Sui Ishida is the author and illustrator behind Tokyo Ghoul, a Seinen series running in Weekly Young Jump that has exploded in popularity since the first few months of serialization. The opening chapter gives us a small insight into Kaneki Ken, a bookish college student hanging out with his friend Hide at Anteiku Cafe. Kaneki get’s a lucky break and scores a date with Rize, a beautiful young woman he has seen around in the cafe before. Walking her home after their date is when things turn horrible. Rize is in fact a Ghoul and attacks him in a secluded area with the intention of devouring him. He makes a desperate attempt to escape and is terribly wounded, and before she can go any further she is crushed under some falling scaffolding. His life is saved after an emergency surgery, but it will never be the same. Rize’s organs are transplanted into Kaneki in order to stabilize him, and when he awakens it is clear something is just not right.
The first two volumes focus on Kaneki’s adjustments to his changing body and new life as a Ghoul, and how he deals with the idea of having humans as a food source, yet still living among them. Ghouls essentially are a humanoid species that prey on humans and eat their flesh, and it’s one of the only things they have evolved to eat, and unusually Coffee is another. They also posses incredible physical strength, heightened senses and sturdy bodies, as well as an additional weapon called a Kagure. Kaneki befriends the Ghouls at Anteiku Cafe, and it’s his lifeline and source of information and almost keeps him sane at times. Here he meets all kinds of people and Ghouls, and even ones that either cannot kill humans for ethical reasons, or are just too weak and Anteiku helps them survive.
Not only does Kaneki need to fear the Ghouls as he is quite unique to them, he needs to fear the Investigators of the Comission of Counter Ghoul (CCG), also known as Doves on the street. The effort Sui Ishida has put into telling both sides of the story of Ghouls and Doves really gives some insight into the world and how they perceive each other, and we follow the investigators quite frequently. The general public are aware of the existence of Ghouls yet most are quite ignorant to their appearance and habits, and the CCG are at the front lines in the war on Ghouls in their society. I especially like the designs of the different Kagune’s, and how the Doves have come to use them to even the playing field against a more dominant race. So far Anteiku’s existence in the 20th Ward has been quite peaceful, with Kaneki able to try and assimilate into Ghoul life as much as possible with the guidance of the Manager, and he is getting peeks into the darker side of living with humans. He is still struggling in making a decision about what he is, and coming to terms with the future he will be living as a half human, half Ghoul.
I am a little in love with the artwork, which gives a lot of depth to certain scenes and the story line wouldn’t resonate as much if it weren’t for the slightly gritty finish. The inking is still quite clean, with some shadows drawn with a fine tip pen it still has the feeling of an somewhat tainted world. Insanity moments are exhibited wonderfully with bold, almost chaotic brush strokes which gives so much emotion to the panel and character. Sui Ishida is not shy about showing off the vicious battle scenes as realistically as possible, and the gore isn’t overly obnoxious or gruesome, but enough so to show the true danger the Doves and Ghouls encounter frequently.
Rize also comes up in conversation quite a bit, as it seems she was causing a bit of trouble for the locals in the 20th ward with her ravishing appetiteattracting the attention of the CCG. From the start there is just something not quite right about the accident that killed her, and it seems to unsettle some of the other Ghouls. It’s a mystery that keeps floating around the back of your mind, and hopefully will be revealed in coming volumes. I would recommend this to anyone who generally liked Berserk, Gantz or Attack on Titan.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.