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Why Tokyo Ghoul Season 3 Was A Soft Reboot

Tokyo Ghoul:re is the third season of the popular horror anime, but here’s why it just skipped over the events shown in the second series.

Tokyo Ghoul:re was the third season of the hit horror anime, effectively making it Tokyo Ghoul season 3 (with season 4 following shortly thereafter), but here’s why it was also something of a soft reboot. The popularity of fantasy and horror anime shows appears to be at an all-time high, as seen by the success of the Attack On Titan or Demon Slayer series. In the case of the latter, the big-screen spinoff Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train became the highest-grossing film in 2020. Another popular series is Tokyo Ghoul – though the show has a tangled history.


Tokyo Ghoul is based on the anime by Sui Ishida and follows a teenager named Ken Kaneki. Following a date, Ken is attacked by a ghoul, which is a creature who eats human beings. He survives but must adjust to life as half-man, half-ghoul, which comes with the cravings to eat flesh. The first season arrived in 2014, and the show’s likable lead characters, gory action and well-paced story saw it grow a loyal following. Unfortunately, the next series Tokyo Ghoul √A proved to be a disappointment to many, with the story featuring large deviations from the source material – which were approved by Sui Ishida – and ending on a tragic note.

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The audience backlash to Tokyo Ghoul √A was vocal, so Tokyo Ghoul season 3 made adjustments. This season of the Tokyo Ghoul anime show was based on the sequel manga and followed a character called Haise Sasaki, who works for the Commission of Counter Ghoul (CCG) and is half-ghoul himself. Sasaki and his team are tasked with hunting down and killing ghouls, but the big twist is that Haise is really Ken Kaneki himself. What’s confusing for audiences coming off the second season into Tokyo Ghoul:re is that it doesn’t appear to acknowledge the story of √A, and there’s a simple reason: it’s no longer canon.

Why Tokyo Ghoul’s Soft Reboot Happened

Tokyo Ghoul:re is both an adaptation of the sequel manga and a follow-up to the first season of the anime, with Tokyo Ghoul √A being ignored. Season 2’s departure from Tokyo Ghoul creator Sui Ishida’s source manga was not well received, so in one sense, it was wise for the Tokyo Ghoul show to start fresh. That said, Tokyo Ghoul season 3 doesn’t explain any of this, so fans were understandably confused by the lack of context or explanation.

Why Tokyo Ghoul’s Soft Reboot Gamble Didn’t Pay Off

Tokyo Ghoul:re ultimately lasted for two seasons, but the sequel itself was regarded with mixed reviews too. Common complaints include the lackluster animation or how it rushed through the story presented in the manga. Anime adaptations of manga naturally have to alter or condense the pacing to a certain extent, but Tokyo Ghoul:re‘s final season applied extreme measures to the extent that the story simply wasn’t effective. Understandably, it was also a significant point of contention that Tokyo Ghoul‘s reboot went totally unexplained, since this left anime-only viewers hopelessly confused and turning to those who had read the manga for an explanation of the finer plot points. Ultimately, the gamble just didn’t pay off, and Tokyo Ghoul:re season 4 was the last.

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