Parasyte: The Maxim
Parasyte: The Maxim centers around Shinichi Izumi, an ordinary high school student whose life takes a turn for the worse when parasitic aliens mysteriously drop from the sky overnight and take over the brains of innocent human beings sleeping below. Izumi finds himself struggling against one of these life forms, though thankfully prevents his brain from being taken over by cutting off blood circulation to his arm. Deeming itself a failure, the parasyte, Migi, agrees to help Shinichi rid his Japanese town of other parasites lest both of them die from the alien threat.
Tokyo Ghoul’s Kaneki Ken and Shinichi share a lot in common, most notably when it comes to the fact that neither protagonist asked for the situations they were thrust in. Both must use their newfound abilities to their advantage in order to survive against enemies of their own kind – Kaneki with ghouls and Shinichi with parasytes. Each character also undergoes a profound change as events unravel, becoming colder and less human as time goes by. Combat also plays out in a very similar way, as both young men must cleverly figure out their opponent’s moves to make up for the fact that they’re still new to the whole anime protagonist thing.
Beyond the Boundary
Beyond the Boundary stars Mirai Kuriyama, a girl that just so happens to be capable of shaping blood into weaponry. As a member of the Spirit World warriors, she’s tasked with tracking down and killing creatures known as Youmu, who are said to take on the physical appearance of negative human emotions. Mirai excellently carries out her duties until she meets Akihito Kanbara, a rare half-breed Youmu who’s immortal.
Tokyo Ghoul’s protagonist shares some similarities with both of Beyond the Boundary’s main characters. Like Akihito, Kaneki is also a half-breed capable of tapping into the power of his unique DNA. Like Mirai, Kaneki has to come to terms with the extent of his power and realize how he should should use it to the betterment of not only himself, but of those he cares about around him. Tough decision making results from the unique positions that both Tokyo Ghoul and Beyond the Boundary leave their protagonists, oftentimes leaving behind more than just a few mistakes.
Future Diary revolves around the premise of a game of murder elimination, as the last man or woman standing ultimately becomes God him or herself. Yukiteru is thrust into this situation by no choice of his own alongside a love interest named Yuno who’s obsessed with every fiber of Yuki’s being. A bloody, chaotic anime that leaves no remorse behind ensues.
Though it’s obvious that both Kaneki and Yuki want no involvement in the situations they’re faced with from the onset, each slowly becomes more invested in the situation they’re tasked with as the plot moves forward. As gruesome as this may sound, killing in each series serves as a means to become better as a ghoul or a human being. The desire to stay alive becomes that much more important and in many ways, each character learns to appreciate themselves.
According to the anime world of Psycho-Pass, the future is run by a system called Sibyl. It dictates pretty much every facet of life, including whether a person is deemed likely to be a criminal. Akane Tsunemori is tasked with enacting Sibyl’s judgment on those people the system indicates as a threat, wrestling with the morality of jailing or killing candidates before they’ve actually done something wrong along the way. A story of right and wrong unfolds, oftentimes leading Akane to a gray area.
The moral ambiguity of Psycho-Pass is something that Tokyo Ghoul itself tackles throughout its narrative. Is hunting down ghouls who’ve done nothing wrong righteous, or is it unjust? Kaneki Ken attempts to answer this question himself as he exists as both a human and a ghoul, and must oftentimes decide who his true enemy really is. In some cases, Kaneki doesn’t have to right to choose between right and wrong in the first place (as in the chance with Psycho-Pass’ omniscient Sibyl system).
This anime revolves around the discovery of rare, immortal beings known as Ajin. Only 46 are known to exist in the world, though it’s suspected that more lie hiding in the shadows away from the grasps of humanity, whose intent is to capture every Ajin and subject them to intense experiments. When Kei Nagai gets run over by a truck and finds out that he’s a Ajin, a story that finds him on the run from both humanity and his fellow undying brethren commences.
Tokyo Ghoul and Ajin’s protagonists are both negotiating the discovery of their newfound powers with the threat of different species on the hunt for them. Humanity strives to learn more about ghouls just as it strives to learn more about Ajins, and each appears as a menacing force to be reckoned with. As if that wasn’t enough, ghouls and Ajin also want Kaneki and Kei dead lest all the commotion becomes something out of each species’ control. There’s plenty of self-discovery to be had in each anime series, though it does come at a cost.
Deadman Wonderland tells the tale of a middle school student named Ganta Igarashi. After the young man witnesses his entire class slaughtered by a mysterious entity known only as the Red Man, Ganta is sentenced to death at a privately-owned prison and “amusement park” known as – you guessed it – Deadman Wonderland. Both powerful allies and powerful enemies are made as the main character struggles to find out why he was placed in the prison in the first place and who set him up to deal with all this insanity.
Kaneki and Ganta form meaningful bonds due to the unique situations they’re placed in. While the former earns trust from the ghoul community by carrying out duties assigned to him by his coffee shop-owning caretaker, the later must prove that he’s worthy enough to be considered just as important as any other prisoner in Wonderland. Both characters just so happen to at one point face life-threatening injuries too, though manage to live on by the skin of their teeth.
Seraph of the End
A catastrophic event results in the death of every adult human being on the planet in Seraph of the End. This gives vampires the perfect chance to enslave the rest of humanity, keeping children underground in a decrepit city for use whenever the blood suckers get hungry. After attempting to escape vampire control and witnessing a traumatic event that would scar him for life, Yuichiro strives to rid the world of vampires and bring about an end to their tyrannic reign.
Tokyo Ghoul’s Kaneki and Seraph of the End’s Yuichiro both have to embrace their darker side to bring about what it is they’re striving for. This being said, the struggle to maintain one’s own survival and morals is also on full display as each anime moves forward, as you’ll empathize with enemies on either side of the fight. It makes the dichotomy evident in both series all the more compelling and vital to move the propel the narrative forward.
Shiki centers itself around the murders of multiple human beings in a small, rural town after the mysterious Kirishiki family moves there. Connecting the dots and investigating the real cause of the killings lead local doctor Toshio and the town’s chief monk down a spiral of shocking revelations pertaining to the world and creatures that now surround them.
Though it’s pretty obvious that Shiki shares an element with Tokyo Ghoul in that both anime feature monsters that devour human flesh to survive, both are also similar in that they attempt to put on display the humanity hidden within these beasts. Shiki’s vampires are no more dangerous and flawed as Tokyo Ghoul’s titular fiends, thus can’t help but make the viewer feel torn as to whether or not hunting and killing these beings is the right thing to do.
Blue Exorcist tells the story of Rin Okumura, a seemingly ordinary boy who one day discovers that he’s the son of Satan after encountering another young man possessed by a demon. With his existence straddling the line between human and demon, Rin is no longer protected by the church, but decides to fight against his parentage and join the True Cross Order as an exorcist anyway, believing that to be the right route to pursue.
Kaneki and Rin are similar in that each has the potential to become much more than what they are, yet yields to another path in the hopes of redeeming themselves. Each has trouble struggling with how to use their abilities for good too, as these powers have traditionally been used for darker purposes. In this respect, there’s an innocence to be found in both characters that’s hard not to notice.
Devilman Crybaby is an anime that released on Netflix recently. It’s gained a lot of attention online, most notably for its graphic imagery and unapologetic violence, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that it’s a show founded on just that. Surprisingly, Crybaby manages to tackle mature themes throughout its run that many anime shy away from, like racism and xenophobia. Believe it or not, this is all told through a story revolving around a human boy that fuses with a demon in order to stop a force that’s threatening humanity.
This boy named Akira shares a lot in common with Tokyo Ghoul protagonist Kaneki, as each learns to build a confidence that their former selves severely lacked. Though both anime share a lot when it comes to brutality and gore, there’s also a soft, balanced, chill aspect in between that balances each show nicely. To top it all off, using powers obtained from the enemy against them is another component that the shows have in common.