It has been hinted and implied throughout Tokyo Ghoul (especially in TG:re) that Kishou Arima is the One Eyed King. It was later confirmed that he did lead the Aogiri Tree and give orders to both Eto Yoshimura and Tatara. But the question here is, was he really the One Eyed King who was supposed to liberate the ghouls and unite them with the humans?
Well the answer is a clear no. After much deliberation, we came to the conclusion that Arima was not the “real” One Eyed King, and was only “ACTING” as the OEK till the right candidate to lead the ghouls would come by. So calling him the first One Eyed King or saying that he “passed on” the title would be a wee bit wrong. Sure he passed on the leadership role to Ken Kaneki, but the title of One Eyed King never belonged to Arima to begin with. Before you swear at us at the top of your voice in ghoul dialect, we request you to read the following article. If you are still not convinced by our reasoning by the end, we encourage you to write your uncensored opinions in the comments sections. We shall gulp them down like a bitter pill.
We won’t give reasons like Arima was not a ghoul etc, to establish our view of him not being the real One Eyed King. Rather, the whole explanation lies hidden in the multi-layered plot of Tokyo Ghoul:re.
Arima and Eto had agreed to search for the right candidate who could unite both humans and the ghouls. But swatting mosquitoes, waiting for the right ‘Kaneki’ to appear wouldn’t surely work, would it? If the One Eyed King suddenly appears out of nowhere, there wouldn’t be much of a chance of the ghouls readily following him. And so they decided to build the legend of this character, make everyone acquainted with the name and the objective of the One Eyed King. So that one day when the right candidate comes by, they could pass on the baton to him directly.
This was one of the main reasons why the One Eyed King was shrouded in mystery till Kaneki assumed that position. The concept was possibly just a metaphor till that time, resembling the discrimination the ghouls were facing.
A throne without a king to sit upon.
Arima first encounters Eto Yoshimura when she was on a bloody rampage with her group of ghouls. When he asks what her goal was, Eto replies that she wants to give the world a factory reset. Though her views were warped, Arima liked her idea of forming a new society for humans & ghouls to co-exist. From then on they were in cahoots, especially regarding the activities of Aogiri Tree. Eto had already given birth to the idea of One Eyed King by this time.
This benefited both of them. Arima was looking for a way to get back at the V and Washuu clan (due to sunlit gardens and everything surrounding it), but he could not oppose them openly. Eto Yoshimura’s adversaries were the same as his. But she did not have the tact to take down the CCG, as going on bloody rampages was not going to cut it for the ghouls. Working together they were both able to get a step closer to their goals.
In the coming years, Arima killed a number of ghouls and set himself up as their most dreaded opponent, someone who could not be touched. At the same time, he helped the Aogiri Tree increase their clout, while making the world believe that the One Eyed King was behind the organisation. This was the two of them setting the stage for the REAL One Eyed King. Notice that, there are only rumours about the legendary character making the rounds till now. Just like a ghost.
The One Eyed King was conceived with the objective that it will become the beacon of hope for the ghouls. There is no way the CCG’s reaper, who has killed countless number of ghouls could suddenly come out and say that he will be the one leading them to their freedom. That would be plain out stupid. The Aogiri Tree and the CCG were just pawns of the overarching revolutionary plan that was in motion here. This complex and dark plan required a number of sacrifices on both sides, and was set in a way that Arima for certain will have to die at his peak at the hands of the One Eyed King. This was probably only known to Arima, Eto, Tatara and Noro.
If Kaneki had not come by, the role of the One Eyed King would have been taken up by Eto Yoshimura (and not Kishou Arima), who would have gone on to kill Arima and be the beacon of hope that the ghouls needed. Her identity as Sen Takatsuki would have helped the human crowd relate to her. This was seen when she surrendered to the CCG after releasing her final book ‘King Bileygr‘ and revealing her true identity. Her actions caused a lot of humans to sympathize with ghouls and even form ghouls rights organisations. The book also played its part in portraying CCG in a negative light.
Note that Eto only denies being the One Eyed King (chapter 61) in Tokyo Ghoul:re, way after Arima began acting as a mentor to Kaneki . He probably asked her to set the final part of the plan in motion knowing that the right candidate has been found.
Though on the surface, it seems like Arima was the first person to hold the title of the One Eyed King, it was only a farce. Their plan was to unite the subjects, create a throne room, assemble the generals by selling them hopes and in the end hand over the whole lot to the future king.
Eto and Arima were nothing more than the perfect kingmakers here. Kaneki was sure lucky to have them around, and vice versa. Thus we would like to conclude by saying that Ken Kaneki was the only One Eyed King who was ever there. Arima and Eto were the more than able wingmen (which he probably never deserved).
Now that we have said what we had in our minds, you are free to speak your mind freely too (in the forums or the comments section!!)