Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, after well over a year, it’s time once again for an Ani-TAY Faceoff!!!!! I’ve been meaning to more of these, especially since my inagural one, Sword Art Online vs. Log Horizon was a pretty big success (though I have to wonder if that was because of the article itself or because of the series involved) and I do hope to do more of these in the immediate future, as I have a couple on tap.
If this is your first time reading one of my Faceoffs, generally what happens is I look at two shows with similar genres and/or themes and hopefully similar episode lengths (though I am a bit more loose with this, it just helps things be more balanced) and compare them in four main areas; Setting, Aesthetics (aka visuals and sounds), Characters, and Writing. Within each of the main areas there are smaller areas that may change from Faceoff to Faceoff that are specific to them. For example, this particular Faceoff will have the subcategory of Censorship under its Aesthetics category.
Basically this is all just an extremely in depth comparison of similar shows that allow me to explain which of the two I like more than the other....if I like one more than the other. For example, in my first Faceoff it was more or less a draw in that I thought SAO’s first season had better production values and more entertaining action, while I preferred Log Horizon’s writing and characters. So there is not always going to be a “winner”. I’m essentially just giving my opinion on the various anime “versus” debates I come across. And as you may come to see, these things tend to be rather large articles, at least longer than the review or opinion pieces/rants I typically make, which is kind of why I don’t do these that often, as they are a great undertaking on my part. ^_^;
Oh one last thing. Just so there is no confusion, I am counting both seasons of Tokyo Ghoul for this, so it makes it an even 24 episodes vs. 24 episodes. So with that long winded introduction out of the way, let’s get it on!
Parasyte’s world is well...just the real world, only with an alien invasion going on. There’s no special tech, no unique buildings, it is literally just modern day Japan at its most visually boring.
While it appears to be similar to modern day Japan, Tokyo Ghoul’s world has a few unique flairs to it, such as the buildings belonging to the CCG, specifically their ghoul prisons.
Edge: Tokyo Ghoul. Both series have rather plainly designed worlds as a whole, but Tokyo Ghoul gets the small edge due to the things it has unique to it.
Parasyte has us following a covert alien invasion from the beginning. We get to see how at least Japanese society changes over time in response to the attacks carried out by the parasites and how the parasites start to integrate themselves into society. The only problem is we don’t know how far the invasion spreads globally. Parasyte’s world building focuses squarely on a particular bow-shaped archipelago.
In basically a reverse of Parasyte, Tokyo Ghoul’s world already had the ghouls in it long before Kaneki became one himself via an experimental surgery. So we see a society that has long since adapted to combat the predatory threat to mankind. Instead Tokyo Ghoul’s world building primarily focuses on the ghoul side of things as, through Kaneki, we learn things about ghouls that the average human in this world wouldn’t know either. Again though the same kind of issues that Parasyte’s world building had appear here as well due to the series focusing again only on Japan. However there is one additional flaw with Tokyo Ghoul’s world building, and that is, as far as I know, there is no beginning. Basically there is no metric for just how long things have been the way they’ve been.
Edge: Parasyte. If only because Tokyo Ghoul tries to build a more complex world without really giving us that many details. Which considering the decreased focus Kaneki gets as the series goes on, means that the world never fully gets fleshed out. Basically, Tokyo Ghoul’s world building was more ambitious, but incomplete, while Parasyte’s was more basic, but better executed.
Parasyte’s animation, while occasionally inconsistent, was rather solid and sometimes surprisingly fluid. Sure it wasn’t the best output from Madhouse, but it was far from a bad looking series.
Well, Tokyo Ghoul looked nice every now and then, at least. The second season, moreso than the first, was the one to really suffer from animation issues, to where even some of the fight scenes, arguably the best thing about Tokyo Ghoul visually, looked like crap with a lot of bad looking reused animation.
Edge: Parasyte. To put it in simple terms, one was animated by Madhouse, the other by Studio Pierrot. That pretty much sums it up.
While the character designs in the anime are much better than those in the manga, if only because many of the manga versions look alike, everyone still looks a bit...generic. Like unless you see them in a cosplay group with a Shinichi cosplayer or one of the other parasites, you’d be hard pressed to instantly recognize them.
Aside from the nameless mooks for both the ghouls and humans, no two characters in Tokyo Ghoul look the same. Everyone looks unique, regardless if they are in casual wear or in one of their more iconic outfits. On top of that, some of the ghouls look down right eerily beautiful when they have their kagune activated.
Edge: Tokyo Ghoul. It’s not even remotely a close contest. Tokyo Ghoul has better designed characters to the point where I’ll probably recognize even the bit characters. I may not remember their names, but I’ll definitely remember they are from Tokyo Ghoul.
Parasyte’s music had a rocky start as early in the series there was a lot of dubstep/EDM for whatever reason. But it thankfully eventually leveled out and the show started to use a stable of now, to me at least, iconic tracks. None more iconic than the above “Next to You”.
Tokyo Ghoul has some very solid background music. Damn solid, even. Just, none of it truly stands out to me. They are good pieces, to be sure, just not timeless pieces, if that makes sense.
Edge: Parasyte. Without a shadow of a doubt I vastly prefer Parasyte’s music to Tokyo Ghoul’s. Now if this was about the respective shows’ openings and endings, this would be an entirely different discussion, but as this is over the soundtracks as a whole, I have to give the edge to Parasyte.
Parasyte has almost no censorship. That’s not to say it is without censoring entirely. Rather that what little there is isn’t that distracting. Hell I’d argue it enhances the horror aspect a bit by leaving just enough details up to our imaginations.
Tokyo Ghoul on the other hand has censoring out the ass. Thankfully not to the egregious lengths of say Terra Formars, but still pretty bad nevertheless.
Edge: Parasyte. Simply put, Parasyte has very little censorship while Tokyo Ghoul has so much it might actually be an annoyance to some.
Shinichi starts the series as meek and studious high school student, but as the series progresses, he undergoes changes both mentally and physically, and has to try his hardest to keep his emotions and Migi in check while he tries to cling to his remnants of humanity.
Kaneki is a bookworm college student before his date with the deadly ghoul Rize changed his life forever. Kaneki tries to hold onto his humanity, even if it would mean starving. Despite his best efforts, though, the ghoul side in him wins out and he becomes an increasingly dangerous creature.
Edge: Parasyte. Mainly because Shinichi is the focus character the entire length of the series. Kaneki was a great main character for the first season of Tokyo Ghoul, but the second season practically ruins his character, as he ceases to be the main point of view character and his character growth slows significatly.
Murano at times is, well let’s just say “annoying” is putting it mildly, as she spends a significant chunk of the series doubting Shinichi is really Shinichi. She never really bounces back from this, in that I never really seem to care about her all that much.
Touka is pretty awesome in Tokyo Ghoul’s first half. She looks like she can kick ass, and even holds her own against stronger foes. On top of that, it is interesting to see the lengths she’ll go to maintain her human facade in front of her best friend, even flying in the face of the health risk eating human food causes in ghouls. Too bad she basically does nothing but mope around in the second half.
Edge: Draw. I honestly can’t decide what is worse, a character who is annoying almost the entire length of their show, or a character who is initially presented as a capable fighter being reduced to a mopey, angst filled teenager.
Hirama is an aging detective that finds himself working on cases involving parasites. This brings him into constant contact with Shinichi, and though he suspects Shinichi, he isn’t exactly sure of what or why he does so.
Amon is one of the best up and coming Doves in the CCG. Initially teamed with the sadistic Mado, he is eventually teamed with Mado’s daughter, Akira.
Edge: Tokyo Ghoul. Not only because Amon appears more often and has a larger role in Tokyo Ghoul than Hirama does in Parasyte, but because Amon is a badass and can be strongly argued to be the protagonist of the second half of Tokyo Ghoul. In effect he functions as a secondary main character and I eventually come to like him as a character more than I do even Kaneki.
Reiko is an extremely intelligent parasite that takes great interest in Shinichi and Migi, because she is curious to see how a human and a parasite can co-exist with both of them retaining their intelligence. As she also gives birth to a human child, she becomes curious to the bond humans have with their offspring.
Like Amon, Akira is a talented up and coming Dove, though she has the baggage of having a talented, albeit insane, Dove as her father as well. She initially appears to be cold and stern, but there is actually a person beneath her ice queen exterior.
Edge: Parasyte. Next to Shinichi and Migi, Reiko is Parasyte’s best character. She is just a very compelling character that throws a wrench into the whole human-parasite dichotomy and helps save the series from having a bland and underdeveloped supporting cast.
Migi is Shinichi’s parasite and is rather intelligent, thanks to its curiosity and self-teaching. Migi helps Shinichi strategize in combat against other parasites, and the duo form a symbiotic relationship that doesn’t require Shinichi to eat humans.
Rize is a powerful ghoul who tried to eat Kaneki, but after i-beams fell on her in a construction site, some of her organs were transplanted into Kaneki to replace the ones she damaged or removed, turning Kaneki into a half-ghoul. Rize continues to haunt Kaneki for a while after the surgery as his ghoul side personified.
Edge: Parasyte. Rize was a defining part of some of Tokyo Ghoul’s best scenes, and was practically the backbone of the first season’s finale. But Migi was the defining part of Parasyte as a whole. Whereas Rize is what got Tokyo Ghoul rolling, Migi is what made Parasyte what it is. Migi’s interactions with Shinichi over the course of the series is the key factor in Parasyte.
Gotou is a charismatic parasite that manages to work his way into politics. He’s able to control up to five parasites, including himself, at the same time, making him practically the perfect parasite, as he has very few weaknesses.
Jason is one of the most sadistic ghouls around, if not the most sadistic. He’ll kill humans and ghouls for just the littlest reasons. And he loves to torture the ever loving hell out of people, too.
Edge: Draw. Both are big, hulking brutes that kill remorselessly and both Kaneki and Shinichi grow as characters for having to deal with them. I also like them for different reasons. Jason’s sadism makes him someone I can’t help but watch to see someone put him in he place. And Gotou is equally interesting in the way he can just walk around without giving a single fuck in the world.
Parasyte’s extended cast is mostly made up of other parasites and teenagers. Not much character development goes to these characters, and many of the women are rather fond of holding the idiot ball.
Much like Parasyte’s extended cast, much of these characters are underdeveloped, but they have some interesting quirks to them that at least make them bearable, if not memorable.
Edge: Tokyo Ghoul. One of the few good things to come out of the second season of Tokyo Ghoul spreading its screentime out across so many characters, they at least become characters I remember. I actually have a hard time remembering many of Parasyte’s extended cast, because they are just forgettable characters.
Parasyte has an evenly spread pace, taking place over about a year, while never really feeling rushed. Yet each episode seemed to go by faster than it really did.
It is easy to tell that Tokyo Ghoul condenses some stuff from the manga, though it doesn’t always feel rushed. But when it feels rushed, it is to the detriment of the series.
Edge: Parasyte. It is just rather clean cut. Parasyte was unrushed while Tokyo Ghoul was clearly rushed in parts. There’s no contest which one has the better pace.
Parasyte is about a high school student becoming entangled in an alien invasion, resulting in him trying to retain his humanity as he fights to protect those he care for.
Tokyo Ghoul is about a college student unwillingly becoming part of a race of man-eaters and his struggles with the new way of life he must live.
Edge: Draw. I say this is a draw, because I much prefer the premise to Tokyo Ghoul’s story. However, Parasyte has by far the better execution, as Tokyo Ghoul, especially in its second season, is riddled with plot holes and rapidly introduced and summarily dropped plot threads.
Parasyte’s main theme centers around what defines a monster. Are the parasites monsters merely just because they eat humans? Or at the real monsters the humans themselves, what with the existence of serial killers who don’t even kill for sustenance like the parasites do and the myriad of other methods humans create to kill other humans?
Tokyo Ghoul also has a similar theme of who the real monsters are, but it also carries with it the idea that the two sides aren’t so different at all, as both sides are killing the other to survive, and both sides have emotions and care for their loved ones.
Edge: Tokyo Ghoul. Mainly because Parasyte can be a little too preachy and on the nose with its theme, whereas Tokyo Ghoul isn’t as aggressively in your face about it.
In the end, my feelings on these two shows is that Tokyo Ghoul tried to be the more ambitious series, as it has better ideas than Parasyte, and even better characters aside from about three or four characters in Parasyte that I really like. But where it fails at is its execution. The pacing in the series is out of whack. The animation is more janky than Parasyte’s. And it fails to fully flesh out its world to its fullest extent and has a massive problem with introducing and dropping characters and plot points. It basically feels like an unfinished series in many regards, and I suppose that’s the point, cause the manga side of the series isn’t remotely close to being finished itself.
Still, when comparing it to Parasyte, I have to overwhelmingly give the overall edge to Parasyte. Parasyte may have fewer characters that I like, but what characters I do like, I love far more than any of Tokyo Ghoul’s characters. Plus Parasyte actually has an ending, and I didn’t end up feeling like Parasyte ever really lost its focus like I felt Tokyo Ghoul did from time to time. Parasyte is one of my favorite horror anime series of all time, whereas Tokyo Ghoul is merely an entertaining romp that I want to forget half of it even exists. As such, the winner is Parasyte.
If you managed to make it all the way down here, thank you for reading this behemoth. And of course since these are just my opinions, please feel free to share your opinions below. In fact, I fully encourage it.