Writer: Charlotte Parker
I for one love horror manga because, not only is it a refresher from the more colorful and silly series, they are also created for the mature audiences with rock hard stomachs. Series such as Hellsing, Elfen Lied and Ayakashi keep us on the edge of our seats and constantly having us point and scream “Oh my God!” Tokyo Ghoul, with just the first volume, did just that to me.
I hadn’t heard of the series until I happened to come upon it while browsing upcoming anime titles for the Summer 2014 anime season. All I saw were the words “Tokyo Ghoul Coming This July” followed by this:
Who was this monstrous-looking, white haired young man? I must admit white-haired male anime characters are a weakness of mine, so I thought, “Yes! I need to find out more about this and him.” As it turns out, the anime would be an adaptation of an ongoing manga series of the same name. I decided to read the first volume or so, and immediately I was hooked.
With the very first page, we are shown a view of Tokyo, lit up at night with the words “Humans are considered on the top of the food chain… but there are beings who hunt them as a good source… these monsters who hunt down the dead flesh of humans. They are called… Ghouls.” All the while, we see a young man crying and begging for his life as a dark, red-eyed figure stalks and stares.
Right after, the words “Melancholy becomes this mysterious man in whom destiny lives like a parasite,” followed by the chapter’s first title, “Tragedy” are shown. Just what exactly was I getting myself into? As I mentioned, I am a fan of horror, but this, with the very FIRST page, was going to be more than a typical monster story.
We are introduced to Kaneki Ken, the series’s main protagonist, sitting in a local café, chatting with his ball of sunshine best friend, Hideyoshi Nagachika (Hide). The two are discussing topics most college men seem to talk about: books, girls, school and ghouls. Hide makes fun of Kaneki, calling him wimpy and nerdy for constantly reading “incomprehensible books”, and that he would get eaten up in an instant. What I love is that we get a feel for who Kaneki is from his response to the book remark and not the fact he is a scrawny nerd.
As Hide and Kaneki keep talking, we as the audience are given a brief backstory on ghouls. They only hunt and eat humans and disguise themselves as everyday people. This sparks a cute argument between the two on what ghouls actually look like under their human guise.
I was completely swept away by Kaneki’s innocence and adorableness, fully knowing that this young man was going to have a terrible and tragic story. Yet I kept reading. I needed to know what was to become of him. I especially needed to know how he goes from this:
Little did I know just how tragic this young man’s life was about to become. And it all started with an innocent date that turned disgustingly ugly real fast.