Tokyo Ghoul
Courtesy of FUNimation

Anime: Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 DVD & Blu-Ray
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Retail Price: $64.98

The anime series Tokyo Ghoul is quickly becoming an anime staple, and a classic series in the making for many very appropriate reasons. To begin, the world you are introduced to is a dim world where flesh eating creatures void of humanity (mostly) are feared by humankind. Sure, they are presented on newscasts to frighten people, but until you are face-to-face with these beings you can’t comprehend what they are entirely capable of. The enticing premise alone sucks you in, and the shows protagonist Kaneki instantly captivates your attention for his sweet and naive outlook on life. You catch a glimpse at the average life of Kaneki and his best friend Hide, who live a relatively safe despite the caution of ghouls’ unknown presence. The light ambiance is quickly shattered when the girl Kaneki has a crush on turns out to be a wretched predator, striking the 19 year old in a gruesome manner. This early scene is a major benefit to viewers (not emotionally) by proving the series is prepared to leave you shocked and in awe, while using top notch animation that translates on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

In a cruel twist of fate, Kaneki survives the devastating attack but not without a cost… the organs of his ghoul attacker are harvested to save his life with her life deteriorating. Kaneki survives, and tries his best to get back to that daily life with something not feeling right. He then realizes a tell tale sign of a ghoul is their ability (or lack of more appropriately) to process food, and Kaneki can’t keep even the most gourmet meals in his stomach without vomiting profusely. The voice actor Austin Tindle accurately captures the sheer terror in Kaneki’s revelation and will leave you on edge rest assured. Now if that’s a lot of premise, I apologize but it’s good to discuss because from there the series takes a dive into the depths of darkness, shedding light on the underground ghoul community – both good and bad. Characters like his childhood friend Hide make an essential supporting character to remind you of the humanity that still resides within Kaneki as an anchor to his former self. Others like Touka manage to bring out the ghoul elements to him, but try their best to prove that ghouls aren’t the standard media portrayal they receive. The characters all provide different angles of ghouls and humans, perpetuating a long term question: who’s the real villain here?

The ongoing plot of Tokyo Ghoul is strong from the beginning to the end of its first season, often introducing moral quandaries to process and they aren’t always easy to stomach. Kaneki’s transformation from naive shy boy in the beginning to the tortured soul we witness at the end can have polarizing responses, but is effective in being thought provoking. Like I mentioned before, there are many crucial characters to the series but none quite move the story forward or have as much as the tragic hero. When it gets down to the wire, he is subjected to the utmost level of trauma, and though he can regenerate as a ghoul, the mental scars aren’t appearing to fade in any way…especially after the very end of the first season’s conclusion.

The action in Tokyo Ghoul is one of the best examples of pristine animation in recent years, with the beautifully frightful extensions of the ghouls that are involved in numerous memorable battles. Tokyo Ghoul gives a rarity in doing so by creating a series that can double down as an action/horror with sensible plot devices, which is a rare anime category to achieve (such as Yu Yu Hakusho). That being said, the anime doesn’t simply rely on the brutality or lengthy action sequences, but accurately provides more flesh (no pun intended) to the story of a ghoul and human hybrid in Kaneki. The ending of Tokyo Ghoul’s first season definitely feels like an appetizer of what’s to come (that’s a guarantee) and will have you ready to immerse yourself into the next season of the horror anime.

FUNimation knew going into this licensing agreement that they couldn’t dare let viewers down for such a cult classic anime in the making, and the quality is evident that they put legitimate effort into the U.S. release. The DVD edition still manages to pull off the stunning use of color (both in light and dark sequences) with a higher quality compared to standard anime releases. (But that could just be bias to the beauty that Tokyo Ghoul captures.) The Blu-Ray on the other hand is a fine addition for anime collectors, and die-hard fans of the franchise. The colors are so vivid that you want to enter that world yourself (well…maybe not, it’s extremely brutal still.) and this is one of those animes that is evidence that Blu-Ray editions to anime series can be an art of their own. The array of talented voice actors take their roles very seriously, which was a lot to live up to as well because of the committed Japanese voice actors who were the first to entice viewers by their raw emotion. Whether is Touka’s bland attitude, Hide’s goofy rambling conversations aimed toward a distant Kaneki, or the seriousness of the life or death situations that surround most of the characters, they really bring a strong cast to complete the transition from Japanese to English. Tokyo Ghoul is easily one of the most brutal and yet marvelously captivating tales of darkness in anime series in recent years, and if you have a strong stomach and an appreciation for detailed storytelling– you should certainly give the series a chance and pick it up now, available by FUNimation on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Overall Score: 9/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-Tokyo Ghoul may be very intense and graphic, but the strong plot will leave you starting the next episode…and each following episode until you’ve binged watched it in what feels like moments.

-The voice cast was chosen well, and the Japanese version is actually just as strong – so fans will be satisfied regardless of ones preference.

-Season 1 only introduces you to the world of Tokyo Ghoul, and the conclusion will surely leave you eagerly waiting for what comes next.

-Prepare for the harshest form of feels around. It’s a rough one folks, just wait and see for yourself…

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