In modern day Tokyo, society lives in fear of Ghouls: mysterious creatures who look exactly like humans -- yet hunger insatiably for their flesh. None of this matters to Ken Kaneki, a bookish and ordinary young man, until a dark and violent encounter turns him into the first ever Ghoul-human half breed. Trapped between two worlds, Ken must survive the violent conflicts of warring Ghoul factions, while attempting to learn more about Ghoul society, his newfound powers, and the fine line between man and monster.
Notice: This review covers both seasons of this anime. Tokyo Ghoul was one of the most hyped titles of summer 2014 but it quickly proved to be far weaker than what its first episode promises. It starts off as a psychological thriller about the main character suddenly turning to a man eating monster. His freak out was done masterfully and you were made to think the rest of the show would be a constant internal struggle between his human and monster sides. Maybe he will accept it and go on a murder spree or maybe he will find a way to control it. But nope, turns out the whole thing was just an excuse to have a lobotomized main character entering a world where everything needs to be explained to him. He is just used as a plot device for lazy infodumping, a guide for the viewer to explore the society of these man eating monsters. Basically the show is not a thriller about his internal struggles at all; it is about a poorly conceived world inside a fighting shonen and the whole thing falls apart early on. Just like it happens with all shonen stories, this one too takes its material way too light in terms of exposition and way too silly in terms of unnecessarily violent scenes. You are mostly busy watching flat characters cutting people to pieces while throwing in some very simple and yet over the top reasoning for whatever is going on. Thus, not only the ghoul society is cartoonishly simplistic, but it is also presented in such an extreme way that it’s impossible to take it seriously. These ghouls are supposed to be hiding amongst humanity and praying upon it since forever, yet humanity isn’t living or acting any differently because of that. Ok, they have anti-ghoul squads but everyday people behave as they would in our world. All they do is have a few posters as warning to kids not to be going on dark alleys alone. That makes it seem like these monsters that constantly kill and eat them, are as worrisome as teaching children how to cross the street. If this show was trying to be remotely realistic, the world would be a completely different place, since humans are not at the top of the food chain and are hunted all the time as if it’s still the prehistoric times instead of a civilized modern world. It is especially laughable when they keep saying it is very hard to find the ghouls hiding amongst them because they look like people, when they know their skin is very hard. All they have to do is sting someone with a needle. If that person doesn’t bleed, voila, it’s a ghoul.The ghoul society ain’t that better either as there is no way to tell what these monsters really think or want as a whole. Some are complete maniacs who slaughter and arrange arena death duels for pure entertainment, and others behave like normal humans who coexist peacefully with them. The fact that they can have normal humans as lovers or can successfully transplant their organs to them, further proves that they are simply humans themselves who for no given reason can only eat human flesh and have superpowers. Oh, and just for the heck of it, they also drink coffee without a problem. Whatever. Thus all attempts to flesh out their society are crock; they are just people themselves, not a different species. They have so much diversity in mannerisms amongst them to the point they have no identity as a whole. They even lack reason in having their own secret society. Heck, the very fact that they can feed on corpses they find in morgues or cemeteries further proves they don’t even need to kill people; they do it for fun, and not because their instinct compels them to do it. This trashes the interesting concepts the show was setting up in the early episodes, such as the internal struggle of the protagonist, or the need to murder people in general. And the problems don’t even end there. As far as storytelling goes, the pacing is extremely fast, as the anime attempts to cover a hundred manga chapters in only a dozen episodes. Nothing lasts long enough for you to care about. Even in terms of aesthetics there is very little to hook you besides a few cinematics here and there. And even those are ruined because of the ridiculous amount of censorship. All action scenes consist mostly of white beams, black beams, and color swaps, which hide everything that is going on. The protagonist is another issue. He is a complete pussy, screaming at everything, being worthless in battle and oblivious to common knowledge. It is normal for him to be terrified for being thrown in such a situation out of nowhere but this doesn’t make him a good protagonist. In fact, he is the least interesting and capable character in the whole show, and that is why I didn’t bother to say anything about him so far. Yet, he is constantly surviving his encounters with ghouls and sticks around to piss off the viewers even further out of plain old fashioned plot convenience. Which is yet another major problem with this show. The protagonist, and anyone else who the scriptwriter deems plot relevant, are plot armored with 10 inches of titanium walls. They constantly try to make it seem like anyone can die in this show and yet several times per episode people will be jumping in out of nowhere to save plot related characters, or the characters themselves will have superpowers activating exactly when they are about to die. For a show that is constantly trying to excite you with gore or to make you think nobody in it is safe, this saps away all the tension from the battles. You know right away some characters will always be conveniently surviving in the lamest way imaginable. There is literally a scene where a super elite ghoul hunter has overpowered the good guys and out of nowhere a little defenseless girl sprouts super tentacles and wipes the floor with him. And all of that, while she was crying, had zero experience in combat, and didn’t even want to harm him. Power levels mean absolutely nothing; even if you can blow up mountains, you are still going to get killed by a little defenseless girl if you are not plot relevant. But even as so, death is still meaningless in this show since people who are dead will be magically coming back to life or be replaced by others who have the exact same character. A ghoul gets chopped to pieces? No worries, it can eat itself and heal completely. A little girl lost its parents? Nothing was lost, she gets to use their superpowers as if they are still around. There is no finality to anything; death is as meaningless as it is in Dragonball or Bleach. The biggest troll of them all is how they constantly try to make you think the protagonist is slowly learning and becomes less of a pussy. But that is a lie since every time his superpowers activate and gets angry, leads to nothing after the battle is over. Furthermore any so-called character development he gets is basically mimicking others instead of having a personality of his own. His fighting powers are not his; they are a copy of the ghoul whose organs got transplanted to him. His behavior in battle is again not his; it’s a copy of how his attackers behave, meaning he heads for childish poetic justice by treating the bad guys exactly as they treat him. That is what a spoiled 10 year old would do, not a matured character. Tokyo Ghoul is pretty much the same thing as Deadman Wonderland. Promises excitement, mystery, and internal conflicts but all it delivers after a few episodes is a gorefest regarding poorly conceived superpower battles, shallow world building, and characters that come and go as the plot demands for it. There is literally a war going on in the last episodes and you have no idea who are these people, why do they kill each other like it matters, or why would you even care if there weren’t more than 2 minutes worth of screentime dedicated on making us care about them.But wait, maybe the manga will be better. Everybody who reads it will tell you it has a far better feeling to it since the pacing is far slower and there is a far better fleshing out of its cast. Well sorry but that doesn’t improve the plot in overall, which is still poorly thought out and is constantly showing how a species lives in hiding without excusing why they don’t simply camp outside morgues and be done with it. You will be reading hundreds of chapters and you will be getting zero progress or meaning out of them. Speaking of which, there is a second season after this one, which stops following the manga and heads for its own storyline. The fans of the manga, who won’t accept how crap is the thing they worship, kept saying that the only problem the first season had was the pacing, and that everything else was perfect. This is why the second season will be a masterpiece for not being limited by the pacing of the manga. And then the second season airs and it’s even worse, for having crappy animation, barely any actual plot progression, and the protagonist becoming a badasss. Oh woah, he is now a badass, this means the show is finally great, right? Nope, it’s still shit because by now everyone is just a caricature with no face (they all wear masks). The hints of characterization the first season had are completely gone, so all you see is random faceless creatures with no personality and only a superpower to define them, fighting each other for 12 episodes with no logic or meaning. With shows such as Guyver from the 80s and Parasyte airing along with it, this becomes a complete trainwreck. Don’t waste your time with it, unless you are still in that phase when you think censored violence is better than Naruto. The only people who like it are those who think wearing a mask and killing faceless people with tentacles is depth. And yes, I just described Elfen Lied to you. Same shit, different name.
This was originally a recap on the finale (with spoilers), posted on my old anime blog. Tokyo Ghoul title screen. Welcome to Tokyo Ghoul, the show that puts a twist on the bunny girl trope. There was a good amount of hype for Tokyo Ghoul just prior to the premier episode. The manga seemed to have a faithful fan-base, the animation and characters all looked very slick. The question was, whether or not there was any substance under Ghoul’s slick exterior. At least that was the question for me. Well, was there? Undeniably yes. Well, mostly. At its heart Tokyo Ghoul is a shounen anime, and I am not a fan of fiction that caters to little boys — or big boys who wear little boy pants. I despise characters who speak in the middle of fights, I hate when characters level up, or hide their best moves for no reason except to extend fight scenes. So, what does Ghoul do differently? First, it moves really quick. Yes, the series was short at 12 episodes, but fights never last very long, so although there were some silly or downright awful segments, the show never lingered on them. It had things to do. Before I forget, what’s this series about anyway? Kaneki Ken is an academic warrior, who meets the apparent girl of his dreams, only she turns out not to be so great. He ends up becoming a “ghoul,” and learns to deal with this over the course of the series. Of course, the main character gets help, especially when he’s taken into care by the proprietor of Cafe Anteiku, a front for the peace-loving ghouls of Tokyo’s 20th ward. This, after he’s saved by the series’ main female character, Kirishima Touka. Each of Tokyo’s wards are generally ruled over by a certain group of ghouls, and as the series progresses we learn about some of the ghoul politics, as well as the ghoulbuster organization, CCG (Commision of Counter Ghoul). We watch different groups fight it out, while the ghouls of the 20th ward attempt to try to live their lives like normal people — who need to feed on human flesh once and while. There’s a lot going on in Tokyo Ghoul, and the fictionalized city is designed well as the backdrop of the show. I’ll try to actually organize some thoughts about the series, before giving my rating — all without spoilers, of course. First, the show looks really good. The characters look good, and move even better. The series was animated by Studio Pierrot, the same people who do Naruto and Bleach, but unlike those long-running series, Ghoul sort of remains top notch over its entire length, albiet a short one. The show is fairly dark, both in theme and in design. It’s also an incredibly bloody show, that featured a host of censored scenes throughout the season. The censoring took on various forms as well, from inverting the color, to darkening out portions of screen. I’ll admit that it bothered me. I understand developers want to sell more Blu-Rays, but I’m uninterested in merchandise generally and prefer to actually see the show that I’m watching. Is that too much to ask for? Have to censor a show with a mask like this. The entire production of the show was top-notch; from the voice acting, to the opening and ending sequences, etc. Think of those long running shounen series, but with a darker edge. However, I’m not really impressed by production. I like stories, and like lipstick on a pig, music and some nice fluid animation will never make up for a good story. For me at least. So how did I like the story? I enjoyed watching Kaneki’s journey, but honestly, I found him to be boring, whiny, and possibly the least interesting character on the show. Thankfully, his story recedes at times, allowing other characters to take front and center. Touka in particular, the hot-headed cafe worker, high school student, and powerful ghoul — not only gave Tokyo Ghoul some hair on its chest, but gave me ample opportunity for screenshots. Not always sunny in Tokyo. In the same way I described Ghoul as a “shounen” series, I would describe Touka as a “tsundere” type of female character. She is, but she’s a lot more. The series provides multiple instances, shows lots of examples and ultimately well-defines why she acts the way she does. Although, with only 12 episodes and a large cast of characters, many of whom seeminteresting, there’s not much depth created and most of them get glossed over. It’s sort of to be expected for an anime based on an on-going manga, but if you want to get really close to a small group of characters, this isn’t that series. I won’t spoil the actual larger story lines, but I will say that there’s a sort of underlying thread of mystery that’s woven throughout the entire series. While that mystery doesn’t actually get solved, it does tie things together in a way. Of course, if you were hoping for a self-contained story in 12 episodes, you’re shit out of luck.Tokyo Ghoul ends in dramatic cliff-hanger style, with (as of the time of this posting) an unconfirmed second season. So, let’s get to it. Overall, I liked watching this every week. The production of the show was very high. I mainly enjoyed the characters, the story kept my attention, and I thought the world building — the ghoul version of Tokyo — was built in an above satisfactory level. I’ll easily give Tokyo Ghoul a 3.5 out of 5 on my Kitsune Scale. On my rating system 2.5 is completely mediocre, so I thought fairly highly of this series. Why I recommend this series to anyone? Sure, if you like darker well-paced sort-of-shounen action with sometimes silly characters, this may be for you. Thanks for reading my Tokyo Ghoul reviews!
If you really think about it the premise of story it is not original at all. It could be exactly same with vampires. The idea of ghouls is just attempt to make an illusion of unique and new idea. There is slight, but significant difference. Ghouls eat just human flesh. They do not need their victim to be actually alive or fresh corpse. I am not an expert in biology, but I think blood decays way faster than flesh. They could eat as well corpses of naturally deceased. It does not even add any gore - for example Hellsing is very violent and bloody. This is why argument that it is more violent than vampire animes does not hold. Like if that should be an aspect of quality in the first place. This show is heavily censored for whatever reason to make from seinen manga source a shounen anime adaptation. What they were thinking!? However the first episode elevated my expectations. How will hero adapt to his transformation? This could be interesting thriller, but those expectations died out with each subsequent episode. Instead it turns to be more like family drama with random fights leading to cheesy end. Yet another shounen story of "boy wants to be a man in order to protect his loved ones" or something along those lines. There are several characters which die right away, but I couldn't care less. Everything goes just too fast. Nothing is explored in any meaningful way. Main character Kaneki is exactly the type I hate most in anime and manga. He is wuss. It would be more humane to put him out of his misery in the first episode. Rize would be much more interesting character. Maybe It is character made solely to be hated like Bella in Twilight. Until the end, where he suddenly changes from totally useless looser to OP ghoul, while he is tortured by a sadistic guy - the main villain. Main villain is just one-dimensional sadist aside from "Jason" reference there is nothing worth mentioning. Then there is Touka* who is more like opposite of Kaneki in order to attract male audience. Yet, there is nothing in particular special about her. At first she is presented as more masculine than Kaneki. Maybe that is why she stands out by side of that wuss Kaneki. Yoshimura obviously portraits mentor like character or to be more precise the Obi-Wan Kenobi, but he doesn't do much. I don't think there was a single character that in particular caught my attention. Art is average. Nothing exceptional nor wrong. I don't like the opening nor the ending, still I won't say it is bad. It is just I don't like that kind of music. So what was this anime about. The final message: "I'm not wrong! It is the world! Living means consuming others." I call this teenager bullshit wisdom. Overall this anime is a mess which doesn't make much sense and the outcome of the last episode is just there solely to hype you for the next season. *For same reason her name is romanized incorrectly in the description here on AP.
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