Tokyo Ghoul is one of the more hyped up anime this season for a number of reasons. Mainly because it was, as I have heard, a very popular manga. The premise itself is easy to follow. The world is inhabited by two types of people: regular people and ghouls who eat people as a source of food. The main character, Kaneki Ken, after almost being killed by a ghoul is turned into a half ghoul-half human hybrid. By this time, I, who has not read the manga, assumed the show would explore the morality of and question the prejudice between the two groups using the MC as a focal perspective. While at the same time having some kickass fight sequences.
Boy was I wrong.
Story – 6/10
For the most part, Tokyo Ghoul’s storytelling was decent. It explored the different aspects of the ghoul community and made its point simple and concise. Although that’s about it. There isn’t anything too fancy or well done with its storytelling. Tokyo Ghoul is quick to establish the lore with the Wards (sectors), the Doves (anti ghoul police), and different types of ghouls. This last point emphasized by Anteiku and it’s here that Kaneki spends most of his time deliberating between his new and unique situation. The plot itself didn’t seem to be headed in any clear direction, but splits itself into different ‘mini-plots’ (similar to different story arcs in the manga) as Kaneki observes the different ghouls coming in and out of the cafe, and learns their own perspective of being a ghoul. While this in itself is fine, it creates other problems for character development and overall pacing. This is clear at the show’s 9th episode when there is a ghoul invasion in one of the other wards. It’s clear that this is the climax of the show, yet it feels blatantly out of place from the ‘mini-arc’ format the show was using so far. There was hardly any buildup leading up to the massive invasion and the last 4 episodes seemed to compress as much content as possible by amping up the pace, shown by the sudden high stakes and side characters being quickly introduced. It’s clear the ending was very rushed. Simply put, the show’s plot lacked focus. It did not take advantage of the interesting premise they had to work with.
Art – 8/10
I don’t have any complaints here. The animation is slick and smooth. The (very few) fights and battles are nice to watch. The weapons, qunique and kagune, were an interesting concept for the show and there were enough different types to show off. The show tended to lean toward more vivid colours in its art style and wasn’t afraid to use its full range of colours which I thought was a good decision for the show to make.
The characters themselves are distinct from one another in their art design and colour and I particularly liked how a character’s colour was associated with their personality. It’s a welcome change from other anime where characters look way too similar to one another. The OP and ED sequences were great to watch and is one of the few shows where I don’t skip its sequences. I especially like theme of contrast and reflection used in the OP.
Sound – 8/10
There wasn’t anything wrong with Tokyo Ghoul’s sound direction. Overall effects in fight scenes were synced well and so was background noise. Each character had their own defined voice and the voice acting complimented well with the art and colour style. That is to say, their voices were a little more on the melodramatic side. But it was used to good effect in presenting their own personalities and character. The OP and ED are both fantastic and fit well into the tone of the show, or rather the tone the show was trying to show.
Character – 5/10
Here is where Tokyo Ghoul suffers from the most and ultimately hinders enjoyment of the show. The show has a lot of side characters. A new character is introduced maybe every 1 to 2 episodes and none of these characters get enough screentime and character development. The fault of this is partly due to its 1-cour situation, but it’s also because of the mini-plot format of the show. A new character is introduced who interacts with Kaneki in some way before being pushed to the sidelines a couple of episodes later and a new character takes the stage. There is barely any exposition for the side characters and the way they were simply dumped to the side until the climax arc in the 9th episode was simply lazy.
The main characters themselves are regrettably 2-dimensional. Kaneki’s initial panic with his newfound situation was acceptable at first but he never grew out of his timidness despite the abundant characters and small setting he was confined to. Unfortunately, the lack of development for the side characters also meant Kaneki’s character development also suffered as a result. Kaneki himself always seems to be in helpless situations which he can’t get out of. The only ounce of character development is during Hinami’s arc in Episode 3 where he sees that there are ghouls who don’t wish to kill people. His entire character is just a tease to the final episode when he goes all badass. And even that in itself is a disappointment. That wasn’t what I wanted to see from the show at all.
Enjoyment – 6/10
I can tell you this. If you switch off your brain you’ll most likely enjoy this show. It doesn’t do anything new or unique within its own genre. Battles are cool. Characters are predictable and the setting is interesting enough. But if you’re looking for something of a higher quality caliber, then this show isn’t it. I was strung along the entire show thinking ‘this next episode is going to have more action’ or ‘this time Kaneki is going to do something’. The entire time the show left me with blue balls just waiting for the moment the show would present some sort of meaningful sequence or a badass fight scene. I was sorely disappointed. The final episode had some element of the exploration of morality and choice and it was at a level I was satisfied with, and something I expected to see from the first episode. Yet this wasn’t the case.
But hey, if anything else it was a decent Thursday night filler show. Better than Glasslip that’s for sure. The final episode did have me on edge, even if the characters are 2-dimensional, the execution and presentation of the final episode was able to convey a suspenseful tone which regrettably did not appear in any of the other episodes. I suppose its simply another typical shounen anime.
Overall – 6/10
I’ll admit to enjoying it enough. It wasn’t anything special in the end but it’s a decent show to watch if you’re looking for something to pass the time. If you were expecting any level of depth then you definitely won’t find it here. As explained before, the show had a lot of potential in presenting the different aspects and perspective between ghouls and humans and failed to capitalize. Unfortunately, in the end the show is average at best. It wasn’t the fault of the staff entirely as it could have benefited from more episodes, but the adaptation of the source material was mismanaged. For all its visual style it could not save the show from its muddled storytelling.
This is my first review. Feedback is welcome. A more detailed review can be viewed at my blog!