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Tokyo Ghoul Volume One – Review

Tokyo-Ghoul-Manga-Volume-One-Cover-Image-01There’s a few fairly obvious reasons as to why you’re all here reading this review. Although I’d like to think it’s because you’re a fan of the website and, more importantly, a fan of my writing…I don’t think it has anything to do with that, not when the subject is Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul. A psychological thriller revolving around the collision of two worlds, Tokyo Ghoul quickly became one of the most popular contemporary Anime titles as of late, much like that of Hajime Isayama’s Attack On Titan which went through a similar popularity spike after just the first episode.

Chances are, you’re not that big a fan of the Anime. If you were, you probably would have already bought the Manga for yourself before reading any reviews, that’s just how dedicated the fan base of Tokyo Ghoul is. I’d like to think you’re more like me; someone who watched the Anime all the way through and was left somewhat unsatisfied. Being told that the Manga is much more in-depth and therefor more enjoyable than the Anime, you venture out to wash the bad taste from your mouth. People say it isn’t good to assume but, as a human being, I simply cannot help myself.

Our friends over at Madman Entertainment have just brought the very first volume of this much-loved Manga series to the shores of Australia and New Zealand, and being curious as to what the Manga holds within it’s thin pages, I couldn’t help but put my hand up to handle the review. I liked the Tokyo Ghoul Anime enough to give the Manga a shot in the hopes that the talk of it’s superiority turns out to be true, so here I am…ever hopeful.

Ghouls live among us, the same as normal people in every way… except their craving for human flesh.

Shy Ken Kaneki is thrilled to go on a date with the beautiful Rize. But it turns out that she’s only interested in his body… eating it, that is. When a morally questionable rescue transforms him into the first half-human half-Ghoul hybrid, Ken is drawn into the dark and violent world of Ghouls, which exists alongside our own. – Madman Entertainment 

Tokyo Ghoul being labelled as a “Dark Fantasy” I feel as though is incorrect. Tokyo Ghoul plays host to a story that jumps between two worlds both of which share striking similarities but are, metaphorically, worlds apart. The protagonist, Kaneki Ken, is a young boy who no longer believes as though he has a place in the universe, spending a great deal of the volume trying to quell his cannibalistic temptations now that he has become one of the predatory monsters known only as the Ghouls.

Tokyo Ghoul’s first volume felt more like a psychological thriller, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, because of it’s lack of violent imagery which allowed Mangaka Sui Ishida to instead focus on the more psychogenic side of transitioning from human to blood-thirsty monster rather than flooding the Manga’s beginning with nothing but shocking fatalities and over-exaggerated carnage. While there did feature some combat accompanied by tasteful gore, it was Kaneki’s gradual mental breakdown that had me glued to the page, not the hopes that some poor human would be sliced to ribbons.

So far, the Manga has really only showcased a handful of characters with the focus being mainly on the story’s protagonist, which is perfectly fine seeing as he is essentially the bridge between these two worlds and the one who will, surely, cause the most turmoil within them both. Audiences were introduced to a few Ghouls living as though they were human and one human living only as a nuisance to Kaneki, though he calls him his oldest friend. This is all pretty standard of a Manga’s first volume; it lays the groundwork for future story progression without giving the reader too much to handle. To say the very least, the pacing of Tokyo Ghoul’s story, at this point in time, is being handled wonderfully. My hope is that, unlike the Anime, the Manga continues along this path.

Sui Ishida backs up this hard-hitting story with a gritty illustrative style that truly does suit the series as a whole. Many Mangaka’s choose to walk the road of defined, clean line work and while I’m a fan of those who illustrate in that style, I have to say I’m also a fan of Ishida’s style which trades out bold, tidy lines with sketch-like brilliance. If this illustration style was to be featured in any other Manga series, I would say that I only works to diminish the excellence of the well-written story but it seems as though Ishida’s writing style is paired up perfectly with that of his design prowess. At times, though, it seems as though he rushed certain scenes and panels, with characters looking incomplete or just straight up odd.

Though there was not a great deal of action scenes featured throughout the first volume, what was featured was possibly as hard-hitting as the story itself. Sui Ishida’s combat scenes are sometimes hard to follow, but the ones that you can comprehend instantly make you feel as though what’s being done in the scene is actually being done to you. Whether it’s a frail Kaneki Ken being chewed on by a hungry Ghoul or a pompous Nishiki Nishio getting a taste his own medicine by our enraged protagonist, it almost forces you to feel actual physical sympathy for the characters in question; something that, honestly, not a lot of more modern Manga series’ can do.

It’s true what they say; the Tokyo Ghoul Manga is indeed superior to that of the Anime. At least, the first volume is. Both the start of the Anime and this volume are both presented in almost exactly the same way, but what the Manga has over the Anime is little dialogue pieces that explain certain extra details that the Anime seemingly forgot about. Fact is; nothing said within the Manga that wasn’t in the Anime is of critical importance, but it does work to ease you into the story more and it stops you from asking the same silly questions that the Anime refused to answer.

My hope is that the Manga continues along this path. It was easy to read, easy to digest, and even easier to understand. I’ve never been that fast a reader but there I was flying through the pages of Tokyo Ghoul’s first volume as if it were nothing more than a picture book yet I still retained ever piece of information I was given. THAT’S the sign of a great Manga. Don’t listen to people that talk about the best Mangas being those that feature the best stories, sometimes it’s a matter of being able to easily read through and understand exactly what is in front of you, and that’s what Tokyo Ghoul volume one is. It also does happen to feature an interesting and intricate story that delves into the mental state of a character like Kaneki Ken without jumping straight to his physical reaction to fight back and kill everything in his way, like a lot of other Mangas out there. With Tokyo Ghoul, you’ve got the best of both worlds and, chances are, if you liked the Anime…you’re absolutely going to like the Manga. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to like it even more.

Want to experience the ghoulish world of Tokyo Ghoul for yourself? Madman Entertainment has you covered: Click Here 

Grade: B+


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