The first animated season of the manga Tokyo Ghoul was originally released in 2014. The series revolves around the tumultuous world of ghouls, powerful creatures that need to eat human flesh to live, and the humans that must comingle with them. Ken Kaneki, a young man with a seemingly boring life, is unwillingly turned into a half-ghoul after a freak accident and forced to navigate the world through different eyes. The popular manga was "the 4th best-selling manga series in Japan in 2014 with 6,946,203 copies sold." Obviously, both fans and casual viewers of the animated version would have strong opinions.
10 Love: Hinami and the Fueguchis
Hinami is a small child at the beginning of Tokyo Ghoul, with her powers lying dormant inside of her. The anime adaptation added a few scenes of Hinami's parents, Asaki and Ryouko Fueguchi, which added a bit more depth to the characters.
However, it only made their deaths that much more bittersweet. Asaki was murdered by Ghoul Investigators, who later also murdered Ryouko. "During her frantic escape, Hinami ran into Kaneki and begged for his help, but only returned in time to witness her mother being killed by Mado." Getting that extra little bit of family screen time makes the death of Hinami's parents hit hard.
9 Don't Love: Lack of Overall Character Development
While some characters received the character development they deserved, a few pulled the short straw so to say. It's understandable considering how challenging it must be to stuff upwards of 60 chapters into 12 episodes. It just doesn't work out well. Touka comes off pretty badly, Yoshimura is a weird old man, and Tsukiyama is, somehow, not eccentric enough.
More to come on this later.
8 Love: Kaneki versus Amon
The animation of this fight did not disappoint. This moment was a key turning point for Kaneki, because he realized that he, as the one-eyed ghoul, was the bridge between humans and ghouls. "He was the only one who could see both the human and ghoul worlds in their entirety, that they could manage to get along due to their similarities if they would sit down and talk."
This fight was also one of the first times Kaneki accepted the power he gained from Rize, knowing that it was the only way to stop Amon. Because of this newfound acceptance of his strength, he was able to break Amon's quinque, effectively ending the battle.
Kaneki saying to Amon "Please...don't make me a murderer" and allowing him to escape before he went crazy with hunger was a truly heartbreaking scene.
7 Don't Love: Shoddy Animation
Honestly, Studio Pierrot could have done better. The major animation production company has worked on several titles, including long-time running shows like Naruto and Bleach.
Fans were not thrilled with the less than perfect quality of the animation stating, "the current anime series has done injustice to the original source and it needs a better animator studio. Another said that they do not want Studio Pierrot, the current animators, to make the [then] upcoming season 3 of the anime."
6 Love: Unravel
This opening song is probably one of the most famous aspects of the animated version of Tokyo Ghoul. Unravel by TK from Ling Tosite Sigure is everything an opening should be: catchy, emotional, relevant to the series, and ultimately just epic.
Most people that watch the show love Unravel. "The song highly exceeded the producer's thoughts and the response was viral. Covers/versions of Unravel are very popular, receiving millions of views." It goes without saying that this is easily considered one of the best anime opening songs of all time.
5 Don't Love: Censorship
For a story that includes flesh-eating cannibalism, intense torture scenes, gruesome murder and death, and a whole bunch of violence galore, you'd think that an animated version would be faithful to that graphic atmosphere, right?
Wrong! Censorship was a huge issue with the anime. "Many streaming platforms where you can find Tokyo Ghoul — like Hulu and Funimation — stream the TV versions of the show, which were censored mainly so that the show could fit into a specific content rating system and be suitable for TV broadcast." Sure, it's possible to buy on Blu-Ray or stream on some shady sites, but it just begs the question, was it really necessary in the first place?
4 Love: Original Soundtrack
Yutaka Yamada, the composer of the original music used throughout the Tokyo Ghoul anime, is a genius. This music composer is incredibly well versed in the industry, as he is "known for his work on the anime television series 'Tokyo Ghoul', and major Japanese films such as 'Death Note:Light Up the New World', 'BLEACH' and 'KINDGOM'." The amazing soundtrack of Tokyo Ghoul is evocative and profound, making the anime that much more memorable.
3 Don't Love: Rushed Plot
As mentioned earlier, a lack of character development was likely a result of trying to compress 60 chapters of solid content, plot, and detail into 12 episodes. It was simply an impossible obstacle from the start. Perhaps if there had been even a few more episodes, the anime could have had a more cohesive flow to it. Sadly, that was not the case. The pacing and overall feeling of the anime are shaky and unstable, a point that even non-manga readers were able to recognize.
2 Love: Torture Scenes
The final episodes of the first Tokyo Ghoul season were arguably redemptive for the season as a whole. From the music to the animation and the adaptation of most of the scenes, it was better than the quality and tone of all of the preceding episodes, though that isn't honestly saying much.
Censorship and rushed pacing aside, seeing Kaneki being tortured by Yamori (ie: having his fingers and toes removed, having a centipede forcibly put into his ear, etc.) in moving picture definitely made an impact. And then, seeing his interactions with Rize, his transformation, and subsequent defeat of his torturer, it's hard not to feel bad for this poor guy.
1 Don't Love: Kaneki...
It's painful to admit. But Kaneki, the main character of Tokyo Ghoul, is characterized differently in the anime than he is in the manga. One fan explains the difference, "the anime portrayed him as no less than a wimp, the typical protagonist who can't do anything and ends up being beaten and in this sense, the anime is not consistent in portraying Kaneki. There are parts where he seems to be capable and there are episodes wherein he's a total loser." Obviously, Kaneki wasn't always the One-Eyed King we all know and love. But, the anime makes it pretty difficult to like him, basically until the last episode or two.
Manga Kaneki and Anime Kaneki are just two different characters. That, in itself, is a tragedy.