Greetings, PopTalkers! Our latest review will cover the second volume of the series Tokyo Ghoul, available now from VIZ Media! Find out or thoughts on the follow up to a spectacular first installment, as well as some of the more memorable moments and themes involved.
Aedan: After the phenomenal introduction to Tokyo Ghoul volume 1, it had yet to be seen if the follow up installment could entertain as much as the first – and I must admit, it continued to show its excellence. Whereas volume 1 introduced us to Kaneki and a brief summary on ghouls, this volume took the time needed to build major plot points that you can tell will carry on throughout the manga run. Volume 2 brings the readers along as Kaneki figures out the particular tricks and tips to surviving as a ghoul and hiding amongst humans in an everyday setting. It’s extremely intriguing to watch this entirely unusual family of ghouls care for each other, in the midst of running a seemingly normal cafe. Mr. Yoshimura has the reigns at Anteiku, and uses his matter-of-fact approach to keep things afloat. He teaches Kaneki the necessary qualities needed to appear human, such as ways to digest normal food without convulsing, and an unknown coffee substance to appease the thirst for flesh. Obviously it’s the little things, really.
Touka gets more time in the spotlight in this volume, as she impatiently helps Kaneki by showing him the ropes. Her hard exterior continues to show, but it is evident that she cares for the ghouls in her life, and holds resentment towards Kaneki for not being entirely human or ghoul. When we meet a mother and daughter ghoul in an emotional chapter it introduces readers to the softer compassionate side of ghouls, proving they aren’t just the savages that they are made out to be by the mass public. This connection does take us to the most gut wrenching scene within the first two volumes in a death panel that is heartbreaking to read as well as see. It’s a major point of success to Tokyo Ghoul to evoke such a strong reaction with only two volumes into the series, and the ripple effect of this particular death makes the danger feel all the more real for the ghouls we’ve seen in the series thus far.
Another main focus of Tokyo Ghoul volume 2 includes the introduction the rivalry between the ghouls and the police force used to hunt ghouls, which is mainly focused on senior investigator Kureo Mado and Koutaro Amon. While there are strong examples of fiendish ghouls that need to be stopped, these two are prime examples of abusing power. They use their unique weapons to track them down one by one and kill them gleefully like predators. At this point in the series, it’s hard to find anything worth rooting for when it comes to Amon and Mado, (not that I’m completely team ghouls or anything…well maybe) but they give of a sense of danger and instability, which will probably become a problem for our ghoul-squad.
One thing that attributes to the complexity of Touka is when she attacks these detectives after learning that there has been a death of one of their own. She clearly feels emotionally raw about the demise of a comrade and friend, taking the chance to find vengeance. This battle shows off the potential to Touka, but also pits her against the gruesome twosome ghoul hunters, and they now have her in their cross-hairs. The confrontation doesn’t give a sense of resolve, but you can tell it’s just the tip of the iceberg with ghoul and human complications. The investigators storyline isn’t necessarily my favorite in Tokyo Ghoul, but it is a necessary function to making the intensity feel more importance.
The ongoing theme to Tokyo Ghoul continues to prove influences of discovering yourself (In a twisted manner nonetheless). Kaneki may be transformed, but it makes him face aspects of his preexisting personality that he’s withheld in the past, and makes him embrace qualities he is still learning about as a newly reformed ghoul. Some find it fascinating in the story, and others find it unsettling, but Kaneki doesn’t quite know how to process it at this point – and it feels like a justified uncertainty. In ways its tragic to witness this character have to disregard things about his life, but in others it’s a great balance of evolving, and the steps required to come with it. A moment that best describes this, is when Touka takes Kaneki to meet Uta, an odd but quirky and interesting ghoul who creates masks to protect ghoul’s identities from the public. When they meet, he beings to question Kaneki about random personality traits and explains that it will help his creativity in creating a specified unique mask for Kaneki. When the reveal takes place, the opposite eye is covered for Kaneki which was done with purpose from Uta, and Kaneki says “peeking at the world from my other eye…it was strangely exciting.” A quote that oddly describes Kaneki’s transformation from human to ghoul(ish) and setting up for more stories of Kaneki’s evolution. Unfortunately for Kaneki, this evolution has an imminent feel of false hope and danger for the protagonist, and we can only hope he can keep his head above water moving forward.
Amrita: The 2nd volume of Tokyo Ghoul further establishes the cruel world Kaneki now finds himself living in by introducing Rank 1 investigator Amon and Senior Investigator Mado; both are members of the Commission of Counter Ghoul (CCG) and are essentially considered “the boogie men” for all ghoul kind. To be quite honest, I despise Amon and Mado; no sympathetic backstory or further character development can make me like these two morally twisted individuals. At this point, I don’t know who I dislike more; both ruthlessly took part in hunting and slaughtering a ghoul trying to protect her daughter. Amon went as far as calling the ghoul a “bitch” for trying to defend herself and nothing disgusted me more than their actions at that moment. I’m sure Tokyo Ghoul will introduce more sympathetic aspects to Amon and Mado down the road, but I honestly don’t care to learn more about them. Time, and more volumes, will tell if these two characters will appeal to me at one point or another. It may seem harsh to write them off so quickly however their actions in just the 2nd volume alone had me praying for their deaths.
With the introduction of the CCG, Tokyo Ghoul has established three different perspectives in its universe: the first being that of the ghouls who either dislike humans or are at least cautious of them, second is the CCG who view all ghouls as vermin that need to be exterminated and lastly is Kaneki who stands on middle ground. Being turned into a ghoul has started to change Kaneki’s views of ghouls as he acknowledges not all ghouls are bad. Along with Amon and Mado, we’re introduced to ghoul mask maker Uta as well as Yomo, Koma, Ryoko and Hinami Fueguchi. Uta has Tokyo Ghoul’s most elaborate character design and his portion of dialogue, however brief, has me intrigued by what’s next for his character. He’s certainly a quirky ghoul who provides a good amount of subtle humor in the dark realm of Tokyo Ghoul. The masks that Uta makes are needed for ghouls who don’t want to be identified and hunted by CCG investigators while their out on the prowl for food. Kaneki gets one such mask from Uta and its design is certainly bad-ass and is the most iconic and recognizable item of Tokyo Ghoul.
Hinami adds an interesting dynamic to Tokyo Ghoul and it’s clear she’s begun to form an attachment to Kaneki and his kind and innocent nature. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for her next since this volume ended on a tragic and unpleasant note for her. I won’t spoil too much, but Tokyo Ghoul kills off a sympathetic character and the results are heartbreaking and serve as a reminder that Tokyo Ghoul is indeed a tragic story. Kaneki’s character development took a bit of a backseat this volume as he continues to struggle with emotions of helplessness and expanding his views and emotions for other ghouls. Readers got the chance to know Touka a little bit more as the volume highlights her hard-working nature as well as emphasize of her own feelings of rage and helplessness.
I’m still not completely attached to Touka just yet, but this volume did succeed in making her a more relatable character. After hearing about the death of a fellow ghoul, she tries to avenge the fallen ghoul but is unable to do so due to her lack of strength against her opponent. Touka risked her life just to seek vengeance and expressed frustration at her inability to do so. Volume 2 ends with Touka agreeing to train Kaneki in hand to hand combat as well as teaching him to control and summon his kagune. Kaneki and Touka aren’t exactly friends, but their relationship is slowly but surely progressing. Touka spends the volume being annoyed at Kaneki’s presence until their relationship dynamic takes a turn for the better when Kaneki confesses he would be sad if Touka died. Kaneki’s honest declaration takes Touka by surprise and I’m guessing this will lead to her viewing Kaneki in a different, more positive light.
This volumes most intriguing character was Anteiku manger Mr. Yoshimura, who we briefly saw in volume 1. Yoshimura is a kind hearted elder ghoul who not only helps feed ghouls who can’t hunt for themselves, but he also genuinely likes humans. Everyone greatly respects Yoshimura who plays a big hand in changing Kaneki’s views of ghouls. Yoshimura runs a coffee shop, Anteiku, in ward 20 which is a relatively peaceful ward in comparison to the others. Uta briefly touched upon other wards and claimed wards 1-4 are unlivable and ward 13 is just plain vicious, making ward 20 the most peacefully inhabited ghoul territory. Tokyo Ghoul volume 2 sets up the remainder of its universe and foreshadows the arrival of an upcoming key character, one we’ll be seeing quite soon; CCG detectives hinted at yet another dangerous ghoul similar to Rize wreaking havoc and this particular ghoul is referred to as “the gourmet.”
Volume 2 was just as good as the previous volume, with its particular strong suit being its portrayal of Kaneki and Touka’s helplessness along with introducing interesting side characters and fully establishing the world of ghouls by ushering in the CCG investigators. I have no real complaints about volume 2 except for the constant sadness the series in general brings me. I wish for happier moments, but one should know when immersing themselves into Tokyo Ghoul that the pleasant and happy moments are few and far in between. As for future volumes, I’m more than a little excited for the introduction of “the gourmet” ghoul because I found this particular character absolutely fascinating in the anime. Those who gave volume 1 of Tokyo Ghoul a shot, and actually liked it, will not be disappointed with volume 2! So please be sure to pick up volume 2 of Tokyo Ghoul which is now for purchase and is also available digitally along with volume 3!
Stay tuned with PopWrapped for upcoming Tokyo Ghoul reviews!