Halloween is just round the corner so I felt it would be quite timely to drop this short piece on Tokyo Ghoul’s main protagonist.
Ken Kaneki’s development is pretty underrated in my eyes but I can understand why. Partly due to the lacklustre second season after an amazing debut. Or maybe the psychological changes he goes through gets lost in all the blood and gore of the series. Either way, I have decided to reflect on this as upon deeper inspection you realise how fascinating his emotional psyche really is.
As I love bringing the fictional verse of anime into the reality, I decided to draw parallels between Kaneki’s development and the quarter life crisis of a young adult. Because finding your way as a Ghoul is pretty much the same as finding your place in the real world, right?
When Does the Quarter Life Crisis Hit?
It could be when:
- You’ve just graduated and still don’t know what to do with the rest of your life
- Or you’re considering a tragic career change
- Maybe you’ve just been dumped by your long time partner
- You lose someone close to you
All of these things can cause you to reevaluate your life and drive you towards an emotional breakdown just like Kaneki did when he first discovered he was a Ghoul. But the comparison doesn’t stop there.
Here are the key moments in Eyepatch’s journey during the first 2 seasons that feel a lot like the kind of shit, you’re probably going through (if you’re around 18-25). So if Ken Kaneki of all people can make it, so can you my friend.
That ‘Holy Shit’ Moment
This is where it all turned to shit. It finally dawned on Kaneki that he was a ghoul. At first, he tried to resist his ghoulish nature by refusing to eat human meat. Obviously this wasn’t going to last long. Eventually he released his kagune in order to protect his friend, finally fed and began to come to terms with his new reality.
When the unexpected hits us, we don’t handle it so well at first. But it is when we are at our lowest that the most unlikely someone offers out a helping hand. We just need to ride the storm until we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Finding your purpose
Kaneki had his first encounter with Amon, blocking the way to Mr. Mado and Touka who were also facing off. While he is getting beaten down and trying to reason with the investigator, he suddenly reaches a conclusion. As an One-eyed Ghoul, he stood at the inner section between humans and ghouls. *Ghasp* Could he potentially find a way for both sides to co-exist? In that moment he finds his purpose. After searching for somewhere to belong, finding a reason to live as a ghoul, he had finally discovered his place in this new reality of his.
Finding your way in this world is difficult, no doubt about it. Education feels your head with a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter. Your parents suggestions are pretty much outdated and job market looks worse every year. Not that there are many fulfilling employment opportunities. But a day will come when you will find your place in this world. It may take longer than you wanted but when you do life suddenly becomes crystal clear.
Time to change
Kaneki was going through one of the worst experiences of his life. Jason’s torturing was causing excruciating pain. Such an experience forced his mind to drift deep within where his memories, long-standing issues and internal conflicts lay. Rize was tearing away at everything he believed in, discrediting his mother and playing on his innocence so she could take over. Under the knife of his torturer, Kaneki faced a crossroads. Would he die believing his mother was right? That it is better to be hurt than hurt others. Or choose to embrace the dark side – Rize. In the nick of time he chooses a third option, he will reject Rize’s proposal but use his Ghoulish abilities to protect his friends. And he is willing to hurt to do it. Sorry Mom, I had to grow up.
Change is important and one of the biggest changes 20-somethings go through is diverting from their parents advice. You realise that you wasn’t as religious as your parents would make you believe. Or you come to terms with the fact that, university isn’t for you even if your mum wants you to be a lawyer. In the end, you have the final say. And those who you thought had it all figured out, could actually be wrong.
A lot changed within that torture room including the colour of his hair. He realised he had to get stronger in order to protect those dear to him. So he made a big decision and decided he needed to join Aogiri leaving behind the Anteiku cafe along with Touka.
Most people will reach a point where they have to leave behind what is safe and familiar for something totally new. The leap of faith in some cases, whether it is moving to a new city, travelling or simply moving out. Regardless of what your friends and family think, sometimes you got to change course. Kaneki may not have just left to protect Hide and co. but actually to find himself too.
Taking the wrong turn
In this episode, Kaneki loses control of his Kagune during his battle with Shinohara while becoming incredibly strong. He overpowers his opponent and then uncharacteristically begins to devour his armour. At this point, he looked pretty unstoppable. He seemed to have gained the kind of power he had been seeking but he had lost his way. Amon seeing this transformation of Kaneki into this centipede-like Ghoul challenges Ken as being “like every other Ghoul”. It was then that Kaneki regained control, and becomes aware that he had strayed badly.
Our intentions may start off in a good place but the result may leave us in a bad one. I’m not a philosopher by any stretch people, just getting that clear. When you fall from grace, you probably need a good friend to remind you of who you really are. Or in this rare case, an enemy could be the one to make you snap out of it. Crazy that? Sometimes it is ‘thy haters’ that keep you in check. Because friends tend to sugar coat or hide the bitter truths from you. At least someone with no emotional obligation will hold nothing back.
I have to give credit to the writer turning Kaneki from a blundering mess of a newbie Ghoul to a powerful enemy of the CCG – The One Eyepatch. So are you going through a life crisis? Well Kaneki can (kind of) relate and is getting through it somehow. If this softie can take this many Ls and still keep going, you can too.