This is the companion transcription to ReAnimeTion where I talk about horror anime on the Dead As Hell Horror Podcast. Since this my flagship episode, I’ll say that we gotta appreciate animated manga for what it is, so there will be little to no talk on print manga. Also, my pronunciation is shit, and while I appreciate simple and plain corrections, let’s all be nice about it.
I’ll cover new and old horror anime, what I’ve watched in the past and what I’m watching right now, so if you have a suggestion let me know and I’ll add it to the giant list of stuff I need to see.
Right now horror fans are very lucky in that Tokyo Ghoul is being simulcast via Funimation. Hulu subscribers can watch episodes there, and episodes are showing up and being taken down from YouTube. Starting the beginning of July 2014, this series should take us up to mid-September with 12 episodes before being released on DVD. This one is particularly bloody and I am interested to see what sort of censorship and time slot it gets if it brought to air in the US and Canada.
Before I get into my take on the first two episodes, the big anime news lately is the reboot of Sailor Moon. I’ve been watching Sailor Moon Crystal on crunchyroll. While not horror, if you have babybats around, eyeballing your copy of Wicked City, there are some decent baddies in Sailor Moon and it is a relatively safe anime if Dragonball Z just isn’t their thing. I’m excited to see all the sailor scouts transformations, let alone all the cool monsters in the series redrawn.
In more horror-ish related news, the fourth episode of Psycho Pass came under scrutiny when the producer pulled the episode due to a decapitation crime in Japan – the one currently all over the news – it bore apparently similarity to the episode. Funimation ran the episode as scheduled, and will air episode 5/6 back to back to catch up, as the network is skipping it all together. I support both decisions. By skipping the episode, the show runners display compassion, and by airing the episode, Funimation avoids black-market trade and pirating, let alone giving the episode instant cult status. Check animenewsnetwork and crunchyroll if you wanna hear more.
So Tokyo ghoul. The anime is brought to us by Studio Peirrot who did loads of work since 1980 and recently brought us Naruto and two Bleach OVAs, so the style is tight and clean. Bright colours and only slightly exaggerated action sequences.
The story is about high-school student Ken Kaneki, who is turned into a half-ghoul. Ghouls here are closer to the actual mythical description of a ghoul, being a sort of undead-ish vampire-like, flesh eater. These ghouls are more vampire-like so far.
Right off the top, before the intro, binge-eating ghoul Rize is shown killing someone, covered in blood then confronted a masked man, immediately letting you know she is A] a killer and B] hunted.
Now, we meet Kaneki and his pal Hide who are chatting about girls in a café. Stop and tune into the incidental music in the background of this scene. If that is not the theme for Nekromantik by Hermann Kopp, I will eat crow. Really. Sounds just like it.
Eventually Kaneki ends up on a date with Rize. A pretty girl who you nearly don’t recognize from the opening scene. Yup. He’s alone with a binge eating ghoul. Toka, the waitress from the café is the last person to see him take off with Rize down a dark alley. Within seconds, there blood everywhere, visceral tentacles called Kagune which is the ghouls primary weapon when provoked beyond using teeth, and Rize has great lines like “I’m going to gently scramble your insides now, okay?” Suddenly the building collapses, and just as suddenly, he is in hospital with half his organs transplanted from the dead Rize. The plot moved pretty quick but was easy to follow. So, suddenly he is half ghoul. With one red eye. Recall, he is one half binge eating and hunted ghoul, so we have an idea how messed up this can get.
Similar to vampires from many different vampire worlds, these ghouls have a social construct tucked within human society. He finds himself soon cared for by the same group that Toka is involved with. Friendship, family, camaraderie, knowledge are important themes in this anime, and those who enjoy that aspect of Full Metal Alchemist will enjoy this. One theme I particularly enjoy is the relationship to food these ghouls have. It may not strike the same chord in North American culture as the Japanese have a more intimate and rich relationship with food they prepare.
The plot thickens like hot gravy as another alleyway altercation happens between Toka, Kanenki and a ghoul named Nishki. – yes they spend a lot of hunting time in alleys apparently – all ghouls of varying types and strength levels. The twist is that Nishki is Hide’s teacher. Lovely.
The struggle to come to terms with his new reality as a half ghoul troubles Kaneki and this is communicated wonderfully as he tries to get out a little, eat food, go to school and stuff like that. We’ve seen a similar discomfort in, say, Louis in Interview With a Vampire. This is done exceptionally well, with a lot of puking. Gotta like puking.
The big talking point comes in episode two. Kanekis first attack where his Kagune adopted from Rize comes out to fight. I’ts a fucking great fight sequence. Period. With all the rage of 1000 Devilman’s and the raining blood from 20 Fist of the North Stars, it delivers, hardcore. But, in reverse colour. Some say it is a censorship move, while I think it’s purely an artistic decision. There are prior and subsequent gory scenes that are not treated this way, but that remains to be seen as I’ve only seen up to episode 5 which ends on a cliffhanger fight. So, they solarized the colour but you can look on YouTube as many fans have corrected the colour and you can see the scene however you prefer. I prefer the original green blood and reverse colour because no matter how you slice it, it’s bloody as fuck. I suggest you watch the first two episodes before checking that out though, since while it’s a really cool scene, it’s a magical scene in context.
The music is good, with the opening theme “unravel” by Ling Tosite Sigure, reminding me of 30 Seconds to Mars – the closing theme ‘The Saints’ by People In The Box which reminds me of old Kasabain or Die Warzau. Fun Fun. Because that’s why we watch horror anime, right? For the music.
I highly recommend Tokyo Ghoul and give the first two episodes four out of four black stars for horror. Horray!
Up next, I’ll be watching this year’s body-horror release Pupa, 2013’s Blood Lad and re-watching Wallflower which aired around 2008. I’ll also be covering 2013’s Corpse Party. If there is anything you think I should be watching, let me know on twitter @typicallydia or tumblr, YouTube, wherever you hang out. This has been Re:Animation on the Dead As Hell Horror Podcast.