We’re sampling the summer season’s selection! Check out our other pilot write-up’s –
- ALDNOAH ZERO ** SWORD ART ONLINE II ** RAIL WARS ** YAMISHIBAI + AI-MAI-MI
- GLASSLIP ** AKAME GA KILL ** SAMURAI JAM ** PERSONA 4 ** DRAMAtical mURDER
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…
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.