Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Tokyo Ghoul

GN 11 - 13

Synopsis:
Tokyo Ghoul GN 11-13
In the facility underneath the mansion, CCG investigators and ghouls collide as both try to figure out what's really going on. Kaneki's quest for power begins to backfire on him in frightening ways, and between a power that he can't control and a series of conversations with other ghouls and one investigator, he begins to rethink his methods. Is revenge worth it? Is protecting those he cares about a noble enough cause? At the end of the day, not only will Kaneki have to decide whether he's more human or more ghoul, he'll ultimately have to figure out if there's that thick a line between the two at all.
Review:

A work doesn't need to be subtle to be good, neither in its symbolism nor its references to earlier literature. That's a good thing in the case of Tokyo Ghoul, which is being more and more obvious in its links to Mary Shelley's seminal Gothic novel Frankenstein as it goes on. The idea of Kaneki being neither monster nor man, or both monster and man, sets him up to have to make a decision; in other words, it suggests that he must be one or the other rather than a little bit of both. Since this was established with the humans vs ghoul narrative back in volume one, series creator Sui Ishida has been playing with the idea more and more, culminating in the shift to white-haired Kaneki during the Aogiri Tree arc. At that point, Kaneki believed that he needed to be a monster himself in order to take down the bigger threats. But now, moving into the CCG's decision to raid Anteiku in volume thirteen, he's having to rethink that position.

The central conflict remains the idea that humans and ghouls can't possible coexist peacefully. Since there are human murderers, the line appears to be the fact that ghouls consume human flesh. I'll grant you that that is a very large deterrent to an integrated society, but what none of the humans appear to realize is that they're already living in one. If they have to actively seek out ghouls in order to exterminate them, then that suggests that the ghouls are, in fact, seemingly normal members of society. While it may be that the CCG simply has no idea how many ghouls there are, when you come right down to it, the driving force behind the existence of the CCG is fear.

That fear is reasonable, given what ghouls eat, even as it clearly allows the CCG to venture into territory that may go too far, as we find out when they learn who owns the secret facility. But as these volumes indicate, if the war between the two species is ever going to stop escalating, someone has to look beyond that. At this point that appears to be Amon, a CCG investigator who was raised by a ghoul. Although he's not alone in that (what we learn about Juzo's past explains a lot, he does seem to be one of the few who can look at ghouls more objectively. This has led to his fascination with Kaneki. He's aware that there's something different about him, and although he doesn't specifically say it, we get the sense that he sees Kaneki as a way to forge a different relationship with the ghouls. He's instrumental in Kaneki's evolution over these three books due to that; when Kaneki is losing control due to the fact that he's eaten other ghouls, Amon asks him if he really wants to be just like the others. This near-vote of confidence is the first in a series of wake up calls that Kaneki receives, and arguably the most important: it reminds him that someone sees him as more than just the monster he's striven to become. Amon's question appeals to the human he still is, and it's those words that he remembers as he makes his next decisions.

This makes it all the more frustrating that he won't reconnect with his childhood friend, Hideyoshi. It's been clear for a while now that Hideyoshi suspects, if not outright knows, that Kaneki has been transformed into a demi-ghoul, and the fact that he's rising through the CCG ranks while putting up missing persons posters about his friend suggest that he's willing to help. Touka, who meets up with him when she goes to tour the university in volume twelve, may be starting to realize this, and essentially she and Hideyoshi have the same goal: bring Kaneki back into the fold. It does seem like a possibility, especially after Kaneki learns the history of the One-Eyed Owl and the owner of Anteiku, which once again brings us the very real possibility of relations working out between humans and ghouls. But fear is set to triumph again in volume thirteen, which has the CCG preparing to carry out an attack on Anteiku, ironically the base of those ghouls who don't actually hunt.

How should Kaneki act to protect those he cares about, especially now that he knows that he's not the first human-ghoul hybrid? That question may determine how the rest of the world is able to see him and the rest of the non-hunting ghouls as well. When everyone feels backed into a corner, no one can actually win, and that's a theme of the series that is becoming increasingly evident, both as Kaneki and the CCG make decisions, but also as Kaneki learns more about the pasts of the other, more violent ghouls. The monster and the man may not be nearly as far apart as the characters all assume they are – and as volume thirteen's attack on Anteiku gets going, it will be the individual characters' choices that ultimately determine which one each of the characters is.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-

+ Ishida's art is steadily improving in clarity and anatomy, interesting dilemmas posed for the characters, Amon and Kaneki evolve well
Still too heavy-handed with its Frankenstein themes, art can be too dark at times, far too many characters to easily keep track of

Story & Art: Sui Ishida

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Tokyo Ghoul (manga)

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Tokyo Ghoul (GN 11)

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