In most stories you have the protagonist you root for and the antagonist you want to see defeated. In some you have the “good guys” you want to prevail and the “bad guys” you probably want all to just die. Well, not in Tokyo Ghoul (before Re).
In this world, humans must coexist amongst Ghouls, beings that resemble humans but have supernatural strength and must devour them to stay alive. Pretty intense world right? At first glance, especially after the first scene of episode 1, your thought process is probably, “Okay. Ghouls are bad. Need to kill them all.” However, what’s great about this anime is that it does a fascinating job humanizing the ghouls and dehumanizing humans. Allowing us to realize that everyone is flawed and even put our society into greater perspective. And besides, who doesn’t want to root for the dark horse of the competition.
Ghouls We Love-
In Tokyo Ghoul (before Re) our protagonist Ken Kaneki lives the normal life of a college student until his world is rapidly changed the day he chases after the girl of his dreams and she tries to eat him. You guessed it. She was a ghoul. Miss Rize Kamishiro, one of the strongest ghouls in the show, lured our protagonist to near death until luck was on his side when a load of steel beams miraculously fell from above at a construction site they ended up at and came tumbling down on Miss Rize and Kaneki. Fortunately, Kaneki lived but only because of an emergency organ transplant by the closest organ donor they could find who just so happened to be the ghoul herself Rize Kamishiro turning our sweet, innocent Kaneki into a half-ghoul.
In the anime, Kaneki meets a group of ghouls at a local cafe called Anteiku that appeared as a plain, simple cafe on the surface but really was a secret organization of the ghoul’s of the 20th ward. HOWEVER, these are our ghouls we grow to love.
Kaneki had struggled with his new identity throughout the show holding onto his humanity as much as he can repressing his urge for human flesh. And to make matters worse, because Rize (a merciless serial killer) is now apart of him, not only has his need for human flesh to live has grown but also has his lust for killing. Not even killing to survive but we find moments when Kaneki goes into “ghoul mode”, he can’t control his desire to kill for sheer pleasure. This creates a huge battle of tug of war for our protagonist. One where you have a side fighting to maintain humanity and be a normal human again and the other side that has taken over his body and is controlling his bodily functions giving him carnal desires he cannot repress.
However, we feel for Kaneki and we want him to come to terms with his ghoul desires. Especially when he decides to not be around his human best friend, Hideyoshi Nagachika, for he is afraid of the dangers he will put him in.
Why We Love Him? Well, other than being the protagonist of the series, you have to remember, he was once human. He constantly had that battle within himself with not killing innocent humans and survival.
She has a deep hatred for CCG officers and a cold demeanor, but can you blame her. Her family has been torn apart by the CCG and she became a ghoul on the run until she enrolled in school and worked at Anteiku. Though she abhors the CCG, she has a little more kindness towards humans. She ends up fighting alongside Ken Kaneki and develops intimate feelings for our protagonist.
Why We Love Her? Because she was minding her own business and probably didn’t think much about humans until the CCG ruined her life. We also love her because she has shown a lot of bravery and heroism when it came to protecting those she loves.
Who doesn’t love a guy like Yoshimura? He’s a kind-hearted and very reasonable ghoul that uses Anteiku to provide aid and food to ghouls who aren’t capable of hunting on their own. He does this without violently killing humans. Throughout the first season, we see he has been able to reform ghouls from their violent ways, such as helping Koma and Kaya, ex-leaders of very hostile ghoul gangs in Tokyo, find peace between themselves.
Why We Love Him? He’s just an all around good guy who, when you think about it, was showing the world that not all ghouls were vicious, deranged monsters.
Okay. So we hated him at first. Tried to kill Hide… wanted the guy to die a painful death, but after learning about his past, we actually grow to respect Nishio.
Why We Love Him? Love’s a strong word but I do respect him. He was never hesitant about eating humans especially after regaining his turf from the late Rize, but the woman he loved, Kimi was human. He willingly did not let himself eat her, and even when she offered him a bit of her arm, he was against the idea.
Look at this face! Who wouldn’t love this face? Hinami is one of fellow ghouls at Anteiku who really hasn’t done anything for us to hate her. She develops strong pseudo-sibling relationships with Kirishima and Ken. You also feel a lot of sympathy for Hinami considering her mother was practically murdered in front of her.
Why We Love Her? Because she’s so sweet and innocent. At the end of the day, she is just a child who had to grasp the concept of death and hate at a very early age.
Talk about Mother of the Year. Though she had a very small role, she made a huge impact. Being the only parent and probably the only person Hinami looked up to, Ryouko and Hinami were always latched onto each other. Though not the most powerful ghoul, Ryouko did what she could to protect her daughter to the bitter end. Her last appearance was in episode five, when Ryouko fought the CCG and sacrificed her life to save her daughter. This scene did an amazing job at humanizing the ghouls and honestly made me want the ghouls to win this whole war.
Why We Love Her? Because she should be the message to humans that there are ghouls out there who would sacrifice their life for their child, just like any human mother would do
Ghouls We Don’t Hate…but gave the Ghouls a Bad Rep-
Rize Kamishiro. So right into the first scene of the first episode of Tokyo Ghoul (not Re) you see a human body slammed against an aquarium and then massacred by none other than Rize. Rize very feared by not only humans but ghouls as well, for she had specific feeding grounds that if any other ghoul dared to hunt, she wouldn’t hesitate to gut them by her signature quinque. She was definitely one of the ghouls that gave ghouls a bad rep for bloodthirsty monsters. However, as we found out earlier, not all ghouls very vicious serial killers. A lot had to eat to survive, but then you had the few like Rize who killed and massacred people for the sheer pleasure of seeing their prey run and squeal right before they eat them. It entices them even more. There are humans I will name that you’ll find who love to see ghouls run and cry before they kill them. This just goes to show that even ghouls share the same characteristics and emotions as humans. The only thing different is what’s in their DNA.
Why She Was a Bad Rep? Um… do we need to replay episode 1, Scene 1? That should be all the proof we need.
Deranged and hell bent on torture, Yokumo Oomori (also known as Jason for his multiple appearances in a hockey mask and his brutality) is definitely not giving the ghouls a good rep, WHATSOEVER. Though not many of Jason’s torture scenes were shown, you definitely caught a whiff of his brutal ways in the last episode of the first season when he tortured Kaneki for ten days and mentally tortured a human couple during that time.
Why Was He A Bad Rep? I don’t need to go into details but trust me on this one.
Humans We Loved-
Okay! Look at that face! What’s not to love? Hideyoshi, also known as Hide, was a pretty average human. Attended a university, loved music (thus the headphones), and was Kaneki’s best friend. He started working part-time at the CCG towards the latter part of Tokyo Ghoul (not Re). He earned a lot of our respect in the very end when he followed Kaneki into the darkened Anteiku and found out the reason why Kaneki has avoided communication with him: because Kaneki was afraid of what his only friend would think of him as a ghoul. But…Hide accepted him and stated he will always be his friend whether ghoul or not.
Why We Loved Him? Well, there are many reasons to love Hide. His kindness. Innocence. But the most honorable trait he has, would be his devotion to Kaneki. When he found out Kaneki was the ghoul called “Eyepatch”, he opened his arms to Kaneki and confessed that he will always be his friend. Whether human or ghoul.
Koutarou had a complex personality. He came off as sensitive, insecure, and a defiant. Being raised in an orphanage where he saw countless traumatic events, he believed that the world was a fundamentally terrible place and made it his life mission to make the world a more peaceful and better place. Awww! How can we hate someone who wants to do that. This is why he joins the CCG. But he experiences situations with other ghouls where the question is again asked: Are all ghouls monsters? He learns that throughout his work as a CCG Investigator constantly wanting to believe the work he does is right and exterminating ghouls is what will make the world a better place, however, when Kaneki doesn’t deliver the finishing blow to Koutarou during a fight, he begins to question who is right and who is wrong in this world. Is there a right or wrong side? Does a grey area actually exist?
Why We Love Him? All he wanted to do was bring peace to society. He initially became a CCG Investigator thinking that he would bring peace by doing what the majority of society believed was right (killing ghouls).
Humans We Respect…But Still Hated-
This bitch…So you got to admit he had a huge heart towards his daughter and fellow CCG officers. The show even hints of his past where he was actually a great husband, however, he was ruthless and cold to ghouls. It’s ironic because was a great father from what the show portrayed and loved his late wife, but he didn’t consider that there are ghouls trying to live the same life as him. To have a family and raise your kids well. Did he care… nope! I’m pretty sure he thought of them as monsters who don’t deserve to live the same lives as humans. Again, this scenario puts our society into perspective, as well.
Why We Hated Him? HE KILLED HINAMI’S MOTHER IN COLD BLOOD…RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER! And she wouldn’t be the first good-natured ghoul he killed.
The Grand Message
If you think about it. The cold and emotional themes of Tokyo Ghoul (Before Re) could be used in our world. We may not see ghouls attacking humans or humans killing ghouls in our society (thankfully) but we do see racism and prejudice. Whether on the news or in your city, it is there. And coming from a person of color, I’m about to get real up in here. We all know the minute a black man commits a crime such as rape, people label African American men as rapists. The minute a Hispanic man is arrested for drug possession, people see the Hispanic population as drug lords. This concept can be applied to this anime. Because you have one ghoul going on a killing spree for fun and excitement, humans label the ghouls as monsters. And vice versa, where the ghouls have lived their lives hating humans because you have this small percentage of humans actively executing ghouls. And, I understand that these ghouls have supernatural powers that make it easier for them to kill, however, the fact is that not all of them want to kill humans out of sheer pleasure.
I understand topics like this can be heavy but what I mainly wanted to share to the public is that there is a greater message in this show that we can apply to our society (especially in America). When the minority such as people of color, women, LGBTQ+ community, commit a crime, the rest of society blames that minority group.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at my Reach Out to Me page in the menu or simply leave a comment below.