The Tokyo Ghoul manga is infinitely better than the anime. I was genuinely surprised to learn that this opinion is not commonly agreed upon within the Tokyo Ghoul fan community. Nevertheless, I know that the manga is better than the anime and I’m here to explain exactly why.
The following article will contain minor spoilers for season 1 of Tokyo Ghoul. You have been warned.
The discrepancy between the manga and anime is primarily due to pacing. The anime compiles 66 chapters, or about 7 volumes of content into 12 episodes. As a result, some scenes were omitted while others were compressed.
Let’s start by breaking down chapter 1’s adaptation in episode 1. The most crucial scene is when Kaneki wakes up in the hospital and one of his eyes is that of a ghoul’s. What makes this scene so important is that the pages before the grand reveal create a sense of suspense and unease within the reader. While it is obvious that Kaneki’s surgery is what will make him a ghoul, Sui Ishida’s pacing makes it so that the reader isn’t sure of what will happen to Kaneki. What Ishida does to create this mood is by having Kaneki narrate what kind of genre his story would be. This is very appropriate because, throughout the first chapter, the reader understands that Kaneki is a book nerd and the reason why Rize was able to entice him was because of his love for the author, Sen Takatsuki.
The mix of Kaneki’s narration and the doctor’s panic make Kaneki’s seemingly calm nature all the more uncomfortable.
Kaneki’s love for books is brought up once again in a similar nature when Nishiki is about to eat Hide. In this scene, Kaneki begins to panic because he’s unable to defeat Nishiki and save his friend. He begins to reminisce about his past with Hide, which motivates him to activate his kagune and save Hide. At the same time, a quote from the book Demian by Hermann Hesse is written in the background.
“The bird struggles out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever would be born must first destroy a world.”Hermann Hesse, Demian
For those unfamiliar with the famous novel, Demian is Hesse’s interesting take on a coming-of-age story. The main character, Emil Sinclair, struggles between the two worlds of reality and of the spiritual truth. Sinclair’s situation can be compared to that of Kaneki’s. Despite Kaneki already being a college student, his half-ghoul half-human stature makes him feel torn between the ghoul and human worlds, and as a result, forces him to grow mentally to accept his reality. The quotation, in this case, is Kaneki’s painful growth towards accepting his ghoul nature and destroying his former human reality.
In the context of this scene, the pacing of Kaneki’s flashbacks about Hide are shortened. In the anime, Kaneki only reflects on his first meeting with Hide. However, the manga shows Kaneki reflecting on years of their friendship. The anime cutting out a majority of these flashbacks causes this scene to feel rushed, and the viewer is unable to feel the sense of desperation Kaneki feels in the manga.
Lastly, the anime doesn’t follow the manga’s timeline. In the manga, the Dove Emergence arc comes before the Gourmet arc. However, the anime reorders them in order to give dead characters from the Dove Emergence arc a couple more episodes of screen time. While I think it’s nice for the animation studio to give some beloved characters a chance at a longer life, the Dove Emergence arc serves as one of the biggest stepping stones Kaneki needed for throwing away his ghoul-hating human side.
This arc establishes a sort of humanity within the ghoul society by making the key characters a mother and daughter, Hinami Fueguchi. After witnessing the death of Hinami’s mother, Kaneki understands the unfairness the society places on ghouls. While he was still human, he believed that ghouls were ruthless man-eating monsters. However, witnessing the death of someone he knew causes him to begin to feel the necessity ghouls have for eating humans, and that not every ghoul has the mental capacity to kill a human being.
There are many more reasons aside from what I’ve written that makes the manga better than the anime, such as the incredible build-up towards Kaneki’s mental break in the Aogiri Tree/11th Ward Battle Arc and Tsukiyama Shuu’s character development. Those who’ve only watched the anime are also missing out on Ishida’s insane art style.
Go read Tokyo Ghoul. It’s a masterpiece.
Gabriella is a 21-year-old writer and artist from Texas and currently goes to university in New York. Her favorite anime shows include Mob Psycho 100, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, and Kill la Kill. In her free time, Gabriella likes to watch anime, read manga, and play the newest games on her Nintendo Switch.
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