Writer of Tokyo Ghoul, Sui Ishida, had been slowly hyping up his new manga Choujin X for quite a while.
Teasing us with some panels and revealing character designs, he did a pretty good job of getting us excited for his next project.
As someone who loved Tokyo Ghoul the first time I read it and has only come to love it more as time has gone, I was quite excited for it.
I figured there would be some announcement about when it would be released, but nope, it just dropped out of the blue.
It was a pleasant surprise to go online and come across the news that the first chapter of Choujin X was out.
After reading the chapter, and then re-reading it a few times, I can say that Ishida’s new manga is off to a promising start.
It does a great job of introducing us to the characters, setting, and themes of the story.
The manga is set in a world where super powered individuals known as Choujin exist.
However, given how they are pretty much only referred to negatively throughout the chapter, it is pretty safe to say that most of these Choujin are bad people and there are no heroes among them… yet.
This could change very soon based on who becomes a Choujin and who is hinted to be one in this first chapter.
Speaking of, the story begins with an eerie panel, which was teased by Ishida (seen above), which shows our main character, 16-year-old Tokio Kurohara, standing naked and rising to meet the gaze of a vulture-like creature with the narration, “It’s something of an affliction.”
How this opening imagery will tie into the future of the story, or if its just symbolic foreshadowing, will be interesting to see once we get more chapters.
From here, the chapter cuts to a plane, where a little girl is talking excitedly with an old woman about how she’s going to a fair for her grandfather to enter a produce competition.
It is here that the lighter tone Ishida mentioned he was going for can clearly be seen, as the little girl starts off stating how she would want use the prize money to help on the farm, before comedically going straight into dream land, wanting a mansion, a dog, a handsome husband and nine kids.
However, this is the writer of Tokyo Ghoul we’re talking about, so even if this story is going to be more comedic, there will definitely be dark moments.
This is proven when another passenger awakens and threatens the old woman, who the little girl defends, only for him to set the entire plane alight with flame, incinerating many people, including the old woman, and supposedly the little girl.
That said, I highly doubt this is the end for her.
We have seen the girl in some character concept art released by Ishida, where she is shown wearing the same military looking uniform as Tokio.
It is also later revealed that 200 passengers miraculously survived the plane crash, making me think that the girl either became or always was a Choujin and used her power to save the surviving passengers.
This could lead to her meeting Tokio later if both are captured and put to work by the military or government, although this is just speculation based on the concept art I mentioned.
Anway, following this attack on the plane, we get our first good look at Tokio, as he sees the plane crash from his seat at school.
This causes his teacher, who has comically large breasts and is referred to as Mrs Bazonkas by Tokio, to call him out for not paying attention, leading to some more comedic paneling from Ishida.
He’s going to do quite a good job with the comedy if this opening chapter is any indication.
Now, it is time to talk about how well he manages to set up Tokio as a character in this chapter, which sets him up as someone who doesn’t like to put much effort in and is vulture-like, seen as leeching off his friend Azuma Higashi by others.
Speaking of Azuma, he strikes me as a mixture between Arima and Hide from Tokyo Ghoul, a fantastic fighter who is also a great friend to the main character.
This is seen when Tokio witnesses a woman about to be raped by a group of thugs and calls in Azuma for help rather than getting involved himself.
Following a superhero landing, Azuma easily beats the head thug, breaking both his arms with a devastating kick.
After this save, we get our first look at the setting, a heavily damaged Yamato Prefecture, and given how Azuma says Choujin should do something good with their power instead here, it can be assumed that the damage is related to them.
This is why I think that there aren’t really any good Choujin in this world yet.
It is then that we get the classic Ishida symbolism, as Azuma compares Choujin to roly-poly’s, wondering if they gather under damp places because they like it, when they’re supposed to be used to dry places.
There could be multiple meanings to this, like maybe that Choujin are gathering in and destroying cities because they enjoy it.
I’m just spitballing, though, there could be another meaning to it.
In any case, this symbolic moment not only reminds me of a lot of similar scenes from Tokyo Ghoul but also the country and town mouse allegory from Chainsaw Man.
Makes me wonder if Ishida was influenced by Tatsuki Fujimoto somewhat.
With the symbolic scene over, the chapter progresses back to the overall plot with the thug whose arms were broken by Azuma being given an injection, which turns him into a Choujin.
We are also introduced to Tokio’s father and sister, who acts like a mother to him, even paying his tuition.
Tokio also says that Azuma being popular makes him feel popular too, furthering the interpretation of a vulture who leeches off others.
This allegory continues with a flashback, where Tokio is literally compared to a vulture by the other children at school, while Azuma is compared to a lion.
Azuma, however, is there to cheer up his friend, telling Tokio how vultures can soar higher than any other bird.
Before this, though, Tokio says that he could have been a lion too and he gets his moment to do so in the following scene, where the Choujin thug ambushes him and Azuma on their way home.
We get some more great paneling from Ishida as he does a great job depicting the fight between the martial artist Azuma and the seemingly Mr Fantastic inspired Choujin.
During this scene, we also seem to get an explanation for why there are supposedly no good Choujin, as the thug goes crazy to the point that he brutally murders his own friends, popping their heads like balloons.
It could be that that becoming a Choujin drives the person insane and it will be interesting to see if Tokio, Azuma, and the girl from the plane (if she is indeed a Choujin) have to deal with this danger in the future.
As the fight continues, Azuma realizes he can’t beat the Choujin, who will almost certainly kill them, so suggests injecting himself to become a Choujin and have a good shot at beating the thug.
However, Tokio will not let him do it alone, becoming a lion in the moment as he offers to inject himself alongside his friend and stick by his side.
The following panels really highlight Ishida’s fantastic art style, as the two friends, lion and vulutre, point the syringes at one another and vow not to have any regrets, while a dandeline is shown blowing in the night wind.
The symbolism for that last point is anyone’s guess but the results of Tokio and Auma injecting themselves are interesting, to say the least, as only Tokio’s body seems to be reacting to becoming a Choujin well.
He transforms into a beastial Choujin, with a head like the skull of a vulture, and sends the Choujin thug off with a punch that sends him flying, before going to help Azuma, who has collapsed to the floor, ending the first chapter.
This conclusion raises questions about why Azuma was not able to successfully transform, like Tokio, and I expect we’ll get the answer, along with the answer of what happened to the little girl, in the following chapters, whenever those release.
Ishida has not set a specific time for when the next chapter will come out and this is due to him wanting to go at his own pace, which is entirely understandable given how overworked he was when he was writing and illustrating Tokyo Ghoul and Re.
Let’s hope he continues to put his health first and pace himself well.
Overall, I found the first chapter of Choujin X to be quite a promising beginning.
It does a great job at introducing us to its characters and the world they live in, along with the symbolism of the roly-polies and the vulture allegories.
I look forward to seeing how Ishida will continue this story at his own pace.