The Good and Bad of Tokyo Ghoul (Season 1)

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After a hiatus from visually consuming any matter of Japanese animation that does not appear on a Saturday night lineup, I finally sat down to find something to watch. The obvious choice would have been finishing Agame Ga Kill which I had started before and enjoyed. But, no, things can not be that simple. I decided to check out Tokyo Ghoul due to hearing a few people talk about that anime. Expectations of the anime were slightly different then what I experienced, but this first season rightfully deserves a solid B+. I managed to make my way through the 12 episodes quickly enough to form this opinion that I am about to share. This is your spoiler warning!

Plot via Wikipedi

The story of Tokyo Ghoul follows Ken Kaneki, who barely survives a deadly encounter with Rize Kamishiro, a woman who is revealed to be a ghoul, a human-like creature that hunts and devours human flesh, and is taken to the hospital in critical condition. After recovering, Kaneki discovers that somehow he underwent a surgery that transformed him into a half-ghoul, and just like them, must consume human flesh to survive as well. With no one else to turn to, he is taken in by the ghouls who manage the coffee shop “Anteiku”, who teach him to deal with his new life as a half-human/half-ghoul, including interacting with ghoul society and its conflicting factions, while striving to keep his identity secret from other humans

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The Good

  • The cast of characters are very interesting. Each character brought something unique to the table ranging from a wide array of personalities, looks, and qualities making them the best part of the anime. The back stories of each character (told primarily through flashbacks and exposition) enhanced the complexities of the individuals while adding more layers to the narrative.
  • Fights are always a great addition to any anime especially if the animation looks impressive. The fights in Tokyo Ghoul are fluid with stunning animation.
  • It takes awhile, but when the story is revealed it is fascinating. The concept itself of a half ghoul/half human boy who is only made that way due to the organs of a ghoul being transplanted into his body is so Japanese anime that I am surprised it has not been done (to my knowledge). The resulting issues surrounding this are like a car gradually reaching its top speeds. When the story takes off, it zooms…which brings me to…

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The Bad

  • Why an anime would end its season where this one did is unimaginable. This trend of the 12-13 episode anime seasons may work for some stories, but not all. It took Tokyo Ghoul over half of its season to introduce major conflicts and even more episodes to introduce the primary group of antagonist besides the human law enforcement known as Doves (which, in my humble opinion, were not as much a threat as the ghoul group of killers known as Aogiri Tree). I actually feel for the people that had to wait till season 2 to find out what happened in that final fight between a transformed Kaneki and the vicious ghoul, Joshua.
  • The torture of Kaneki is probably more a personal criticism then an actual gripe with the show. I commend the show for going there because it was so raw and brutal. Up until that point, I felt the show was entirely too tame especially considering the expectations I had going into it. That is not to say the show did not have incredibly dark themes throughout it, but the torture of the main protagonist was almost too much for me to bear. I cringed every single time he screamed.

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I started season 2 with intense enthusiasm. I’m excited to see where the series goes! There may be a genderbent Kaneki costume in my future.

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