In the controversial season two, the ghouls have not lost their taste for blood. After Kaneki joins the faction Aogiri Tree, he converts into a completely different ghoul. He is no longer the quiet and pacific young man he used to be. They have tortured him and changed him. Why would he join them in the first place?
Kaneki did join the Aogiri Tree to be close to the main enemy and avoid a possible attack against Anteiku. After he accepts he is a ghoul, he joins them to try to grow stronger, and protect his friends after the fall of Anteiku in Operation Owl Suppression.
I will explain in detail the reasons Kineki joined the Aogiri Tree, why this is different from the manga, why they decided to change the story and when did he join the organization.
Why Did Ken Kaneki Join the Aogiri Tree?
Ken Kaneki decided to join them to become one of their leaders. This way, he could be aware of any movements to protect Anteiku. He knew that he couldn’t join the CCG, so he became part of the Aogiri Tree. He knew that belonging to the Aogiri Tree he would figure out how to confront them. In the meantime, he could generate enough damage to the CCG that they will be distracted and will be preoccupied with other things than attacking Anteiku.
Another of the causes that led them to take this decision was the idea of achieving unification. Instead of creating a gang, Kaneki opted to pit the ultimate expression of Ghoul, Aogiri Tree, against the ultimate expression of Humanity, the CCG. To show them that they are equal, and In some way, they look for similar objectives.
I believe it may be significant to mention that his reasons gave us one strong message to develop the rest of the story: unification. Regardless of what we eat, for what we feel, we are the same.
Did Kaneki Join them in the Manga as Well?
In the original story, Kaneki decided not to join the organization of Aogiri Tree. The adaptation from the manga is not entirely faithful to it after the first season. Most of the situations raised in the second installment happened differently in the manga. For instance, the fact that Kaneki joined the Aogiri Tree.
In the manga, Kaneki, after being tortured by Jason, creates a team along with several ghouls, including Tsukiyama, Banjau, and Hinami, to name a few. The goal of this gang is to select some targets that threaten his well-being and his friends, so he can eliminate them and protect them all. In other words, his principal objective was to save all his loved ones.
However, his goal turns against him. After these poetic events, Kaneki dies. On the other hand, in the anime, Kaneki joins them instead of creating his band, because oddly enough, the Kaneki of the adaptation is much more peaceful and intelligent than his counterpart in the manga.
Although he has the same goal of defending his loved ones, rather than eradicating them, this Kaneki does not want to kill anyone. If it may seem that he is sometimes more violent than the one in the manga, it is because his trauma due to Yamori is much more expressed.
However, I could notice that he honestly regrets the damage he causes. That’s why I say that Kaneki’s personality is better marked in the anime.
Why Did they Change it for Anime?
The company in charge of adapting the anime, Studios Perriot, decided to have creative freedom and divert the events from the manga. The fact that Kaneki joined the Aogiri Tree is just one of the multiple things that happen differently in the anime. I can’t give an objective answer to this specific event, because it doesn’t exist.
In addition, I emphasize that some entire scenes have been changed and omitted from the manga, and even the entire plot was changed at some point.
This is the reason why fans were disappointed. Actually, numerous people list it as one of the worst adaptations from a manga. I have a list of beyond ten differences between the original animation and Perriot’s version.
For instance, In the manga, following Kaneki’s transformation in the Aogiri Tree, he seems stronger. Once freed, he lashes out with force against Ayato, who was about to kill Touka. Kaneki decides to take revenge and breaks Ayato’s body just in half. On the other hand, in its animated counterpart, it fails to convey the power and adrenaline of its original version.
Besides, during the first episodes of Tokyo Ghoul: Re, viewers of the show were likely to be a bit lost. New characters, a different setting, and general confusion of the final circumstances.
Another of the differences I can highlight is the close relationship between Rize and Kaneki. Rize appears lots of times with Kaneki in the anime. Through hunger-induced hallucinations, Rize repeatedly taunts Kaneki for struggling with his new ghoul identity. However, in the manga, the hallucination does not appear until his torture. I found this modification very interesting because it is an early addition rather than an omission.
Another clear example is in the scenes of torture against Kaneki by Yamori in the aforementioned Aogiri Tree. He goes through a crisis of self-acceptance, feeling a huge physical and emotional change to acknowledge his existence as a Ghoul. While in the show, Kaneki takes the fact that he has become a Ghoul quite calmly, with clear resignation, which took all the excitement out of these parts.
Following the plot of the second season, I must add that the entire installment deviated completely from the plot of the manga. It was considered the worst season of the series and rightfully so. All the events of the anime essentially work to eradicate Kaneki’s character development from the manga. Many fans ignore this season, considering it out of the canon.
In What Episode did Ken Kaneki Join the Aogiri Tree?
Kaneki joins the Aogiri Tree in the first episode of the second season. Let’s take a look at the reasons that got him into that. Before all the events that came after, the Kaneki we met, was an innocent young man. I compare him with those typical high school nerds. He used to read very often and was characterized by being optimistic and kind most of the time.
Nevertheless, after becoming a half-ghoul, he clung to his human side. To continue living in the human world, he began working at Anteiku and established relationships with the ghouls there. He began to develop an interest in becoming stronger and started reading martial arts books so that he could protect his loved ones.
In addition, our protagonist was lost in his new identity. He wanted to find who he was, find a place where to belong, and accept all the changes he was going through. This crisis strongly impacted his decision to eventually become part of this organization.
After his time being held by Aigori Tree, and being subjected to constant torture at the hands of Yamori, Kaneki’s personality changed. He discarded his thoughts about letting anyone hurt him before he hurt anybody. He adopted some typical behaviors from Yamori.
Many factors represent how much he has changed and how he accepts his Ghoul side. He is no longer influenced by it, but he can control it now. Kaneki becomes more ruthless to protect his friends, and all the people he cares about, all while remaining completely sane.
He is not afraid anymore, he becomes much more violent during his battles, such as the time he started eating Yamori’s Kakuhou to “become stronger” and when he broke 103 bones of Ayato’s body.
Embracing his ghoul nature, Kaneki dismisses the idea of being human. Here is when the story changes almost everything from the events of the manga. Kaneki did join the Aogiri Tree but was just the start of all the disasters.
This was the beginning of what fans call “the worst season” as I mentioned before. The second season, Tokyo Ghoul √A debuted in January 2015. It continued where the first part left off but mixed an original story with the rest of the manga, no longer being faithful to the original stories.
The third and fourth seasons of Tokyo Ghoul were released in April and October 2018 respectively.