by Rebecca Silverman,

Tokyo Ghoul

GN 10

Tokyo Ghoul GN 10
Aogiri Tree, the police, and Kaneki's group are all on the same mission – to find the doctor who turned Kaneki into a demi-ghoul. The police are starting to suspect that Rize was in fact the girl “killed” in the steel beam incident and that something may have happened to Kaneki as a result, and aided by Kaneki's friend Nagachika, who is now helping them out, are quickly closing in. What does it mean for Kaneki and the other ghouls as their three paths converge?

Ever since Ken Kaneki received a deliberate transplant of ghoul organs and became a demi-ghoul, he's lived in the shared fear all ghouls have of being caught by the CCG, the special anti-ghoul police force. But is that fear truly valid in Kaneki's case? What if he told them what happened to him and was able to be the link between human and ghoul rather than just another misunderstood victim of what could be read as a metaphor for racial intolerance? It's a question that has been in the back of my mind since Tokyo Ghoul began, and in volume ten we begin to get closer to both asking it on a series-wide level and possibly answering it. As it is intricately tied in with the series' Frankenstein themes, this book seems to be leading us in the direction of definitive answers, even if they aren't immediately forthcoming.

Since the time skip, we've seen Kaneki set himself apart from the ghouls who initially helped him to adjust to and accept his new life, while also deliberately making himself into a more ruthless, stereotypically ghoul-like person. Although we can still see traces of his previous personality in his actions and words, it's very clear that the trauma he suffered at the hands of Aogiri Tree in previous volumes has done more than simply give him prematurely grey hair – he's now fighting his battle with himself as to whether he's human or ghoul on a different internal level. Ultimately he wants answers – why did Dr. Kano do this to him? How should he identify himself now? Where previously Kaneki erred on the side of “human,” he's now trying out “ghoul” in terms of his actions, and it doesn't look like it has brought him any more happiness or comfort than the previous method. We can almost see this as a struggle that he is doomed to lose – Dr. Kano made him neither one nor the other, so his attempts to be strictly human or ghoul are therefore doomed to failure. On some level he seems to realize this – his kinder self shines through at times and his personality almost appears to retreat into the back of his mind when he needs to act fully “ghoul,” something that we don't always see with the other ghoul characters. (Or at least those who aren't active rogues; characters like The Gourmet are on a different spectrum entirely.) How will this affect his dealings with Dr. Kano when he finally gets some answers?

This is part of the larger question of what Dr. Kano's actual motives are. We get some of his backstory in this volume, along with the history of the half-ghoul twins he keeps at his beck and call, and none of it points to anything beyond “mad scientist” at this point. Is he simply a lunatic who took his work too far, or is he some kind of special crazy that wants to “improve” the human race? We don't know yet, but it is clear that there's something else going on in his head than simple curiosity. Given that he deliberately took Rize, the binge eater, off the streets, he may genuinely think he's doing good, which would draw an interesting parallel between he and the CCG, who also think that by persecuting all ghouls instead of just the directly murderous ones they are doing humans a service.

Unfortunately, as we have seen through Kaneki, painting everyone with the same brush rarely works out. The addition of Nagachika to the CCG may effect a change on their viewpoint (or at least on a few of them), because he has outright said that Kaneki is his best friend, a claim that dates to after Kaneki had the operation and before he vanished, indicating that Nagachika did not see any reason to change that status even after his friend became a ghoul. That Nagachika is helping the police for Kaneki's sake, something he's not being particularly quiet about, although he hasn't outright said it, either, may turn on a few lightbulbs in the CCG's collective head. Almost more than Dr. Kano, it is Nagachika who stands to change Kaneki's fate in the world as he still sees him as human despite the fact that he is also a ghoul.

All of these issues are looming on the series' horizon at this point. With Aogiri Tree also searching for Dr. Kano, there's a major conflict of interest brewing that this volume merely sets up. In some senses, this book is set up for whatever is to come next, and it really feels like we're gearing up for a major post-Aogiri climax in the coming volumes. As the story tightens its threads it can get a bit confusing, since Ishida does jump between the three points of view quite a bit, but the plot is compelling enough that it's less of an issue than it might have been. If this doesn't get resolved in an expedient fashion, the story does risk crumbling under its own weight, especially if the Anteiku ghouls are also added to the mix as a fourth separate group, but for right now, this is moving in a very interesting direction that gives new meaning to the saying, “Smooth move, Dr. Frankenstein.”

Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B

+ Convergence of three groups on Dr. Kano poses some interesting questions, Kaneki's internal struggle still apparent. Nagachika's role is worth watching.
Balance of the three perspectives can be confusing, story feels a bit unbalanced. Art can get confusing at times.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Sui Ishida

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