This is my first TV/anime review. Most of you have probably at least heard of Tokyo Ghoul; it’s currently one of the most popular anime series.
I will be ranking my animated TV reviews on five things, similar to my book reviews: story, characters, animation, soundtrack, and world building. I will also include some pros and cons. I will try my best to be spoiler free.
Summary: Tokyo has become a cruel and merciless city—a place where vicious creatures called “ghouls” exist alongside humans. The citizens of this once great metropolis live in constant fear of these bloodthirsty savages and their thirst for human flesh. However, the greatest threat these ghouls pose is their dangerous ability to masquerade as humans and blend in with society. Based on the best-selling supernatural horror manga by Sui Ishida, Tokyo Ghoul follows Ken Kaneki, a shy, bookish college student, who is instantly drawn to Rize Kamishiro, an avid reader like himself. However, Rize is not exactly who she seems, and this unfortunate meeting pushes Kaneki into the dark depths of the ghouls’ inhuman world. In a twist of fate, Kaneki is saved by the enigmatic waitress Touka Kirishima, and thus begins his new, secret life as a half-ghoul/half-human who must find a way to integrate into both societies. (Credit, Tokyo Ghoul MAL).
Story: 3/5: I would’ve ranked this higher, as I feel like the story took the “normal person thrown into a new world by accident” clichè and gave it dark twist. The twists and turns regarding the Ghouls and their lives and connections with both each other as well as humans were fascinating to watch unfold. There was plenty of feels moments, and certainly several plot twists.
But sadly, I feel as though there are some logic problems; I think they should’ve explored the way Kaneki became a half-ghoul, as in, mentioned the surgeon who accidentally made him this way. It felt too strange to be truly accidental, and honestly, it feels like the normal reaction to investigate the suspicious surgeon. And I also didn’t feel as though Kaneki being a half Ghoul was much different than being a full ghoul; they had the same lifestyle and limitations. However, this may be cleared up in the manga or Root A. Otherwise, I think this was a twisty, creative story with a few plot gaps.
Characters: 3.5/5: We didn’t see a ton of growth character wise in this series, except with a select few, mainly with Kaneki and Touka. They were amazing characters who developed naturally and whom I both cared for by the end of the season.
Our main character, Kaneki, had one of the best character journeys I’ve seen. He starts as a sweet, bookish college student who literally turns into a half-Ghoul by his first date. He remains (for the most part) kind and ordinary, but emotionally resilient, for most of the series, but reveals a much tougher side of himself as he learns how to be a Ghoul…and then the last two episodes happen. By the end of the series, you can barely recognize him, physically and personality wise. His character journey was fascinating to watch and equally heartbreaking. I hate to sound like a meme, but dang, Kaneki didn’t deserve it.
Touka was the other character who got some more development. At first starting as a cold hearted and violent girl who could just be mean to Kaneki, I wasn’t sure if I would ever like her. But after seeing what the life of a ghoul is like (and seeing more of Touka’s life as well) she proved to be more interesting than I thought. She has a soft spot for her best friend (who is a human) can be compassionate to others, and has a shockingly vulnerable side to her personality that first came out when she and her kagune were called pretty. I have to admit, that scene had some feels.
But that doesn’t mean others were less interesting. I just wish we could’ve learned more about them. But this series does score points with me, as the characters are unique, and those with…let’s just say, some mental problems, weren’t the same type of crazy. And they were able to make me worry about characters I didn’t even have a strong emotional attachment to, and were able to take downright hateable characters and make them likable (I’m looking at you, Nishiki…). But I wish we could’ve learned more about the owner of Antekiu (can’t spell…), and his reasons for helping any ghoul, and I also wish we could’ve seen more of Hide, Kaneki’s best friend. I think he could be a great character; he has fantastic observation skills (could be as good as Sherlock’s), yet with a more outgoing and friendly personality.
Animation: 5/5: This was one of the best parts of the series. Beautifully animated, with details and just…oh my gosh. I can’t even explain how gorgeous it looked. I’m not good at gushing about that. The coloring and movement and shading were all on par. This has some of the best animation I’ve seen for a while.
The fight scenes in particular have to be commended. I mean, just look at this gif from the last episode:
This also helped improve the series. Unravel is probably my current favorite anime opening, with a beautiful song with lyrics that communicate Tokyo Ghouls’ message even better than the show. And the soundtrack in general is amazing, especially the Tokyo Ghoul Symphonie and Licht Und Schatten. It combined computer music and orchestra so well, and the choir was fantastic too. Overall, it created a spooky effect, sounding gothic and sometimes giving a Danny Elfman vibe even
World building: 4/5: I feel as though the way a world living in fear of Ghouls, whom people see as monsters they can’t see, was portrayed well. It was eerily similar to our world, and if Ghouls actually existed, I can see the CCG happening. So I think their world was like ours, but with some differences that made sense.
- Animation and design– This was some of the best animation I’ve seen for a while. It may not be “unique”, per se, but if we’re talking about normal anime, this stands out so much more with backgrounds, character design, and subtle detail.
- Some characters had fantastic development– Kaneki’s transformation from human to awakening the Ghoul inside him was amazingly written and shown. His pain and emotions shine and feel incredibly realistic. He’s a realistic main character. Touka seems like a cold hearted tsundere at first, but she starts to show cracks in the ice of her demeanor as the show goes on, and it’s shown just how deeply she cares for others.
- The last seven or so minutes of episode twelve: in some ways, this show is worth watching for the sake of those minutes. The animation is at its best there, in my opinion, an extended version of Unravel plays in the background, and it’s one of the best fight scenes I’ve ever watched. While episode 12 was near torture for me to watch ( that was an awful joke. I apologize. But you know a torture scene is brutal when you have to watch the dub so you can switch tabs…) But seriously, those last few minutes, from animation, soundtrack, and dialogue, are top notch.
- The CCG’s portrayal: I feel like this anime has the same problem that the Ghibli movie Princess Mononoke had; obvious bias to one side. In this case, the writer clearly liked the Ghouls more, and portrayed them in a better light,even though organizations like Aogiri Tree were just as bad as the CCG, if not worse. And it didn’t help that Mado was the lead character with the CCG.
- Logic holes: As I said in the story section, I feel like there was some excellent opportunities TG could’ve taken but didn’t. I really wish there was a more psychological element that explored not only Kaneki’s mind, but the other character’s psyches as well. Some were very interesting characters with potential, but who sadly fell flat. And I honestly think that Kaneki’s surgeon needs to be investigated right away. Like, who does an organ transplant on someone after an accident using the organs from the other (deceased) victim? And aren’t Ghouls supposed to have a different makeup to their bodies? I dunno, that didn’t click with me.
- Underdeveloped side characters: I touched on this earlier, but some characters just felt underdeveloped or flat. Almost everyone at Anteiku seemed interesting in their motivation and reasoning, but they just weren’t shown enough screen time. Same with humans like Hide and Touka’s friend. They just seemed flat in comparison to the moe developed characters. And I understand that they couldn’t develop every character properly, but I wish they could’ve worked with some characters with more screen time.
Overall Grade: 3.5/5. Despite my problems with underdeveloped characters and plot holes, I hope I can find answers in the manga or season two. The saving grace is the animation, soundtrack, and interesting developments of the leading characters.