Tokyo Ghoul ReviewAmy Hazel
In a world not so different from our own, there are creatures that live alongside us and appear just like any normal person. They go to work, study at school, hang out with friends and simply enjoy life just as much as the next person. Oh, but one teeny tiny detail makes them somewhat dislikable: they can only survive off human flesh. How unfortunate. In this world, it can be hard to differentiate between regular humans and these other creatures, known as Ghouls, until it is too late; and it is for this reason that the police do their very best to protect the public, in particular a group known as the CCG an elite ghoul investigation agency. The difference between good and evil is often just a matter of perspective. What if the ghouls are not really the horrible creatures they have been made out to be? But what if they are? Welcome to Tokyo Ghoul.
Tokyo Ghoul (season one) is an anime adaption of the original manga written by Sui Ishida. It follows the main protagonist Ken Kaneki, who is forced to leave his normal college life behind after a horrifying accident that resulted in him becoming a rare one-eyed ghoul. Normally people are either human or ghoul; but to save his life after the accident, doctors transplanted ghoul organs into Kaneki which placed him in the predicament he is now in.
The first few episodes do a great job of pulling viewers into this macabre world. Kaneki is terrified and confused, unable to consume normal human food (as it tastes horrible to ghouls) but also unwilling to eat human flesh. Nearing his wits end, he soon comes to meet an elderly ghoul who runs a coffee shop and offers to take in Kaneki; it is there that he meets Touka (also known as the rabbit by the CCG), Ryouko and her daughter Hiname, as well as many other characters both with good intentions and ill. He also must keep the fact that he is a ghoul from any and all humans including his best friend, Hide.
The rest of the series explores instances from both the human and ghoul side of things. While many of the main characters in focus are ghouls, viewers can relate that they are (for the most part) trying their best to not be the monsters they are made out to be; however, the CCG side is not necessarily an evil force either. It is a strange balance of morality in play where casualties and deaths on either side are seemingly meant to tug on our heartstrings, whether there was much character development or not. We see a family of ghouls torn apart one parent murdered by ghouls while the other is slain by humans, yet we also are given a glimpse of a ghoul and human relationship shining a small ray of hope that not everything must end in bloodshed. There are so many intriguing characters that enter the scene that it makes it all the more unfortunate that they are given so little exploration.
In essence, that is probably the root of the problem that halts this anime from the excellence it could have very easily achieved: it tried to shove more content into 12 episodes then it could ever truly be give justice to. While I have not read the manga, watching the anime has certainly put that on my list to read; almost acting like a drawn out commercial enticing me to get the full story. Dont get me wrong, the anime is not horrible and certainly had its good points, but it often left me wanting more. There were episodes that really pulled me in, ending in a cliffhanger winding up towards a huge battleonly to have the next episode begin long after the battle had been resolved and everyone was back to their normal everyday life. Without going into too much detail, the finale of the anime also played this same tune: a huge battle between the coffee shop ghouls, an enemy faction of ghouls and the police introduces brief glimpses of spectacular battles to come and then everything ends without any kind of cliffhanger or resolution (there is a season 2 that apparently picks up right where season 1 ends, but it is still not an ideal solution).
While there are certainly issues abound with character development, plot holes and the like, the anime still holds some merit. The soundtrack is exceptional from the OP and ED themes to the action intensive and heart wrenching melodies that lie within. The music does an excellent job at making whatever is occurring on screen truly reach into the souls of viewers and make them feel at least some ounce of sadness, rage or joy at what is happening to the characters they may or may not have much understanding of. Probably the most outstanding aspect lies in the art style used, particularly during the battle scenes. The fights that take place can only be described as violent bloodbaths that are not for the faint of heart. With bloodshot eyes and special abilities, the ghouls are simply fantastical to watch with their unique kagune (an organ they can manifest to use as a weapon or shield) as they maneuver and strike at their foes. Their kagune simply glows with an internal fire that stands apart from the rest of the animation and it is almost mesmerizing to watch.
In the end, Tokyo Ghoul is a supernatural horror anime that does its best to adapt an exceptionally popular manga into anime form and falls slightly short of its goal. The basic premise, art style and music of the series still make it enjoyable to watch, but it will leave you wanting more which is both good and bad. If you do decide to give this one a try, I would highly recommend watching it on DVD/Blu-ray, as streaming has some pretty horrific displays of censorship particularly during the spectacular fight scenes.
Now, the only thing that is left is for you to decide: Ghouls need to kill to survive and humans have a right to protect their own. Which side are you on?
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Just a happy-go-lucky girl working in the gaming industry and spending nearly all her spare time writing, recording music, working on cosplay, watching anime and horror movies, and trying not to obsess over getting that 100% completion rating on every game she touches.
About the Author: Amy Hazel
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