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Warning: This article is full of ghouls and spoilers. Take your weapon of choice with you and read with caution… unless you want to watch Tokyo Ghoul before, of course.
One fine day of 2011, Young Jump magazine published an addicting horror manga by a certain largely unknown mangaka under the name of Sui Ishida. It’s combination of dark dystopia, psychological drama and supernatural mystery supposed an instant success. Tokyo ghoul’s fourteen volumes were followed by adaptations to anime, OVAs, light novels and video games. We journeyed with Ken Kaneki, the University freshman who had a turning point after an accident, once he found out he was not a human anymore. The Tokyo underground world where Ghouls menace people and are menaced by people in turn was going to become his new home.
And well, who welcomed him home? None other than Touka, who would become Kaneki’s heart and heartbreak at the same time. Kaneki and Touka had a complex relationship that kept us wondering whether they were going to be happy together? Or at least kinda together? Thus, we will make up the case for Kaneki and Touka to just stop hurting each other and embrace their feelings!
1. Because Kaneki has gone through several transformations
We are not talking only about his physical transformations. Kaneki used to be a tranquil regular guy who minded just his own business. Kaneki was so immersed in his literature (the only outlining detail of his person) that he ended up picking it up at the undergraduate level. Kaneki’s life looked as ordinary and uneventful as anyone else’s… until he had a date that ended with him on the hospital. After that, he would become a half human/half ghoul. Nothing would be the same ever again.
So, Kaneki was just getting used to his new condition, which was not easy. I mean, craving human meat and killing supernatural beings is not part of our daily troubles, right? Anyway, after that, Kaneki was kidnapped and tortured by the Aogiri Tree organization. It might sound harsh, but it was due to this torture that Kaneki ended up accepting his ghoul half and deciding to join the organization in order to protect the ones he cares about.
Unfortunately, that objective was woefully idealist, as Kaneki has lost several comrades in successive battles. Even the kind Hide died in his arms TT. Massacre after massacre, Kaneki has been able to survive and become a leader and symbol of hope in the underworld. It was not an easy path from outcast to respected ghoul.
2. Because Touka has a harsh double life
What about Touka then? Well, she has been a fugitive for most of her life. The CCG targeted her family, killed her father, and keeps tracking her! So, although Touka knows how to conceal her ghoul abilities well, she is in constant alert. Just imagine going to high-school and having a part time job as a waitress while you have to be ready for a deadly attack on you all the time. Our Touka is a ghoul who has been treated unkindly even by a bird she was raising when she was little. Yes, the one who marked her face 🙁
Touka was viewed by others as distant and peaceful, as she lives alone at the beginning of the story. As for the ghouls, Touka is viewed as a cold person who pushes others (especially Kaneki) to not be weak. For her, to keep their identities secret is a priority, and that is why she is also very effective in battle. Touka can be very violent towards enemies when there is danger! However, with time she becomes a little bit warmer. Thus… once she treat Kaneki more, would it not make sense for her to be more empathic with him? He has become a more proactive guy after all. Just give Kaneki a chance, Touka!
3. Because tough love gets tiring over time
Actually, Touka beats the hell out of Kaneki the very first time they met because he is the only half ghoul in existence and Touka distrusts others easily, so… they are an explosive combination. That’s a very nice way to start off first love there, right? Anyway, after dispelling the confusion, our couple had to start living together (how convenient 😉 ) because Touka becomes a training partner for Kaneki. Touka even bullied Kaneki at first in the beginning for his being a half ghoul and lost patience for his ignorance of the underground world. Meanwhile, Kaneki became fearful of her (we cannot blame him on this one).
Fortunately, thanks to Uta, Kaneki began to understand Touka’s past. The girl still didn’t show much patience around him until they avenged the death of a certain Ryouko together. From that point on, Touka became a little bit more accepting of him, and Kaneki viewed her as someone he wants to protect… although the “tough love” was still there. Sigh… I mean, we are not expecting the largely untrusting Touka to be her opposite self, but at least we could spare Kaneki a little violence. He has enough in battle.
4. Because they care for each other
So… ghouls care for ghouls. That’s natural, taking on account that they live in secrecy and they are being persecuted. Although sometimes, the caring can go a bit far… or it can be a little bit obvious when it comes down to feelings, if you know what I mean 😉 For example, once Kaneki regains his memories after accepting his ghoul self, he goes to Cochlea to protect Touka. Also, when Ayato hurt Touka, Kaneki did not hesitate to break his bones. But Kaneki also refrained from killing Ayato because that would have shattered Touka even more. So, he is paying attention to her feelings.
But how about Touka? Well, in first place, she took him on her home. Touka might have been largely violent to Kaneki in the beginning, but still trained him and went on missions with him. Then when Kaneki comes back changed, Touka is furious. She begins kicking and hitting him continuously. Touka even screams to him that he should stay away from Anteiku (their headquarters) because he is too weak to protect himself, therefore, he cannot protect anyone. But then, after knocking him down, Touka kisses him. So… guess she missed Kaneki and cares for him? The scene was intense, though :p
5. Because it is better to communicate instead of guessing
This is a golden rule in relationships of all sorts, my dear otakus. It might sound like a cliche, but it is true. With communication, we prefer to be as clear, respectful and empathic as possible. Good communicators are not born but made. But well, we are talking about youngsters who live an unusual and supernatural existence. Nevertheless, Kaneki and Touka are in the middle of a war. Learning to communicate would be quite useful also in order to… survive? u.uU
Our point is, Kaneki still has his “my own thing” attitude inherited from his existence as a human. Then, we have Touka with her tsundere attitudes. We cannot always count on someone thinking “oh, she mistreats me, that must mean she likes me”. Touka somehow recognizes Kaneki when he lost his memory, but didn’t do anything to make her presence known to Kaneki. Just… nope. It adds more suspense to the story, yes, but come on. Let us be a little bit more straight and sincere with your feelings, guys! Life ain’t easy for you, but that is why you could enjoy the good stuff more, and that means to trust and be closer to other ghouls, right? Especially if there are feelings in the air 😉
In sum, Kaneki and Touka had potential for much more as a couple. We understand that ghouls have a brutal and gory side. Thus, they can’t be our lovely pair of lovey dovey shoujo heroes. It is ok. That is out of the question in such a dark version of our world, where survival of the fittest is the rule. But we have to take into account that Kaneki and Touka are a little older than the usual anime protagonists. They should be more mature. And yes, they grow up a lot in the story, but still…
Many of us were left with the sensation that Kaneki and Touka could have stopped hurting each other and being more direct sooner before that kiss. And also, 24 anime chapters and a couple of OVAs were not enough to develop their relationship further. Geez… who votes for a new anime season for Tokyo Ghoul? There are 14 volumes with more side material that could be nice to adapt. Or let’s just make something different in the anime. We have to make this couple some justice! But do tell us, which was your favorite scene with Kaneki and Touka? Don’t forget we are open to all your comments and suggestions. See you soon!