Tokyo Ghoul

Title:Tokyo Ghoul
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Notables: AMAMIYA Sora
Animation - Studio Pierrot
HANAE Natsuki
R1 License - FUNimation
Ken Kaneki is a bookworm college student who meets a girl names Rize at a cafe he frequents. They're the same age and have the same interests, so they quickly become close. Little does Kaneki know that Rize is a ghoul - a kind of monster that lives by hunting and devouring human flesh. When part of her special organ - "the red child" - is transplanted into Kaneki, he becomes a ghoul himself, trapped in a warped world where humans are not the top of the food chain.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

TV anime premiered on July 3, 2014.
Animated by Studio Pierrot

[12 episodes, 25 min; based on an ongoing ↗Seinen manga with 12+ volumes since 2011.]

See series sequel: Tokyo Ghoul √A.

"東京" = Tokyo"; "喰" = "eat/drink"; "種" = "species"; "トーキョーグール" = sound pattern for "Tokyo Guru" = "Tokyo Ghoul".
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 9 9 8 6 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:2909#1552]
Tokyo Ghoul focuses on a college student named Kaneki who winds up being attacked by a ghoul and infused with said ghoul's internal organs to save his life, resulting in him becoming a half-ghoul. In this series, ghouls are somewhat like zombies in that they need to eat human flesh to sustain themselves yet retain their intelligence, have superhuman attributes, regeneration and have an organ called a kagune that they use to slay their prey or fend off against enemy ghouls. Much of the series revolves around Kaneki adjusting to his new life as a ghoul, meeting up with the residents of Anteiku and coming across enemy threats that either desire to eat him due to his unique origins or terminate ghouls all together. The series is divided up into several arcs as the series mixes focus between exploring Kaneki's developments and the world of ghouls. Tokyo Ghoul portrays the ghoul situation as an ongoing problem affecting the human populace, the residents of Anteiku desiring to still cohabit with humans despite their ghoul origins and other ghouls that clearly relish in eating human prey. There is a good amount of depth on the varying factions within the series that have their reasons for what they are doing and a number of the characters among them also get time devoted to them, with the series exploring how a number of the ghouls connected to Anteiku try living their lives normally and how those among the human ghoul hunters were affected by the more bloodythirsty ghouls.

Praises aside, the series still carries some issues that keep me from wanting to grade it higher. Kaneki's angst fits from adjusting to his lifestyle as a ghoul can be grating at points and there are some characters that are fairly shallow in their characterization compared to others like Oomori and those involved with Aogiri Tree. The final arc of the series also looks fairly rushed as the series concludes at a rather major point in the series for Kaneki's character development that leaves things in a bit of a cliffhanger with his character and the fates of all the factions involved in the conflict with Aogiri Tree were left unclear. Giving the series one final episode to properly resolve things with Aogiri Tree would have given it a more smoother stopping point for the series, though seems a bit odd for Tokyo Ghoul to stop here as its manga source material concluded fairly recently as of this review and the TV anime stops just within the middle of the manga's run. Also, do be warned this series is rather gory with graphic violent acts involving the ghoul hunters and ghouls as they kill one another or other humans. If you're not a fan of graphic violence in your anime, best not try to even watch this.

Visually, Tokyo Ghoul is one of the better looking titles I've seen for the year thus far sporting dark and subdued color tones that are a nice fit for the dark, suspenseful mood given off by the series with detailed scenery shots and character designs. Movement within the series is fluid for the most part as there weren't any noticeable instances of shortcuts or degradation of animated detail I noticed, with action scenes involving the kagune of ghouls being used making for the visual highlights of the series for me.

Overall, Tokyo Ghoul is a solid horror title offering a good deal of depth into life as a ghoul, elements to the world of the series and Kaneki coming to grips with living as one. Some aspects of its characterization are shallow or grating and it lacks a conclusive ending. But despite these gripes, the series was still an engaging watch for me throughout its 12-episode run and is worth checking out if you're a horror anime fan.

Last updated Thursday, September 18 2014. Created Thursday, September 18 2014.
Rent Stretch [series:2909#628]
(All episodes watched):

This was a show which turned out to be much better than I had initially expected. Apparently murders committed by 'ghouls'--zombie-like, man-eating freaks with extraordinary strength--have become a fairly common problem in Tokyo. This first struck me as something that would probably become yet another shallow horror anime of the sort which we have already seen countless times. I was certain that I'd be able to predict the plot fairly accurately in advance--for instance, whatever happens to Kaneki after he agrees to walk a newly met girl home won't kill him, since some time and trouble has been taken to imbue him with a little personality. But not every prediction I made (I expected Rize to turn out to be some sort of vigilante ghoul hunter) turned out to be correct, so the show had some unpredictability and originality to it. Kaneki survives a ghoul attack, but that and/or some strange surgery that was performed on him in an emergency room results in him becoming a ghoul himself (but why was what happened concealed from him, and why was he allowed to walk free from the hospital after his recovery?). I guess the strong point of the show is that Kaneki is a pretty wimpy guy who we can identify with, and now he finds himself transforming into a ghoul. He is horrified and disgusted, in a more-or-less realistic way, and anime characters acting realistically in bizarre situations is sadly rare. There is something gripping about his anguish as he struggles to resist ghoulish temptations to munch on humans. As a result, he gains some character and we can care about what happens to him. Another prediction I made which didn't come true (at least not by the end of the first season) was that he would get around the conundrum he's in--he's a ghoul (or a half-ghoul), but doesn't want to kill and eat people--by killing only ghouls and eating them. So, Tokyo Ghoul turned out to be a show which didn't take the easy and generic route to a conclusion, instead it takes a more difficult track which has the potential to be infinitely more interesting and rewarding.

What's really novel about TG is that, lo and behold, this is a show which tries to tell the story of ghouls from their side, and elicit some sympathy for them. They are not just mindless cannibals, like zombies, but are every bit as intelligent as humans. They can be anything from despicably evil to kind hearted ones who feel guilt and regret over the fact that unless they eat human flesh they will starve to death. They can feel sympathy for each other and lend each other a helping hand. Indeed, sometimes it's the humans who are the bad guys, like the freakish detective who is the spearhead of the police ghoul hunting squad and is more cruel and sadistic than many ghouls ever could be. Come to think of it, Ghouls are much more like vampires than zombies, since they are intelligent and have supernormal powers besides brute force. A secret society with a different social order is another thing this anime has in common with a typical one about vampires.

I'm not sure what to make of the scene where Kaneki almost winds up as the main course at a ghoul banquet. It seemed a little... insane in comparison with the rest of the plot so far. The aristocratic, hedonistic ghoul who is obsessed with dining is pretty weird, and I hoped he would get what he deserved; but this kind of feels like a distraction from the main plotline, namely how Kaneki will cope with his own ghoulism (like, where will he get his food?), the struggle with government persecution, and the romance between him and Ryouma (I think). Still, this is a pretty unconventional story and I have little idea where it will go. Episode six gets back on track, being about the threat posed by the anti-ghoul investigators. Other than the sadistic and despicable one, the human investigators are pretty likeable and understandable people. I wondered if the two sides would come to understand each other and will strike a deal at the end of the story--maybe letting ghouls eat unclaimed bodies from morgues, or something like that. The fact that I made guesses about how things would work out is indicative of how intriguing this show is; I wouldn't have bothered to do that in the case of a predictable and generic anime. I also wish I had some idea how ghouls got started--have they always been around, or is this some recent phenomena? Why can't they eat anything (except coffee) besides human flesh?

I thought episode eight, in which two fights rage simultaneously, was pretty cool. There was a definite message to these, about whether humans are inherently any better than ghouls. Ghouls must engage in cannibalism, but not always because they want to. It was moving, in a way. I was left wondering if any characters might have undergone an epiphany of sorts and would question the beliefs which they had previously taken for granted to be true. Needless to say, most anime don't try to take on complex and difficult issues like this. Episode nine offers an intriguing wrap-up for this arc, and among other things we learn that a certain Ghoul investigator wasn't as insane or gleefully sadistic as he had seemed.

A new, third, arc opens up in episode ten as the 'Aogiri Group', a ghoul gang, starts putting pressure on the 'good' ghouls that we are familiar with. The extreme physical violence in a scene had me a little queasy. I am uncomfortable with this turn and wonder if it will be able to measure up to the quality of the previous arc; the first arc, after all, could have been better, too. What I would really like would be to get back on the track of the investigator who met Kaneki (in hand-to-hand combat) and was surprised by what he found. Thankfully, there was a mention of this, so it seems safe to say that it hasn't been forgotten and will be expanded on sooner or later.

I'm not so happy with the way the story ended. For one thing, the explicit torture in the next-to-last and last episodes was disturbing and almost made me switch the TV off. There's a viscerally pleasing conclusion, as Kaneki turns the tables and the chief villain of the final arc gets what he deserves. But surely the story isn't finished, is it? What happens to all the other characters, like Ryouma, who have gotten so much development? Was I just imagining things when I guessed that a romance would develop between her and Kaneki? What happened in the larger battle between the Aogiri group, the police, and Anteiku? What happened to Kaneki himself? Has he lost all pretensions of humanity and gone over to the dark side now? For answers to all these questions we must wait for the second season that is in the works; as a result I felt this season had a fairly frustrating and incomplete conclusion. In general, Tokyo Ghoul seemed to me to be a show with an interesting premise (Ghouls are—or can be--people, too), but two of the three arcs seemed like unwelcome diversions from the central story, which was whether the 'good' ghouls of Anteiku could remain underground and avoid detection by the authorities, and whether Kaneki would be able to adapt and survive without giving up his humanity. I'll definitely be watching season two, but I pray that it doesn't devolve into sadism and extreme violence.

Last updated Thursday, October 23 2014. Created Friday, July 04 2014.

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