You read the title right folks, it’s a Tokyo “ghoul” which means none of this ‘zombie’ funny business. What is the difference, you might ask? Well, they aren’t brainless groaning monsters. But don’t worry, they still eat humans. I review the latest Viz release to answer the question, is it good?
Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 (Viz Media)
Kind of a cliche…
I don’t want to ruin the twist that opens the book, as it’s actually a bit surprising and plays well, but it’s safe to say from the cover that Ken turns into a ghoul. It’s something that doesn’t just happen, at least from what the book gives us as far as ghoul culture and detail as ghouls appear to be born that way. Once Ken enters this realm the book takes on a new meaning as he’s the ultimate fish out of water. Ishida focuses mostly on Ken’s inability to eat human food, but there are some ghoul characters that sprout up and keep things interesting. Ishida references the famous Kafka story The Metamorphosis quite a bit and it’s rather clear this story heavily influenced Tokyo Ghoul. That story, much like this one, is really about changing from a boy to a man, although volume one spends most of its time watching Ken refuse to believe he’s a ghoul.
Ooh, kinky and dangerous!
The ghoul powers, by the way, are some of the most fun elements of this series. Ishida shows the ghoul powers in all their horrific and creepy glory. When a ghoul attacks things turn black and an odd tentacle thing pops out. Not a lot of detail is given to why exactly, but it’s clear more will be revealed later. This gives the reader something to chew on and ultimately creates a sense of intrigue for this weird ghoul underworld. Other ghouls live by some kind of code and it’s briefly seen but never fully explained. This again, creates a sense of interest for the reader.
Overall the art is good and particularly great when the ghoul powers come into play. Ishida draws in a very creepy brooding sort of way, at least when there is evil present. The eye in particular is gross and very vivid in its grotesque nature. I can’t say the non ghoul scenes are that spectacular as there’s a minimalist style and plenty of white space. Call me crazy, but I find when characters aren’t given eyes, usually to bring focus to other elements in the panel, it takes me out of the book, but this is a storytelling technique gripe more than anything.
Is It Good?
By issue’s end you’re going to want to learn more about ghouls in general and how they fit in society. The protagonist is a perfect vehicle to explore this world. Now if it could speed up a bit it’d be fantastic.
Tokyo Ghoul is available now as a digital first on Viz Media’s website.