Recently, I just finished the Tokyo Ghoul manga for the first time. 30 volumes later and a lot of money spent, I finally finished it and I can say with the utmost confidence that it is the single best thing I have ever read and will ever read. If you haven’t already read Tokyo Ghoul, I urge you to do so and also to not read this blog as there will be a lot of spoilers as it is very hard to gush about it without completely spoiling the series. If I got into every aspect of what makes Tokyo Ghoul absolutely amazing this one blog post would be an entire novel so I’ll try to separate them all into different posts.
Before I start fully gushing and explaining the story, there are a few things I need to explain. There are ghouls and humans. Ghouls are similar to humans in every way except for the fact that they have especially enhanced physical abilities as well as enhanced resistance and healing. They have the same faces, the same brain chemistry, and even feel the same. Ghouls can have far more complicated lives and trauma than most humans could even comprehend. Ghouls are strong but fragile creatures that need the same care and attention that humans do. Their physical abilities make it extremely difficult to kill without a special weapon. Fortunately, Ghouls are given a special weapon. Ghouls are born with an extra organ known as a kahuo which produces kagunes that have the ability to take a ghoul’s life or inflict mortal injuries. Generally, ghouls are an eradication target for humans, and said eradications are executed by an organization known as the CCG who wield quinques which are basically dead ghouls kagune that a human can use.
What makes Ghouls especially interesting is that there are four types of Kahuo, Ukakau, Kokaku, Rinkaku, and Bikaku. Ukaku’s reside on the top of the ghouls back. Ukaku users are agile and operate at the range, they hit hard but their endurance is not great. Kokakus are near the upper-middle back and tend to be more sword-like, heavy, and hard-hitting weapons. Rinkakus reside near the lower-middle back and tend to be frailer in nature but also abundant. Typically a more tentacle-like weapon with fast-moving and acrobatic movements as well as immense healing abilities. The main character is a Rinkaku. Bikaku kahous are at the very lower back and tend to be more tail-like weapons that can be immensely capable if the user uses them well. The General rule is that the kahuo below is stronger than the kahuo above. What makes them even more interesting is that ghouls can cannibalize and consume other kahuos to use their abilities and enhance their own. This becomes very important throughout the manga.
Unlike any other monsters vs. humans anime/manga, the monsters are just as much of a protagonist as the humans, which constantly leaves the reader confused over who to side with and who really deserves to live. This moral struggle leads the reader to realize that it’s not ghouls or humans who are wrong, the world is wrong.
Next, there’s the main character, Ken Kaneki, a quiet and frail boy with little confidence and only one real friend. Kaneki meets an especially strong ghoul named Rize. Unknowing that she is a ghoul, the two go on a date. Rize is about to eat Kaneki when a stack of steel beams falls on the two of them, putting them in the hospital. Rize’s life is forfeit and the only way to save Kaneki is by giving her ghoul abilities to Kaneki. Ken has now been struck with the burden of being a ghoul and needing to feed on the human matter despite living as a human for his whole life. Kaneki is taken in by a mysterious ghoul named Mr. Yoshimura who owns a coffee shop where Kaneki would live and work as he found his footing in the ghoul world.
As the story progresses, Kaneki has now had feet in both worlds. In the ghoul world he is loved, needed, and accepted. Kaneki cannot embrace his own ghoul powers and for the majority of the first part, he continually puts his ghoul friends in danger to save his skin. Kaneki won’t eat, won’t sleep, and most importantly is unwilling to unleash his immense latent power to do what needs to be done. By the mid-season, both our ghoul friends and the CCG have a clear common enemy. Aogiri tree, a group of ghouls set to create a new world for ghouls to exist in peace. However, their noble cause is executed through eradication and suffering much like the CCG. Both Aogiri tree and the CCG have horribly psychopathic members obsessed with eradication and death, but still have many members who truly want change in the world but have no better options. Two opposite goals clash with each other endlessly with no forward progress.
The first part of Tokyo Ghoul is an absolutely genius introduction into this world. The readers are given a tragic hero, stuck in the in-between, trying to navigate the Ghoul world as a former human. He sees the immense horrors of both worlds, although he has not scratched the surface of his own power, he himself has some idea of his own abilities. He knows that he must take or be taken and for the entirety of the first season, he allows himself to be taken, hiding behind his selfish morals and his own idea that he is not strong enough.
Finally, at the end of the first part, Kaneki is captured by an especially psychopathic ghoul who is also obsessed with Rize, the owner of Kaneki’s Kahuo. This ghoul, Jason A.K.A. Yamori is part of Aogiri Tree and suffered horrible torture earlier in his life, causing him to completely break and become one of the most feared ghouls in Aogiri Tree. Jason tortures Kaneki for hours and hours on end. Jasons horrible torture methods push Kaneki over the edge, and in a vision with Rize, he finally realizes the extent of his power. In one of the best scenes with one of the best art, Kaneki kills Jason, finally gaining control of his Kagune and leaving his morals behind. Kaneki is a killer now and he has a plan to find the doctor that turned him into a ghoul and understand who he is.
Even though Tokyo Ghoul part one is the least of what Sui Ishida can accomplish, it is the perfect introduction to one of the best Mangas ever written.