Hey, I saw your tags on the ladywongs post, so I just wanted to know your opinion about the latest touka/mutsuki. honestly, I feel it unnecessarily complicated something so simple and it made me feel violated, cause I feel like I loved a character that was not touka. Do you perhaps...have an insight you wanna share?
Well, I was grateful for the shoutout that meta gave me and I’ve been a fan of a lot of metas that writer has produced, but this one in particular I very much disagreed with. I think the claim that Touka loves the idea of Kaneki while not really understanding the person ignores the fact that every time she’s made a serious observation about Kaneki she’s been bang on the money.
If she idolises Kaneki so, why has she made such a damning assessment about him? And it’s not just an assessment of the changed Shironeki that she resents, it extends to the Kuroneki she supposedly idolises as well. And what’s more, she’s completely right. This is even acknowledged by Kaneki himself.
Touka doesn’t idolise an image of Kaneki. Far from it. The chapter on the bridge is titled “Penetration” because Touka sees past the roles Kaneki plays to the scared kid inside. At this point, she probably has the best understanding of Kaneki than anyone in the series - maybe even more than Hide. For further proof, Touka knows at a FREAKING GLANCE just what Kaneki intends to do to himself when they meet up at Cochlea.
If this was just a casual “Seeya”, do you think it would be all Touka would say to him after all this time? She can tell Kaneki has no intention of making it out alive, so the first thing she does is to remind him that his death won’t affect him alone, and it very clearly shakes him up; setting him on the path to choose to live. Just like how their confrontation on the bridge convinced Kaneki to go back to Anteiku, if not quite in time.
Touka’s not being unreasonable because the Kaneki she idolised has changed. She’s mad because Kaneki’s going down a path of self-destruction, and it does destroy him. In the last quarter of the first manga the narrative breaks its back pointing out that Kaneki’s gone too far down the Shironeki path - it’s not just Touka, it’s also Yoshimura, Nishiki, even resident devil on Kaneki’s shoulder Shuu, not to mention events like Kaneki stabbing Banjou, seeing Rize crazed and helpless, and all the foreshadowing packed into ‘The Hanged Man’s McGuffin’. Touka is trying to help Kaneki because she genuinely does know what’s best for him because she genuinely understands him. I don’t think anyone would try to claim that convincing Kaneki to live at Cochlea was a bad thing either.
Now if Touka is ‘obsessed’ with Kaneki, if it can’t possibly be love because they only knew each other for two months, then it would stand to reason that Kaneki would be far, far more important to Touka than she would be for him.
Then why is it that in Kaneki’s mind, after only knowing Touka for two months and Hide for all his life, Touka is on equal footing with Hide? He includes the whole of Anteiku in the above panel, but Touka gets special mention with Hide in the next.
And here, in his dying moments, Touka gets the biggest panel, placed on the next page for the biggest effect. Touka is just as important to Kaneki as vice-versa.
But neither is ‘obsessed’ with the other.
Touka broke into Cochlea to save Hinami, not Kaneki. She didn’t even know he was there. She most definitely has a life outside Kaneki and her love for him is far from all-consuming. While he had lost his memories, she was fully willing to accept the possibility she might never talk to him again. She might love him, but if she was obsessed and didn’t have a life outside of him, there’s no way she could make a sacrifice like that even if her aim was selflessness. Yoshimura loved his daughter, and set up Anteiku anticipating her return, but he had a life outside of her too. It’s the same with Touka.
The original post tries to dismiss Touka’s feelings being a healthy form of love by comparing it to spending three years dedicating yourself to a co-worker who you knew for two months, but dumbing it down to their official relationship and a span of time removes an enormous amount of context to explain why she feels this way. In real life, you wouldn’t have fought side-by-side with your co-worker in life-threatening situations time and time again. These kind of high-pressure environments cause bonds and trust to become much much thicker much more quickly. “Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever”.
Sure Touka sees Arata in Kaneki. That’s not a bad thing at all. Arata was a great dude. Having an Arata in your life is a real positive thing, and there’s absolutely no reason why Touka shouldn’t chase it. People are hardwired to get with people who remind them of their parents - it’s in our genetic programming, it doesn’t diminish the love they feel for that person or make them love them less for who they are in the slightest. Trying to heal the wounds of old losses by emotionally investing yourself in new people is totally healthy - the unhealthy thing would be to shut yourself off from the world, just like Touka was doing at the start of the manga - a rut Kaneki helped her out of. It would be bad if she were just pretending that Kaneki was Arata, but she isn’t - she behaves totally differently around him and she has demonstrated many times an understanding of those personality traits Kaneki possesses that are completely different from Arata’s. It would be problematic if Kaneki got with someone who reminded him of his mother (read: Rize) because his mother was a horrible person; but Touka, even if she occasionally throws a hit at him (a product of her upbringing which is very rare nowadays - also Kaneki is nowhere near as vulnerable in this situation as he was a child, he’s the OEK for crying out loud), constantly gives Kaneki both the emotional attention and the hard truths that he needs.
Is unambiguously a good thing. Touka’s development was never about growing into herself without the need for others, because she was already like that at the start of the manga. Touka’s development was about rediscovering the humanity she cast aside to protect herself from pain, and then balancing that with the strength she found with being a Ghoul. The first stage was greatly aided by Kaneki - whom she indeed admired, but never idolised - and the second stage she completed herself.
Mutsuki’s love is a different beast entirely than Touka’s love. Mutsuki’s focus on Touka was precisely to emphasise Mutsuki’s jealousy, because Mutsuki recognises the bond Kaneki and Touka share. Mutsuki’s feelings are not meant to parallel Touka’s, but tie in with the other complicated entanglements of this arc, showcasing different kinds of love. I do strongly believe we’ll get both Touken and Akiramon resolutions soon, and positive ones too; the negativity around love this arc has displayed to us so far is set up to make those two relationships shine brighter.
So don’t worry anon, just because a meta says Touka is different from how you think about her doesn’t mean it’s right - it’s all a matter of interpretation. No one person’s opinion is automatically more important than another (except in this case maybe Sui Ishida - and maybe not even then, if you adhere to Death Of The Author literary theory), your analysis is just as valid as anyone else’s if you can argue it with evidence.
But even so, I am very much of the opinion in this fandom that if you see any meta that tries to claim that none of the main characters have developed at all since the start of the manga, take it with approximately this much salt: