Philosophy · May 17, 2023 0

The Nature of Humanity in Tokyo Ghoul

I was watching Tokyo Ghoul on Netflix, when an odd thought sneaked up on me like an uninvited guest at a dinner party. I found myself teetering on the edge of a moral dilemma, should I be rooting for the humans or the ghouls?

Now, as a card-carrying member of the human race, I should be rooting for the home team, right? We’ve always been the lions in this existential safari, the top dogs, never having to look over our shoulders. But imagine, just for a second, a world where we get bumped off our cozy perch by these ghouls, creatures whose idea of a balanced diet is…well, us. Naturally, we’d go full-on survival mode and try to kill as many ghouls as we could. Knowing us, killing ghouls in self-defence wouldn’t be enough, we’d want to make them extinct. Who wants to be a menu item, right?!

But what if we swapped our rose-tinted glasses for a ghoul’s more macabre eyewear? They’re just trying to fill their bellies, same as us. Our daily bread, too, is another animal’s flesh and bone. So, maybe instead of picking a side, we should view this whole thing as nature’s quirky reality show – the eternal tango of hunter and hunted.

The hunted, of course, can’t be faulted for wanting to stick around a bit longer, so offing a ghoul can be seen as survival instinct at its finest. Yet, as Tokyo Ghoul’s plot thickens, it seems the humans are going a bit overboard, aiming to wipe ghouls off the face of the earth. Most of these ghouls, barring a few bad apples who give new meaning to playing with their food, simply want to tiptoe through life causing as little disruption as possible.

So, in this unexpected plot twist of my own, I find myself slightly more inclined towards these ‘good’ ghouls. Their wish for peaceful coexistence echoes seems like the right choice, I think…

In Tokyo Ghoul, ghouls are depicted as human-like creatures with the unique ability to consume human flesh as their sole source of nourishment. While this trait distinguishes them from humans and often leads to violent confrontations, ghouls are not entirely devoid of human qualities. In fact, many ghouls display emotions, form relationships, and participate in society in ways that are indistinguishable from their human counterparts.

One prime example is the character of Hinami Fueguchi, a young ghoul who loses her parents to a human organization dedicated to exterminating ghouls. Hinami’s grief, fear, and desire for a sense of belonging are all emotions that any human can relate to, revealing a depth of humanity within her despite her ghoul nature. Similarly, the relationship between Touka Kirishima and her human friend Yoriko Kosaka illustrates that ghouls are capable of forming genuine connections with humans, despite the inherent differences between the two species.

The aforementioned examples suggest that ghouls possess human qualities, highlighting the shared experiences between humans and ghouls that might serve as a foundation for coexistence. Moreover, the portrayal of ghouls as individuals with distinct personalities, values, and moral compasses challenges the notion that they are inherently evil or monstrous. Instead, it seems that ghouls, like humans, are shaped by their circumstances and experiences.

On the other hand, Tokyo Ghoul also presents a compelling argument for the incompatibility of human and ghoul existence. Ghouls’ need for human flesh to survive places them in direct opposition to humans, who understandably view ghouls as a threat to their safety and well-being. The violent clashes between humans and ghouls, as well as the mutual fear and mistrust between the two species, suggest that the fundamental differences in their respective natures may render coexistence impossible.

The character of Kureo Mado, a human investigator driven by a deep-seated hatred for ghouls, exemplifies the hostility and prejudice that can arise from these differences. Mado views ghouls as nothing more than monsters, unworthy of empathy or understanding, and his perspective reflects a broader societal fear of the unknown or the “other.”

The brutality exhibited by some ghouls further supports the argument that they are incompatible with human society. For instance, the character of Yakumo Oomori, also known as “Jason,” is a sadistic ghoul who derives pleasure from torturing and killing both humans and ghouls alike. Jason’s actions, along with those of other malicious ghouls in the series, highlight the potential for violence and chaos that may stem from the presence of ghouls in human society.

While Tokyo Ghoul presents compelling arguments for both the human aspect of ghouls and their incompatibility with human society, it is important to recognize that neither perspective fully encompasses the complexity of the relationship between the two species. Instead, the answer may lie in a nuanced understanding of the shared experiences and common ground between humans and ghouls, as well as a recognition of the diversity and individuality within both groups.

The series showcases characters who strive to bridge the gap between humans and ghouls, demonstrating that coexistence is not entirely unattainable. Kaneki Ken, the protagonist, serves as a prime example of this, as his unique status as a half-human, half-ghoul allows him to empathize with both sides of the conflict. Throughout the series, Kaneki works to protect those he cares for, regardless of their species, and to find a way to reconcile the differences between humans and ghouls.

Another example is the establishment of Anteiku, a cafe run by ghouls that serves as a sanctuary for both species. The cafe’s peaceful atmosphere and acceptance of all customers, regardless of their nature, highlights the possibility for humans and ghouls to coexist in a shared space. Furthermore, Anteiku’s efforts to obtain human flesh through non-violent means, such as collecting the bodies of suicide victims, demonstrate that alternatives to violence can be explored in order to mitigate the threat posed by ghouls’ unique dietary needs.

Tokyo Ghoul raises complex questions about the nature of humanity and the potential for coexistence between humans and ghouls. While the series presents arguments for both the human aspect of ghouls and their incompatibility with human society, it also offers a glimpse into the potential for understanding and cooperation between the two species. By focusing on the shared experiences, emotions, and values that connect humans and ghouls, as well as recognizing the diversity within both groups, Tokyo Ghoul invites its audience to reconsider the rigid boundaries that often define our understanding of what it means to be human.

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