Tokyo Ghoul is indubitably one of the most anticipated animes of the summer season. Loosely based on the manga but Sui Ishida, Tokyo Ghoul is a dark, bloody, emphatic journey of Ken Kaneki who’s just a college student trying to find a girlfriend, but is soon attacked and granted the organs of a Ghoul. Ghouls aren’t uncommon in Tokyo Ghoul, but Kaneki is thrust into a brand new world full of powerful fighters that are protective of their territories, Anti-Ghoul Investigators, and maintaining a brand new diet. This all sounds like the makings of a terrific, new shonen series, but Tokyo Ghoul has several problems before anyone will consider it a classic.
In preparation for a lot of these series I’ll watch every season, I’ll read a volume or two of their manga. Tokyo Ghoul was one I was hastily ready to check out, but I was rather turned off after its lackluster first volume full of splotchy artwork and poor pacing, but insisted on trying the anime upon its airing. Studio Pierrot (Naruto, Yu Yu Hakusho) and director Shuhei Morita (Possessions, Valvrave the Liberator) have done their best to adapt Ishida’s manga, but due to heavy, laughable censorship and rearranging of plot details and events, it’s almost an unidentifiable mess from the get-go. I understand adaptations have changed several things from the source material for decades, so I can forgive Morita and his team for doing so. Either they would enter filler area, or they can’t tell the entire story in their 12 episode planned cour, but the censorship in Tokyo Ghoul is an entirely different story.
Much like the changing of adaptations, I understand why the censorship exists and why it’s implemented the way it is, but the fact that there are scenes where up to 90% of the screen is covered in black or white to hide the naughty bits is a turn off. A lot of the time, the censorship completes dilutes the dramatic or poignant moments by completely obliterating and hiding their existence. Hide the bad parts, sure, I understand, but defeat the purpose of the bad parts existence, and you have a problem. The inevitable home media releases will undoubtedly remove all of the censorship and show Tokyo Ghoul in all of its gruesome glory, but as it is in its current form, Tokyo Ghoul is a shell of an otherwise interesting prospect. Kaneki’s introduction to the world and juggling his newfound life with the rest of the humans is magnificent to watch; especially when he’s trying to understand how his new diet of human flesh will either be undertaken, or he will die.
The rearranging of the plot’s events and details aren’t as bothersome as the censorship, and if it’s planning to end where I think it is, it will be a bloody finale. But I really cannot understand why they switched a couple of the arcs around for this adaptation. Without getting too spoiler-heavy, the ‘Gourmet’ arc plays out much like its manga counterpart, but switching it to happen before the “Investogator’s” arc causes some disparaging development for Kaneki. It’s not groan-worthy, nor a bad handling of the content, just odd and questionable why it was aired this way.
Bah, enough of what’s wrong with Tokyo Ghoul, let’s talk about the good. The action is fast, frenzied and out of control, but you’re able to keep up and feel every blow landing. Kaneki is in his learning stages, so he’ll get his ass kicked a lot, but Touka and the rest of the Anteiku café Ghouls aren’t so new to fighting and can help Kaneki with their kanegu (a Ghouls armory within their body) when needed. This is a visceral anime, and limbs and other body parts will be lost and eaten by Ghouls, so be forewarned, blood will spill. One such arc, the Gourmet arc, has Kaneki led into the Ghoul Restaurant by Shū Tsukiyama under the pretense to show him a new way of life as a Ghoul, but it’s ultimately a trap to have Kaneki eaten. It’s quirky and albeit a tad predictable, but it shows how ludicrous the Ghouls can be in order to survive in the world.
Tokyo Ghoul has some cool ideas, but the production really sends my recommendation for this show down a lot. If you can looks past the heavy censorship and see the show for what it’s trying to do as an anime, kudos to you. I’ll stick with it to the end (and still read the manga also) and I’ll have a final review up very soon after its finale, but I’m not looking forward to what Tokyo Ghoul has in store for me thanks to preceding episodes. You can actually watch Tokyo Ghoul via Funimation’s site every Thursday.