Perhaps more of a dark fantasy than a horror, but it feels perfectly fitting a series to review for October. Because this series is… Messed. Up.
Tokyo Ghoul is about Tokyo’s… ghouls, a rather underutilized dark creature–certainly less common than vampires and werewolves, etc. One unlucky day a cute boy named Kaneki nearly gets killed by a ghoul, and to save his life he undergoes an operation that ultimately makes him half-ghoul. And ghouls have to eat humans to survive! Luckily ghouls have weird transformation power-ups that let them have weird battles with each other, and with the city’s league of anti-ghoul operatives.
Half the time this series is a fighter shounen type thing, and half the time it’s really dark and morbid drama/tragedy. Characters kill, characters are killed, and nearly every episode seems dead-set on making poor Kaneki suffer in some terrible way.
The story spends most of its time following Kaneki and a group of ghouls he joins, which are good ghouls that have set up a system where they eat the corpses of suicide victims and run a coffee shop. (Just roll with it.) To be honest I didn’t care for most of the characters, but they’re all right. There are also loads of ghouls outside of this little group, and the majority of them are, well, violent and monstrous. Fight fight fight, fight fight fight.
Perhaps more interesting to note is that much of the series also delves into the point of view of the anti-ghoul operatives, namely that of a man named Koutarou Amon. He is all about Justice, and grew up an orphan thanks to ghouls. But what’s this? The cute boy Kaneki is not Pure Evil?!? Koutarou has to question his beliefs, and throughout the series he is put through the wringer quite a bit too. I don’t know, I kind of like it when we get the point of view of both sides in a conflict (See: Shiki), so I enjoyed the scenes with the anti-ghoul operatives… many of whom are also, well, violent and monstrous. You see where this series is going, right?
Anyways, it’s probably best to review this anime by its two seasons separately.
Season One’s first 11 episodes are a 3 out of 5. I overall enjoyed them. I wasn’t so into the action bits, but the drama was great. I will note though that the season finale, episode 12, is an absolute 5 out of 5. Holy crap, that final episode. Absolutely killed me. Easily one of the most horrific things I’ve seen, and when it ended I had to just sit there for a bit. Damn, that was intense.
Season Two’s first 11 episodes are a 1 out of 5. Season 2 is called Tokyo Ghoul √A by the way, and no, I don’t know what the square root of A is all about. I don’t really know what season 2 was all about. It focused a lot more on the action, and most of it was really boring. A ton more characters showed up, and the story was moving way too fast for me to care much about any of them. I get the impression that there was 100 manga chapters covered here or something. Also, the soundtrack–which was great in the first season–somehow completely fell apart for the second season. Lots of scenes where the music just didn’t fit with what was going on. And the animation was worse too? Season 2 just wasn’t that great, but luckily the season finale, episode 12, turned out to be another show-stopper. I’d give that a 4 out of 5–not quite up there with season one’s finale, but still pretty damn spectacular.
Anyways, add that all together and it’s probably a 3 out of 5 for the whole series. Let’s go with that.
Also, perhaps I should give the manga a shot some time and see if the quality is a bit more stable there? It probably is. (Hopefully.)