Hi I’m Simon and I’m back at last with a review of Tokyo Ghoul. Written by Sui Ishida, the manga ran from 2011 to 2014, together with a spin-off, Tokyo Ghoul JACK and a sequel, Tokyo Ghoul:re. Produced by studio Pierrot and directed by Shuhei Morita, the anime has 12 episodes and a second season confirmed to start airing in 2015. Just to clarify, I’ll take a look at the finished, original, Tokyo Ghoul. I won’t go into detail about any part of Tokyo Ghoul:re.
I’ll have a coffee, please.
PLOT: The earth is being plagued by a race that seems to come straight out of a horror-movie, the Ghouls. They eat only human flesh and have superhuman strength, agility and regeneration, along with an innate weapon that is unique to every ghoul. By what seems to be a strange coincidence, Kaneki Ken, a kind of frail bookworm and university student, is drawn into this world. Now he has to cope with his new circumstances, new people and the problem of what to eat.
Characters: There’s many interesting characters to be found here. They often come with equally interesting relationships, sadly, those are, for the most part, in the past, and you only find out about them through expositions and memories. Character relationships don’t develop or change much. That holds true especially in the Ghoul department. The ghoul investigators are a bit better, but there’s not much to be had here either, except for what’s going on between Amon Koutaro and Mado Akira. Those characters both start off as just another Ghoul investigator, but eventually develop into more. They are interesting because they develop in ways that you wouldn’t consider for strict personalities like those. But enough about side-characters, let’s take a look at Kaneki. He goes through many transformations and trials, making you shiver with excitement about what will come next. Ultimately though, he disappoints every single time. He starts off weak, and disappoints with an amazingly weak will. Then, he is broken and recreated as someone who can switch between stone cold killer and his old, nice self, just to disappoint again. And lastly, his mind is completely shattered and he goes nuts, just to run against the same wall over and over again. Many characters, whether they are human or ghoul, seem to, as interesting as they are, just be there as a reminder that no one side is truly evil or truly good, rather, both sides are overwhelmingly dark and cruel. At every new corner, the characters show so much potential, just to waste it and fall back into the grand but boring scheme of Ghouls vs. Humans.
Story: Just like the characters, the story had more potential than any other recent popular manga. It starts off in a crazy rollercoaster of emotion, horror, action and an exceptionally original setting. So much, in fact, that, after reading the first ten chapters or so, I went and bought the first three volumes. I’ve rarely seen an episode or read a chapter as powerful as the one where Kaneki tries to eat all kinds of food and continuing to spit it out and vomits, until he finds the soothing taste of coffee stayed the same. Sadly, the story takes a nosedive after Kaneki is taken in at the Anteiku. The explosive start made you hungry for twisted horror and action scenes, instead it feels like they teach Kaneki how to boil coffee for 50 chapters. After that, a lot of times, the story picks up speed and momentum, but it continues to waste potential, as it’s cut off every time before it can reach any kind of satisfying climax or conclusion, and that continues until it’s over. Don’t get me wrong, it was enjoyable to read and interesting as a really new kind of manga with a plot that I’ve never seen before, but as a satisfying story, it fails in my opinion. The anime falls extremely short in what it contains of the manga. It is nice to look at the characters moving, but ultimately it feels extremely slow.
An interesting concept poorly executed.
Art/Animation: The manga is unique in how it is drawn, very thick, dark and frayed lines and pictures, this effect only increases in the later chapters, but seems like the artist is getting more comfortable with it, as it gets more clear-cut where it needs to be and becomes better looking. The only real flaw I found are the surprisingly stupid looking short necks. That is something very apparent in the early chapters, which gets better, but never really vanishes. The anime looks simply stunning. It keeps the dark colours and tone of the manga despite not completely adopting the unique style. Rather, it created a similar feeling by being very dark but with beautiful and vibrant colours for eyes and kagune, making it a joy to watch.
The anime’s opening song is awesome.
My Recommendation: If you like original things, action and interesting questions raised, you don’t mind violence, sadism and crazy fights, this is for you. Despite not being what it could’ve become, Tokyo Ghoul is still an extremely enjoyable manga. If you want something similar, I recommend Attack on Titan, if you haven’t read it already. Also, Ajin, for being equally interesting and original, and Zetman for an equally dark and violent story with superior art.
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Thank you and have a nice day 🙂