How the Lackluster Anime Adaptation Ruined the Series’ Reputation

How the Lackluster Anime Adaptation Ruined the Series’ Reputation

Tokyo Ghoul was an incredibly popular series throughout the 2010s, especially due to its original manga. In many ways, this series paved the way for the current popularity of darker shonen/seinen manga/anime franchises such as Demon Slaughter and the somewhat similar one Chainsawman. Unfortunately, its reputation would be completely destroyed after it floated off the printed page.


The Tokyo Ghoul anime adaptation is largely seen as terrible, especially compared to the source material. Unnecessary changes and failure to adapt the story as a whole ruined the quality of the series, which in itself would be bad enough. Unfortunately, this notoriety has also affected the reception of the manga, which is seen as bad just by association. Here’s a look at how Tokyo Ghoul became the poster child for a bad anime that ruined the entire property.

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Why Tokyo Ghoul Anime Was So Disappointing

Ken Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul anime promotional art.

The first season of Tokyo Ghoul came out in 2014, around the same time the original manga ended. This was quite an advantageous situation for the show, as it meant that there would be no need to produce large amounts of filler to avoid catching up with the manga. Produced by Pierrot (who also worked on shonen hits such as Black cloverthe various entries in the Bleach anime franchise and Naruto anime), the 12-episode first season was easily considered the best of the show. It adapted the first 66 chapters of the manga, which had 143 chapters as a whole. This meant there was enough material for at least one more season, if not two.

Despite the fact that the material is already there to adapt Tokyo Ghoul the anime took a much different direction with the story in its second season. Instead of continuing to tell the story from the manga, the second season Tokyo Ghoul √A loosely combined elements from the manga’s subsequent chapters with an original story. At least this was written by franchise creator Sui Ishida, although the result was still not good. Characters were brought in and quickly forgotten, making character development a haphazard affair. The same applies to the characters that were already introduced, whose behavior and actions change dramatically. The result was a miasma of characters fighting each other without much context, exacerbated by the fact that important elements from the manga were completely skipped over.

Things just kept getting worse Tokyo Ghoul:re, the anime’s third season. This season adapted the manga sequel to the original series, and given that the anime’s second season skipped several plot and character elements, Tokyo Ghoul:re failed to pick up certain plot elements. Also, it attempted to tell a large amount of the story of the sequel to the manga in just 12 episodes – a tall order even in the best of circumstances. Add to that the fact that the storytelling and animation take a bigger dive in the second half, and it’s no wonder that Tokyo Ghoul went from prince to punchline.

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Tokyo Ghoul’s anime ruined the manga’s reputation

Kaneki and Hide in Tokyo Ghoul's manga.

While manga and anime are often seen as synonymous, it is quite easy to argue that watching anime is a more popular and accessible mainstream activity. That was especially the case when Tokyo Ghoul anime aired, as manga was still spreading to its current availability in stores and retailers. As a result, there were many more viewers in Western Norway Tokyo Ghoul anime than there were readers of the manga. Given that the anime was more mainstream and had more eyes on it, its rapidly declining quality became associated with the franchise as a whole. In online discussions and reception for Tokyo Ghoul, it was largely lambasted as a terrible franchise and the epitome of terrible anime. The popularity of the franchise only made it a bigger target, with the series becoming something of a joke among anime fans who had never even seen the show.

Of course, this horrific nature was inherent in the anime and the anime alone, with the manga maintaining its quality throughout its run. Nevertheless, it is closely connected to the gruesome plot direction of the anime, even though much of that story was exclusive to the show. Fortunately, the manga is still widely available in stores, so those just getting into anime and manga may be able to read Tokyo Ghoul with a more open mind. However, for those who were around when the anime first aired, it seems that even the big ones Tokyo Ghoul manga is forever tainted by the poor adaptation it inspired.

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