In an alternate reality, the city of Tokyo is the battleground between humans and vampire-like creatures called ghouls, whose primary source of nutrients come from consuming humans. Ken Kaneki is unwittingly drawn into the conflict after a near-death experience with a ghoul results in an organ transplant that gives him many ghoulish characteristics, including a strong desire for human flesh.

Following his acceptance into Anteiku, Kaneki begins to discover what it is like for the creatures that seemingly hunt humans. Among the complex personalities he discovers, he notices that despite the fact that humans seem to fear being hunted by ghouls, the ghouls themselves fear being hunted by humans. Inspectors have come to the 20th ward of Tokyo, and they are intent on killing any ghoul they encounter.

Fans of seinen action series erring towards the more gruesome will definitely find appeal in

Tokyo Ghoul.

Tokyo Ghoul’s second volume has begun to introduce the main conflict as the humans’ power is revealed. I was glad to see that the humans weren’t hopelessly outmatched by ghouls; in fact, the ‘doves’, or government inspectors that hunt ghouls, are quite the force to be reckoned with. While the inspectors have mostly just been introduced initially so far, Tokyo Ghoul has done a great job of showcasing the disconnect between both sides, a disconnect that was hinted at previously with Kaneki’s internal struggle that is now highlighted when we have humans actually hunting ghouls. Humans are afraid of ghouls because ghouls use humans as their primary food source, but does that make ghouls inherently evil just for surviving? The central moral conflict the readers are presented with is an interesting one, and while it is true that other stories have featured creatures with a similar dynamic to humans (see Parasyte), Tokyo Ghoul’s handling of it feels a bit less heavy-handed because it feels more natural in the darker and violent story, and Ishida isn’t about to directly answer the question for you.

On the subject of all things dark and violent, Tokyo Ghoul volume 2 manages to continue the dynamic action and grim feel of the first volume despite lacking in the actual ‘horror’ element due to the primary focus being to set up the dove/ghoul conflict. As many others have said before, just because something is ‘dark’ doesn’t mean that it is good, as darkness for darkness’ sake would just be wasting my and other readers’ time. Tokyo Ghoul’s second volume manages to fit this darkness in by not only weaving it into the world it takes place in but also utilizing it in the plot without overly relying on it in an attempt to appear edgy. I never had a feeling of ‘well this seems unnecessary’ during fights, because they all feel like a culmination of the efforts and traits of the characters involved.

In truth, if there were one thing to complain about in the second volume, it would be the feeling that the volume was primarily setup. While the first was the introduction, the second volume takes the premise and begins to essentially build the frame around it. On the side of the ghouls, we get to see and read explanations about the different types of the ghouls’ predatory organ, the kagune, as well as explore how ghouls generally feel about humans (hint: it’s more complex than just ‘food’). For the humans, the reveal of the doves and the quinque they fight with adds plenty of intrigue, but the drive to kill the ‘evil’ ghouls by those who seemingly believe themselves righteous is what really sets up for future conflict. The second volume manages to balance out the setup with actual progression by actually having suspenseful confrontations between the opposing parties, both of which I found quite entertaining.

Tokyo Ghoul’s second volume is about as strong as its predecessor (that’s praise coming from me), but in a slightly different way. While the first volume focused on introduction and horror as its primary draw, the second begins to build up the world of Tokyo Ghoul and set the beginning for the conflict between humans and ghouls. I continued to find the morally grey opposing sides and the action interesting, and I could easily recommend the second volume to fans of the first, as they will likely find more to love.

What do our scores mean?

Tokyo Ghoul began serializing in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump imprint in September of 2011 and concluded at the same time in 2014. A sequel manga named Tokyo Ghoul Re: is currently being serialized, and the original manga received an adaptation by Studio Pierrot in Summer 2014 and a second season in Winter 2015. VIZ Media publishes Tokyo Ghoul in North America, and released the second volume on August 18th 2015 with a planned release of the third volume in English for October 20th.

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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher.

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