Fate can take a lot of turns in life. You find that dollar on the sidewalk and buy a winning lotto ticket, others can be in the used DVD store quality. I was at 2nd and Charles (by the way a fun place for cool stuff) and noticed a rather beaten up copy of the Tokyo Ghoul, first season on DVD for $10.50. This is an up and coming series that has a lot of chatter on about it so I figured “why not, I can save me $30 and try this out”. I also got lucking in a second way when my wife looked at the series and
became interested allowing for much quicker viewing.
Tokyo Ghoul is a story about an average college student finally able to go out with the girl of his dreams, unfortunately for him she is a blood thirsty monster who wants to eat him. Fate intervenes and she dies before she can finish him off giving him access to her organs in a transplant that not only saves his life but changes it fundamentally forever. This story examines the lives of Ghouls, humanoids who have to eat human flesh to survive and their relationships with the numerous humans that live around them. Our hero gets to see how very different aspects of society are changed in relation to the ghouls living within many times at his peril as he has to learn to adapt to the new double life he has to live.
This is a very well animated show. The movements and fight scenes are very fluid and the colors are vibrant to the point that I wish I had purchased this on Blue Ray (not making that mistake for season 2). The backgrounds are very stylish and kind of have a Twin Peaks style feel to them coming off as creepy yet garish at the same time. The voice acting for the English cast was pretty much on point with a veteran cast (these days most English voice actors are veterans) and good choices for the characters they are representing. I didn’t thing at all that any of them was bored or wanted to leave, which is good considering I have had that feeling in the past from some series. The characters are interesting with a strong supporting cast of the usual types: Serious Guy in Classes, Tsundere, Useless Kid, etc. Finally the story is gripping and thrilling at the same time. It draws you in to see the different ways Ghouls had adapted to living in human society and that not all of them were just random serial killers. The pacing keeps you watching for multiple episodes at a time and keeps you well ensnared in the plot.
With the above being said there are four aspects of this series that bother me with three being minor things and the last being a major drawback (dropping the rating I gave by 2 points). The first is with the animation. I feel that it is fluid and at times beautiful to look at but the fight scenes can be hard to follow and sometimes confusing at moments. The second is where it left off. They must have been damn confident that they were getting a second season as they left off in the friggen middle of a battle. It was an ok drop off point but if the series had ended this alone would have kept me from buying it. The third aspect is that I felt they underutilized many of the background characters. There is a wealth of riches here that I feel has been underused due to the length of the show. I can give them slack on this as the show is only in season one but I was saddened that one of the characters ended up dying before we could delve much into his past history. The last and most aggravating point is the main character. This guy is Shinji Ikari all over again (for those of you unfamiliar he is the main character in evangelion). This guy is spineless, whiney and indecisive to the point where people end up dying because of it. Every time this guy would go into his whiney rants about how terrible it is that he has to eat human flesh or he doesn’t want to fight made me feel like he was clawing a chalk board. This is the reason why I cannot give the series one major writing boon for the internal conflict between the character’s old life and new one because every time we focused too much on him you just wanted to slap the guy. I am curious as to how they will treat him come season two as the end of one brought him through some pretty significant mental and physical changes that may end up being for the better.
In the end this is a gripping thriller (not horror, I feel this is a hard thing to do in anime) that will keep you interested and despite its negatives will make you want to have more even if you cannot stomach the main entrée. The only afterthought is that you really need to keep up with the series if you plan on watching it so make sure you have money invested.