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"I'm not the protagonist of a novel or anything. I'm just a college student who likes to read, like you could find anywhere. But... if, for argument's sake, you were to write a story with me in the lead role, it would certainly be... a tragedy."— Ken Kaneki, Tokyo Ghoul Chapter 1
Ken Kaneki (
After being captured by Aogiri Tree, he underwent a drastic personality change and after escaping, formed a group with the goal of protecting those precious to him and exterminating individuals threatening his place of belonging. His kakuja form's distinct appearance earned him the alias Centipede (ムカデ, Mukade).
Two years following his defeat against Kishou Arima, he lived under the identity of Haise Sasaki (
After defeating Arima and Eto, having unveiled their joint plan to raise a one-eyed ghoul who could stand as the hope for all ghouls, he calls himself the One-Eyed King (隻眼の王, Sekigan no Ō). Kaneki has since then formed the organization he named Goat.
As a result of a plan carried out by Kichimura Washuu, Kaneki morphed into the Dragon (竜, Ryū), a huge, uncontrollable kagune that destroyed large portions of Tokyo. He was later extracted from the monstrous appendage by a collaboration between the remaining members of Goat and the CCG. When the remnants of Dragon began releasing a toxin that threatened humans and ghouls alike, Kaneki ventured down into the depths of the oviduct and nullified the threat after a fierce battle with Kichimura Washuu and Dragon.
As a child, Kaneki had all the same features he has now as an adult with black hair. As a normal university student, Kaneki was a somewhat short and scrawny young man with little to no athletic background and preferred to read books. After the steel beam incident, Kaneki bears a scar from the transplant operation on the right side of his abdomen not far from his navel. In his free time, he wore casual clothes.
His casual outfit consists of a turquoise hoodie, light black pants, running shoes with a yellow toe and blue outlines reaching the middle of the black base of the soles.
At work, he wore the standard Anteiku waiter uniform, consisting of black trousers and a gray waistcoat over a white dress shirt and a black necktie (brown cravat in the anime). Because he could not yet properly control his single kakugan that manifests in his left eye, he wore a medical eye patch to cover it.
His ghoul mask resembles a leather gimp mask with an eye patch. It bears a lipless mouth with large, gnashing teeth, much like a restrained asylum monster. The bolts sticking out of his neck and the fact that he is an artificial ghoul invoke a Frankenstein-like theme.
After being tortured by Yamori, his appearance changed drastically. His hair became completely white, his nails were blackened, and he developed a more muscular physique. He began to favor monochrome clothing and wore a form-fitting black bodysuit with cutouts when going into battle.
In the years since adopting the identity of Haise Sasaki, his hair began to develop black streaks growing out from the crown. He wore the standard business attire of a ghoul investigator, favouring black dress shirts and pinstripe pants with a knee-length white trench coat. He also wears a pair of round eyeglasses when reading. After the events of the Auction Mopping-up Operation, his hair slowly began to revert back to its original color with almost no white remaining.
After the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation, his appearance changed drastically again. His hair had completely reverted to its original black colour, and he started wearing his glasses in most scenarios. He wore a black version of the Arima Squad uniform, pairing a black dress shirt with black slacks and a long, black trench coat. In contrast, he wore a pair of red gloves (black gloves in the anime) that disguised his right hand which was covered in reptilian scales. In his second battle with Arima, Sasaki wore a form-fitting black bodysuit underneath his uniform.
Upon regaining his identity as Ken Kaneki, his hair turned completely white again after having his limbs cut off repeatedly by Arima. Unable to heal properly from the incident, both of his arms are covered in reptile-like scales. As a result he continues to wear gloves to cover them with black turtleneck shirts with a pair of white pants. Around his neck, he keeps Touka's parents' ring on a chain, and after their marriage, the scar from her bite mark on his right shoulder. For a time, Kaneki wore a collared black coat over his new sleeveless battle suit with dark gloves reaching past his elbows.
After becoming immobilized inside Dragon, Kaneki took on the form of a beast big enough to wrap around skyscrapers, with many huge kakugan protruding from large, black limbs. Kaneki was uncontrollable in this state and kept expanding. He had already completely destroyed a large sector of the 23rd ward and presumably completely collapsed the 24th ward.
Upon being recovered from dragon by Touka Kirishima and the Q's squad, Kaneki lost much of his muscular mass, and is confirmed to have gained new unidentified organs after his transformation. His entire body from the neck down was covered in kagune-like tissue, along with several black growths running down the front of his upper torso, and his hands possessed three misshapen fingers. His hair was lengthier and hung down below the chin. There appeared to be flesh patterns decorating his neck and lower eyelids. However, upon releasing his new kagune, his body appears to have returned to normal, with his hands once again possessing five fingers and being without the previous scales.
Following the six-year timeskip at the end of :re, Kaneki trimmed his hair back to its original length. The flesh patterns under his left eye changed, becoming two thick lines running diagonally from under his left eye all the way down the left side of his face.
Kaneki was a shy and reserved person, with Hide being his only close friend. He usually spent most of his time reading books, mostly novels. He was extremely gentle and appeared to be optimistic most of the time. Influenced by his mother and a true testament of modesty, he willingly took blame and punishment from others so that he can be someone who does not hurt people, but rather absorb the torment. However, this lack of assertiveness normally got him bullied and taken advantage of.
However, beneath his altruistic and gentle nature was an underlying fear of being alone that was aggravated by his mother's death. He despised the idea of solitude, hence he tried to protect those dear to him so he would not have to face his fear of being alone in the world.
This was perhaps his greatest weakness. Since Kaneki was always trying to protect others, he was essentially trying to protect himself from ever being alone again. Therefore, to escape that scenario, he would shoulder the task of protecting others onto himself, without relying on anyone else. This was also why Kaneki rejected the notion of "living," because watching others die reminded him of those lonely days without anyone beside him.
After he was turned into a half-ghoul, he clung to his human side. To keep living in the human world, he began to work at Anteiku and established relationships with the ghouls there. He started to develop an interest in becoming stronger and began reading martial art books so he could protect those closest to him. However, he was still troubled with the fact that he was a half-ghoul and wanted to search for a place where he could belong. As much as he treasured his life, if people close to him were threatened, he would not hesitate to put his life on the line.
After being held captive and undergoing intense torture at the hands of Yamori, Kaneki's personality changed drastically. He trashed his previous ideology of "being hurt rather than hurting others," pledging to crush those who dared threaten his place of belonging. He adopted the habit of cracking his knuckles from his torturer, Yamori. In his subconscious, Kaneki ate "Rize," the image of his ghoul self. This displayed that he accepted the "ghoul" within him; instead of being influenced by it, he appeared to have become the one to surpass it. Kaneki became ruthless, cruel, and brutal in order to protect his friends, yet he managed to maintain complete composure. He no longer feared his ghoul side and was more violent during battles, such as when he cannibalized Yamori's kagune in order to strengthen himself, and mercilessly broke 103 of Ayato's bones. By embracing his ghoul nature wholeheartedly, Kaneki gave up on being "human."
Kaneki was still capable of showing his gentle nature in front of people he cared about, but instantly turned merciless against his enemies. He yearned for strength and power, therefore becoming more power-hungry and superficially arrogant. His new creed—that as "the strong" he had the right to "devour the weak"—was originally an ideology held by Yamori. Banjou assumed that Kaneki developed some form of mental instability during his torture in the 11th ward, and that this would gradually wear him down.
Whenever he was near starvation and losing control of his kagune (or half-kakuja), he behaved in a way that emulated another's, such as Rize or Yamori. He would speak in a crazed disorganized manner, further implying his mental instability during these periods.
After raiding Kanou's lab and attacking Banjou, Kaneki entered a period of soul-searching. He wished to reclaim his lost "human" side and became uncertain about the path he had taken to become stronger. He started to question and seek answers from individuals such as Uta, Yomo, and Yoshimura in order to understand the incidents that have happened around him since he turned into a ghoul.
While living under his new identity as Haise Sasaki, he was a self-contained and good-natured individual. He was loyal, devoted, and possessed a good work ethic. Sasaki was very cooperative, as he preferred working in a group rather than working alone. He also showed mercy, as he believed that an investigator should not annihilate ghouls unnecessarily. This was sometimes to the chagrin of his fellow ghoul investigators. Sasaki enjoyed reading books in his free time and had a habit of using puns, shown by his conversation with Akira Mado in the curry restaurant. He tended to scratch the back of his head when he was thinking hard or feeling uneasy. He still had his old habit of scratching or rubbing his chin whenever he was hiding something or lying from his days as Kaneki.
He showed appropriate respect and great concern for his colleagues, especially his underlings. He complied with orders assigned by his seniors and carried them out without hesitation. However, Sasaki's gentle nature often led his subordinates to constantly disobey him, rendering him ineffective in controlling their actions; he was left to worry about their safety.
In contrast to before his memory loss, Sasaki rejected his ghoul side and was afraid of it. When analyzed by Arima after his capture, Sasaki appeared to retain his introverted nature and lack of assertiveness as Kaneki, along with his yearning for a motherly figure.
However, Sasaki was still prone to losing control, as shown when he fought the Serpent, where he also cracked his fingers during the fight—a habit that he had originally developed as Kaneki in the past. Donato Porpora noted that Sasaki was curious about his memories but also afraid of them, as he worried he could no longer keep his current life in the CCG should he ever recover his memories. Sasaki feared that relying on his ghoul side would make him disappear. After being rescued from Takizawa by Hinami, Sasaki's perspective on his ghoul nature changed. He concluded that the Kaneki of the past must have been a good person because Hinami cared for him a lot, even though he did not remember. He eventually accepted this ghoul side in order to protect Hinami and Saiko, with the risk of his personality disappearing. He learned about Kaneki, who appeared in his subconscious as a mental construct where "Kaneki" admitted that he was also scared and asked Sasaki to not erase him.
After the auction, Sasaki was friendlier towards his ghoul side. However, "Kaneki" said the relationship could not last forever, as they were two beings fighting for one body. Sasaki was told to "not erase him" but misheard it as "disappear." He then remained conflicted about his past, actively searching for information about himself.
During the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation, Sasaki recalled a memory of his past as Ken Kaneki where he had been physically abused by his mother. He also realized that he unconsciously wished to die and had been glad to see Arima during the Owl Suppression Operation. However, that failed, so he believed that burying his past was his salvation, so he chose to forget and live as Haise Sasaki. Upon realizing this, Sasaki accepted his past, resolving to stop "dreaming."
After regaining his memories, in sharp contrast to his previously gentle personality, Sasaki became colder and much more violent. He fought with more brutal force and was willing to put Tsukiyama's life at risk, despite already remembering his old acquaintance. He did, however, ensure that Kanae would rescue Tsukiyama before throwing the ghoul off the building. He displayed his cold nature to Urie when the latter blamed him for Shirazu's death, calmly telling him that it was his fault as he was the one fighting beside Shirazu. He then mourned together with Mutsuki and Saiko, showing that despite his cold demeanor, he still felt sad about Shirazu's death.
Third Cochlea Raid
During the Cochlea attack, Sasaki displays his deep unhappiness for his own existence, constantly engaged in inner monologue. As he rescues Hinami from her cell, he reveals his own motives that have not changed since the Tsukiyama Investigation. That he wanted to "go out in style." Meaning to act as a sacrificial pawn with no care for his own life, Sasaki displays regret when Touka tells him to see her later, stating that it is all so unfair and that Touka is a cruel one.
While being torn apart by Arima, Sasaki gives up on living altogether, stating his task was completed. He is interrupted by a projection of "Hide" who tells him to stop being a fool and to listen for once. Once Sasaki realizes what Hide actually meant back in V14, his hair turns white once more due to the stress of being ripped apart by Arima and rises with a newfound will to live wearing a smile on his face.
Goat Wipeout Operation
During his reign as king, Kaneki displays his growing maturity upon taking up the mantle of the "One Eyed King". When meeting with the soon-to-be members of Goat, he addresses all of their concerns, even persuading Naki to join him after a brief scuffle. When dealing with the Clown's attack on the CCG, Kaneki shows his ability to direct his forces, doing so in a calm and orderly fashion, while at the same time, selecting members to join him in their attempt to obtain the RC suppressants needed to heal Akira. After Goat was forced to move underground as a result of Furuta's oppressive plan to eradicate the population of ghouls in Tokyo, Kaneki has become more morose. He's more driven and has a tunnel-vision mentality of wanting to protect the ghouls on his lonesome. This comes back to bite him as he returns to the base by himself in an effort to stop Furuta, only to be beaten in a fierce battle by Juuzou and Abara.
While trapped inside the massive appendage known as the Dragon, Kaneki experienced a mental simulation of himself trapped inside a temple, accompanied by an emulation of Rize. She taunted him for being responsible for the deaths of so many civilians, along with being so responsible for the hunting of so many ghouls. She mocks his idea of trying to get the CCG to cooperate, stating that people keep dying because Kaneki keeps doing things, despite him saying that he's never able to do anything.
It became clear that while Kaneki convinced himself that he wanted to live for others, he only wanted to die a beautiful and fulfilled death. He stated that if he kept on fighting, he would feel needed, and yet never considered the death which would come from it. Upon recognizing these flaws, Kaneki states that despite all of the death that he's caused, both directly and indirectly, he'll continue on his path and try to bear the weight of them.
When he's released from Dragon, Kaneki is regretful upon seeing the damage that he did to both Tokyo and Hide. Despite this, he remains determined to stop Furuta and save both ghouls and humans. However, after losing to Juuzou and Abara and being shown his flaws by Furuta, Kaneki has decided that he'll do so with the help and support of his friends and family, rather than tackling the issue by himself.
During his final confrontation with Rize, Kaneki reflects on his life. He recognizes that everyone is their own protagonist, and that his tragedy doesn't make him anymore special than anyone else. He knows that the world is a harsh and unforgiving place, but despite it all, people will still strive to be loved and chosen by those around them. As a result, he'll carry on and choose and be chosen, nothing more, nothing less.
Kaneki's mental state undergoes extreme changes over the course of the series. Before his torture, Kaneki would at times refer to his actions as "we" or "us," albeit mostly while in a stressed state. Kaneki personifies his feelings to an extent that they take the form of people existing within his mind. When meeting these mental constructs, Kaneki enters a limbo-like state where he converses with them. Kaneki initially only entered this state when he was under extreme duress or near-death and later included during calm settings for conversation.
During his torture at the hands of Yamori, this construct takes the form of Rize Kamishiro. She taunts him for his weakness and shows memories from his past with his mother, forcing out his anger towards her for not being able to refuse her sister. Through these memories, she gradually convinces Kaneki to abandon his previous ideology of being the one who gets hurt instead of others. By accepting "Rize," Kaneki embraces a more brutal view of the world and accepts his ghoul powers.
The next time he encounters this alternate self is at V14, after being mortally wounded by Arima. Within his mind, he encounters a child version of himself that he feels the desire to protect. As he comes to accept his failings and similarities to his mother, this self transforms into a version of Kaneki as he existed at the beginning of the series. This more innocent Kaneki accepts him and thanks him for all that he has done to protect them. The two vanish together, resolving to "sleep" for a while.
In Tokyo Ghoul:re, the mental construct took on the appearance of Kaneki, initially appearing as Yamori's prisoner while donning his kakuja mask. This "Kaneki" torments him, demanding to be accepted and given back his body. Sasaki denied this being, which leads him to moments of instability whenever he uses his ghoul powers. When he is finally forced to accept his past and honor the request to "look" at "Kaneki," the projection appears to him as a white-haired child who he feels the need to protect. In the months following, Sasaki and "Kaneki" regularly converse with each other. Unlike previous constructs, Sasaki often imagines the child in the real world, picturing the child going through normal activities such as reading. Though they have reached an understanding, the child "Kaneki" tells Sasaki that the two of them cannot continue to co-exist and one will eventually vanish.
During Sasaki's fight with Karren, a heavily injured Sasaki once again retreats to his mind. The child then confronts him, taunting Sasaki for not being able to protect himself. Sasaki attacks the child, which prompts him to unsuppress his memories of being abused as Kaneki. As these memories came back to him, the child expressed that Kaneki was trying to die during the events at V14. He also desired to be loved by everyone that knows him, regardless of how his actions may obtain the desired result, be them with good or bad intentions, which the mental child Kaneki perceives as salvation. Sasaki regards himself as a "dream," caused when he began to desire. After Sasaki accepted his past, he resolves to quit "dreaming."
During Sasaki's fight with Arima at Cochlea, the latter savagely beats him to the brink of death. As Sasaki was about to succumb to his injuries and die, his mental construct takes the form of Hide. "Hide" scolds him for his selfish excuses, deducing that Sasaki had heard the sound of the compactor and asked whether he was okay with seeing his friends dying and letting his efforts be in vain. "Hide" encouraged Sasaki to live, reminding that he sacrificed himself with the goal of "living together with him" and that living would allow Sasaki to find a purpose in life. Sasaki's appearance begins to revert back to his post-Aogiri days, with his hair becoming white again.
"Hide's" advice made Sasaki realize that his mental constructs of "Rize" and "Hide" were all just manifestations of his inner desires and thoughts. Sasaki believed that Hide would stop him if he went beyond his own boundaries, causing Sasaki to deduce that once he began to think this way, he began to desire to live again.
When reduced to only his body and head after being beaten by Juuzou and Abara, Kaneki once again retreats into the inner recesses of his mind. His different personalities convene and discuss what went wrong and what they should've done. Eventually, his many personalities begin to argue and the situation erupts into chaos before they all realize that they have one thing in common; they need to save Touka. Upon this realization, Kaneki asks himself under the guise of his various selves if he's willing to cross the line of killing humans and children. In response, he declares that he will, and that he'll "press forward, like a centipede".
While Dragon runs rampant throughout Tokyo, Kaneki remains comatose within its recesses. In his mind, he finds himself in a shrine surrounded by an endless ocean. Upon diving in, he finds the bodies of his victims drowning beneath the waves. As he surfaces, he's greeted by "Rize", who asks him if he remembers the first time they met. While Kaneki doesn't regret meeting Rize as he's met many friends along the way, "Rize" states that she hates him as she'd never be reduced to her current state if she'd never met Kaneki at Anteiku. As he's being pulled out of Dragon, his mental world begins to collapse, and Kaneki leaves declaring that he'll try to bear the weight of his sins.
- Main article: Ken Kaneki/Synopsis
Kaneki's best friend, who he calls by his nickname, Hide, has been Kaneki's closest friend since childhood. Although Kaneki would lack the assertiveness to speak to others, Hide would often speak in his place as his "voice." Kaneki is willing to fight for his friend, and Hide is able to perceive Kaneki's emotions. The strong connection between Kaneki and Hide earns Kaneki the capability to refrain from human meat even when driven by ghoul instincts. He cares for Kaneki immensely and did not hesitate to help him even after finding out about Kaneki's transformation into a ghoul.
Before his first fight with Arima, Hide encouraged Kaneki to eat him for strength, showing how selfless he can be for his best friend. During his time as Scarecrow, he saved Sasaki's life by activating a microphone which broadcasted Sasaki's near death at the hands of Takizawa, so that aid could be sent to him.
Upon revealing himself to the CCG, Hide worked closely with Investigator Marude in order to try and free Kaneki from his Dragon form. After Kaneki was rescued from the body of Dragon, Hide and Kaneki reunited and expressed their thankfulness to each other and remained best friends for the rest of their lives.
Initially, the two maintained a neutral relationship between that of waitress and customer until his transformation into a ghoul. Kaneki had at first gone to her for help when his hunger was becoming increasingly worse, but Touka harshly rejected him after he stated he was different from "monsters" like her. She refused to show any compassion and beat him up, telling him to go and die on his own. She thought of him as a fool for his refusal to eat human meat despite being aware he was formerly human. When Kaneki joined Anteiku, Touka had little patience for his mistakes and lack of knowledge of ghoul-related affairs, much to his dismay, causing him to think of her as scary. Despite her constant annoyance with him, Touka agreed to teach him more of what living as a ghoul meant. Later, Uta told Kaneki how hard a worker Touka was and he began to think of her as less frightening.
The two then found middle ground in their care for Hinami after her mother's death. The event had triggered a desire in Kaneki to become stronger. Thereafter, she agreed to train and instruct him on how to use his kagune, slowly becoming one of the closest people to him. During this time, Kaneki developed his concern for her due to her impulsiveness and a fear that she would die without his knowing. After assisting her in avenging Ryouko's death, their relationship improved and the two began to care for Hinami together. Although Touka maintained her tough attitude towards him, she became friendlier towards him, and often worried for his safety due to his inexperience and on more than one occasion risked her own life to save him. Kaneki in turn viewed her as someone important to him and tried to put her out of harm's way. He responded aggressively to anyone who had hurt her, shown when he broke half of Ayato's bones for hurting Touka and held back from killing him as it would only hurt her more.
Upon leaving Anteiku, Kaneki stayed true to his intent to preserve her safety and protect her, shown when he refused to allow her to come with him and avoided her during the months he was away. This caused Touka to often wonder of his whereabouts and wanted to meet him again, as observed by Hinami. Their first reunion when he returned to the 20th ward concluded in an argument and Touka beating him up.
Years later as Sasaki, he visited :re and experienced a sense of déjà vu. He subconsciously remembered her, the taste of her coffee had brought him to tears and he thought she was very beautiful. From then, Sasaki developed an infatuation for Touka — he often thought of her and visited :re on multiple occasions. She noted that at the time, he looked at her with the same gaze he looked at Rize with in the past. Nonetheless, Touka believed it was best for Sasaki to not remember who he was, but she agreed that if his memories returned, he was welcome in :re.
After regaining his memories, Kaneki met Touka in Cochlea during the Kirishima's fight with Arima. He originally planned to die at the hands of Arima, however he was brought to tears once again when she told him she would see him later, a cruel act in his mind. After the Cochlea raid, Kaneki initially reverted back to his post-Aogiri treatment towards her, continuing his distance from her. After a month, they finally conversed in a friendly manner in :re, though not ending well, they agreed to have the same ideals towards ghouls and humans' interactions. After Goat was formed, he repeatedly excluded her from combat and operations of the organization, much to her disappointment and confusion. Following the Clown Siege, during another private talk, she asked about this and his virginity — causing him some obvious nervousness and discomfort. Together, they discovered their fears of losing the other were mutual. And in the conversation she mentioned the look he gave her as Sasaki, a look that embarrassed Kaneki but one that Touka admitted made her happy, indicating her romantic feelings for him. Afterward, he acknowledged her by asking her to go with him to a Goat meeting.
Successfully escaping an ambush, Kaneki and Touka took shelter in an abandoned building and consummated their relationship after a kiss, officially becoming lovers. As a memento of her, he received her parent's ring, one that served as a source of strength for her during difficult times. Realizing he truly loved Touka the two became more and more intimate. Kaneki then asked her to marry him in a ghoul ceremony after she revealed she was pregnant with his child.
After being dismembered by Suzuya and Hanbee and cornered by the Oggai, Kaneki started to hallucinate — the multiple personalities of him clashing over the various choices that caused his defeat and he was close to completely giving up. However, when one of them pointed out that they would never see Touka again, all of them came into an agreement to continue to fight for survival in order to see her again, showing how important Touka had become in Kaneki's mind.
Touka, after Kaneki's position in the Dragon was revealed, risked her life by clawing into the surface of Dragon, and after an intense struggle, recovered him from Dragon's body. The two embraced after Kaneki awoke in a hospital. During the epilogue, both happily continue their marriage, taking care of their daughter Ichika, with another child on the way.
When they meet at Anteiku, Kaneki's first impression of Tsukiyama is that he looks like a model. Even though the others try to convince him that Tsukiyama is bad news, Kaneki still thinks that he seems like a person who he can trust. He goes along with him to have coffee, then plays a game of squash with him without realizing that Tsukiyama is priming him as a meal. After Tsukiyama's plot is exposed, he feels betrayed by him and becomes wary of him.
After escaping from the Aogiri hideout, Kaneki accepts him into his group, believing that Tsukiyama would make for a powerful ally. His advanced strength makes him stronger than Tsukiyama, so he uses that to threaten him into knowing his place. He is still aware that Tsukiyama wishes to eat him even if he tries to hide it, but Kaneki never shows concern for his own safety, trusting that his strength will intimidate Tsukiyama and keep him in check. In order to prepare himself for upcoming confrontations, he asks Tsukiyama to help him train and develops a tentatively friendly relationship with him, though he is always careful to maintain his distance. He would later see Tsukiyama as a friend, recognizing the latter's attempt to kill him during the Owl Suppression Operation was Tsukiyama trying to protect him.
In :re as Haise, he meets Tsukiyama in a fragile and sickly state, as he has starved and isolated himself after Kaneki's disappearance. He does not remember him, although meeting him a few times. Later he asks Tsukiyama to tell him everything about his past as he could not stand avoiding "fate" anymore, having figured that he was one of Kaneki's friends. During the Tsukiyama Operation, he was reluctant to fight Tsukiyama and hesitated killing him when his inner "Kaneki" repeatedly yells at him not to do it. Shortly after his reawakening, he stabs Tsukiyama in the chest, in order for him to appear seriously wounded and in danger of dying. When Ui arrives at the scene, he decides to give Shuu a chance to escape or die by hurling him off the building, glancing at Kanae in order for her to go save him. Through this, it can be assumed he still holds some regard for Tsukiyama as an individual, but not enough as to actually care about what happens to him ultimately. It is implied further by Chie Hori that Kaneki does seem to still care about him, as she stated that if he really wanted to kill Tsukiyama, he would have done it already.
When Kaneki defects from the CCG and forms Goat, Tsukiyama joins him at his side as his best friend and right-hand man. Tsukiyama is both the financial benefactor of Goat as well as one of Kaneki's most trusted advisors. He was responsible for helping Goat defend Tokyo from the Clowns as well as providing the materials necessary to rescue Kaneki from Dragon. He was one of the only individuals who cared about Kaneki's happiness in the vast organization of Goat, him bringing up how unhappy Kaneki must have been as Dragon, as he was unable to read, enjoy coffee, or hold his child in that state.
Kaneki looks up to Yoshimura, and is grateful to him helping him survive being a ghoul. Yoshimura acts as a mentor to Kaneki. He would often provide Kaneki with information regarding the ghoul world and assists in his development. In turn, Kaneki diligently serves and runs errands for him at Anteiku. He provides advice to Kaneki when the latter faces a crisis, and told Kaneki the truth about the One-Eyed Owl when Kaneki inquired him about it. He believes in Kaneki to the extent that he entrusted Kaneki with saving his daughter. When Kaneki heard that the CCG was going to attack Anteiku he immediately decided to go despite the overwhelming number of CCG forces. Even while he was critically wounded by Amon, Kaneki forced himself to go save the manager.
Four years later, Kaneki still has not forgotten his last meeting and talk with the manager, hinting at the importance Yoshimura held for him as an individual. He even remembers Yoshimura's last wish, even though he sees no reason to fulfill it whatsoever.
Initially, Yomo is distant and indifferent towards him when Kaneki first cooperates with him in a body scavenging mission. However, he grew interested in Kaneki's development after Kaneki's fight with the Doves. He provides guidance to Kaneki, teaching him how to fight and offers him advice in times where he is conflicted. Yomo played a crucial role in Kaneki's decision to return to Anteiku, reassuring the latter of his own strength. Yomo trusted him enough to detail some events of Yoshimura's past to him.
Kaneki has a relationship with Koma as colleagues, with Koma ocassionally mentoring him in making coffee and parts of the ghoul world. Kaneki also feels most relaxed working with Koma than working with any other members from Anteiku. When leaving on an expedition, Kaneki trusts him and Irimi to defend the last remaining base of Goat.
At the beginning, Nishiki starts enmity toward Kaneki just because he thought that Kaneki was invading his feeding ground, and as the way he shows his strength to weaker ghouls.
After helping him rescue his girlfriend in the Gourmet Arc, he became more of a close friend to Kaneki. When he was taken by Aogiri, Nishiki showed concern for his well-being and wanted to rescue him.
When they met again as enemies in :re, Haise subconsciously recognized him when his mask fell off, triggering an outburst as he temporarily lost control of his kagune, indicating that Nishio was an acquaintance of his former self. Their encounter sparked the mental struggle for dominance between Sasaki and his former self and has caused Sasaki to reflect on his position at the CCG.
Upon Kaneki's defection from the CCG, Nishiki joins him in forming Goat and acts as one of his closest friends and allies. Kaneki trusted him enough to bring him along on a scavenging expedition that was supposed to provide food for all of Goat for a long duration of time.
Hinami looks up to Kaneki as a big brother. She is aware and interested in his half-human nature as she had few or no interactions with human society. They both share a passion for reading, especially Sen Takatsuki's works, and he often tutors her in new vocabulary to learn. After her mother's death, both Touka and Kaneki have been very protective of her and treat each other like family.
Alongside Banjou and Tsukiyama, she joins Kaneki's group of ghouls. While he often goes on his missions, he still manages to smile and be there for her when he is around, even accompanying her to places such as Sen Takatsuki's book signing.
As Sasaki, he showed concern for Hinami's safety when he learned she was acquainted with his past, and he asked her to leave while she was protecting him to prevent her from being hurt any further by Takizawa. Haise also managed to convince Arima to let her be taken captive instead of eliminated on the spot, showing that he still cares for Hinami. After her capture, he shows her the same kindness he did in the past by bringing her books and asking about her condition. While he tells her that he is not the same man she knew in the past, he admits to himself that he is growing attached to her, which troubles him greatly.
After the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation, Sasaki seems to have become distant towards Hinami as he has not visited nor talked to her during the six months since the end of the operation. This leaves Hinami in a depressed state as her execution is coming close. However, this was a ruse as later he betrays the CCG in order to save her.
Banjou considered Kaneki as a close fellow during their attempt to escape the Aogiri hideout. After Kaneki defeats Yamori and makes his resolve to protect everyone, Banjou gratefully, and grasped by Kaneki's strength, decides to become his follower. They become close friends during their time together, often sparring with each other and going together on trips and missions. Kaneki also helps Banjou improve his reading comprehension. When Kaneki decides to return to Anteiku he states that he hopes Banjou will come with him.
Rize was attracted to Kaneki because of his delicious appearance and himself. Both of them shared many interests. After their date, Rize tried to hunt him down, but failed. At the end, she supposedly died and he, heavily injured, was taken to a hospital, where Dr. Kanou decided to transplant her organs into him.
In Kaneki's mind, during his time locked in Yamori's hobby room, she appeared before him. They had a sensitive conversation about his past and personality. He attributes her to his ghoul side, as she was the cause of him. Although she was a figment of Kaneki's imagination, she supported him and strengthened his resolve.
A hallucination of Rize appears to Kaneki earlier in the anime, representing the subconsciousness of Kaneki's ghoul half. She usually haunts Kaneki when he is hungry and needs to eat human meat.
Kaneki was shocked to learn Rize was still alive in Kanou's lab as an experiment during the lab raid. Later, while contemplating his previous ideals, he visits Rize in Yomo's place. Seeing the once strong ghoul in a starving weakened state made him question his own motives for gaining more power.
The two met again during Kaneki's fight with Nimura Furuta, as the latter called her "his precious dragon". After Kaneki defeated Furuta, he climbed the body of the Dragon until he reached its core, fighting off huge mouthed kagune with hair that resembles Rize's. It's revealed that Rize has somehow merged with the Dragon, and appears in front of him with white hair. With a tear rolling down his cheek, Kaneki kills Rize to end the Dragon's rampage.
Their initial meeting left a strong impression on both, and they serve as foils to each other in the story. It was because of Amon's passionate speech that Kaneki first began to realize the futility of the endless cycle of revenge trapping humans and ghouls, and determined that his half-breed nature gave him unique insight into both points of view. He has great respect for Amon, and in their final meeting he asked the investigator to allow him to pass — something he knew would not happen. Before they fought, he asked for his long-time rival's name and wished for him to survive the battle. Amon shared this sentiment, desperate to learn the story of the strange ghoul that spared his life.
Years after the Owl Suppression Operation, Sasaki, after finding Amon reports about his past self, sees "Kaneki" in his mind weeping because of the belief that he killed Amon. Later, however, they meet again in the CCG Laboratory. Of all the investigators he fought before becoming Sasaki, Kaneki believes Amon to be the only one who actually acknowledged him as a person rather than a ghoul, and was angry at what the CCG had done to the former ghoul investigator.
Upon their reunion after Amon's rescue from the CCG, Kaneki and Amon share an amicable relationship, the two being kindred spirits.
Yamori saw Kaneki as a good "toy" for his hobby of torturing. He saw him as a weak morally-guided boy and made use of his powerful regenerative ability to satisfy his sadistic pleasures. Ironically, Yamori, who initially believed he had weakened Kaneki, was then overpowered and defeated by him, being the catalyst for his transformation.
Yamori became a figment that constantly harassed Kaneki in his own mind. In :re, Kaneki admits to Naki that he views Yamori as a symbol of his own strength and, in a way, is thankful for having the encounter he did with him.
Kaneki initially looked up to his mother, believing she was a hard worker who never failed to help others. He always tried to be a kind person like her, even after her death from overwork. After being tortured by Yamori and influenced by Rize's manifestation, Kaneki blamed his mother for choosing to financially support her sister — resulting in her death from overwork. He viewed this action as abandoning him, choosing his aunt rather than himself. Kaneki also saw his mother's actions as those of selfishness and cowardice. He realized that both of them tried to help and protect others just because they both did not want to be alone.
In :re, the truth was that Kaneki's mother had physically abused him. The trauma caused him to warp his memory so he believed her to be nothing but a gentle woman, whom in reality, never did love and he viewed her as a "maggot."
Uta helped him in making his mask. Seeing Kaneki as one of his valued customers, Uta aided Anteiku in rescuing Kaneki from Aogiri Tree. He is fond of Kaneki, and shares both advice and stories of his past with him. Despite Uta's hedonistic nature, along with implications that he enjoyed Kaneki's suffering, he does care about Kaneki. Uta mentions that during their "encounter" in the Auction Raid, he noticed that he has not changed and that he is still a valued customer of his.
In Tokyo Ghoul, though their interactions were minimal, Hori will always bring information to him at Tsukiyama's request. He described her as a reliable person.
In Photography, Hori negotiated with Kaneki that she would work for his team as an informant provided that Kaneki makes all his requests through Tsukiyama. She is fully aware of Tsukiyama's obsession with Kaneki and therefore utilizes her connection with his group to protect herself from being eaten and influence Tsukiyama to listen to any of her requests.
During their initial encounter, Kaneki was both frightened by and fascinated by the legendary investigator. He suffered a brutal defeat, resulting in his subsequent capture by the CCG and loss of identity. Arima was given "ownership rights" over him and was allowed to select a new identity.
As Haise Sasaki, they had a close bond as teacher and student. Haise highly respected and admired Arima to the point he felt that it would be impossible for him to ever surpass his teacher. Akira suggested that Arima had a parental love for him, indicating the especially strong bond between them. This was later confirmed, with Sasaki even referring to Arima as his "father" — the person who saved him and helped him create a new life. They shared a love of reading, resulting in their loaning books between each other. Sasaki also inherited a quinque which Arima used as a teenager, Yukimura 1/3.
Even after regaining his memories and eventually facing Arima in battle, Kaneki still thought of Arima as his father. He mourned the older investigator's death in anguish as Arima died in his arms. Eto later told him that she and Arima had been purposely "raising" Kaneki, in the hopes they would create a ghoul that would be able to kill him, and become the hope of the ghouls.
Akira served as his mentor, responsible for training him in the field and helping shape him as an investigator. He has great respect for her, and over the years of working together they have established a strong friendship. When out of the office, he enjoys teasing her with his puns and she responds to them with playful annoyance. However, as his superior she can be harsh to the point of giving him a "Mado Punch" to the stomach to correct his behavior. She warns him that he is too naive, and that his showing mercy towards ghouls will result in his downfall. As her subordinate, he works hard to meet her expectations and describes her as an excellent superior. She is also shown to be someone charged with keeping him under control, as he requests that she be notified prior to using his powers. Because of this, he jokingly refers to her as his "mother," something she does not seem to appreciate much.
After Sasaki left the Q-squad, it is unknown whether he and Akira had kept in touch. He does however, still care for her. While she was recuperating he was deeply hurt to see her in her grave state, and contacted an unknown organization to put her under normal medical care at the risk of revealing their location or ambushed.
Upon Akira's recovery, their relationship is strained when she learns that not only did Kaneki defect, but he was also responsible for Arima's death.
Among the Quinx, they have the closest bond and work together on the Torso case after the team becomes splintered. He treats Mutsuki with respect, but also behaves in a somewhat motherly fashion towards him. After Dr. Shiba expressed concern over the young investigator's health, Sasaki made a point to cook him dinner with plenty of meat and lectured him about needing to strengthen his body. In turn, Mutsuki has great admiration for his mentor and is quick to offer praise or reassurances. If the Quinx team is a family, it could be said that Mutsuki is the good child that always respects and listens to Sasaki.
When Mutsuki goes missing, the colder, merciless Sasaki asks Urie to save him, showing that he still cares about him.
Even after Mutsuki ambushes Kaneki at :re, assists Furuta in destroying Goat, and attacks Touka while she's pregnant, Kaneki still cares for Mutsuki, displaying no hatred for him.
During Urie's time as the squad leader, their professional and personal relationship is tense, as Urie is prone to challenging Sasaki's leadership on all fronts. He frequently acts on his own without bothering to consult the rest of the team, leaving Sasaki in the dark about things and deeply frustrated as a result. When the team becomes fractured as a result of Urie's manipulation, Sasaki calls him a brat and swears to teach him a lesson. Even so, he acknowledges that his troublesome subordinate is highly-skilled with exceptional intuition. That he refuses to cooperate with others, and so frequently criticizes him in front of others, is a great source of frustration for Sasaki. After the Auction Raid, their relationship seems to have improved. Urie shows more trust in Sasaki's decisions and even comes to him to train. However, during the Tsukiyama Operation, he was about to tell him off for not being there for Shirazu, only for Sasaki to immediately lash out and turn the blame on him for not being strong enough.
Even after he left the Q-squad, Sasaki still cares for Urie as the latter was the only one he met and personally requests him to save Mutsuki, while showing a kind smile. It is also noted that Urie was the only one of the first Q-squad who Sasaki conversed with before defecting from the CCG.
When Kaneki was trapped within Dragon, Urie was among those who were responsible for digging him out of Dragon's body. Later, when Kaneki asks to see the havoc he's wrought, Urie volunteers to accompany him under the pretense of making sure he doesn't go on another rampage. As they are walking, Urie and Kaneki openly talk to one another, signifying that there's no bad blood between them. When they are cornered by some of Dragon's golems, Urie is the first to offer himself as a decoy while Kaneki and Saiko retreat.
Like Urie, Shirazu was prone to disregarding orders and doing whatever he wanted. Sasaki was frustrated by this inability to control his team, and confused when Shirazu argued with him before storming out. He remained unaware of Shirazu being poisoned against him, but this did not last long. After saving his team from Serpent, their relationship vastly improved. He recognized Shirazu's ability to consider his surroundings and prioritize his comrades, having faith in his potential as a leader. To this end, he made Shirazu the new squad leader and encouraged him to excel. He also helped Shirazu in dealing with his guilt over killing Nutcracker. After his death, Sasaki mourned him together with his remaining squad mates.
They have a very close, familial sort of relationship. He feels great sympathy for her situation and admits to going easy on her as a result even when her actions cause problems for the team. He acts as a surrogate parent to her, affectionately referred to as "Maman." (French for "mom") They have a warm and intimate bond, as evidenced by her cuddling with him and asking him to clean her ears. Sasaki is protective of her and often tries to keep her out of battles despite their jobs as ghoul investigators. However, he is aware of her destructive power in battle and brings her along on missions where it is needed.
After Sasaki regained his memories and left the Q-squad, their relationship is now implied to be distant. However, it is also implied he still cares for her. When Kaneki defects from the CCG and is declared a terrorist, Saiko states that she'd rather defect as well than hunt him down.
Saiko is among those who first volunteer to collaborate with the ghouls in freeing Kaneki. She assists Touka and the rest of the Q's in fighting off Dragon's defenses while Touka rescues Kaneki. As he lays in a coma, Saiko stays at his side, staying there until she eventually falls asleep. Upon his awakening, she cries tears of joy and the two embrace.
Their professional relationship was strained, with the other investigator not even bothering to hide his disdain for Sasaki. Though well aware of how Shimoguchi looked down on him, Sasaki treated him with politeness and professionalism. Shimoguchi however, did not hesitate to humiliate Sasaki when he got the chance. Sasaki took these actions with minimal response, doing his best to remain professional and courteous. However, when at home he expressed annoyance at the other man and looked forward to the chance to show him up. After Shimoguchi lost his squad however, Sasaki was quick to offer condolences to the man.
Donato serves as an informant and adviser, offering insight on investigations and personal advice to Sasaki. He uses the investigator's personal name, a sign of the close and cordial relationship between them. Donato even refers to him as his "friend," speaking kindly to him and wishing him well during moments of doubt. Though imprisoned for many years, Donato seems to know many secrets about his past and offers hints about Kaneki's lost memories and possible future.
As Ken Kaneki, Kaneki does not know of Juuzou. Juuzou however, apparently knew by instinct that the Eyepatch ghoul was the same person as Kaneki even though by that time Kaneki's hair had already turned white, along with the fact that he was donning his mask and Juuzou was observing him on ground running whilst on top of an Aogiri building. This is evidenced by when Juuzou sees him and attempts to remember his name (failing to do so though, as he only remembers that the name starts with a "K") while dragging Yamori's body around.
As ghoul investigators, both of them are considered unusual in their own ways, and became friendly through prior collaborations. Juuzou considers him as a friend, referring to him by his first name, and is still aware of Sasaki's true identity, as he repaid the money stolen from Kaneki's wallet long ago. Sasaki always prepares for meetings with Juuzou by hiding treats in his pockets, letting the other man frisk him as a greeting.
Even during the Goat Extermination Operation, Kaneki and Juuzou display no hate towards each other, only fighting as a result of knowing what needs to be done.
They had a hostile relationship in the past due to Kurona and Nashiro's devotion to Kanou, and had clashed on several occasions. However, they formed a team after Rushima's Operation, with Kurona following Kaneki as her leader. Kaneki did show a certain amount of affection for Kurona while they were infiltrating one of CCG's labs to save Akira.
Takizawa learns about Sasaki through Kanou and Eto, as he is "modeled" after him. As a result of being modeled after a mere test subject, which Kanou refers to as his masterpiece, he wishes to surpass Sasaki, still possessing feelings of inferiority as he did with Akira, who was ranked first, and him second. Takizawa is also aware of Sasaki's true self, even calling him by name when he hesitates. He does however, show Sasaki a little bit of acknowledgement as a leader, even stating Sasaki is a better leader than his own boss. He appeared to be willing to cooperate with Kaneki as seen with his affiliation to Goat.
Koori and Sasaki appear to have a professional relationship, knowing each other from their days in S3 squad. Ui however secretly distrusts Sasaki and is wary of both his mental state and his abilities as a ghoul.
In Tokyo Ghoul: Jail, Kaneki encounters Rio as he is searching for the ghoul called Jail, who Kaneki is also searching for. The two meet while Rio is following a lead on Jail, believing the area Kaneki is in to be his turf. Rio comes across Kaneki while he is devouring powerful ghouls in order to become stronger. Seeing that they share a common goal, Kaneki and Rio work together to find Jail. It is through Kaneki that Rio is also introduced to Anteiku.
Sasaki and Hairu used to be in the 0 Squad under Arima together. They get along as co-workers, but Sasaki did not like her violent methods on handling ghouls.
Even before becoming a ghoul, Kaneki admires Sen Takatsuki greatly, as she is his favorite horror novelist and relates himself to her works, unaware of her true identity. As Haise Sasaki, he still considers her his favorite author, but speculates she is a woman filled with despair and hatred towards the world and has completely abandoned hope long ago.
After regaining his memories, he becomes one of the few aware of her true identity and considers her as an enemy that needs to be eliminated, and seriously wounds her during the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation. In the following months, he is pursuing and investigating her to bring her down. They share a cordial relationship, even after he arrested her, and she willingly shared with him information about V, even suggesting that he record Furuta's conversation with her and later requesting that Sasaki should kill the One-Eyed King.
After meeting with Eto in Cochlea, She told Sasaki that both she and Arima had been raising him in hopes they could create a ghoul strong enough to kill Kishou Arima.
When Kaneki was hallucinating after his defeat at the hands of Arima, he remembered seeing Souta as he and Rize were being crushed by the steel beams.
They share a casual and relaxed partnership after a six month time skip, as seen when he entrusted Furuta to search for Takatsuki's house, praising his skill in organizing documents, and later requested him to play the "good cop" role. Sasaki often chimes in Furuta's joke about his boss and seems to not mind. It is unknown what he thinks of Furuta having discovered his involvement with the accident that caused him to become a ghoul or his affiliation with V or the Clowns.
After speaking to Furuta when the two both take their mantles as "Kings," Kaneki seems to have deduced more about Furuta, even concluding it was most likely beneficial for Furuta to hold power. He does however, not want him to continue having it once things have settled.
Upon being released from Dragon and confronting Furuta in the sewers, Kaneki bears him no ill will and even states that Furuta bests him in intellect and cunning. However, knowing that Furuta stands between him and protecting everyone, Kaneki declares that he'll defeat Furuta.
At the end of their final battle, Kaneki and Furuta display no animosity towards each other. When asked by Furuta if he'd laugh if Furuta told him all he wanted was to live a normal life, Kaneki smiled and said no.
As Investigators they were not seen interacting much except for a recollection where Sasaki questioned Hirako about who Arima truly was as a person. Hirako declined to answer.
After Kaneki falsified his killing of Arima, Hirako confronted him and revealed he knew that the young Ghoul had recovered his memories but he informs him that in accordance with Arima's last wishes he and Squad Zero will aid him in escaping the Cochlea and inciting a revolution. Kaneki seems to respect Hirako as he calls him a friend during the meeting before Goat's founding.
Powers and Abilities
Ghoul Physiology: After inheriting Rize Kamishiro's kakuhou, Kaneki has displayed a unique healing factor, as well as a rinkaku kagune consisting of tentacles and increased physical power. Due to the hybrid vigor, Kaneki's abilities are said to be more potent than those of a natural-born ghoul.
- Rinkaku Kagune: Kaneki's kagune is portrayed in the anime as bright red, becoming a darker shade as it neared the tips. In the Tokyo Ghoul:re anime, it has changed to a red-violet color. Kaneki initially displayed his kagune in his fight against Nishiki Nishio, possessing three tails which repeatedly impaled Nishiki before throwing him, saving him and Hide while having little control over them. After his torture, Kaneki was able to produce four tentacles in his battle with Yamori, which were capable of pinning down and overwhelming an incomplete kakuja. During the raid on Kanou's lab, Kaneki's kagune further developed into six tentacles, albeit in an unstable mental state, and while he fought Kishou Arima, Kaneki was able to manifest eight tentacles which are able to be shaped into small hands, which have an enormous range and destructive force enough to damage V14's pillars. As Haise Sasaki, he is able to control and manipulate the shape of his kagune at will, and command the tentacles to process different tasks at once. He is also noted to have a better control over his kagune than natural-born ghouls. In his fight with Karren von Rosewald and Eto Yoshimura, Sasaki was able to shape his kagune into more intricate forms, and his kagune is greatly larger, with the potency of neutralizing Owl's kakuja. After devouring Eto's kakuja, his kagune is able to form multiple eyes and mouths. Even while exhausted, he was able to manifest it fast enough that Hajime and the rest of the Oggai could not react, and was able to quickly devastate the vast majority of them. By the time of his final confrontation with Furuta, Kaneki's kagune had grown to a massive size, it's thickness dwarfing that of a human being, in addition to it's length growing as well.
- Rinkaku Kakuja: After constant cannibalization, Kaneki has developed into an incomplete kakuja. In this form, Kaneki was able to easily overwhelm Yukinori Shinohara, who wielded the Arata armor, and to fight on par with Koutarou Amon while the latter was armed with Arata proto, as well as fatally injure him by ripping his arm off. While using his kakuja, Kaneki goes into a mindless state, losing all aspects of his personality. His fighting style becomes that of a berserker, fighting without any regards to personal injury. In his last confrontation with Kishou Arima, Sasaki's kakuja was capable of completely destroying IXA and Owl, while maintaining his personality and sanity. In the fight against Suzuya and Abara both clad with Arata armors, he was still able to inflict extensive damage on both investigators, requiring Abara to execute a suicide attack in order to create an opening against Kaneki. When fighting Furuta, Kaneki's kakuja is able to turn the fight on its head and overwhelm Furuta, who only a few moments before, was beating him in a one-sided brawl, forcing him to activate his own kakuja. Kaneki's first kakuja takes the form of two large tentacles resembling centipedes and a beak-like structure on his head. His second kakuja forms a carapace covering on his whole face, and a kagune-like claw where his hand is. His third kakuja encases his upper half and forms a koukaku-like blade. The fourth version of his kakuja manifests as bulkier body armor with claws, and the carapace covering his face becomes similar to a one-eyed dragon with a fully fanged jaw. Upon being rescued from Dragon, Kaneki's kakuja takes the form of a more form-fitting body armor, with intricate designs decorating it, in addition wing-like structures on his back. He also has massive cross-shaped blades attached to them that he can swing around as close range weapons or extend long distances. In addition, he can use these as shields, their defensive power being great enough to withstand attacks from Kichimura Washuu and Dragon.
- Dragon Form: After consuming the entire Oggai squad and the nucleus embedded in Furuta's body, Kaneki undergoes a large-scale transformation where his body expands into a ever growing mass of flesh, teeth and eyes that consumes everything in its path. Eventually this mass grows to such an extent that it erupts from the underground 24th ward and overflows into the streets of Tokyo, where it consumes scores of people and destroys everything in its path. Eventually the mass assumes a centipede-like shape with an armored shell, multiple eyes and a head that vaguely resembles a dragon. At this point, its size is big enough to coil around a skyscraper. In this form, Kaneki can generate kagune tentacles that can cut through tanks and upturn portions of concrete. Its armored shell is durable enough to resist artillery fire. It can also generate lifeless husks from its body, which is apparently a trait shared with the King of the Underground at the height of his power. Among other countermeasures, Kaneki can produce golems out of his body in order to defend himself against foes while he is stationary. These golems are capable of killing investigators and ghouls alike, as well as pressure even the most experienced fighters with their large numbers.
- Superhuman Strength: As Banjou paid a visit to Anteiku, Kaneki accidentally knocked him unconscious with an elbow strike. Kaneki was able to rip a lamp post from asphalt and strike one of the Bin brothers with it. When fighting Ayato Kirishima, Kaneki forcibly smashed Ayato through multiple floors of the 11th ward building. During his sparring sessions with Banjou, Kaneki threw the ghoul around without much effort.
- Superhuman Speed: Kaneki was capable of evading Narukami's condensed projectiles, while assaulting Arima. While he engaged Yukinori Shinohara in a fight, Kaneki was traveling at immense speed, quick enough for Shinohara not being able to track his location. In his fight with Karren, Sasaki was able to maneuver and dodge her rapid kagune attacks, swiftly approaching her from behind towards the end of the motion. Sasaki has also shown the ability to parry Arima's numerous Owl attacks while facing him in Cochlea. On his way to meet with Takizawa, Ayato, and Kurona for their infiltration of the CCG laboratory, Kaneki was pursued by V agents and he managed to dodge their attacks while making his escape at the same time. In his conflict with Naki, Kaneki effortlessly dodged Naki's attempts to assault him.
- Superhuman Endurance: During his second encounter with Nishiki, Kaneki was able to endure multiple blows from the ghoul in his weakened, starving state. When he was fighting Shachi, Kaneki maintained consciousness after being smashed through the floor and walls of Kanou's Underground Laboratory. After being pierced through the abdomen by Amon, Kaneki was still able to survive and recover from his injuries, albeit through consuming parts of Hide. During his encounter with Arima at V14, Kaneki continued fighting despite his critical head injures, which would be fatal even to a ghoul. As Sasaki, he survived being pierced by Serpent's kagune, and eventually overpowered the ghoul despite being grievously wounded. Sasaki overpowered Karren von Rosewald and Eto with a severed hand, gradually using his kagune as replacement. He seemed unfazed when Kishou Arima stabbed him multiple times through the abdomen, as he also took countless severe cuts to his body in his fight with Owl and was still able to keep fighting. Even after prolonged fight against Suzuya and Abara which saw Kaneki taking critical damage, getting dismembered and losing his healing factor, he was still able to manifest his kagune and killing Hajime Hazuki and after that, slaughter the rest of the Oggai squad. Later on, Kaneki was able to withstand the onslaught of Furuta and Rize in two consecutive fights.
- Superhuman Regeneration: During his torture at the hands of Yakumo Oomori, he continously regenerated his fingers and toes for ten days. He easily recuperated from the injuries inflicted by Shachi, and recovered from a hole he received upon fighting Amon through consuming the flesh of Hide. He survives his fight with Arima, and heals his injuries, albeit with the cost of losing his memory. In :re, he recovers from being consecutively pierced by Nishiki's kagune, as well as surviving an attack from Takizawa. In his final battle with Arima, he had rapidly regenerated his many fatal wounds whilst fighting the investigator. By the end of the Dragon Arc, Kaneki was able to regenerate wounds from Furuta's kakuja, and later on heal his wounds from Dragon in rapid succession, allowing him to continue on fighting.
- Kagune Manipulation: After his confrontation with Eto, Sasaki is able to manifest his kagune as the form of his hand, controlling it willingly. During his fight with Arima, Kaneki was using his kagune as replacements for his arms and legs in order to recover more quickly to counter the investigator. He also can create complex structures involving traps and nets. He was also able to command his kagune to speak, using it to great effect against Arima as a distraction which then allowed him to shatter his quinque. He was also able to form a quinque from his kagune and use it to fight against Kichimura Washuu . In addition to forming a Rinkaku kagune, he has also been seen using his kagune to mimic the characteristics and abilities of an ukaku, bikaku, and koukaku in his fight against Dragon.
- Immense Pain Tolerance: Kaneki has always shown strong tolerance to pain, being able to continue fighting after withstanding multiple blows from Nishiki. This was heightened tremendously after Kaneki's torture at the hands of Yamori, where he managed to withstand twisting and breaking his own leg in order to land a blow on him. He later demonstrated this again against Naki, his only reaction being a faint smile. He is even able to power on through losing all of his limbs and devour the Oggai. When fighting Dragon, despite his prior battle to the death with Furuta, as well as being overwhelmed by Dragon's defenses and nearly dying, Kaneki was able to push through the pain and end the threat of Dragon.
- Expert Hand to Hand Combat: Kaneki is extremely skilled in close combat. With his four-tailed Kagune, he can easily match Yamori's attacks but soon overpowers them. This is also proven when Kaneki twists and breaks his own left leg after Yamori grabbed it to land a hard right knee strike from his right leg to knock him back. As Haise Sasaki, he was able to fight the entire Quinx squad with the exception of Urie at once during a sparring session, and later during a sparring session with Urie he proved to be heavily superior.
- Ghoulification Toxin Immunity: After being extracted from Dragon's body, Kaneki has shown an extreme resistance, if not outright immunity, to the ghoulifying toxin carried by the creatures spawned from Dragon's oviducts. It is theorized by Kimi Nishino that this is a result of the multiple new organs Kaneki has displayed since his rescue.
Swordsmanship: Using his quinque, Sasaki has been described to have movements as swift as water, being able slice through a ghoul's kagune and also use it efficiently with his own kagune. He was also able to keep up with Kichimura Washuu at the end of the dragon arc through the use of a quinque formed from his Kagune.
- Yukimura 1/3: A B-rate koukaku quinque passed down from Arima to Sasaki, having a considerably long blade which can easily slice through objects. It was shown to be able to damage Seidou Takizawa despite him being an SS+ rate ghoul.
Keen Intellect: When facing adversaries, Kaneki often used his intellect and careful planning to quickly and efficiently take out his foe. Kaneki comprehends Takatsuki's in-depth work, and also understands martial arts moves and styles just by reading about them in a book, to the point where he is able to implement them in his fights not long afterwards.
- The name "Haise" was created by combining the kanji from "coffee" and "world". The kanji used for "Ken" is the same one used for "to sharpen" i.e. sharpen one's fangs.
- "Kaneki" translates as "gold tree" while "Sasaki" translates to "Helpful Wood".
- Kaneki has a habit of touching his chin with his left hand when he is hiding something. This habit appears to be subconscious, as he still does it even after his memory loss.
- In the first character popularity poll, Kaneki was ranked first. In the latest, he was second while Haise Sasaki came third.
- Kaneki shares the same birthday with Kishou Arima.
- Kaneki likes reading, beautiful language, intellectual women, and hamburgers.
- Beginning with the Aogiri arc, Kaneki has been repeatedly associated with the number "12" in panels. This is a reference to the tarot card The Hanged Man (XII).
- Right before fighting Arima for the first time, the number seven can just be seen on his forehead meaning the chariot card which is about moving forward, determination and strength which is a theme of Kaneki moving forward despite everything(also possibly the line one thousand minus seven also ties into this). There are likely other numbers, but the one he is mostly associated with and seen the most is twelve as previoiusly mentioned, but seven seems to be the second most associated number with him.
- His quinque, Yukimura 1/3, has been used by both Kishou Arima, as a teenager, and Take Hirako, when he was partnered with Arima.
- Kaneki compares himself to Gregor Samsa, the unfortunate protagonist of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. In the sequel, he briefly discusses Kafka's A Crossbreed with Arima — another story with strong parallels to his situation.
- The sudden color changes in Kaneki's hair are caused by the suppression of his Rc cell activity which has caused temporary melanin production that causes his hair color to change.
- His surname is a reference to novelist Osamu Dazai, who was born in Kanagi (金木) and most famous for his novel No Longer Human. When they meet at the book signing, Eto briefly discusses this with him.
- The relationship between Sasaki and his mental projection of "Kaneki" is akin to his relationship with his projection of "Rize" in the past as Kaneki. "Rize" would often tempt Kaneki to give in to his ghoul self, while "Kaneki" tried to have Sasaki accept him. Both projections represent the ghoul side of himself.
- Both Kaneki and Yamori went through similar torture methods and were both completely changed from their previous selves. Yamori turned into psychotic killer who killed more for fun than to eat, while Kaneki became cold and ruthless, but retained his desire to protect his friends.
- In Tokyo Ghoul Trump, Kaneki and Sasaki are each featured as the "Ace of Hearts" and Kaneki is also featured on the "Queen of Hearts" card alongside Rize. In a redistributed version, he is also featured as a "White Joker."
- In the anime, Kaneki joined Aogiri at the beginning of the second season, which differs greatly from the manga in which Kaneki forms a group with Banjou, Hinami and some other ghouls.
- In Tokyo Ghoul √A, according to Sui Ishida's rough drafts, Tatara insisted that Kaneki eat Taguchi to prove his loyalty to Aogiri Tree. However, Noro ate her before Kaneki and Tatara had finished arguing. This scene was cut out from the finalized work.
- Because of Tooru Mutsuki, Ishida has stated that he often forgets over which eye he needs to put the eyepatch on Kaneki.
- In the official English translation of :re Volume 1, Haise Sasaki's birthday is incorrectly given as April 22nd.
- Kaneki joined Aogiri because they were the only group who posed a threat to Anteiku.
- Kaneki never actually ate Yamori. He only ate his Kagune and left him for dead, thus allowing Juuzou Suzuya to recover the dying body of Yamori and to make a Quinque of it.
- Kaneki may no longer be a ghoul after being rescued from the dragon due to people who have studied ghouls not recognising his organs. And the fact his kakuja(debatable if it is even a kakuja or a higher level above it) seems to have all four Rc cell types and can switch between them as shown right before he slays Dragon Rize. Along with his immunity to the dragon toxin from said organs which does affect artificial one eyed ghouls and quinx, his entire body apart from the head seems to be made of something similar to a kagune when first rescued.
- Kaneki's hair being white may be based on the Japanese trope in media that half demons have white hair.
- Kaneki's appearance resembles the character Hiroto from Sui Ishida's previous work from the Penisman manga. He has black hair which then became white and an eyepatch.
- Kaneki, like Eto, resembles a character from the Japanese horror visual novel Saya No Uta. Fuminori and Kaneki both have had their sense of taste altered by an accident and eventually change to begin eating humans. The hair colour(black) and the fact that his black reaper persona somewhat visually and emotionally resemble him. It is a likely inspiration considering said horror constantly deals with flesh a lot(also both Fuminori and Kaneki are both main characters).
- Fans tend to compare him to Alex Mercer a lot, considering his flesh tendril based abilities, black hair and hoodie are all possible inspirations.
- People also compare him to Parasyte's protagonist Shinichi due to his black hair and becoming less human, as it is also a dark story that questions humanity also another likely inspiration.
- To himself: "I'm not the protagonist of a novel or anything. I’m just a college student who likes to read, like you could find anywhere. But... if, for argument’s sake, you were to write a story with me in the lead role, it would certainly be... a tragedy."
- To Touka (desperately clinging to his human self): "Why... Why am I doing this? I-I was wrong to eat that meat after all. That was what I thought, and I desperately looked for another way. Even so, this is not what I want. This is not the way! H-Human meat... there is no way I can eat it. How can I possibly eat it, because, I'm human! I'm different from you monsters!"
- To himself: "In exchange for the pleasure of living as a person that ghouls can have... we receive this instead. We're overwhelmed by our appetites. I understand the feeling of sinking into pleasure. In some ways, it's only natural that... some ghouls like Rize-san exist. However... I'm not going to lose sight of myself. That's my way of fighting."
- To Nishiki (about human and ghoul relations): "I know... there are ghouls who only see humans as targets to be preyed upon — and on the other hand, there are humans who have decided that ghouls are only inhuman monsters... But I don't think either of those are correct. I think what's necessary is the 'right distance.' Instead of mutually tramping on each others' existence we should just respect each other a little more."
- To Rize (in his hallucination): "I won't let that happen. Not just Aogiri, anyone who dares to take away my place to be. I won’t forgive anyone who threatens the peace in my life. It’s just like hand-picking coffee beans. For the sake of a good cup of coffee, we pluck out the ones that are trash."
- To himself (while cannibalizing Kanou's failed experiments): "In this world, the strong devour the weak. Who are the strong? I am. I fucking am!"
- To himself: "Mother, mother, heey~ I'm distorted. Me? Me? Mememe. Because I'm going to protect everyone..."
- To himself in a lucid state in Tokyo Ghoul √A: "M-my fingers... on the plier... C-centipedes... i-in my ears... [laughs] A thousand minus... A-A thousand minus... s-seven... seven is what...?"
Tokyo Ghoul: Days
- To Hide: "Cain used to be seen as evil, you know. Well, I mean, he can be understood as being 'evil' now, too. But if you just think about Cain, you can kind of see that he had to do what he did to be able to carry on, I think. It would've been unbearable for him, you know?"
- To himself (internally): "I want to be a bridge, telling ghouls how people feel and letting people know what ghouls think and feel. Because there's nothing but hatred between the two groups now, but if each had an understanding of the other, I think that could change. Even if my presence is unwanted, I still want to be involved with both humans and ghouls."
- To Touka: "Fiction books give the reader a chance to step away from their own reality and into the shoes of the characters, and they show you a world that isn't the one you already know. And sometimes the story's not so different from you own, and it lets you get closer to your own feelings. So when you close a book you've just finished reading and return to reality, all the pain and sadness you couldn't put into words before are still there on those pages. And that can be comforting."
- To himself (internally): "Sometimes you're confronted with the ugly parts of yourself that you don't want to see, but books can also tell you a lot about the things you didn't notice when you're just trying to get through somehow."
- To Haise (in a dream): "That excellence right now is a nuisance. That's right. Donato has to keep proving himself. He wants to prove just how valuable he is. Isn't that the case with you as well? Because you are the same as Donato. All you're doing is indulging in this twisted self-value that you have to yourself. And if you don't, you won't last. Eventually, you will break and become useless. Once that happens, you'll break and become discarded. Right, Haise?"
- To himself: "I... might die today. No... to be correct... it's either I die, or I disappear. There's only two options. The power I need to deal with him... is way too much... if I have to resort to him... I will... disappear."
- To Akira: "Why, why are you hiding it?! Is... Is it because I'm the Eyepatch ghoul? Is it because I was the one who killed Amon Koutarou? The fear of waking up and knowing nothing. Do you know what that's like? How I can only cling onto what's given to me... How I don't even know my own parents... Where did I even come from...? I... I... Who am I? I'm not Haise!! I am... I am..."
- To Eto: "Actually, I wonder... Why do I have to save trash like you?"
- To Urie: "All losses in this world are due to a lack of ability. If you want to curse something, curse your own weakness."
- To Hide in his thoughts: "...Hide. I... just like you, I want to give my life for someone else (I want to die in style)."
- To Hide (in his mind): "Hide... You know... I... I'm so lonely without you..."
- To himself (accepting himself): "Black and blue, turning and over-turning the things I'd chosen countless times, forever repeating the same actions... Ungainly. Awkward. Indecisive. Weak. Endlessly useless. That is what I am."
- To himself: "At Death's door, I finally stumbled upon the twisted truth. Rize, Hide, it was always all inside me, after all. They were nothing but an extension of myself. The people I want to meet. The things I want to be told. 'Hide'll stop me for sure.' As soon as I began to think that somewhere inside me, I myself began wishing for it. Wishing that I'd live."
- To Kiyoko and Mougan: "I am the One-Eyed King."
- To the ghouls: "I will carry on the last wish of the previous King, and create a world where ghouls and humans can understand each other."
- To the ghouls: "'Ghouls are to be exterminated.' 'In order to live, we must kill and eat humans.' The reason our mutually destructive relationship has never changed is because we have never, together, made an attempt to [make] even the smallest step forward. Ghouls and humans can understand each other... The fact that I, who was once a human, stand here before you is proof enough."
- To Amon: "It's because we're the same. Isolated from society, able to consume a few specific things... They remind me of myself. I really believed I was a kind hearted human, but... I was mistaken. There were a few humans that were important to me, but I couldn't care less about the majority of them. I don't care about taking the side of those I cannot see. I fight for those close to me. And it just so happens that they're mostly ghouls."
- To Shinsanpei: I'm not that much of a pushover, greenhorn."
- To himself: "I won't pull back, I will press forward, like a centipede."
- To Furuta: "Furuta, I was the sort of human you'd find anywhere. The kind that just loves reading. But on that fateful day with Rize, I was sundered from the human world. And everything began to change. My life was threatened. I was horrifically tortured, unable to achieve what I wanted, I even lost. But I found a new place I belonged. Allies. Friends. People I could call my teachers. People I love. and even though I have erred so much, and hurt so many, I simply don't believe that it was all for naught. And that's why even if I were to know everything that'd happen after, I still would have gone to meet Rize that day. To me, all of it was necessary. This world... This world isn't wrong. It just is. And even if "eventually" everything will come to naught, I'll still strive like I did today, Furuta."
- To himself: "If, lets say, you were to write a story with me as the main character, it would certainly be a tragedy. No. Everyone’s the same, in fact. He’s the main character of his novel, and she’s the main character of her movie. All those that walk this earth are the main characters of their own tragedies. All steal, and from all, something is stolen. We can’t help it. That’s who we are. Steal, and be stolen. Imprison, and be imprisoned. Follow, and be followed. Do, and be done. Affirm and negate over and over. We fight ceaselessly to save ourselves from loss. And yet the people and places we love will one day surely be lost. We will all surely be forgotten. Life is sad. Empty. But, despite knowing we will one day be bereft, despite knowing we will one day disappear, we still strive in wretched ways. We still wish to be beautiful. And I consider. “Which one?” I choose. “This one.” Forever choosing, forever being chosen. Nothing more. Nothing less."