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Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 (Spoiler‑Free) Review

It’s simple.  Eat or be eaten.


Author’s Note:
Fair warning, Tokyo Ghoul is rated MA and may not be suitable for some viewers.  

Story:
Kaneki is your typical shy, nice guy.  He is a bit of a pushover, attends college, and is very bookish. One of his favorite haunts is a local cafe called Anteiku in the 20th Ward. While there, he would spend time with his best–and only–friend Hideyoshi (Hide) and gaze soulfully at Rize–the girl he has a crush on.

After a close encounter with a ghoul that nearly claims his life, Kaneki wakes up in the hospital and realizes that something is not quite right. As Kaneki struggles to navigate the world he has been thrust into, he strives to hold onto what makes him a human being.

Characters

Kaneki

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1

Outwardly, Kaneki appears to be a regular boy. In reality, he is a hybrid. After an encounter with a voracious ghoul, he recovers, but comes to the unsettling realization that he is no longer human.  Kaneki now has to walk on a tightrope that, should he fall in either direction, will alter his life forever.

Rize

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1

A beautiful woman with glasses and purple hair, she is whom Kaneki has a crush on. She shares the same tastes in books as he does, and truly, who doesn’t like a girl with glasses? Her fate and Kaneki’s are irrevocably intertwined, but you will just have to watch the anime to understand why.

Ghouls

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1

The city of Tokyo is divided into a series of wards, and there are ghouls who reside in each ward. As with many things that are not fully understood, the ghouls are looked upon with disgust. Their discrimination has nothing to do with their appearance because they look like ordinary people. However, it may or may not have something to do with their diet. Ghouls gain sustenance through consuming human flesh–living or dead. They have even been known to feed off of one another in acts of cannibalism. Besides their dietary habits, ghouls have an inherent ability that allows them to get their meals and/or defend themselves. This is called their kagune. Much like fingerprints, kagune are specific to the ghoul. In cases like Kaneki’s, if the organ that allows the kagune to manifest is transplanted, the recipient will have the same abilities. Ghouls also wear masks that helps to disguise their identities and prevents the doves from pursuing them.

Commission of Counter Ghouls (Doves)

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 - Commission of Counter Ghouls (Doves)

The Commission of Counter Ghouls (CCG for short) is an organization that is supposed to reign in the ghouls and keep them in line. The CCG trains a specific type of ghoul investigator, known as Doves. They are called doves because of the seal that the CCG uses to designate their status as ghoul investigators.

Anteiku

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 - AnteikuLaurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 - Anteiku

Anteiku is the name of the cafe that Kaneki likes to visit with Hide. The cafe is a front for what they truly are–a watchdog organization that monitors the 20th Ward. In addition to enforcing order, they will assist a ghoul who is down on his or her luck. This includes acquiring food for those who cannot hunt for themselves. How? Well, there is a cliff that usually has a ready supply of meat at the bottom of it.

Aogiri

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 - Aogiri

Aogiri is a counter organization that originates in the 11th Ward. Just what are their intentions and why have they come to the 20th Ward?

Pros

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1

The anime has a lot of depth and touches a lot of sensitive subjects such as class, mindless hate, and internal struggle. I can appreciate anime that chooses to shed light on topics that people prefer to overlook. Tokyo Ghoul brings all of these and more to the viewer. Ghouls are considered an anathema on society. Like anything else, there is good and bad–or the perception of such. I feel the anime does a good job of showing that there is goodness, even beauty in ghouls, and we have more in common with them than one would believe. Another commonality that is evident in the anime is internal struggle.  The struggle to hang onto what makes you you is prevalent. This is exemplified not only in Kaneki, but in those around him, too.

Cons

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1
One of the earliest struggles I initially had was just keeping up with all of the information thrown at the viewer. It can be a bit much to take in. While I do not necessarily consider that a bad thing, I do feel that it lends credence to the MA rating. A huge con for me was the ending of season 1. I dislike it when a series (be it anime or books) ends on a HUGE cliffhanger! Gah! You’re killing me, Smalls! (Yes, I’m looking at you, Attack on Titan!) Thankfully, season 2 was readily available, and I was able to swan dive into it. Otherwise, I would be stewing in frustration while waiting for the continuation.

Music

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 - TK from Ling Toshite Sigure Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 -People in the BoxOpening:  Unravel by TK from Ling Toshite Sigure
Ending:  Seijatachi by People in the Box
I feel that the lyrics of both songs tie in really well to the overall theme of the season. I do not have words to describe my love of the opening. It is just so good. However, I am not a huge fan of the ending. I really want to like it, but unfortunately, I do not. Of course, this is just my opinion.

Please check it out on the Yatta-Tachi Dubtrack.FM Broadcast! Hang out, listen to JPop music and chat with other fans, along with the Yatta-Tachi staff!

Animation

Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 Laurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1
The animation suits the anime. While it is clean and the use of color is generous–especially when it comes to a ghoul’s kagune, there is a grittiness that is present, and I like it!  The animation captures the seediness of the environment and lends to the overall feel of the anime itself.

Overall
Love it or hate it, Tokyo Ghoul definitely leaves an impression upon the viewer. I can honestly say that Tokyo Ghoul is one of the darkest anime I have seen in a long time. Once I ventured down the rabbit hole, I could not for the life of me get out–even if I wanted to. Initially, I was a bit put off simply by the cover image. As disturbing as it was, I decided to give it a shot. Now, I am no stranger to twisted aLaurelin Reviews: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1nd dark anime/manga. The thought that went through my mind was, “Weelll, I watched and enjoyed Elfen Lied, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, and Umineko no Naku Koro ni.  How bad can this be?”  The level of violence and gore exceeds all of those titles combined. Tokyo Ghoul definitely earned its MA rating!

I will say this though, I enjoyed the season 1 so much, I watched season 2. Stay tuned for my review of season 2 of Tokyo Ghoul.

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About the Author

Laurelin

I have watched anime for as long as I can remember and am a proud nerd. My first love is the written word. I LOVE to read. I am an avid fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, Jim Butcher, and Kristen Britain. When I'm not watching anime and drinking coffee, I am reading and drinking coffee with my orange kitty, Milo, at my side~! >^.^<

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