash out against Jason's torture. That unwillingness to do something to escape from the prison of tragedy, he is currently in, is swiftly demolished and now he is rebelling against the circumstances of his life.
But if he thinks what he conceived as being Tragedy before killing Yamori was actually one, then, oh boy, because what comes after this is a whole personal Hell, created just for him. He is sucked into the tragedy he has read so much about through Takatsuki Sen's works. It looks as though Eto has written all of her novels specifically for him and now Kaneki is experiencing their plot on his own. After correctly identifying the author of his misfortune in his sphere of existence, he begins his revolt against its narrative. Little does he know that is exactly what is expected of him and he falls right into the trap of the writer. Because what else could a Tragedy such as his own has in store for him rather than the worst imaginable outcome? In a typical tragic fashion, the more actively he starts to fight it, the more entwined with Tragedy his life becomes. Kaneki trying to escape the confines of his story only makes him more entangled with misfortune. Every single effort he exercises to claim Hope back into his story fails miserably, and we are left to witness the futility of his attempts. It seems as though what he did wrong was not recognizing his life’s Tragedy but trying to break free from it.
The only conclusion to be made up to this point of the show is that the only way for Kaneki to defeat Tragedy is for him to just die or in other words dig his own grave. After all, his proper tragedy only begins when he actually starts to fight it (with Yamori’s death, that is). Now he is sentenced to death not only by the writer of the story he so much tries to rebel against, but by himself as well, being portrayed by the way he chooses to pursue a darker path, which, however, only leads him to stagger more sightlessly into the wicked grip of the story’s narrative. What we can assume now is that he is unable to do anything to change the trajectory of his life and has to continue to walk down his tragic path, without fighting back any longer. The only proper end for a Tragedy, as well as an end fit for the harrowing reality of the story is, after all, with the death of the protagonist. All thus examination is, however, false.
In the beginning of re: we see Kaneki’s battle with Tragedy finally put to a halt. Hope has seemingly made its way through Haise’s life. However, the world Haise inhabits and his memories are all illusory. Illusory is and the peace seen in the story. It is exactly at that point of the series that Tragedy has deepened the most in. In order for Kaneki to fulfil the role he was set out to accomplish (demolishing Tragedy completely) he has to put Haise to sleep. And he does do so, indeed, with the help of his parallel Eto Yoshimura. She shoves the apple of knowledge that offers only suffering to Haise but awakens Kaneki.
Right then the universal truth of the fictional world is finally unraveled. The only way for one to escape Tragedy is for one to destroy it. Tragedy is not what’s cruel or wrong in the world of the story. It’s the world itself that is in the wrong. And it has made, not only Kaneki, but the other characters undergo a consequence of harrowing events. Kaneki was not alone on his path of suffering but he was the chosen one who could turn the tables on Tragedy. He has at last faced the cruel truth. After having come to that realization there’s no way for him to take things lying down any longer. He is symbolically revolting against the narrative of his story.
By the end of the manga it becomes more than clear what the tragic plot of the book was representing. It has painted a realistic portrait of living inside a Tragedy and then realistic portrait of overcoming that Tragedy. Kaneki’s life wasn’t tragic on its own even though he believed that for the most part. Because of him always ending up making decisions that will either don’t matter at all or will turn everything upside down, Kaneki believed in fate and destiny as a rucial part of his live. But that was not true. At the end he realizes it as well. The world itself is entwined in Tragedy, everybody else’s lives as well. Everybody was suffering on their own – Rize not being able to make any meaningful decisions, Furuta accepting fully his as Tragedy, the list goes on. Those who couldn’t go back to the way they were before facing Tragedy or rather realizing there was, indeed, one or were not fit for the new post-tragic world are now dead.
We manage to see a final happy ending for the characters that are left alive. There is a lot more I want to say but the article will become way too exhaustive and will probably do another part, so stay put.