Calling all horror fans, there is an anime that I have seen that will has a lot of the horror aspects you’ve been looking for: blood, gore, unique story and characters, and beautiful art! Ever since last summer, I have been getting into the horror genres for anime and novels, examples being Attack on Titan, Another (I will post a review of this anime soon), Carrie (which I will review soon), and the anime I’m reviewing today, Tokyo Ghoul, are the horror shows I’ve been studying. Tokyo Ghoul is definitely different and unique from the horror stories and anime I’ve read and seen, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat, with a few sob fests in between.
Tokyo Ghoul follows a story of an introverted eighteen year old boy named Ken Kaneki just barely survives after getting his organs eaten by Rize Hamishiro, his date who revels herself as a ghoul. Kaneki is taken to the hospital and was able to recover because some of Rize’s organs were transplanted into him before he was taken to the hospital. Kaneki then feels the urge to consume human flesh in order to survive, but then he meets a few other ghouls who take him in to work at the shop. There, he’s taught how to deal with his new life as a half ghoul, and he tries to keep his identity hidden from his human friends and the CCG, a group of investigators that assassinate the ghouls that live in Japan.
In this horror series, the creator Sui Ishida develops the plot and character development in the first season seriously, which can be compared to Stephen King’s frightening horror novels. For example, the main character, Ken Kaneki– his character traits are timid, introverted, and scared, but as his character develops, he becomes a stronger and more likable among the viewers. In the second season, the new characters that are shoved into the show are barely developed enough for me to even remember them, which makes the season kind of a disappointment for me.
The animation for this series is gorgeous and the artists did a wonderful job keeping the colors toned in different scenes. During the day, the scenery tends to have brighter colors, and same with the café that Kaneki works at; at night, the colors have a darker tone to them and almost an eerie feeling. As for the battle scene, the art shines brilliantly and the dark red blood is drawn out dramatically yet beautifully.
Now, the original soundtrack for Tokyo Ghoul, composed by Yutaka Yamada, stands out from other horror music. Most of the time, there are creepy sounds for a horror film, but this anime has some rock music, few suspenseful sound effects, and quite a bit of piano music. The original version of the first opening, Unravel, has a mix of rock and piano music and can be really catchy when you listen to it. When the viewers get the end of the second season, they are going to hear the song again, but in acoustic version. The composer composes creates the acoustic version in a way that the audience will be able figure out why the song was used in the previous season by watching the scene the music is used in and reading the English translated lyrics. After looking at the lyrics on the screen in front of me, I remember crying my eyes out for a while and feeling very upset for the rest of the day. Lesson learned: lyrics to a song can really teach you a lot!
While the music in this show is definitely beautiful, there are just too many tracks that are used for each scene—about a total of twenty-six tracks per season. If there was a total of maybe twelve songs per season, that would have been a lot better and more efficient.
As you all know, I watch most anime in English dub, and this anime had beautiful voice acting! Every single one of the voice actors and actresses do a remarkable job with expressing their characters and conveying the right emotions for each scene the characters are in. Austin Tindle, the voice of Kaneki and my favorite voice actor for this series, has the best voice for his character. I do not think anyone could have played Ken Kaneki better than Austin Tindle. The only flaws I found in the English dub are the pace and rhythm in the second season. There were quite a few moments when either the voices would have a very slow pace or even a fast pace to the point where the lip syncing is a bit off and awkward.
Another pro I have this series is the use of powerful themes and life lessons. One would think that a horror would have the life lessons such as “don’t talk to strangers” and “never go into the basement when it’s dark,” but Tokyo Ghoul does not have that. This show actually portrays many life lessons that will help the audience look at the world differently than before watching the amine.
Since some anime have tons of gore, sometimes it is necessary to create a censored version of a series, and that happens to this show. I didn’t like the censorship in this anime because it was just unnecessary and some of the battles were covered for no reason. With bright colors to cover the blood and some battle sequences, the viewers watching the censored version miss the wonderful horror elements and do not get to enjoy the whole series altogether.
And there you have it! This is what I thought of Tokyo Ghoul. All and all, I really loved it, and it’s definitely one of the most gruesome and depressing shows I have seen, hence the four and a half stars. And once the third season airs at the end of this year of the beginning of 2018, I will give you my impression of it and see if the series will, hopefully, raise the bar after what happened in season two. If you are interested in watching this show but you’re sensitive when it comes to blood, then I wouldn’t recommend it, even the censored version; there is a lot of blood in the show and pretty touchy topics such as death, abuse, cannibalism, etc. If you haven’t seen anime before and really enjoy horror films and novel, then Tokyo Ghoul will definitely be worth your time and will have you binge-watching until the very end!
Life lessons I’ve learn from Tokyo Ghoul:
You can’t save anyone by yourself.
Don’t be afraid to speak out if something is unconvincing to someone.
Bravery and being strong are two different things.
We may not know it, but many people are fighting battles inside their own lives.
It doesn’t take time to hate, but it takes time to trust.
Started the series: June 25th, 2016
Finished both seasons: July 30th, 2016