Ken Kaneki is probably one of the most tragic characters in anime history. After going through so much and developing his character over time, Kaneki quickly became a popular character who took a sudden turn after the Owl Suppression Operation arc.
Kaneki was no longer Kaneki but instead the cool, indifferent character Haise Sasaki.
But how did Ken Kaneki become Haise Sasaki, someone with a totally different personality? Keep on reading to find out all the answers you need!
Who Is Haise Sasaki?
Haise Sasaki is actually Ken Kaneki, our protagonist who is half ghoul and half human. Kaneki was given the name after he lost his memories.
In chapter 67 of Tokyo Ghoul – while he is being kept as a prisoner at Cochlea – Kaneki is given a whole new name and identity by Kishou Arima, the Special Class Ghoul Investigator who is also known as the CCG’s Reaper. Arima asked Kaneki to choose his two favorite Kanji characters and made the name Haise out of them.
As Kaneki’s condition improved, Arima trained him up to be a ghoul investigator but did not tell Kaneki who he really was. Instead, Kaneki went by the name Haise Sasaki and went on to be the mentor of the Quinx Squad.
So how did Kaneki fall so low? What happened to him to make him forget who he was?
The reason why Kaneki lost his memories was originally thought to be because of an injury he suffered in the Owl Extermination Operation.
After Kaneki passes out and Hide is nowhere to be found, Kaneki wanders while trying to find his friend until he runs into Kishou Arima in a field full of ghoul corpses. Kaneki and Arima begin to battle and during which, Arima manages to defeat Kaneki.
Arima managed to defeat Kaneki by piercing Kaneki through the body with Ixa, a koukaku-type quinque that could easily pierce a ghoul’s body. Arima then stabbed Kaneki in his eye and through his skull.
This injury to the head was what was originally thought to have caused Kaneki’s amnesia. The damage done to his brain would have been enough for him to forget who he was, but it was not actually this serious head injury that was to blame.
In fact, Kaneki himself was to blame as he forcefully tried to suppress his own memories.
This is hinted at in chapter 67 itself as when Kaneki is imprisoned in Cochlea as Prisoner Number 240, he asks to be released from the detention ward so that he could go and rescue the others – meaning his friends at Anteiku.
What tipped Kaneki over the edge and made him want to lose his memories was when Arima tells Kaneki that he killed all of Kaneki’s friends.
This is when Kaneki’s mental state begins to head downhill. He picked at his eyes until his wounds festered, refused to eat or drink, and cried through the night. He even clawed at the doors so much that his fingernails came off and screamed to be let out of his cell. He was expected to die but Kaneki began to suffer from amnesia.
After forgetting who he was, Arima then began to bring Kaneki books which greatly improved his mental state.
It is after this that Arima gave Kaneki the new identity of Haise Sasaki, after the kanjis from the words ‘coffee’ and ‘world’.
Why Did Kaneki Suppress His Memories?
After thinking that all of his friends were dead by Arima’s hand, Kaneki’s mental state rapidly deteriorated.
During this time, he began subconsciously suppressing his own memories of his friends to try and numb the pain of losing them. This was how Kaneki tried to deal with the grief that overcame him.
However, in doing so, Kaneki began to suppress his other memories and then his identity until finally, he could not remember who he was at all.
It must be said that Kaneki did not forget himself on purpose. His amnesia was entirely subconscious and was the product of a great amount of stress and grief.
However, it could be said that Kaneki did not forget everything. Hints of his true self still prevailed, such as his favorite kanji from the word ‘coffee’.
Coffee helps sustain a ghoul’s hunger, which is why Kaneki often drank coffee. Plus, Kaneki worked at the Anteiku coffee house as a part-time waiter. So, the fact that coffee is one of Kaneki’s favorite words could be a hint to himself that coffee is an important part of his life.
It could be that this is a part of Kaneki’s repressed memories trying to break through – by making him aware that coffee is somehow important to him.
Did Kaneki Regain His Memories?
Kaneki remained under the identity of Haise Sasaki for a long time.
He does regain his memories eventually after yearning to learn more about his past for a long time, and finally recovers them during the CCG raid on the Tsukiyama family.
In this two-pronged attack, Haise Sasaki finds himself battling a servant named Kanae.
This turned out to be a ploy to let Shu escape and while Haise was in battle with Kanae, the one eyed owl Eto appeared and watched the fight. At this point, Haise begins to phase out and Kaneki takes over instead.
The change in character is obvious – Haise goes from indifferent to enraged in the blink of an eye. This means that this is the moment Kaneki returns after regaining his memories.
So – how did Ken Kaneki become Haise Sasaki?
Many fans thought that Kaneki sustained a serious head injury in his fight against Arima that resulted in his amnesia. However, it was in fact Kaneki who was suppressing his own memories to try and fight the pain that came with the grief of learning that Arima killed all his friends.
So, Kaneki did not truly have amnesia – he just repressed his memories until he eventually forgot who he was. Arima then gave him the identity of Haise Sasaki and trained him up to be a Ghoul Investigator.
And that is how Ken Kaneki became Haise Sasaki. Although he would regain his memories later, Kaneki stayed as Haise for a long time until a fight with a Tsukiyama servant brought Kaneki back.