Series: Tokyo Ghoul, #1
Translator: Joe Yamazaki
Publisher: VIZ Media
Pub. Date: 2011, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Seinen Manga
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Society contains humans and Ghouls, who look and behave like humans most of the time. One problem: the Ghouls must eat humans to survive. Ken Kaneki, a human in this society, is thrilled to go on a date with the woman he likes, but it turns out she only wants to eat him. After an accident and a dubious rescue, he transforms into human-Ghoul hybrid. Now Ken has to survive Ghoul wars, learn the ways of Ghoul society, and come to terms with his existence as a half-Ghoul. The first volume of Tokyo Ghoul, by Sui Ishida, explores a transformation into that of a monster and the way one man copes with this horrific change.
After seeing one boy’s love of Tokyo Ghoul and subsequently watching the first season of the anime, I decided to read the manga. In a way, I find it more satisfying than the anime. I want to read more of the series. The great part of this manga is how much of the story and the world it encompassed in nine chapters.
The world building is excellent. I like that it starts with speculation from two human characters about the existence of ghouls and their appearance. Then it dives deeper in a way that gives both expert and novice perspectives on the world of ghouls. On this note, some ghoul encounters make the gutter space black, which makes it all the more terrifying.
Ken Kaneki was a happy introvert, book dragon, and college student before he showed his best friend, Hide, the woman he has a crush on. After dealing with that Ghoul, he has to come to terms with being a Ghoul—he needs to accept that he has to eat humans to live. His connections to books he has read augments what is happening to him and how his character is developing.
Touka is a secondary character of interest because she, along with one other Ghoul, provides that expert perspective of Ghoul life. She works at a coffee shop. She knows some key facts about characters and Ghoul society that foreshadow what is about to be discovered by Kaneki. Her interactions with and about Kaneki show that she will be important in the future.
Ishida’s art is stunning. Each character is uniquely drawn, and his or her emotions were drawn exquisitely. The scenes of Ghouls and gore created horror, and a few contrasted that horror with something close to beautiful. A few panels zoom in on certain reactions and dialogue that are significant to the moment. On example is when Hide notices Kaneki is uncomfortable with a situation and is struggling to come up with an excuse. The panel shows Ken trying to make that excuse, and the panel next to it focuses on Hide watching Kaneki with concern and immediately trying to help him out of it. The city scenery is unexpectedly beautiful.
If you like reading horror or anything with dark themes, this is a book for you. If you like books with monsters, Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1, is for you.