Tokyo Ghoul Season One is a 12 episode TV anime aired between July and September 2014 based on the manga of the same name. What this means is that the anime adaptation does not follow the story line of its manga counterpart, which I only found out after I finished the series. This series is a survival battle between ghouls and the human race taking place in Tokyo, hence its title. Ghouls survive only from preying on humans and temporarily on coffee too, which we never find out why. If this peaks your interest then read on because this might just become your favourite anime!
This story follows Kaneki Ken, who is head over heels for Rize Kamishiro, who was only ever seen in the same cafe that he frequents with his best friend Hideyoshi Nagachika, nicknamed Hide. Somehow Kaneki manages to go on a date with Rize, who reveals herself as a ghoul and attempts to devour Kaneki. After a series of events throughout the day, a near death experience transforms Kaneki into a half ghoul, a hybrid of both human and ghoul.
Everything starts changing in Kaneki’s life after he leaves the hospital. Food begins to leave a weird taste in his mouth and if it is not regurgitated, it would make him ill. Hide, being his best friend, tries to help without knowing what has happened to him by bringing him his favourite foods but nothing seems to stay in Kaneki’s stomach. One night, Kaneki meets the series female ghoul protagonist, Touka Kirishima, who introduces him to the rest of the crew at Anteiku cafe. Anteiku is a plain and innocent looking cafe run by Yoshimura with Touka and some other ghouls, all of which are docile and just trying to fit in with the human society. Yoshimura is a kind and reasonable ghoul who provides aid to ghouls in need that are incapable of hunting such as Kaneki. He teaches Kaneki all about ghouls, how to survive and gave him a job at Anteiku where he can grow.
Initially, we are made to believe that ghouls hunt innocent humans for means of survival through the eyes of our protagonist. However, as we meet other ghouls we begin to see how many ghouls also try to fit in with society and are not all wicked. Some other interesting ghouls we meet throughout the series worth noting include Nishiki Nishio and Shu Tsukiyama. Both started off with the intent to kill Kaneki and play important roles in Kaneki’s strength development but it is only when meets a young ghoul, Hinami that he starts accepting his new found life.
There are 24 ‘wards’ in this series with the current events revolving around the 20th ward in Tokyo, which is known to be the most docile of all being relatively peaceful compared to others. Due to recent events in the 20th ward, Koutaro Amon and Kuero Mado are deployed from the Commission of Counter Ghoul (CCG) to investigate. Ghoul investigators are commonly known as doves by the ghouls and CCG is an organisation that investigates all ghoul activities. This organisation is the ghouls’s nemesis and there are a lot of battles and gore between the two parties. Ghouls are physically stronger than the doves in all aspects but through special training, equipped with quinques (a weapon made from ghoul’s kagune) they are capable of fighting on even grounds against them. A kagune is a ghoul’s predatory organ that functions as their weapon and is unique to each ghoul. Mado has very good intuition in being able to distinguish ghouls from humans and is obsessed with quinques. Amon has a strong sense of justice and the man he is today is a result of his personal experience during his childhood as an orphan.
The series concludes with the introduction of Aogiri Tree, which is a terrorist organisation of ghouls that target doves in particular. Jason is an executive of Aogiri Tree and he is the reason for Kaneki’s hair going from black to white. Once again, no explanations for the reason for this transformation but this is his awakened form.
One last thing to note is the different masks ghouls wear in battles are to prevent their identities as ‘humans’ from being discovered. Although not mentioned in the anime, after some research, some of the masks bear symbolic representations of the ghoul such as Touka’s rabbit mask, which represents her affection towards rabbits.
I commend this series for the well made development of Kaneki’s character. He goes from a timid and shy boy that was only into books to a strong-willed, confident ghoul who accepts his transformation. His development is aided with his meetings with other ghouls and other events, which ignites the ghoul in him. We also get some short, but good background stories of some other characters who play pivotal parts in the development of Kaneki. The fight scenes are very animated, dramatic, exciting and not drawn out, which is to my liking. There are also no long fillers to prolong each episode, so if you like series that does not beat around the bush, then this one is right on the ball.
The only criticism I can give about this series is that some parts do get a bit confusing, such as Kaneki’s supposed best friend who you might think has a pivotal role in the series but he just disappears in the first few episodes. Although the series tried to provide some background to most characters, there just wasn’t enough context for me to understand their story, which is a major downfall. It gave the series a rushed feeling as there were major events one after another in attempt to fit everything into 13 episodes. There were also times where I was tempted to read the manga to find out what is actually happening in the series, which was when I realised the anime does not follow the manga’s story line apart from the beginning.
Despite that, I reckon Tokyo Ghoul is one of the best anime in its genre and if you feel like some action with lots of gore, then this anime is definitely for you. I am looking forward to season two called Tokyo Ghoul Roots of A. Hopefully we will see more of Anteiku’s ghouls in action and what the other CCG investigators are planning in the 20th ward.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review