The moment you realize that if Minomi hadn’t died that brutal way, impacting Saeki’s psyche in all the wrong ways, he probably fully intended on marrying her and their relationship wouldn’t have had to become a source of trauma but could’ve easily given way to a healthy bond because them both just wanted to make the other one happy.
This is not to condone any of Torso’s actions but damn, Ishida is at it again with the gray morality. I did think that Saeki’s backstory was going to be a rough one, considering that men aren’t born monsters but they become them, but at the same time I never expected this reveal to be quite so… unsettling.
This wasn’t the usual narrative. Despite the tragedy surrounding them, this time hope was right there, everything could’ve gotten better. I think that Torso is such a great villain because he’s the kind of character that could’ve easily taken the role of the protagonist, but instead a single detail went wrong and turned things upside down. Imagine where Kaneki would be if something like that had happened to him. I think that their narratives have a few common starting points, but they led them to opposing ends of the checkerboard:
- Saeki’s dad abused him, but didn’t care about him one bit. He lived his parenthood like a duty.
- Kaneki’s mom abused him, but loved him at the same time (and that made the substantial difference). She lived her relationship with her blood relatives as a duty.
- Saeki’s dad was often away for long periods of time, during which he didn’t give a shit about what his child was doing. He told him that going to town would’ve endangered his own life, so Saeki didn’t have to go there.
- Kaneki’s mom was always busy with work, she often neglected him for long periods of time too, to the point that Kaneki was desperate for her attention. She told him that his own needs weren’t important as she hit him (to the point he swore he didn’t need anything anymore, if that way she would stop hitting him); this ended up instilling in him his martyr complex and his toxic life philosophy.
Then, the real difference:
- Kaneki’s mom’s death affected him deeply because he had loved her and she had returned his affections; the death of Saeki’s dad, on the other hand, was not only by Torso’s own hands, but left him feeling empty, as though he was no longer himself, as though he was already as cold as the dead bodies of women his dad brought him as a meal. It was the begin of his descent into villain territory.
I’m not really going anywhere with this, and I still don’t like Torso as a person even though I can sympathize with him as a character. But I do believe that from a phychological point of view, the ‘Torso’ persona shows a really well-thought narrative, because Saeki wasn’t an inherently evil character, nor was he shaped into one by the cruelty of what happened to him. It was just bad luck mixed with bad timing. If Torso’s dad had returned home just a day later, Minomi could’ve been elsewhere and could’ve survived. If Torso hadn’t woken up to see the horror of her body being cut that way, he could have never even channeled his distorted perception of reality into such an abusive mindset.
It was chance. It was something ordinary that made him a Villain. It was something that could’ve happened to anyone, even to Kaneki. That’s why he’s such a good one. Because what makes him that is just perspective. He could’ve easily been his own protagonist, because from his point of view the Villain was his father. He did have an happy ending waiting for him with Minomi. It just never happened by chance, not choices.
Damn it, I love Ishida’s narratives