Manga Review: Tokyo Ghoul, by Sui Ishida

23353593Tokyo Ghoul, by Sui Ishida

Genres: Shonen, Horror, Tragedy

Volumes: 14

Status: Completed

Favorite Characters: Juuzou Suzuya, Ayato Kirishima, Touka Kirishima

Rating: ✮ +½

“If you were to write a story with me in the lead role, it would certainly be… a tragedy”

I have two recurring questions about Tokyo Ghoul:

1. Why is it so popular?

2. If I hate it so much, why am I still reading it?

The answer to both of those questions is this: I don’t know.

My relationship with Tokyo Ghoul is very strange. I talk trash about it, I criticize it from every angle, and yet I still pick up each new volume from the library and keep a running board of it on Pinterest. (Though that’s mostly because the fanart is freaking awesome.) Technically, it finished a while ago, but the English volumes are still being published, and as someone who is a bit of a purist when it comes to books (meaning that I like physical copies), I don’t mind waiting to finish it.

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My general opinion about it is that it reminds me a lot of myself when I was thirteen. I was so obsessed with all things bloody and gory that I lacked any real personality. I was so concerned with my self-image that I never figured out who I actually was or what I was about. (Precious, wasn’t I?) Tokyo Ghoul has a lot of violence, cruelty, and torture, but it all seems like a front to hide the fact that the story is very, very boring.

The dynamic reminds me a lot of Death Note. There’s the complex of good vs. evil, whether ghouls are really monsters because they eat humans or if they’re just like any other animal, and whether the investigators are evil because they are hunting the ghouls when they’re just trying to survive, etc., etc. Personally, I’d like to believe that the ghouls aren’t at fault, but the problem is that I don’t give a single shit about them. The world of ghouls bores me to death, as does the team of ghoul investigators. I feel no condolence to any of the characters, even Kaneki, who is the “tragic hero” that becomes trapped between both worlds, and also happens to love books. The only one that is remotely interesting is Juuzou, and that has more to do with the fact that I have a thing for simple-minded characters.

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The story is so dry. Behind the investigator killings and turf wars, it feels like it took too long to get anywhere important, and by the time the Aogiri Tree showed up, I had completely lost interest. I have a hard time taking this world seriously when it seems like all it is is a test to see just how violent it can get. I remember that I started to watch the anime, and when Kaneki and Touka first faced off against Tsukiyama, I was laughing. I was laughing.

I’ve also given up trying to tolerate the artwork. Though Ishida has undoubtedly improved, I still think that it’s mediocre at best. While reading through the fight scenes – and there are a lot – I became really confused on what was going on. The edges are too soft and their limbs mesh together, and somehow, there’s just an absence of any impact. The way they hold their bodies seems unrealistic. For the most part, I wait until it’s over to figure out who won, because watching it in action, I can’t tell. This is the only thing I can give the anime props for.

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Perhaps I’m a masochist, and that is why I’ve continued to read Tokyo Ghoul. Perhaps it is morbid curiosity. As I said, I don’t know, and it is still beyond me how this series is so popular when there is nothing in its plot that could hold water. Every aspect of it feels flimsy and insubstantial.