Tokyo Ghoul may have the most amazing first episode I’ve ever seen.
In an alternate reality, Tokyo residents are forced to live with the fact that ghouls look and act exactly like normal people, but they feast on the flesh of humans once a month in order to stay alive.
Tokyo Ghoul’s first episode expertly eases you into this reality through the eyes of Kaneki Ken, a quiet student living on his own and chasing after a cute girl at a café. After a gripping introduction with two quarrelling ghouls that hints at an underworld power structure, the show momentarily backs off the in-your-face gore, to linger on Kaneki’s quaint life before the rug gets pulled from underneath him.
Kaneki finds himself seduced by the café girl (who’s actually a powerful ghoul) and nearly eaten, but his life is saved by a doctor who transplants some of the ghoul’s organs into him after she was suspiciously crushed by construction equipment before she could deal Kaneki a killing blow.
The surgery leaves Kaneki fighting with the urges that the ghoul’s organs introduced in him, and every moment of his struggle would make even the most veteran psychological horror fan wince.
The directing and the writing both displayed an impressive flair that looks like it can be sustained — there’s a superb pay-off following each writerly set-up — and the pointed animation can only be described as expertly thrilling.
And with just enough exposition drizzled over every scene like blood from a severed limb, there’s no way you can afford to not watch Tokyo Ghoul.
Tokyo Ghoul is currently streaming on Funimation.
Check out this header post for more Summer 2014 anime previews and for more on why I’m taking a stab at them in the first place.