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TOKYO GHOUL #1&2 -- Special Review

Fancy a bit of the ol' ultraviolence, my droogies?

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People have forgotten what horror is. Jump scares, music stings, and well-lit creatures shown in full? That’s not horror -- that’s terror. Terror is the sudden, the immediate, and the physical.

Horror is in the uncertain, yet inevitable; in the building dread of something you know you are helpless against; in the mind. TOKYO GHOUL has a really good understanding of horror.

…at least at first.

The story’s pretty simple. Shy boy has crush on shy girl. Shy boy asks girl on date, despite friend’s doubts. Shy boy and shy girl go on a date, and shy girl is secretly the meanest man-eating ghoul around. Boy and girl crushed in industrial accident, and the doctors transfer her ghoul organs into him. Boy must now grapple with intense cravings for human flesh.

And that’s where TOKYO GHOUL really darkles. As protagonist Kaneki experiences greater hunger pangs for human flesh, a vision of Rize (the girl who tried to eat him) appears and tempts him with relief and ecstasy, Gaius Baltar/Head Six style. Kaneki’s internal struggle in these first couple of episodes is thoroughly captivating as he wavers back and forth between humanity and monstrousness.

It’s the external conflicts that make me want to run away screaming. Fights seem like your standard super-powered shonen battles, but exceedingly more violent. Blood, stabbing, and excessive amounts of force are accompanied by strange blood-tentacle things that do all the actual work of fighting. None of the impact or gravitas of the internal struggle scenes are felt here.

By the end of episode 2, the weight of the premise is definitely wearing down on the shaky shonen foundations. Increasingly inane “ghoul rules” about how Kaneki has to live his life now, coupled with the same sort of “my power level is higher than yours!” bravado we see everywhere. It’s like some business types sat around a conference table and discussed what to do now that NARUTO and BLEACH are coming to an end, and determined they needed something “edgy and violent and 90s-ish” to appease their now older audience.

Unfortunately, I don’t think featuring more of Kaneki’s internal struggle is going to end my gripes either. Already his back and forth with Rize is getting old, with the same three points being echoed back and forth (“you should eat flesh,” “I can’t I’m a human,” “it’s so good you should totally do it”).

Despite a strong initial showing, I don’t have much hope for TOKYO GHOUL. Perhaps a television series was the wrong medium for this story. A movie would have better served to keep this story fresh; how long are you going to interested in whether or not Kaneki will eat someone? Instead I have the feeling that we’re just going to have protracted battle after protracted battle, stretching the initial concept thinner and thinner. The prospect of continued viewings of this show are truly…

…horrifying.

You can watch "Tragedy", the first episode of TOKYO GHOUL, for free on Hulu and judge for yourself!

=======================

About the Author

Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.

Kino88on July 25, 2014 at 4:48 p.m.
Wow.... What a great concept for a horror movie, Never the less your description sure has me intrigued,
takashichea moderator is online on July 25, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.

There are three gorey shows I found out from Marshal and the gang for this summer: Akame ga Kill, Tokyo Ghoul, and Tokyo ESP. Having only watched this one and Akame ga Kill, Tokyo Ghouls suffers the most from censorship. At one point, over half of the screen gets black out. I wish they handle censorship artistically. Give us an white outline of the body or body parts. That will tell what's going on!

Being a Shonen fan, I still enjoy the series. While Kaneki can be whiny and annoying, I still can look back on other characters to balance him out. Besides Chibi Vampire, I never saw a show coming from Monster's Point of View. Usually, you see horror shows from a human's point of view. Killing these monsters for plaguing humanity. In Tokyo Ghouls, it's more a battle mentally and racially to find where you belong.

  1. Does Kaneki belong to Ghouls, Humans, or neither side?
  2. Can Ghouls co-exist with humanity?

That's what drives me to watch this show.

ownagepantson July 25, 2014 at 9:17 p.m.

Oh my god their is a tv show I have read all the manga chapters several times it is a great series I am so excited.

ownagepantson July 25, 2014 at 9:19 p.m.

@takashichea: Those are the main questions of the series and their is no biases in the series you get to see the side of the ghouls and the humans trying to kill them it's an interesting story where you think someone is evil until you see them from another perspective.

takashichea moderator is online on July 25, 2014 at 10:47 p.m.

@ownagepants:

That's good to hear. I should invite you to the Tokyo Ghoul discussion thread.

Destinyheroknight is online on July 25, 2014 at 11:58 p.m.

Actually, Tokyo Ghoul isn't a Shonen, it a Seinen. It isn't there to replace Bleach or Naruto. Also, I read a little of the Manga and the internal struggle thing won't be a problem at a certain point

Anyway, I like Tokyo Ghoul. It have a cool concept

TeraHertzon July 26, 2014 at 4:49 a.m.

I am really liking this series and this review makes want watch more.

ty for awesome review :)

YotaruVegetaon July 26, 2014 at 5:39 a.m.

@Destinyheroknight: "there", not "their."

When I first saw promos for Tokyo Ghoul, I immediately thought "The 90s are back!" We don't have a lot of horror in anime, especially anime that people are buzzing about. What was the last one- Pupa? No one dug that thing.

When I watched Tokyo Ghoul, the 90's nostalgia felt even more true, because having a conflicted lead like this feels a bit like Shinji Ikari. I think that this dude is more justified in his reluctance. Shinji had to save the world, while Kaneki's being asked to make it worse.

takashichea moderator is online on July 26, 2014 at 11:47 a.m.

@Destinyheroknight:

Same could be said with Jojo. Folks call it Shonen or Seinen.

@YotaruVegeta:

Actually, Pupa was one of Anime Vice's Top 20 Manga Series of 2013 for some odd reason. There are some folks who enjoyed it. Just that anime butcher it up by being a micro series and the censorship was stupid. We had some horror anime series last season, Knights of Sidonia. Horror is slowly coming out more and more each season.

Destinyheroknight is online on July 26, 2014 at 1:15 p.m.

@takashichea:

Jojo started as a Shonen, it got upgraded to Seinen when Shueisha notice there was more older people reading it. Tokyo Ghoul have always been target to the older demographic

YotaruVegetaon July 27, 2014 at 3:35 a.m.

@takashichea: MANGA series, I can understand. I've heard that people like it. Will those who voted on that put Pupa on the top anime- of any time period?

If you think Pupa's censorship is stupid, Tokyo Ghoul's censorship has "gutted" the show, so to speak.

sickVisionz moderator on July 27, 2014 at 6:24 a.m.

Sounds pretty good to me. If it's like Bleach and Naruto but with no power of friendship stuff then it's already up there as one of the best shonen shows in years. I just wish it wasn't on Hulu.

@Destinyheroknight: I JoJo really Seinen? I haven't seen all of Bizarre Adventure but it doesn't seem like some mature story or something aimed at adults. Stardust Crusaders seems even goofier than the one I saw. Are you saying it's seinen because of the actual like content of the show or just because there's some blood in it?

YotaruVegetaon July 27, 2014 at 2:15 p.m.

@sickVisionz: It's actually the power of tsundere ghoulery!

takashichea moderator is online on July 27, 2014 at 2:39 p.m.

@YotaruVegeta:

Do you remember this censorship?

Sometimes, it censors weird things like knives for odd reason. Tokyo Ghoul isn't bad with censorship like Pupa and Deadman Wonderland. For Deadman Wonderland, most things were done in pitch black, making hard to see things.

takashichea moderator is online on July 27, 2014 at 4:03 p.m.

@YotaruVegeta said:

@sickVisionz: It's actually the power of tsundere ghoulery!

If you are talking about Tōka Kirishima, she borders on it. She's just mean to Kaneki at first, but she eventually warms up to him, not revealing her dere side to him in episode 3.

Destinyheroknight is online on July 27, 2014 at 5:57 p.m.

@sickVisionz:

It turn Seinen in 2005 (I believe), when it went to Ultra Jump (Shueisha's monthly Seinen magazine). The anime have awhile before it jump to Seinen, it don't really change that much (It just add topless scenes). The reason why it move to Seinen, is that there was more adults reading Jojo then the kids, so Shueisha just move it to Ultra Jump. So it wouldn't throw their voting off

zaldaron July 27, 2014 at 7:13 p.m.

@Destinyheroknight: Except that Seinen is basicly shonen except with more blood....so none of the things that are bad in shonen which tom rightly took it to task for here are absent.

To bad as the internal struggle does sound really really interesting. A movie version of this would rock - make it dark and end it with main character eating flesh finding out it is good and going full evil. Your description of difference between horror and terror is perfect. And is why most horror movies/games/shows are not really worth anything. You want to see good horror go back to 50's movies, no blood or lot less but nothing scares like the omen, or invasion of the body snatchers. Nothing.

@No_name_here your tastes really seem to fluctuate sometimes I mean you LIKE shonen so why are the things that are in every shonen from Dragonball Z, to Bleach, to stardust crusaders (and not so much in the first two seasons..which is why they were better) bad here when not in these?

Destinyheroknight is online on July 27, 2014 at 8:43 p.m.

@zaldar:

No, Shonen and Seinen are not all action series. And Seinen is not Shonen with more blood (it sometime have sex to LOL!) and there themes are different, they are just targeted to an older demographic. You basically saying that Ghost In The Shell is just Shonen with more blood (it not). So, don't be stereotyping

Tokyo Ghoul is using Shonen tropes, but it will (somewhat) get away from it in the future

A movie version of this would rock - make it dark and end it with main character eating flesh finding out it is good and going full evil.

Well, that not what Tokyo Ghoul about. The ghouls are not all evil, they just trying to live as any other human does. It just that they can only eat human flesh, nothing else.

Also, the first two season of Jojo was Shonen. It was using all the tropes

Edit: Also this review is by Matt, not Tom

YotaruVegetaon July 28, 2014 at 9:50 a.m.

@takashichea: She is more of a funny tsundere. It hasn't been explicit yet that she has feelings for the MC.

@takashichea: Tokyo Ghoul's censorship fills, at most, about 70 percent of the screen with darkness. It's incredibly irritating.

takashichea moderator is online on July 28, 2014 at 2:33 p.m.

@YotaruVegeta:

Yes, it does get annoying as I mentioned earlier. At least, the knives or other things are not censored for foolish reasons.

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