- by Shuhei Morita
- 12 episodes
- based on manga
The setting of the anime is Tokyo, a messed city where humans and inhuman creatures live together. These creatures are called ghouls and mostly live unrecognizable under the humans. They live like them, but have to eat human flesh to survive. Indeed, the story follows the life of the shy and quiet student Ken Kaneki. One day, he meets a wonderful woman called Rize. Both love reading books from the same author and this fascinates Ken. However, this meeting changes his life, because she is not the one she seems to be, meaning she is a ghoul. This is the beginning of Ken’s awful experiences in the underworld of the ghouls. Organs of the ghoul Rize are transplanted into Ken’s body after an accident. The second ghoul Ken meets is a young waitress called Touka Kirishima. She saves him in a fight with another ghoul and so the manager of (her) cafe decides to take care of Ken. Indeed, Ken has no other place to go, because he is neither a human nor a ghoul. The story goes on with Ken’s struggle to fit into the ghoul society and to hide his identity as a ghoul from his human friends.
The anime series has a fascinating concept for a plot: ‘cannibals’ who live next to ‘normal’ human beings (who have no idea about it) in the same society. Some of them live hidden but others live openly who cause the chase of them. The biggest organisation which is responsible for the chase is the CCG. These people are trained to chase and kill every ghoul they meet. The storytelling is very interesting because it shows two different types of ghouls: those who hate humans and want to kill them. On the other side, there are ghouls who cannot and do not want to kill humans. They really want to live with them without getting noticed. An example is Touka, who goes to school every day like human beings and her classmates do not know about her real identity. Ghouls are impossible to be distinguished from humans because they adapted perfectly their daily routines.
An interesting aspect is the transformation of the main protagonist Ken from a normal human being into a ghoul. His transformation is very well shown in details so that you can follow and feel his struggle. For instance, he is unable to eat human food without vomiting but he still tries because he does not want to accept his new life as a ghoul. His feelings towards his new life consist of rejection and hate, because he has to realize that he is not human anymore. He rejects that he has become such a creature and does not want to belong to them. He does not like his ‘new’ body even though his transformation into a ghoul has not been completed to this point.
The societies of the ghouls and humans are very well depicted. The latter consists of many evil minded human beings. Mado, a crazy member of the CCG, is pursuing the goal to kill every single ghoul in Tokyo no matter if they are guilty or not. For him, every ghoul is evil and has to die. On the other side, the society of the ghouls also consists negative aspects such as Gourmet and the Aogiri Tree who kill humans. Another one is Rize who is known by her nickname: binge eater. However, ghouls also have a good side, for example the cafe Anteiku (where Touka works). Those ghouls want to live like humans and refuse to kill them to survive. Spoiler Alert: The ghouls at the cafe Anteiku feed themselves on suicide victims.
To summarize, the anime shows that humans and ghouls are not that different from each other. Humans are somehow more cruel, because some ghouls just want to live like the humans but the human society rejects them. Moreover, “Tokyo Ghoul” also illustrates that there is actually a way that both societies could live together without killing each other. Indeed, humans don’t have to kill the ghouls, but they do it because they are afraid of them.
Ken is the main protagonist in the anime series. He has a very shy and reserved personality. He does not have many friends with the exception of his best friend: Hide. As a child, Ken lived with his mother, but she died due to overworking (which is one of the most frequent death causes in Japan). He is scared of being alone which was aggravated after his mother’s death. Ken spends most of his time with reading books. He is gentle to everyone and tries to stay optimistic in every situation. He is a person who can never hurt anyone, he would rather take the blame on himself. This is maybe resulted by his modesty. Ken also tries to protect everyone or rather he mostly tries to protect himself from being alone in this world.
Touka has a very rash attitude which is maybe a result from her double life: as a ghoul and a human. She lives the life of a hard working student who goes to school with humans who have no idea that she is a ghoul. Indeed, she loves to attend the school and is very kind to her classmates and friends. She has to be careful that her real identity as a ghoul won’t be revealed. She lives a dangerous life. On the other side, as a ghoul Touka is very reckless and cold especially towards Ken at their first meeting. She seems to dislike him because he is half human and half ghoul who does not accept his life as a ghoul. She can also be very caring, because she takes care of Hinami as her mother got killed by the CCG.
Tokyo Ghoul shows a very good character development. Firstly, Touka disliked Ken and hated everything about him especially because he is not a complete ghoul. However, this changes during the anime series and she starts to like and accept him. The other character is Ken. He was a shy, gently and weak boy who loves reading. However, this changes drastically as he got kidnapped and tortured (continues in season 2). The character of Nishki also undergoes a development. Firstly, he hates Ken (like Touka) but then they become friends as both started working together in the Anteiku cafe. In addition, Ken once saved him from the ghoul named Gourmet. The little girl Hinami also changes as her mother dies. At the beginning, she was a shy and harmless but after her mother’s death she is able to kill humans.
Obviously, the anime contains many dark elements, because it is very (very) bloody and it is filled with many horrifying scenes. For example, the torture of Ken is very painful (even to watch), but Ken uses an interesting method to prevent from turning into a lunatic (his torturer told him about this method). The method is the following: he had to count from 1000 to 0 by always subtracting 7.
Apart from the many dark elements, the anime also has its emotional parts. For example, the death of Hinami’s mother while protecting her child was very sad. She never harmed anyone but she was still killed by Mado, a CCG member.
Additionally, the depiction of the different kagunes (ghoul’s organ which works as a weapon) and their functions such as Touka’s feathers and Ken’s tentacles is very well. The quinque, the weapons of the CCG which are made of these kagunes are also very fascinating and creative. They cut off the kagunes from the ghouls’ back to form a weapon which seems to be the only effective equipment to kill a ghoul.
Nonetheless, the anime series also consist of negative aspects. The focus is mainly on the main protagonist Ken which puts the other characters in the background. For instance, Touka is also an important character, however the anime series does not show that much of her and her development.
Last but not least, the choice of the opening theme is great even though it contains some spoilers. (Aside: it was even played in a store in Kyoto while we were in Japan in october 2017) We totally recommend the anime, it is definitely worth to watch.