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Tokyo Ghoul Volume Five – Review

Tokyo-Ghoul-Volume-Five-Cover-Image-02Countless times in the past I’ve had conversations with other individuals regarding the vast difference between us humans and animals. For the longest time I felt as though I never had an educated-enough answer, or an intelligent-enough justification for my statement, but over the years I have come to understand certain small things about this interesting experience we call life that has allowed me to formulate answers to certain once-difficult questions that plagued me in my years as a young adult. What is a defining factor that truly separates humans from animals? One answer I feel as though I can accurately describe is an animal’s ability to assess situations and other animals within a split second, allowing them the opportunity to make break-neck decisions that could essentially mean the continuation of their life. Man kind does indeed feature a similar trait that, in more contemporary times, has been labelled “judging a book by it’s cover”, but I tend to believe it goes much deeper than that. It descends to an evolutionary level, the likes of which have been made practically obsolete in modern times.

Still, I see neighbourhood dogs halted by the presence of another, metres away from each other, preparing for the best and worse of the upcoming situation. I have seen cats spring into precautionary action moments before I notice the approach of another animal. I have heard stories of birds congregating and fleeing their habitat before disaster strikes. Such a thing does exist, but not only in animals. Ghouls, though worlds apart, are quite similar to humans…visually, that is. What makes them so different from us? Well there are a few glaring opposing characteristics like the organic weaponry concealed within their body, their blood-red pupils and jet black sclera, and their seemingly unquenchable demand to feast on human flesh. Essentially, at the race’s very core, they are essentially human beings that have taken on a more predatory form. They have defence mechanisms, altered senses, a defined food source, and an unparalleled lust for survival.

Kaneki, Nishio and Touka struggle to work together to rescue their human friend Kimi while Ghoul Investigator deaths skyrocket in wards 9 through 12. It all leads to an increase in CCG agents and an increased risk for Ghouls. As reinforcements are called in on both sides, the stakes are suddenly higher than ever. – VIZ Media

Kaneki Ken is a human with the internal organs of a Ghoul. It has, in turn, allowed him to become as powerful as a Ghoul, but Kaneki Ken has not lived the life of an animal whose one main purpose is that of survival, so unlike his Ghoul friends…Kaneki is akin to that of a lion cub; within him is the potential to be a powerful lion, but that is only if he survives long enough to learn that each individual moment could be his absolute last, and that every decision is one that could, potentially, lead him directly into his grave. This is ever present throughout Sui Ishida’s best-selling Manga series, but up until this point in time it has never been as severe. Volume five puts Kaneki Ken between a rock and a hard place as he must defend himself, and his friends, against a Ghoul known as “The Gourmet” whose life purpose, at this point in time, is to feast on the half-human hybrid. As far as Ghouls go…this one is a maniac.

The end of the arc present in volume five was one that dealt with the theme of depravity in a way that I found to be cringe-worthy at times, for the right reason. “The Gourmet” is a Ghoul who would do anything for the right flavour, and Kaneki Ken being part human and part Ghoul makes him the ultimate dish. As a part of this arc we saw the coming together of five drastically different parties, all of which were essentially dragged into the situation by “The Gourmet” himself; Shuu Tsukiyama. Using a hostage as leverage to get Kaneki to meet him a location only disclosed to Kaneki, Shuu inadvertently lures two others who, though it may not seem this way at first, are there for two entirely different reason. I enjoyed this a lot because it shows the different degrees of both humans and Ghouls. Some would give their life for the ones they love, some will only do what they believe is in their best interest, some will make decisions based only on their visceral desires, and others will make the “human” decision and do what they think is right for everyone involved. Tokyo Ghoul is a Manga series that prides itself on not only layered storytelling, but layered characters design that allows it’s cast to come off as more than simple two-dimensional beings with flat personalities.

The end of the volume introduces us to a new human character who has the undeniable traits of a Ghoul, though it is clear that this is not one undercover for the sake of infiltrating the CCG. I believe Sui Ishida has developed this character, much like Kaneki Ken, to bridge the gap between the two species and to show that there is a sense of both extreme good and extreme bad on both sides of the war. Once again, I love the blurred shape of the Tokyo Ghoul mythology; there is, essentially, no right or wrong answers, just those out there who are devoted to the development of chaos, and those out there who dedicated to simply living as happy a life as possible. Even then, most characters, good or bad, show signs of the total opposite, and I personally believe that to be the most realistic representation of humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in Manga form…even though some of the characters I refer to are, biologically, not humans.

Sui Ishida is a talented illustrator, I have always said that, and his gritty sketch-heavy style lends well to the dark-horror vibe of the series’ story, but I constantly feel as though I’m struggling to determine just what is going on in specific scenes. His illustrative style is reminiscent to that of Attack On Titan’s Hajime Isayama in the way that Sui Ishida can draw combat well-enough, despite the hard-to-comprehend instances, but his way of simply drawing humans is, for lack of a better word…awkward. At times, certain characters do not look the way that they are supposed to, often coming across as totally different people. I, constantly throughout this volume, had to flip back to past pages in an attempt to decipher what was going on, only to give up after coming to the conclusion that it may just be better to move on. At this point in time Sui Ishida still has a great deal to learn, and while the heavy nature of his illustrations, as mentioned, work well with the tone of the story, I feel as though he may have to work on making his drawings just a little neater so as to make it easier for audiences to follow. Though, in saying that, there were double-page spreads in this volume that absolutely blew me away, so it may just be a case of having to deal with the bad to be able to fully appreciate the good.

Sui Ishida has built quite the mythology in Tokyo Ghoul. Moreso than that, he has developed a cast of characters that, although incredibly different from us living in the real world, are bizarrely relatable in a number of different ways. The character of Kaneki Ken alone, as a young man being split between two worlds, is one that I feel as though many can relate to, though not to the same degree. Then you have support characters like Touka and Nishiki who each have their own reasons for doing what they do, but with realistic justifications behind every single decision they make. The appeal, to me, of Tokyo Ghoul is not so much the violence and horror, though I do quite enjoy that as well, it’s more in the way that these characters interact with one another and move throughout the story. The world we live in is not made up of simple tones of black and white, there are a myriad of shades in between that must be taken into account as you grow as a part of a collected community. Tokyo Ghoul preaches a similar way of living, though on such a grand scale. I find myself growing more and more excited for the release of the next volume as I’m reviewing the current ones. The story is growing exponentially, and I feel as though it’s only going to get more in-depth as it continues into the future. Tokyo Ghoul is one of the best contemporary Seinen Manga around, and although it does still have it’s shortcomings, it is still worth the read.

Grade: B+


1 Comment

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