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Tokyo Ghoul: A Hero's Journey and The Mentor

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Brianna Garcia

on 22 May 2015

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Transcript of Tokyo Ghoul: A Hero's Journey and The Mentor

The Ordinary World
Tokyo Ghoul: The Hero's Journey (and The Mentor)

Call to Adventure
When receiving the call, there are times when the hero becomes reluctant and resistant and refuses the call due to their familiarity and comfort with their ordinary world. For Kaneki, his refusal was denying the fact he was a ghoul. At home, when Kaneki noticed how the food at the hospital tasted so disgusting, he saw a ghoul researcher on TV, explaining that because of their biology, ghouls cannot eat human food for it is extremely unhealthy and distasteful that it causes them to vomit and that they can only sustain on human flesh. Scared out of his mind, Kaneki starts to repeatedly taste human food, including his favorite hamburger, hoping it would taste the same as before when he was a human. His efforts proved futile, however, as each human food he ate tasted so disgusting it literally made him vomit. This is Kaneki’s refusal to the call in the sense that he denies he is now a ghoul by eating his normal, usual human food to cling on to his ordinary world and life of when he was human before having the organs of a ghoul transplanted into him and becoming one himself.
Refusing the Call
Approach to Inmost Cave
and Supreme Ordeal:
Meeting with a mentor
Somewhere along his journey, the hero will meet the mentor, the archetype of the heroic journey who helps and teaches the hero in his journey’s obstacles. The mentor is also the one who compels the hero to accept the call of adventure. In Tokyo Ghoul, Ken Kaneki has three mentors. The first mentor is Touka Kirishima, a female ghoul whom Ken befriends. In a scene where Kaneki starves for human flesh, Touka offers him a severed arm. Kaneki refuses claiming “there’s no way he could do that” and that he is still a human despite him now being a ghoul. Touka then angrily shoves a chunk of human flesh into his mouth, stating that if he “does not have the nerve to eat, then she’ll lend him a hand”. Even when Ken refuses, Touka claims “starvation is hell for a ghoul”. Touka serves as the mentor archetype in this scene since mentors compel heroes to accept the hero’s call. In Ken’s case, it was shoving human flesh in his mouth that Touka attempts to compel Kaneki to accept his call to adventure or the fact that he is now a ghoul. The second mentor is Mr. Yoshimura, or the “One-eyed Owl”, an elderly ghoul. When Kaneki joins Anteiku, a peaceful group of ghouls disguised as a coffee shop, Mr. Yoshimura teaches him how to live as a ghoul such as how to eat human food. He also gives Kaneki sugar cubes to help him stabilize his ghoul hunger. Mr. Yoshimura is Kaneki’s mentor in the sense that he teaches Kaneki the basics of life as a ghoul and helps him with his hunger problem such as the mentor teaching the hero and aiding him in his struggles. The last mentor for Kaneki is Rize, or at least a vision of her. When Kaneki is tortured by Jason to the point of insanity, a vision of Rize appears and compels him to kill others and accept his ghoul side by showing him the outcome should he hesitate to kill others, which involves his friends dying. Rize serves as Kaneki’s mentor in the sense that she compels him to accept his call to adventure and gain the courage to kill others who would harm his friends complementary to the mentor compelling the hero to accept the hero’s call to adventure in the heroic journey.
Resurrection is the point in the heroic journey, when the hero is transformed by his experience and is now a new person. Kaneki’s resurrection is his entire character changing after being tortured by Jason and then killing him. When Kaneki kills Jason, he escapes and saves his friend and ally, Touka from her brother Ayato. However, Kaneki’s appearance and personality has drastically changed. His hair now white and his nails black, Kaneki is shown to have become as sadistic as his now deceased tormentor, Jason. This is evident in the fight scene between Kaneki and Ayato, where Kaneki breaks one hundred three of Ayato’s bones or “half-kills” him as penance for injuring his sister (Ishida,Sui 2011-2014) . It is at this point that Kaneki is now a resurrected person in the sense that he has become sadistic and murderous due to his experience that was Jason torturing him, causing him to reach his inmost cave of seeing visions of his friends dying making him realize that he needs to become stronger. Other examples are shown in the fight scene between Kaneki and Jason where after defeating him, Kaneki tortures Jason by stabbing his arms and legs for vengeance or when Kaneki kills multiple ghouls and even commits cannibalism to become stronger.

In every hero’s journey, there are trials that the protagonist must face. The hero will also find allies that will help him face those tests as well as enemies that will get in his way. For Ken Kaneki, his trials were tests of remaining who he is despite hostile environment and current situations that would require him to change which meant killing others. After a fight scene between Ken and Amon, a ghoul hunter or “CCG Investigator”, Ken releases his kagune, seeing as how it was the only way to disarm Amon, but quickly loses control over it, and soon himself, since he lacked experience using it. At this moment, Kaneki tells Amon to “hurry and run away", before he kills him which was something he did not want hence his words “please don’t make me a killer”. This proves to be a test of integrity for Ken, seeing as how his principles would clash with his ghoul nature to kill, thus making hard for Kaneki to stay loyal to those principles which included “choosing to be hurt than to hurt others” or not to kill and hurt others. As for allies, Touka Kirishima would prove as one for Kaneki. In a scene with Hide and Kaneki, Hide is unconscious and Kaneki finds himself giving in to his ghoul urge to eat him. Touka steps in to stop him however, claiming “he’d regret it if he ate his guts” and brings him to Anteiku for help. Touka proves to be an ally for Kaneki in the sense that she helps him remain true to his principles of not killing others by preventing him from making the mistake of betraying those principles. Enemies for Kaneki would be Jason, a murderous and psychotic ghoul. Regarding Jason, in a scene where Kaneki is trapped in his torture room, Jason holds two allies of Kaneki hostage and gives him the decision of who dies. Kaneki refuses stating that would “be the same as killing them”. Jason is the enemy in the sense that he attempts to pressure Kaneki to betraying his nonkilling principles by forcing him to choose which of his allies would die.
Tests, Allies and Enemies
Kaneki's Kagune
Crossing the threshold means finally choosing to embark on the journey and accept the call to adventure, for the main hero. This is the point where there is no turning back for the hero or where the hero commits to his journey. In Tokyo Ghoul, Ken Kaneki crosses the first threshold when he decides to accept the offer of Mr. Yoshimura, the mentor archetype of Kaneki’s journey, to live among ghouls in Anteiku, a peaceful group of ghouls. This scene is complementary to the hero’s decision to embark on his journey in the sense that Kaneki decides to learn how to live a peaceful life as a ghoul, thereby starts to accept his ghoul side by choosing to live among them and learning their peaceful ways.

Crossing the First Threshold
The Road Back
The Ordinary World is the hero's usual world of which he or she is familiar with. However, the ordinary world is conflicted in some way which eventually causes the hero or main protagonist to leave their ordinary world. Ken Kaneki's life is an example of the ordinary world. Ken lives in modern Tokyo where he is a freshman at college and hangs with his closest friend, Hide Nagachika. However his ordinary world is conflicted externally and internally. Regarding internal conflicts, Kaneki's mom died from overworking herself, leaving him lonesome and forced to rely on his books for companionship. Regarding external conflicts, Kaneki's world or Tokyo is inhabited with human-like beings called "ghouls" who hunt and kill humans for livestock using predatory organs called "kagunes". Ken Kaneki soon becomes exposed to this truth in an encounter with a ghoul which leads to his transformation to a half-ghoul, thus causing him to leave his ordinary world of being a human.

The Inmost Cave is where the hero enters a dangerous place and faces his greatest fears, and his ordeal or crisis only to overcome them and realize what must be done. The cave can be a psychological one or a physical one. For Ken Kaneki, it is his own mind. As Jason continues to torture him, Ken starts to become mentally unstable to the point where he starts having visions and hallucinations. Ken then sees a vision of Rize who shows Kaneki future visions of his friends being murdered by Jason should he continue the “path he chose” and “choose to be hurt than to hurt others” or refuse to fight back against his enemies such as Jason and CCG investigators. Ken’s mind is his innermost cave seeing as how it is where he faces his greatest fears that is his friends dying. As Rize states that it is “all his fault”, Kaneki begins to feel guilty for not doing anything as he states “it’s all my fault”. He reaches his ordeal that is when he concludes that he did not “even try to change” or become stronger to fight as Rize stated and so because of him, his friends will die. It is when Kaneki becomes motivated to become strong enough to kill, such as when he exclaims he would take “someone’s life if it meant preserving his mother’s” and that those who hurt his friends “shall receive no mercy from him”, that Kaneki overcomes his ordeal.

After facing and overcoming his supreme ordeal, the hero will encounter challenges and difficulties on the road back to the ordinary world. In Tokyo Ghoul, Ken, after overcoming his supreme ordeal, had to fight other ghouls such as Jason and Ayato, Touka’s brother to return to his new home at Anteiku with his friends (Ishida, Sui, 2011-2014). Kaneki is relatable to the hero fighting his way back to his ordinary world or to a new one since fighting is exactly what Kaneki does in order to return to his new friends at Anteiku.

Introduction to Characters,
Setting and Conflict
Action, Climax and Triumph
Resolution and Denouement
When the hero returns to his ordinary world, he brings with him an elixir of some sort, to the people who stayed behind and uses it to help them. If for some reason, the hero cannot return to his ordinary world, he will use the elixir to help those who accompanied him on his journey or those who inhabit the new world. This elixir can be concrete, experience or wisdom of some sort. When Kaneki escapes Jason’s torture he shares his newfound strength with his companions. For instance, he taught Banjou, a ghoul who tried to help him while he was being held captive, how to fight (Ishida, Sui 2011-2014). Kaneki thus relates to the hero in a way that the hero shares his knowledge or elixir with those who inhabit the new world. In Kaneki’s case, the elixir was strength of which he taught to his new companion Banjou by teaching him how to fight.

Return with the Elixir
The call to adventure is what sets the main protagonist to embark on his journey. The call can take many forms and can be something the main protagonist takes on willingly or is compelled to take due to an event or person. For Ken Kaneki, his call to adventure was being attacked by a ghoul only to become one afterwards. Rize was a girl of whom Ken had a crush on. When their eyes finally meet, Ken and Rize go on a date of which afterwards, Ken walks Rize home. Unbeknownst to Kaneki, Rize was actually a ghoul who intended to lure Kaneki into an isolated spot, kill him and then eat him. Deceiving Kaneki and hiding her identity as a ghoul makes her the shapeshifter who is two-faced or changes in the view of the hero. After Rize reveals her true identity, she captures the fleeing Kaneki and severely injures him by stabbing his stomach. Rize’s plans to eat Kaneki were thwarted however, as beams from a construction site fall upon her and crushed her. Kaneki soon finds himself in hospital and finds out that Rize’s organs were transplanted to him to save his life. Kaneki started to become aware of this when he noticed his food that he usually ate tasted disgusting and when, looking at the mirror, he noticed his right eye was black with a bright red pupil, a common appearance trait of ghouls. At this instant, Kaneki’s ordinary world is immediately taken from him as his life is changed forever by an event that is his call to adventure since he is no longer human and is now
half-ghoul or a “one-eyed ghoul” thus is forced to live the life as one of them.
The point where Kaneki emerges from the Supreme Ordeal is when he accepts the call to adventure and accepts the fact that he is now a ghoul by stating “I am a ghoul”, and seizes the reward. The reward is the hero’s payoff for his struggle in the journey. Kaneki’s reward was newfound strength to kill and control of his ghoul capabilities such as his kagune. This is evident in the fight scene between Kaneki and Jason where he fights Jason and then kills him with no hesitation. In this fight scene, Kaneki is shown to have full control of his kagune and regeneration powers as he twists his own leg to thrash Jason to the wall, then healing rapidly afterwards. This is Kaneki’s payoff in the sense that after his psychological supreme ordeal caused by Jason’s torture, Kaneki finally embraces his ghoul side and as a result has become stronger for it.

Works Cited
Mikasano, Chūji. "Tokyo Ghoul." Studio Pierrot. Dir. Shuhei Morita. 4 July 2014. Funimation Entertainment. Web. 20 May 2015. <http://www.funimation.com/shows/tokyo-ghoul/>. 12 episodes

"INTRODUCTION." Hero's Journey. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2015. <http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey.htm>.
"Archetype Definitions." Quizlet. Ed. Syddnneey. Study Everywhere!, 2010. Web. 20 May 2015. <https://quizlet.com/3087795/archetype-definitions-flash-cards/>.

Music by: Midori Orgel

By: Brianna Garcia
Evolution of the Hero's Journey & The Mentor
The hero's journey is a pattern that can be found in myths, stories, and legends from a range of cultures and time periods. From ancient Greece to modern Hollywood and anywhere beyond or in between, the hero's journey is an important archetype (or basic original pattern) from which many stories have been derived.
The mentor can be found anywhere, and whenever- because the mentor has been in any tale, story, movie, play, to help the character(s) in some way. And even in our daily lives.
Mentor- This type of character is typically represented as a kind and wise, older father-type figure who uses personal knowledge of people and the world to help tell stories and offer guidance.
The Hero's Journey- is a search for origins, identity, perfection, fulfillment, love, treasure, fame, wisdom, or salvation. It sends the hero in search for some truth or information necessary to restore fertility, justice,and/or harmony to a trouble land. The hero faces trials and tribulations along the way, and often descends in to a real or psychological hell and is forced to face his/her own faults. Once the hero is at this lowest level, he/she must accept personal responsibility to return to the world of the living.
Tokyo Ghoul is the example I've given because it fits the Hero's Journey perfectly, from the trials he is put through to his loss, his friendships, his guide- Aka; the Mentor [Archetype] that was there to help him overcome certain obstacles.
However, In the end Kaneki doesn't have a "happy ending" like most Hero's Journeys do.

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