Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 focuses on a shy college freshman named Ken Kaneki who has an interest in reading.
Volume 1 opens with Ken and his friend, Hide, at a café. A news report comes on the television about an attack on a man that appears to have been caused by a Ghoul. While they’re at the café, a girl named Rize enters. Ken has a crush on her because she’s beautiful and she’s reading the same book that he is. While in the café, Rize bumps into Ken’s book. After some chit-chat, Ken asks her out on a date.
But Ken gets more than he bargained for on their date. It turns out that Rize is a Ghoul, and she bites him. As Ken flees, he leads Rize to a construction site, where an I-beam falls and appears to kill her. Ken is in critical condition and needs an organ transplant, and since he and Rize have the same blood type, her organs are used without consent due to the being an emergency. Unfortunately for Ken, receiving Rize’s organs causes him to become part Ghoul.
After this point, much of Volume 1 focuses on Ken as he tries to deal with this predicament. He discovers that he can no longer stomach regular food and has to subsist on human flesh. But this idea disgusts Ken, and it looks like he could perish. But he receives some unexpected help, although this help is given to him by grudgingly. Near the end of the volume, Ken finds himself in a desperate situation that includes his friend, Hide.
With both the writing and the art in Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1, Ishida perfectly captures the horror that Ken goes through after discovering that he has partially become a Ghoul. With the writing, I also appreciated the various revelations that are made throughout the volume when it comes to learning who some of the other Ghouls in the area are. As I skimmed through this volume again after reading it in its entirety, I discovered that Ishida dropped some hints early on as to who a couple of the Ghouls were. It was done in such a way that it wouldn’t necessarily stand out to a reader the first time they read the volume, but it will catch their attention when they look at it a second time.
When it comes to the art, Ishida seems to go to a lot of effort on character designs, because the characters all look unique. Ishida tries hard not to cut corners when drawing the characters, unless a less detailed look is needed for an effect. It’s also obvious reading Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 that Ishida tries to include a lot of detail for the scenes that are more on the gruesome side, which adds to the horror that is being conveyed in this series. While there is some violence depicted in Tokyo Ghoul that includes blood, the violence isn’t as gory or scary as it could have been. There’s no getting around the blood, though, since this series focuses on creatures that eat human flesh for sustenance.
Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 should appeal to readers who enjoy horror stories that include supernatural elements, blood, and introspective dark fantasy.
The reviewer received a review copy from VIZ Media