Monday, July 21, 2014

Tokyo Ghoul

Right then, got a lot of shows to talk about, so moving right along: Tokyo Ghoul.

The second show this season with the capitol city of Japan featured prominently in the title, also a strong second for "front runner" this season amongst my fellow anime pilgrims.

Tokyo Ghoul is the animation of the dark fantasy manga series with the same name by Sui Ishida.  It takes place in a modern day version of Japan (and probably the rest of the world) where flesh eating "Ghouls" are a known threat.  They don't come out and say "hey, we're ghouls and we want to eat you", but the Tokyo PD also aren't going around saying "animal attack".

No, ghouls are a real problem.  Their attacks make the news and there are doctors trying to study them.  However, ghouls aren't like zombies, they're just like humans at a glance until they ghoul out and get pure black and red eyes.  They just...happen to only be able to eat human flesh (and, incidentally, coffee), have super strength, toughened skin, and super blood tentacles.



So anyways, the story starts with Ken Kaneki, who's only real character trait is that he reads.  So he goes on a date with this girl, turns out she's a psychopathic, binge-eating ghoul (*gasp*), 

Oh, just down this dark alley?  That's not suspicious

she tries to kill him, there's a horrible accident where she dies and he just gets hospitalized and in a case of life-or-death, a doctor has to swap some of Kaneki's organs.  He wakes up and has one crazy ghoul eye.

He gets his eye under control, goes home and finds out he can't eat anything without throwing up, has an episode in the streets, and has a lot of trouble coming to terms with what he is becoming.  He meets the nicest ghoul in the world, gets into a street fight, is saved by a waitress from earlier in the episode (turns out she's a ghoul, but not a psychopath), and she jams some human flesh down his throat.  And that's episode 1.

It wasn't too bad, really.  I think Tokyo Ghoul's strongest asset is how dark and fucked up it is (guess you kind of have to be when your genre is "DARK FANTASY").  There's lots of blood, squishing sounds, and a really apt metaphor between screwing another man's girlfriend and eating his food (you'll get it when you see it).  However, I would not say that gratuitous darkness equates to being a really great show, a mistake many people seem to make.  I mean, I thought Attack on Titan was only okay, as opposed to Suisei no Gargantia, a decidedly less dark show from the same season.

Maybe it's just not really my speed, I dunno.  I just prefer not to have my spirits crushed at every opportunity.

That being said, Tokyo Ghoul keeps its shit in check (as much as it can without losing it's "dark fantasy" street cred) and is a really solid show.  I'm interested to learn more about ghouls and their society (did I forget to mention that there's apparently some kind of ghoul government or something), I really like Touka (the waitress) who is a BADASS, and I'm genuinely invested in Kaneki's personal development.  Right now he's just kind of pussyfooting around being a ghoul and how that's bad, but we shall see, won't we.  The Hulu image for this show has Kaneki with a Hannibal Lecter style mask on, so here's to hoping he becomes some kind of ghoul vigilante or something.

Tokyo Ghoul is getting into it's third week, so it won't take long to get caught up if this seems like your bag.

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