Sci-Fi Manga and Anime Review:
There has been a slew of “maybe the monster isn’t that bad” stories. Many—like Twilight—have left some viewers disgusted with the genre, and yearning for a time when the only good vampire was one with a stake in his heart.
Tokyo Ghoul, however, is a cut above. Kaneki, the central character, finds himself in a horrific situation. He is a human, but, after nearly being crushed to death, was given an organ transplant from a ghoul. Now he struggles with a newfound hunger which, left unchecked, could lead to him eating those he loves. As the story progresses, he finds himself torn between the society of humans and the society of ghouls blending in among those they long to devour.
Kaneki is quickly taken in by a group of ghouls that try to minimize the amount of carnivorous damage they do. Nonetheless, even their methods often make them do ethically dubious things…like scavenging for already dead bodies to eat.
What makes Kaneki’s journey fascinating is that he quickly learns to see the personhood of both the humans and the ghouls without succumbing to an easy relativism. He soon realizes that he is uniquely suited to try and create a truce between the warring species.
What are you allowed to do if survival requires you to do something horrible? The situation of the show may seem extreme, but there are plenty of real world corollaries. What do you do if economic survival requires you to break the law? What do you do if your country drafts you into a less-than-just war? What do you do if you will be fired for doing what is right?
To enjoy the show one has to allow the ghouls some moral rounding, rounding that perhaps we would not grant in real life. But the show does have a necessary moral core: those we think of as monsters are perhaps just people in a desperate situation. And are we sure we would do any better?
The art and action are flawless. Just make sure you have a strong stomach for some scenes. Also be warned that the show can hint at some intense issues…as if its central premise wasn’t intense enough. Overall this is a brilliant take on the “maybe the monster isn’t that bad” genre, and one of the finest animes out there.
Click Here to see beautiful animation of the show’s opening theme.
Note: At present I am almost through season 1. I look forward to what unfolds next, and may write more reviews as I finish more of the show.