Review: Tokyo Ghoul – Episode 1

Tokyo Ghoul didn’t turn out how I expected it to, but it might turn out better in the end. It will definitely depend on what happens in the second episode because the ending of this first episode kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Everything leading up to the ending was tremendous though. The story takes place in a world that is populated by flesh-eating ghouls. They are actually dead and they live off of humans, but one human can last them weeks or even months. People kind of accept this fact because ghouls also have incredible powers which tends to vary on the ghoul, but speed seems to be a common factor.

The story kicks off with an ordinary human by the name of Kaneki. He’s all alone in the world and he’s working up the nerve to ask a girl out for the first time. His friend Hide gives him a hard time, but nice guy Kaneki preserves and ends up going on a date with a beautiful named Rize. They seem to hit it off as they both like the same author and have a splendid date at a book store. Rize asks for Kaneki to walk her home due to all the ghoul attacks in her neighborhood and lo and behold she turns out to be a ghoul. Kaneki puts up a fight after being bitten and is saved when some construction beams fall and kill Rize.

Tokyo Ghoul PosterSince Rize smashed the shit out of Kaneki’s insides he needs all new organs and since Rize is dead and in human form the doctor in charge uses her organs. This turns Kaneki into a human/ghoul hybrid that has never been seen before. Kaneki figures it out when he can’t eat anything because normal food makes him throw up. He catches a TV show that talks about the difference between Ghoul and human tongues and it all but confirms it for him that he’s no longer human. This sends him into a deep depression, but his journey isn’t over just yet.

I won’t say what happens in the last five minutes of the show, but it sets the stage for the rest of the series. The only part that I didn't like was the very last scene. It just didn't seem necessary.

Kaneki’s humanity really rings true in this first episode. There’s a scene in which he tries to eat everything in the house including a bag of food his friend Hide bought him. He feels terrible that he’s wasting the food that his friend went out of his way to get, but he can’t keep it down which brings him to tears. The pinnacle of the scene comes when he takes the time to cook his favorite hamburger and bites into it. He doesn’t instantly puke like the other times, but you can tell by the stream of tears that he can’t bear the taste. Kaneki cries a lot, but given the situation I think that’s the human response as his life as he knows it is over.

The story is supposed to deal with him battling back and forth with being a ghoul and a human and holding onto his humanity. I hope it stays there and doesn’t go all “look at these cool powers” on us because that’s not the part that’s interesting. Given the same situation I don’t know if I could carry on knowing my one and only food source is people, especially when you consider yourself among their numbers.

I’ve personally have been looking for a dark fantasy story and this itched that spot perfectly. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but the potential is there for it to be very different and present a great story about fighting your nature to hold on to your humanity.

Score: 4/5

Director: Shuhei Morita Writer: Chuji Mikasano Studio: Pierrot Distributor: Funimation