In my most recent Everything Else post, I’m asking people who they think is the best heroine of the season. Well, thus far, anyway. While I won’t reveal the results of this impromptu poll just yet — nor is it even a comprehensive poll by any means — but so far, it seems as though a lot of you guys think Touka is a pretty cool anime character. Personally, I don’t dislike Touka, but here’s the thing… I feel as though a large reason why she stands out from the crowd is due to, well, Ken’s relative ineffectiveness. At the moment, Ken is very green, very idealistic, and very much a wimp. Despite this, I actually don’t mind the guy’s character, but I won’t deny that he can be a bit helpless at times. So understandably, a lot of viewers are frustrated with him. I also think he’s supposed to be somewhat frustrating, though. In fact, I think his actions and reactions make a lot of sense within the context of the story. C’mon, guys, he’s just a dorky bookworm.
Out of nowhere, this nerdy college kid is thrust into the world of dangerous ghouls and sadistic anti-ghoul “doves.” After living the majority of his life in relative comfort, he’s now lost in a world where it’s kill or be killed. He now has to scavenge for dead bodies, because he’s unwilling to hunt innocent people for food. His world has been turned upside-down. So with that in mind, what do you expect Ken to do? Become a battle-hardened veteran overnight? Pursue the doves with reckless abandon? The thing is, the anime’s opening even outright tells us that the guy will eventually get there — that his heart will eventually to turn to stone one day. But I guess we just don’t have much patience nowadays for the coming-of-age process. Even though we deride the Gary Stus of the season for their unrealistic ability to power through every conflict with ease, we seem to be riding Ken’s ass just as hard for his all-too-human reluctance to embrace his ghoulish fate. I don’t really get it.
But back to my original point, because Ken is currently weak, Touka often makes up for what Ken lacks. Touka is a capable fighter. Touka is no-nonsense. Touka does take action. But y’know what? It isn’t always smart to leap into action, It isn’t always wise to take a no-holds-barred approach to life just because you feel as though you have an unerring sense of justice. But first, some context. Last week, we saw Hinami’s father meet his end, and even though her mother survived to see at least another episode, Mado still eventually kills her at the start of this week’s episode. Needless to say, an enraged Touka desperately desires revenge. And I don’t disagree with her necessarily; I certainly don’t disagree with her feelings. Evildoers must be punished, we must attain justice for the weak, blah blah blah. That’s all fine and dandy, but… we can’t always act on our feelings.
When Touka tries to take matters into her own hands, she is not only being very foolish but selfish as well. First, Touka’s foolish to think she could single-handedly take out the four doves by herself. What does she know about them? Does she know what they’re capable of? Why would you pick a fight when you have no information on your opponents? More importantly, however, Touka ignores Renji’s very reasonable argument: even if you do take out the doves directly responsible for the deaths of Hinami’s parents, the anti-ghoul bureau will just send more doves to the 20th ward. Even if you achieve revenge, you’d just endanger the lives of every ghoul in the area. Yes, Touka will be able to quell the anger and hatred in her heart, but is it worth putting everyone at risk? Touka says she’d “feel sorry for [Hinami’s mother] if [they] can’t take vengeance for her.” But would killing the doves really make Hinami feel better? Is that the best way to help the grieving child right now? Touka says she can’t bear it when someone like Hinami’s mother has to die, but I still can’t square this logic with putting the entire ward at risk.
Once again, Ken could do nothing but watch. Even though Hinami had run to him for help, all he could do in the heat of the moment was cover the young girl’s eyes and muffle her cries lest she be heard. But honestly, what else could he do? He’s in no fighting shape. He can’t take on Mado alone, much less Mado and his partner. Hell, even Touka finds it difficult in this week’s episode to fight Mado one-on-one. Ken wouldn’t have stood a chance. You might then say, “He should put his nose to the grindstone right from the get-go, and become the strongest ghoul out there!” But it’s only the seventh episode. And the kid has other responsibilities. I don’t think it would have made very much sense for some green ghoul to just go toe-to-toe with a senior anit-ghoul investigator. There are trade-offs here. You could certainly turn Ken into a super-duper fighter overnight, but you’d destroy the credibility of the narrative. Plus, do we need another Tatsuya, Kirito, or Inaho?
Yoshimura seems cold when he denies Touka any assistance, but he isn’t just responsible for her life. He’s responsible for every ghoul out there who depends on Anteiku. Plus, he warned her not to make a move. They all did. She deliberately ignored their better advice and acted on her own. She willingly put not just herself but everyone in the 20th ward at risk. I can’t fault Yoshimura for his actions. We then see that Amon is more determined than ever to change “this wrong-way world of ours.” Violence just begets more violence. Mado kills Ryouko, so Touka kills Kusaba Ippei, one of the doves. Now, Amon wants revenge, and the cycle will just continue on forever. Luckily for Touka, however, she isn’t alone. Yoshimura has too much on his plate to run off on some misguided crusade for justice. Ken is alone, though. He has no family, and he has only one close friend. As such, our ineffectual hero can afford to help Touka out. He even says he’s tired of not being able to do anything. It has been a process, but Ken’s getting there. Most of all, I think he’s getting there organically, and I hope Touka will also gain something from this experience.
Plus, they’re the main characters, so it’s not like anything’s going to happen to them anyway.