Kaneki is hungry.
Being in Tokyo last year has helped me gain a better understanding of how anime paints the city. In Tokyo Ghoul, it’s loud and bustling with people. The streets are small and are lined with colorful, sometimes obnoxious neon signages and yet, if you keep walking you’ll end up in completely empty street corners or come across a shrine.
Yet despite the city’s environment, it was still easy to make your way and stay inconspicuous. I was only a few hours out of the airport and already realized that I had to fall in line for everything. I had to be more conscious of the people around me. As long as I didn’t bothered people, I’d be pretty okay.
But what really stood out to me was how convenient things were. Especially when it came to food. You could buy food anywhere (Just make sure you don’t eat on the streets) and I’d have to say their food is really good and fast.
Yes, I am aware I spent three paragraphs talking about my impressions on Tokyo. You see, our hero Kaneki is thrust into a world that is the exact opposite of what I just wrote. Which is understandable because he’s turned into a cannibalistic monster that can only be satiated by human flesh. He’s isolated from the rest of humanity and is forced to feed on them. He has to hunt for his food in a world where there’s a specific hierarchy among ghouls.
Kaneki is still in Tokyo, but it’s a different Tokyo. Kaneki hasn’t been transported to a new world. It’s still the same Tokyo, it’s just that he’s never been there before.
It’s hard to expect any kind extensive exploration of themes from a title like Tokyo Ghoul, but director Shuhei Morita doesn’t take his material lightly. This entire episode is dedicated to breaking down Tokyo’s surface, revealing a seedy underbelly populated by human flesh eaters. Ultimately, the narrative punishes Kaneki for being the naive and trusting boy that he is, completely lulled into a false sense of security by Rize a girl who doesn’t just wield her sexuality as a weapon but as well as a means to survive. A part of me wishes this were a cautionary tale, but when the anime suddenly introduces badass fights and potential powers, it’s hard to take it as such.
While the episode does look into the horrors of being a ghoul and Kaneki’s reluctance to eat humans, there are no signs that show if the series will continue exploring his plight.
Luckily, the series is gorgeous to look at so it can still keep me invested regardless if it devolves into a fight fest. The series boasts of some incredibly stunning compositions accompanied by fantastic color use. Shuhei Morita’s fascination with light and shadow frequently take over the screen and for a moment, I’m mesmerized. The directing here is something to behold. If it can carry this kind of source material gracefully until the end is unknown but as it is, I have a feeling I could enjoy Tokyo Ghoul as depraved entertainment.