In this version of Tokyo, your friend may be your latest snack, coffee is the almighty drink, and none of this is scary.
Everything about this show had the potential to be a solid horror title. The concept about ghouls living alongside humans while hunting them brings plenty of opportunity for bloody conflicts. There’s a sense of paranoia knowing that anyone in this world can be a man-eater, especially with the main character’s identity crisis between his humanity and ghoul-nature. It also helps that the presentation here can be very atmospheric, with fluid animation mixed with some striking visual direction.
And yet it’s this treatment of ghouls as part of common knowledge that drains any sense of horror the show manages to muster. This isn’t like Shinsekai Yori or Attack on Titan where the threat is constantly looming and desperate preparations have been made. This is where the threat is constantly looming, yet no one seems to be paranoid living among man-eaters and the possibility of large conflict is far away. My point is that the humans seem too calm considering the situation, and the ghouls seem too commonplace and human-like to come off as scary.
This is especially true once I realized these characters aren’t that interesting beyond their identities as ghouls. Most of the humans are either psychotic hunters or naive victims, and the ghouls are only given enough of a personality to have us believe they can blend into human society. Including the main character Kaneki, all of these characters are simply defined by their motto for living or internal conflict. If you took those away from them, all you’d have is a bunch of man-eating blank slates disguised as everyday humans.
It had the potential to be scary, but sacrificed it in favor of a bloody battle shonen. That may be a slight disappointment for me, but it’s promising to be quite the entertaining bloodbath. So if tentacled man-eating creatures facing off till the death sounds exciting to you, by all means watch it.