sorry for an annoying question but what is happening with sasaki/kaneki, hinami and saiko? like, is kaneki back? does sasaki not want to talk to hinami or go back to kaneki, since he told her to leave and that he's a "vessel"? I'm so confused
Hinami at first thought Sasaki was a vessel for Kaneki, but realizes that Sasaki is his own person.
He is more similar to Kaneki than she expected, such as when she sees Sasaki looking at Saiko in a caring way, much like he did to Hinami (as Kaneki).
As for whether Kaneki is back, he’s kinda back, but not really.
So Sasaki recognizes that he was once Kaneki, but isn’t any longer.
In fact, he isn’t scared that he was once Kaneki. He can finally see the good side of Kaneki because Hinami cares so much for him.
Sasaki finally embraces Kaneki’s power, to protect his loved ones, but this time he is no longer afraid of losing control because he isn’t afraid of Kaneki anymore.
This is just my guess, but although the last page looks a lot like Kaneki, Sasaki is still in control. Sasaki isn’t going anywhere because he needs to stay for Saiko and the Quinx.
Sasaki, in full control of Kaneki’s power, is going to fight Seidou to protect his loved ones.
So in preparation for what I knew would be an…interesting chapter, to say the least, I wrote a meta last week. This one will be building off of that one.
Let’s start here:
There’s so much going on in this panel. On the one hand, we have Juuzou and his subordinates chasing after Big Madam, clearly intent on killing her. Desperately, Madam calls out first to Juuzou, then to Rei. Now we know that “Rei” is the first name that Juuzou had, the name that he had before Madam dubbed him “Juuzou,” which was his scrapper name. She uses the two names interchangeably, but it seems that “Rei” has always been the softer, more childish side of Juuzou. He talks to Rei as a self-soothing mechanism in Tokyo Ghoul, and he gave up the name of Rei when he became an investigator, opting instead for his scrapper name, Juuzou.
When she yells the name, Juuzou does not react. He makes a subtle hand motion, which his team is precisely attuned to. As I pointed out last week, Juuzou’s squad is disciplined, and they clearly respect him tremendously. Juuzou, against all odds and expectations, is a good leader. This is, in my opinion, deserving of an entire meta in and of itself, but here I will just say that I am interested to see if we get more information about that in the future, because damn it’s something I would like to explore.
Anyway, Madam is getting desperate. When the name Rei doesn’t elicit a response, she tries to appeal to Juuzou’s memories of her, to the fact that she raised him, to the fact that she is the only parent that he has. She asks him if he has a grudge, because hatred is just as strong of a connector as love. But she’s hedging her bets on the wrong horse; in reality, Juuzou still cares about her, and he still considers her a parental figure. We see evidence of this here:
Hanbee is sorry to have to cut her. Why? Because no one (who is currently ambulatory, sob) cares about Juuzou the way that Hanbee does. Hanbee studies Juuzou, he frets over him, he adores him. And he knows that Juuzou does not hate his mama.
Her bid fails; Juuzou cuts off her kagune without hesitation. Notice that he does not kill her…he neutralizes her.
(Isn’t he gorgeous in this panel? I nearly cried….)
Again, she makes a bid for his mercy, this time offering him “anything he wants.”
It is difficult to imagine what she could possibly give him, at this point, and it is a desperate measure. It is also unsuccessful. Because Juuzou doesn’t want anything that she can give. Juuzou hasn’t forgotten what she did for him. Juuzou does not hold a grudge. But he does have his memories.
Here we see Big Madam acting like…an actual parent. And I love this, because it takes a relationship that we all conceptualized as purely monstrous and complicates it. Which is more accurate. Almost everyone who has been abused by a parent or parental figure knows this pattern–the abuse isn’t constant. It’s broken up with episodes of normalcy, even coddling. Here we see that Big Madame held Juuzou gently, like a parent, read aloud to him, played toys with him. Juuzou was not entirely feral. And I think that’s a wildly important thing to note regarding his character. He suffers from tremendous CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder, differentiated from PTSD due to the fact that the trauma is incurred over an extended period of time, and the person experiencing the trauma is or feels trapped in the situation, with no hope of escape).
I think this is such an important scene. Because Juuzou, like many survivors, did not spend every waking moment of his experience being abused. He was trapped in a situation that was violently abusive, in a situation where he was taught that pain was just another form of approval, in a situation where he was mutilated and forced to live as another gender, in a situation where he was forced to kill and praised with scars. These are the fires that shaped him, but that was not the sum total of his relationship with his mama. And he still doesn’t hate her.
Juuzou’s feelings in this moment are so intensely complex. His posture reads that he is sad, that this moment is poignant for him. He tells her the truth without exaggeration or theatrics–she left him with nothing but scars, and the scars are all that he remembers. Because even in those moments when she treated him tenderly, there was an implicit violence. Look at the knife in the teddy bear. Look at the blank expression on his face. He was trapped, but he was not unaware. He carries her with him on his body. He will never lack the evidence of what his mother was to him.
But…he’s smiling. He’s smiling very genuinely, sweetly. There’s no killing rage in that expression. He’s just doing his job, and furthermore…he’s glad to see her. Even like this, when Juuzou said that there was someone here that he wanted to see, he wasn’t being sinister. He wore the bell that she put on him. He smiled when he saw her the first time. He came to see her. He had to know it would be the last chance that he would ever have. Regardless of the scars, she raised him. She’s the only parent he’s ever known.
Cornered, out of appeals, she turns on him, yelling her abuse, trying to scar him one last time, because she’s a monster, because she can’t relate to him any other way. Because she’s vile. Because it is all she has left.
Juuzou’s team sweeps in to end her, but Juuzou does not. He closes his eyes, and Hanbee covers his ears and tells him, “You wouldn’t have wanted to hear that.”
Juuzou’s expression in this panel is not one of happiness; it’s a look of sorrow. His mama is dead. And he says:
Father. Otou-san. Why?
Well, I can not be sure that we will find out why. Was Big Madame a natal male who presented/identified as female? Perhaps, but my partner has another theory which I would like to share. Juuzou only ever had one parent, growing up. Big Madame was both his mother and his father, and there’s a chance that he identified different aspects of this as being more maternal or more paternal. It could be that he identified her more abusive tendencies with a paternal identity, just as he identifies his more violent side as Juuzou. It’s just a thought, but I found it to be an interesting theory.
I think that this series of events lends a whole new layer to Juuzou’s character. Even I had assumed that he was going to the auction to seek revenge, or at the very least, closure. But after seeing that, Ive changed my mind. I truly believe that he knew it was likely that Big Madame was going to die during the course of this raid, and I truly believe that he wanted to see her one last time. He was happy to see her, and he was sad when she died. That didn’t stop him from carrying out his duties, however, though he was not the one to kill her. Would he have killed her? Yes, I think so, if there had been no one to help him, he would have certainly done so. However, in this instance, he was not alone.
And this is where I must again point out Juuzou’s team. Not only are they adorable (they are so fucking adorable though), but they move with insanely deft precision. They don’t speak, they just act, attacking in perfect synchronicity, eyes on Juuzou, doing as he needs them to do without hesitation. Again, pointing to the fact that as a squad leader, Juuzou really is quite skilled.
And one last thing: Hanbee. I could write an entire meta on Hanbee (and I am sure that I will), but for now, I just want to say that the way that Hanbee cares for Juuzou is really quite touching. In this instance, he helps protect Juuzou from a further trauma, shielding his ears from the sounds of his first parental figure dying, as Juuzou closes his eyes to the image. It’s a really telling moment, showing us how much Hanbee cares for Juuzou, and also that he’s not hesitant to put his hands on Juuzou when the need is there. We know from Joker that Juuzou has protected Hanbee many times, and even saved his life on several occasions. Now we see the other side of that relationship, when Hanbee is the one protecting, and Juuzou accepts it.
This arc has given us so much information about Juuzou–throughout everything, he has been calm. He has strategized and fought smartly, not running in haphazardly, not throwing himself into death-trap situations. We have seen the way that he moves in tandem with his incredible squad, we have discovered that he harbors no ill-feelings toward Big Madam, despite acknowledging that she’s hurt him and scarred him. And, we’ve seen him accept the care of another.
That…that is character development. And incredibly brilliant writing. I can’t wait to see what happens with this boy next.
ETA // My partner pointed out to me that his theory was that Juuzou associated the maternal with violence and the paternal with coddling, which is why Shinohara was able to get through to him. This would also explain why he said goodbye father, if he associates the paternal side with love and education. Additionally, whenever he has a flashback, he says “Mama,” further promoting the idea that the maternal is what he associates with pain, and the paternal with love.