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Red eye in black in white. Review of Tokyo Ghoul

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Tokyo Ghoul

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It’s getting warmer outside and the spring time has sprung here in Baltimore. What’s a couple of well doing adults to do with those warming evening nights? What about a GhostWalk? Going on now, the Original Fell’s Point GhostWalk powers on. If you missed your chance to do this last October, don’t worry, you can go ahead a join them now as the tour ye old Fell’s Points favorite spots. Maybe you’ll spot a ghost yourself. But speaking of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls, let’s get to our manga of the week. This week, we’re stalking down Toukyou Kushu.

Since it won’t be too long before this manga becomes an anime, it only felt right to do a review about it. Toukyou Kushu, or better known as Tokyo Ghoul in the US, isn’t your standard zombie ghoul tale. While all the same tragic, the tale is weaved with the concepts of ghouls living right under humanity’s nose. This is the unfortunate fact that Ken Kaneki learns first hand when he’s brought face to face with his first ghoul, Riza. And though the experience doesn’t quite end like Riza hopes, no one expected what was to happen next. Waking up in the middle of a hospital, Kaneki learns that the monster that just tried to eat him has become a part of him, and now his true hell was beginning.

As an advent follower of the manga, one of the things that drew people in was undoubtedly the artwork. There are hundreds, if not thousands of horror themed manga out there but Sui Ishida’s cover art for the manga was unique. It was just so ordinary; a picture of a boy sitting in a chair in monotone colour but then there’s this one odd thing that stands out, the colour of his left eye. There’s this supernatural attraction while also having this overall sad/depressed expression on the boy who is Kaneki. It makes you want to read and find out why such a plan yet verbal cover. Once you crack up open the story, the artwork’s beauty doesn’t diminish. It’s fluid and elegant while at the same time capturing the gore, horror, and cryptic nature of this almost modern day noir-esque town. Human and ghoul are nearly identical except for when the hunger comes to the ghoul and we see the difference in the eyes. Ishida doesn’t make it so abstruse that they can’t be perceived as humans. It is in fact the opposite that they look so human, it’s scary. The kagunes are even drawn beautifully as you see the users as still human, but realize that these beautiful parts of the body can still kill and do horrible things.

The story starts at a moderate and emphatic pace with chapter one, but after that, things start to pick up. You get a lot of information in volume one involving Kaneki and it redefines what people think about ghouls. It’s likely best to forget most of the myths about ghouls and zombies and just take the manga’s definition of these beings as they are. For one, ghouls in the story aren’t dead, undead, or otherwise. Kaneki and the rest of the ghouls are alive and kicking. Volume one doesn’t focus on a villain but rather how Kaneki is coming to grip with things. He takes it like a lot of people take life breaking events, badly. But that’s part of his charm as you watch this guy get dragged from hell to hell as he makes heads or tails of his new horrifying life. Of course, he has to eat which has him running into trouble since the only thing ghouls can stomach is human flesh. It’s reminiscent of the yoma in Claymore. However, this is where a main villain of sorts comes in as Kaneki has to battle his hunger. The story keeps coming back to this primal drive and the fact that Kaneki has to accept it, even at the cost of humanity. Even though this type of plot has been done before, it’s not overbearing or hackneyed. In the form that it is, it’s refreshing, especially in the volumes that follow.

Overall, the manga is a must read. At points some may get tired of Kaneki whining, but that’s part of the charm of the character. The manga is on its fifth released volume and getting ready to be serialized. Hopefully, the anime adaptation does the series its due justice and cuts no corner. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

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