Story/Art: Sui Ishida
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
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.
The cover here is a rather striking image of a washed out Kaneki with his one eye glowing red. It’s a nice image that definitely helps sell the book. The back contains a synopsis, a map, and Kaneki’s eyepatch. A single color page and a short bonus manga are included as extras. Text reads smoothly, paper quality feels solid, sound effects are translated in stylized text, and honorifics are not used.
The art here is rather nicely done. At its base it’s just decent, with a moderate amount of color, though the character designs are at least distinctive. However, the raw sketchy nature of the ghouls, the pure looks of horror, and the action all come across very well. Fortunately, these moments are frequent and end up making the book actually look quite nice overall. Backgrounds also appear constantly, further elevating the art.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Ken Kaneki is a perfectly average, slightly geeky college freshman. Though he lives in a world where mysterious ghouls occasionally break their humanoid façade and devour human beings, it doesn’t really have anything to do with him. After a brief run-in with the waitress, Touka Kirishima, at the Anteiku café, he actually manages to grab a date with the girl he has a crush on, Rize Kamishiro. Things seem to go fantastically between them, but when she leans in close, he finds himself bitten rather than embraced. He runs for his life as the girl shifts into a monstrous ghoul form, and she ends up taking a chunk out of his side. Just as it looks like Kaneki’s life is done for, a pile of girders fall on her, saving his life while taking hers. Even so, he’s not quite able to return to normal, as the doctors decide to transplant her organs into Kaneki to save his life.
This controversial move does indeed rescue Kaneki, but it clearly has an adverse effect on him. Food all tastes terrible to him, preventing him from eating properly. Even the food at his and his best friend Hide’s favorite restaurant is awful to his taste buds. However, when looking at other human beings, his appetite really starts to get worked up. When watching a television program on ghouls, things finally click. His one eye then shifts into a ghoulish form, and he also learns that Touka is a ghoul as well. Forced to his limit, he decides that the only way to save himself is to cut out his organs. However, though he has the will, he can no longer even cut his ghoulish body.
As the volume continues, Kaneki is drawn further and further into the world of ghouls. It turns out that Anteiku is a place that helps to support ghouls, and the master there does what he can to help our troubled hero. However, this involves giving him a package of human flesh, which he’s obviously reluctant to eat. Will he give into these monstrous and irresistible urges? And when he runs afoul of another ghoul, will he be able to save himself, much less his friend?
This book is a fascinating and unique first entry into the series. It’s actually fairly hard to get a feel for the series, as most of the characters are living in such a dark and twisted world. And yet, the series decides to meet it head on, and at least for now it doesn’t pull its punches. By our standards, they’re absolutely horrifying monsters, and yet the ghouls are still living out of necessity. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the morality of the series evolves, as it’s certainly something completely separate and disturbing. It’s also of course quite intriguing to see things from Kaneki’s point of view, which allows us to steadily see his descent into despair. For now, people looking for something horrifying and new, be sure to give this a chance.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: June 16th, 2015