Tokyo Ghoul is one of the most popular and beloved manga and anime of the 21st century. Sui Ishida’s horror drama about the plights of Ken Kaneki, whose life is turned upside down once he is transformed into a ghoul, was well received by both critics and fans, becoming a favorite for many around the world. Although Ishida rushed the ending a bit and the anime adaptation is not the most consistent one out there, Tokyo Ghoul is still a darling for a lot of people.
Based on the manga’s publication, Tokyo Ghoul is a seinen manga, meaning that it is appropriate for people over the age of 18. Still, the manga has a lot of shōnen elements, although one should be careful with younger viewers. The anime was never that graphic and could be considered a shōnen work.
This article will further expand on the issue of classifying Tokyo Ghoul. You will also find out what the show is about and how that plot relates to the issue at hand. Tokyo Ghoul is somewhat difficult to classify properly, but we have managed to find a way to do it, as you will see in the remainder of this article.
What Age Is Tokyo Ghoul Appropriate For?
The question of determining a work’s age suitability is always complex, since the answer is rarely straightforward. Works usually explore different topics and those that are borderline between some groups are borderline for a reason. Tokyo Ghoul is, for the most part, a seinen work but it does have several big shōnen elements, which make it a bit more difficult to determine its age suitability.
Seinen is a Japanese term that literally means “youth”, but it is also used to refer to a specific (sub)genre of manga and anime marketed towards young adult men, between the ages of 18 and 45. Although the term means “youth”, seinen is actually targeted towards an older age group of men.
The female equivalent of seinen is josei. Seinen is “located” between the shōnen (which is marketed towards boys) and the gekiga (which is marketed towards adults) genres, as far as the ages are concerned.
Shōnen is a term that literally means “boy” or “youth”; in the context of this article, it is used to describe a genre of manga and anime marketed towards young, teenage boys from the ages of 12 to 18. The term is not a genre per se, but rather a signification of the targeted demographic group for which the material is published. The female equivalent is called shōjo.
Now, in Western standards, seinen would roughly translate to NC-17, while shōnen would be PG-13, although it’s not a precise relation. Now, let us examine each of the two groups separately.
Is Tokyo Ghoul PG-13?
As we have said, in Japan, the Tokyo Ghoul manga was classified as a seinen work, which would roughly translate to the NC-17 Western rating. Seinen manga are, of course, available to all, but a recommendation is that it is certainly not suitable for younger children. Someone who’s 16 or 17 might find it appropriate, but those that are between the ages of 12 and 16 should approach the story carefully.
Tokyo Ghoul is, indeed, graphic and violent. It also deals with topics that are neither close nor completely appropriate for younger children, which is why we would say that Tokyo Ghoul is not PG-13 when translated to Western standards. The same goes for the anime, despite it being much milder in its tone.
Is Tokyo Ghoul NC-17?
Tokyo Ghoul is predominantly a seinen work, with some shōnen elements. In Japan, the seinen classification denotes young men between the ages of 18 and 40, which would roughly translate to the Western NC-17 rating. Tokyo Ghoul is fully appropriate for older teenagers and adults, there is absolutely no dilemma there. The majority of the content is graphic and violent enough, and is clearly focused on young adult-related issues.
The main issue here is that seinen is not completely identical to NC-17, but since the manga age classification is not a replica of the Western rating systems, we had to draw such a comparison.
As for the anime, the anime is designated as being 16+ on Netflix, which actually reaffirms our conclusion that this is mostly an NC-17 work and that the content is mostly aimed at adults, rather than teenagers and, especially children.
How Is Tokyo Ghoul Classified?
In Japan, the manga was published in Weekly Young Jump, which is probably the most famous seinen manga magazine in the country. Publishing it there, Ishida had much more liberty with the content, as seinen manga is aimed towards young men between the ages of 18 and 40. This allowed him to be more graphic, violent, and scary in his stories, which was – up to a point – what Tokyo Ghoul was all about.
Still, the manga had a lot of elements that are related to the shōnen (young men between the ages of 12 and 18) group, including a younger main character and topics that are certainly close to older teenagers. Still, the manga could hardly be classified as shōnen due to its graphic content.
The anime, on the other hand, was much milder and although it is 16+ in the West, it would better fit the shōnen group than the seinen one.
What Is Tokyo Ghoul About?
In Tokyo, there is a series of strange and bloody murders due to the presence of ghouls, monsters who see humans only as prey and who can only eat their flesh. Ken Kaneki is a university student, dedicated to studying and reading, who one day meets Rize in a bar, a charming peer of his age.
In reality, she too is a ghoul and Ken will soon become her prey. Rize in fact, under a pretext, lures Ken to an isolated place where she seriously injures him with repeated attacks, but before being able to devour him, she is wounded because hit by a series of steel beams, which fall from a building under construction nearby.
The boy is then rushed to a hospital where the surgeon of his operation, in a desperate gesture, decides to undergo an organ transplant, taken from Rize’s body. Having survived the impossible, Ken soon begins to understand, however, that he has become a half-ghoul in a city scattered with these beings, where each of them, to eat and therefore live, must earn (even by force) his own ” hunting territory “.
He will immediately join the Anteiku, a group of ghouls who have decided to live with humans, where he will become familiar with Touka and the other ghouls.
The action of Tokyo Ghoul:re takes place several years after the end of Tokyo Ghoul. Following the CCG invasion of the Anteiku Cafe, Kaneki Ken disappeared. CCG creates a new squad of “Quinxes” – people in whose bodies the “Kakuho” ghouls were implanted, thanks to which they acquired the abilities of ghouls.
The main character of the manga, Sasaki Haise, is the mentor of this detachment and part-time investigator, engaged in catching ghouls or destroying them together with his assistants Mutsuki Tooru, Urie Kuki, Shirazu Ginshi and Yonebayashi Saiko. Sasaki is Kaneki’s new identity.