Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: TOKYO GHOUL Volume 1


LETTERING: Vanessa Satone
EDITOR: Joel Enos
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8036-4; paperback (June 2015); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
224pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 UK

The horror manga, Tokyo Ghoul, is the creation of Sui Ishida.  After winning the Young Jump 113th Grand Prix award in 2010, Tokyo Ghoul debuted as a series in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 2011.  A bestselling and popular manga, it was adapted into an anime series in 2014.  Tokyo Ghoul focuses on a young man who, through no fault of his own, becomes a creature that must eat dead human flesh to survive.  Tokyo Ghoul is the latest addition to VIZ Media's VIZ Signature line.

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 9) introduces shy college freshman, 18-year-old Ken Kaneki.  He attends Kamii University where he studies in the Department of Literature, specializing in Japanese literature.  His best pal, Hide Nagachika, wants Kaneki to read less and date more, so Kaneki is thrilled to go on a date with the beautiful Rize.

However, there are Ghouls that live among us.  They look the same as normal people in every way, but that only hides the truth, especially their craving for human flesh.  Rize is a ghoul, and her actions will change Kaneki.

I was interested in the Tokyo Ghoul manga when I first got a press release from VIZ Media that they were going to publish this series as a digital manga release.  VIZ is now publishing the series in print and sent me a copy for review.  I'm glad that they did; I would have had to buy this otherwise.

Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 slowly, but gradually brings the reader into a world that is both similar (through the eyes of a young college student) and also into a dark world that is just around the corner from the world in light (the world of the Ghouls).  Creator Sui Ishida presents the life of a shy kid as if Tokyo Ghoul were a BL or shojo drama.  Then, he presents a fantastic world that offers both mystery and intrigue and also violence and death.

So the narrative reflects the dual nature that comes to define Ken Kaneki.  This first volume is a joy to read, but I wonder if the narrative will become trapped in its internal mythology around the Ghouls.  Will character drama remain strong, or will it become subservient to genre trappings?  If the drama remains strong, Tokyo Ghoul will be one of the best new series of the year.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux; support on Patreon.

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for syndication rights and fees.

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