Tokyo Ghoul is a manga series that is extremely popular among readers, and it was written and illustrated by Sui Ishida. It has spawned an anime, two live-action films, a sequel with an anime adaptation, a spin-off anime, and more. However, if you want to start from the beginning with this manga, you may find yourself asking how many books you can expect to read.
There are 14 Tokyo Ghoul “books.” The original manga series was released in the magazine Weekly Young Jump from 2011 to 2014 and was collected in 14 manga volumes. There are also three light novels, a single manga volume prequel, and a sequel featuring 16 manga volumes and one light novel.
If this is your first experience with manga, this may sound a little confusing. Don’t worry – this article will explore the Tokyo Ghoul books in further detail and explain how it, and other manga series, are published.
How Tokyo Ghoul Is Published
As mentioned above, Tokyo Ghoul is a manga series. Manga is, essentially, the Japanese term for graphic novels – which means that the Tokyo Ghoul series is not a prose series and is therefore not published in traditional “books.”
Like many other comic series, Tokyo Ghoul was initially serialized. This means that it was released in short installments. In the case of this manga, sections of the story were released weekly in the magazine Weekly Young Jump. It took approximately three years for the story to be published in this format.
The story’s popularity led to it being collected and published in volumes. You can think of these as a collection of comic strips – while each magazine only featured one section of the story, each volume collected multiple sections. For example, the first volume collected nine sections of the story.
Collecting shorter sections in one volume makes it easier for readers to consume the story. You can catch up on the plot’s events quickly, without having to find earlier copies of the magazine. Additionally, you have to store fewer items – for example, there were about 143 sections and an epilogue to the serialized Tokyo Ghoul story, collected in 14 volumes.
So, if you were collecting the story through the magazine, you would have to collect 144 magazines. However, you only have to collect 14 collected volumes.
Collecting a serialized story also allows the writer to return to the story and edit it if necessary. Collected volumes of a manga series are known as tankōbon volumes.
The first collected Tokyo Ghoul volume was released in February 2012 (in Japanese) and June 2015 (in English). The fact that the collection of the story started while the serialized version was still being published speaks to the popularity of Tokyo Ghoul.
Understanding Light Novels
As mentioned above, the Tokyo Ghoul series also includes three light novels, as well as an additional light novel in the sequel series.
Light novels are a Japanese publishing style that is aimed at young adults. You can think of light novels as the Japanese equivalent of novellas. They feature both manga-style artwork and prose text, combining elements of a manga and a novel to create a unique style. The illustrations are companions to the prose, and the story is generally short and – as the name of this publishing style implies – light.
The Tokyo Ghoul light novels are companions to the main story. They provide additional insight into the Tokyo Ghoul universe, but reading them is not required to follow the main plot.
The Tokyo Ghoul Universe
The original Tokyo Ghoul series follows Ken Kaneki, a student who is attacked by a “ghoul.” “Ghouls” are creatures in Ishida’s universe that look identical to humans but have special powers and must eat human flesh to survive.
Following his encounter, Kaneki unknowingly undergoes life-saving surgery that transforms him into a half-ghoul. He must now find his new place in both societies – trying to fit in with ghouls while hiding his condition from humans. Like complete ghouls, he must also consume human flesh to survive.
At the end of the series, Kaneki finds himself an amnesiac after encountering Kishō Arima. Arima is a member of the Commission of Counter Ghoul (CCG), an agency dedicated to investigating crimes connected to ghouls.
After the conclusion of the main series, Ishida published a sequel series, Tokyo Ghoul: re, which follows the story of the amnesiac Kaneki, now renamed Haise Sasaki. This story was collected in 16 tankōbon volumes that collected approximately 179 story sections and were accompanied by one light novel.
The four light novels in the Tokyo Ghoul universe are:
- Tokyo Ghoul: Days
- Tokyo Ghoul: Void
- Tokyo Ghoul: Past
- Tokyo ghoul, Re: Novel (Quest) – This light novel is a companion to the sequel manga, rather than the original one.
So far, the other “major” work in the universe is the single-volume manga Tokyo Ghoul: JACK. Originally published digitally, this manga is essentially a prequel to the main Tokyo Ghoul storyline.
It centers around Kishō Arima and Taishi Fura, two investigators with the CCG who appeared in both Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul:re. It follows their childhood in the same school and their respective decisions to join the CCG.
Aside from these books, additional publication in the Tokyo Ghoul universe includes five art books looking at the art of the two manga series, the anime, the movie, and the game, respectively.
Other Versions of Tokyo Ghoul
Aside from the manga and light novels, Tokyo Ghoul has been adapted in several other media formats. These include:
- Tokyo Ghoul: A two-season anime. The first season is based on the first half of the manga storyline. The second season, also known as Tokyo Ghoul √A, covers the rest of the manga. However, while season one is a faithful adaptation of the manga, season two combines events of the manga with an original plot written for the anime by Ishida.
- Tokyo Ghoul:re: A two-season anime adaptation of the sequel to Tokyo Ghoul.
- Tokyo Ghoul: Jack: An animated film that follows the events of the Tokyo Ghoul: Jack prequel volume.
- Tokyo Ghoul: Pinto: An animated film based on one of the stories in the light novel Tokyo Ghoul: Days.
- Tokyo Ghoul: Carnaval ∫ Color, Tokyo Ghoul: Jail, Tokyo Ghoul: Dark War, and Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist: Video games for different platforms that expand upon the Tokyo Ghoul universe, following characters from the manga series, as well as original characters.
- Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul: S: Live-action films based on the original manga series.
There are 14 volumes of the original Tokyo Ghoul manga series, as well as three companion light novels. However, the Tokyo Ghoul universe is significantly larger than these books and includes a sequel manga (16 volumes and one light novel), a prequel volume, and adaptations in various other forms of media.