Ken Kaneki is a quiet and reserved bookworm who manages to score a date with a stunningly beautiful girl named Rize Kamishiro, who is also an avid reader. Kaneki treats Rize to dinner, in more ways than he intended. For you see, Rize is a ghoul, a type of humanoid creature that feeds on the flesh of humans. And she's not just any ghoul, but one of the strongest ghouls around. However, Rize's dinner plans are abruptly ended when several i-beams in the construction site she took Kaneki to fall on top of her. Kaneki wakes up in a hospital bed, but now with some new additions, as parts of Rize's body were transplanted into him, turning Kaneki into a half-human/half-ghoul. Kaneki must now struggle to survive in a world where both sides hate him. Is Tokyo Ghoul a series that goes bump in the night, or is it afraid of its own shadow?
One of the core themes in Tokyo Ghoul is the tragic nature of the relationship between humans and ghouls. From the human side of things, ghouls are just heartless eating machines going around and wrecking the lives of humans by taking loved ones away from them. As far as many humans are concerned, the only good ghoul is a dead ghoul. From the ghoul side of things, yes many ghouls truly are heartless death machines. That being said, not all of the ghouls are bad. The ghouls that are the employees and patrons of a coffee shop called Anteiku are an example of these good ghouls. They still eat humans, of course, but they only eat humans who have committed suicide or died from accidents. They don't hunt down humans. On top of that, ghouls still have emotions and families. This comes to a head in the form of the story of a young ghoul named Hinami and her parents.
Ghouls can't consume human foods and drinks, much to Kaneki's sorrow when he sought out food after his ghoul surgery. Any human food they try to eat is almost immediately spat out. Ghouls are able to blend into humanity society because they learned how to swallow human food in one go, only to throw it up some time later, before it reaches their stomach and makes them sick. Strangely enough the one thing ghouls can ingest without recourse is coffee. As such ghouls are quite the coffee hounds. This whole situation causes a great problem for Kaneki, as he doesn't want to give up his humanity to eat human flesh to survive. Kaneki's struggle to hold onto the last vestiges of his humanity becomes a recurring part of the story, as he constantly gets involved in situations where he has to dip further and further into his ghoul side, while trying to keep his hunger in check.
Tokyo Ghoul has some pretty good voice acting from the whole cast, but the two that really shine are amongst the most prolific in modern anime; Mamoru Miyano and Kana Hanazawa. Mamoru plays a sadistic high class foodie ghoul named Shu Tsukiyama, and Kana plays Rize. And they are both phenomenal, both delivering performances that are easily amongst some of the best in their entire careers. This especially applies to Kana Hanazawa, who gets one of the rare opportunities to do a voice outside of the kind of voices she is normally made to do. If you want to see Kana Hanazawa's vocal range, you need to see Tokyo Ghoul.
There are quite a few fight scenes in Tokyo Ghoul, and to say they can get a tad bit bloody is a vast understatement. Gallons of blood have been split over the course of this series, especially when ghouls are fighting each other. The fights are often brutal, nasty affairs that standout from many of the beautifully choreographed fight scenes found in anime.
One of the most surprising things about Tokyo Ghoul is just how beautiful the kagune of the ghouls are. Kagune are these tentacle or wing-like organs that sprout from the backs of ghouls that allow them to attack and defend themselves. And each one of them are beautifully designed. My favorite has to be Touka's kagune, as seen above. They look stunning in motion.
I know, I know. I've already spewed my love for this opening in my article for Top 10 Summer openings. But still! I just really love this opening. It is just so uniquely its own thing, and it helps add to the Tokyo Ghoul experience.
Tokyo Ghoul, like many hyper-violent anime, is censored in its broadcast version. However, it does its censoring a bit weirdly. That's because it has two forms of censoring. The first is the standard and craptastic "let's just cover all the offensive bits in black" type of censoring, the second is it will invert the colors of the scene. You can still see everything happening, it is just done in a different color. Honestly I actually liked this negative coloring censoring, as it added a bit of style to things. Plus I was still able to see everything. I'll take that over the stupid covering half the screen in black form of censoring any day of the week.
For the most part, I didn't notice any issues with the pace of the series that I saw readers of the manga swear up and down were happening. That is, until this show got to its final arc. There's no other way to say it, the final 3 to 4 episodes pack in a lot of material. That said, while everything was rushed, I still was able to enjoy myself, because the fight scenes were still good as always, just there were more of them now. But even with the last few episodes being rushed, there is still one rather major problem with the ending to Tokyo Ghoul...
Unfortunately, Tokyo Ghoul is yet another member of the Disappointing Ending Club. But unlike most shows with a letdown of an ending, this is an odd case. The episode itself was amazing. Arguably the best episode in the entire show, actually. The problem is, they were right in the middle of an arc, but they just end things. Yeah we get closure to the one thing directly involving Kaneki, but every other plot thread of the final arc is still up in the air. It made me feel like that there absolutely had to be at least one more episode. But for now, that's all there is.
When you get down to it, your enjoyment of Tokyo Ghoul will depend on how much you can deal with seeing gallons of blood, how much the ending affects your overall enjoyment of a series, and especially, if you are a fan of the manga, how much you care about them changing things around. I'm not a fan of the manga, simply because I haven't read the manga, but I do know for a fact that I'm going to start reading the manga as a result of watching this. I absolutely loved this anime, despite its flaws. All in all, Tokyo Ghoul is probably my fourth or fifth favorite series of the season. It is easily the best horror anime I've seen since I saw Another. Granted that's not saying much, but still! I think fans of horror anime should definitely see this series.