Otaku USA Magazine
[Review] Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete First Season

How many times have you been out to drink coffee to meet up with a beautiful girl and instead end up a bloodthirsty ghoul with a taste for human flesh? It happens to everyone, and we all totally understand. Okay, maybe not everyone. Really, just Kaneki Ken, the poor individual who finds himself very abruptly welcomed into the world of ghouls after being involved in a very serious scuffle with one (and dying) and receiving organ transplants from the ghoul who attempted to eat him. Talk about a bummer, right?

Tokyo Ghoul follows Kaneki’s plight as he attempts to process and understand the world of ghouls, strange, vampire-like creatures who find human food disgusting and must eat human flesh instead. They also possess a wealth of superhuman powers with which they can hunt their prey. That’s the strange world Kaneki finds himself now inhabiting as he struggles to retain what humanity he can while adapting to his new lifestyle. It’s a very familiar story, right down to Kaneki being insufferably whiny about certain things and refusing to do them despite the fact that he’ll die if he does not, such as eating flesh for the first time.

That’s why it’s great that Tokyo Ghoul‘s supporting cast is multifaceted, relatable, and rife with interesting personalities to follow. It seems many of them are babysitting Kaneki in some way even as he grows stronger, which is a familiar storyline we’ve seen in so many shonen titles before (Evangelion, anyone?). While he adjusts, supporting cast are happy to fill in the blanks of what we don’t yet understand in the show such as how ghouls must live their everyday life, the scuffles that rise up between them, and more. Because of this, Tokyo Ghoul is better sustained and proves to be more entertaining than your average, run-of-the-mill shonen series with a cookie-cutter protagonist.

The supporting cast isn’t the only reason to watch, however. There’s a decent amount of blood and gore to be found within the series, making it a perfect watch for fans of series like Hellsing or Shiki, or horror anime in general. The amount of nightmare fuel within these episodes is abundant, and if you’re easily terrified or squeamish, you might consider viewing something else. For gorehounds like me, I was instantly entranced, despite the slightly run-of-the-mill animation at play here.

Fortunately, the soundtrack is absolutely one of the high points here, with intriguing musical selections and an opening that evokes the feel of the series in a very believable way. The changing ending animation sequences were a great touch as well, offering different sides of the series for the haunting tune the show ends with. The dub is actually top-notch as well, with voices I felt fit the characters quite nicely, which is always a bonus with these dual-language releases.

Tokyo Ghoul is a series fans of horror will immediately want to sink their teeth into, despite the frustratingly whiny protagonist and occasionally bland animation. It’s a gripping narrative you’ll want to see through to the end, even if you’ve read or watched similar stories unfold. Plus, the black and red eyes of the ghouls are an interesting eyecatch that make a great conversation starter. Dig into it, and you’ll likely come away with a new gory favorite.