Tokyo Ghoul starts very simple. Kaneki Ken is an average quiet college freshman who loves reading books and hanging out with his only friend, Hide. The Tokyo they live in is going through a quiet chaos created by human look alike people called Ghouls, who live among humans but feed on their flesh.
Kaneki doesn’t have anyone–no family and only Hide for a friend–which probably makes him the perfect target because nobody will ask about this kid. When he goes on his first date with the girl he likes, he has no idea his life is about to change forever.
It is after that night and after he is attacked that Kaneki receives a transplant and becomes a half-Ghoul. He’s been human all his life and now one of the basic needs for him to survive has become killing people and eating them.
Ghouls cannot eat anything but human flesh; not only human food tastes horrible to them, but it also makes them ill. Ghouls are pretty much hunted by investigators in Tokyo, so Kaneki has to hide his new self, even from his one and only friend Hide. Hide is ‘food’ now, so what happens if Kaneki starves himself to insanity.
The story starts and expands as Kaneki struggles to keep his humanity through his encounter with different conflicting groups–Ghouls that cannibalize other Ghouls, those who kill humans and eat them more for enjoyment rather than need, humans that refuse to accept Ghouls are creatures capable of feeling as much as humans, humans who hunt Ghouls, and Ghouls that believe humans should all be destroyed. Slowly, the story turns into a character study: How far does it take for the innocent to break?
If you want an Attack on Titan kind of anime with a solid action plot, you might not like Tokyo Ghoul as much. It has some great action sequences and a lot of gore and violence – especially the last two episodes are definitely not for the faint-hearted. But what makes the show especial is the characters.
Kaneki is a great protagonist. He is ‘real’. We’ve watched some series with the main character adapting to their new situation so unrealistically fast. Some might see Kaneki as weak for the way he struggles to become a real Ghoul or remain a real human, and how he’s trapped between the two worlds without a place or anyone to go to. But those are features that make Kaneki a real, likable character, and make where the plot heads to so very sad, and equally satisfying.
This series has potential to become one of the best anime’s in recent memory if it gets a few more seasons. In fact, the plot is thick enough here to warrant many more seasons. Season 1 does a excellent job setting the context and introducing us to the characters. It would be a shame if Tokyo Ghoul ended after just 24 episodes.
If you fail to reach the midpoint of the first season, you will judge this series inaccurately based on limited data. If you make it to the midpoint, however, you will have that epiphany you’ve been searching for and the show will appear before you in a new light, as it has to me.
This is a small video of Ken Kaneki cosplay, comes from awesome cosplayer Kenson: