Ghouls are some of the scariest creatures in the supernatural and horror genre. The history of ghouls began in the 8th century in the Arabian region. Pre-Islamic legend tells the story of a demon-like monster that lures travelers astray. Wandering in the desert, travelers couldn’t find their way out. Unable to pinpoint a familiar location, travelers exhausted themselves to death and then, ghouls consumed the flesh of the dead. Ghouls were also known as grave robbers, taking everything of value, leaving nothing behind. Later in the 18th century, ghoul folklore was introduced to the Western world and expanded in definition as undead monsters.
In popular culture today, specifically anime, there are many types of ghouls differing in origin, abilities, and how to destroy them. Ghoul appearances know no bounds and it’s exciting to see how these scary monsters play out. While some anime about ghouls go unnoticed, there are a few exceptional ghoul boys that stick out from the crowd. As we go back through the last five years, we unearth a lot of fan favorites. So here’s what we gathered for you.
5. Utsutsu Hasagawa from Pupa
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 2014 – March 2014
When things get rough, sometimes it’s great to have your sibling close by to watch your back. This is the case for Utsutsu and Yume Hasagawa. The duo has been out and about when they notice a bunch of beautiful red butterflies. As they admire these lovely creatures, little do they know that they carry something deadly and catastrophic, a virus called Pupa. As victims come in contact with the virus, they are mutated into a horrendous beast with an insatiable hunger for flesh. However, Utsutsu experiences partial effects of Pupa. He sacrifices parts of himself to protect his sister and her uncontrollable cravings. Normally, Utsutsu is a friendly guy, but the Pupa part of him makes him violent and destructive, as it wants to assert itself and consume him fully. Regardless of the events that occurred throughout his life, Utsutsu fights to keep his humanity from perishing.
4. Friday from Shisha no Teikoku (The Empire of Corpses)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: October 2015
The Empire of Corpses captures the advancements of humankind in a parallel 18th Century, England. Scientists have developed technology that allows corpses to be programmed to service the needs of humans. Leading the charge is Dr. Victor Frankenstein vanished shortly after his revolutionary work on corpse reanimation. As it is known, a body without a soul is completely void of life, however, rumors have circulated that Dr. Frankenstein revived the only corpse with a soul. Continuing Dr. Frankenstein’s research, London medical student John Watson hopes to fulfill his promise to his late partner. As he reviews the notes, Watson learns of the complexities of corpse technology and the lengths he must go to by advancing this knowledge.
Watson’s research created Friday as a tribute to his colleague who sacrificed himself in the name of science. However, Friday is nothing like the living version. Like many undead characters, his appearance encompasses what a ghoul would look like: pale, rail-thin, and lifeless. Because of the growth of this technology that designs corpses to become programmable, Friday shares an interesting connection with his friend and master. He has a conscience, but unfortunately, it doesn’t last very long. When Friday loses control, he attacks and consumes whomever is in his way. As Watson hopes to find positive results on reviving corpses, he creates a serum to subdue Friday temporarily.
3. Ken Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: July 2014 – September 2014
In a time where humans and human-like beings called ghouls coexist, humans fear becoming prey to the ghouls and the ghouls face the challenge of attempting to blend in. With their supernatural abilities and an appetite for human flesh, the ghouls are mercilessly hunted down. Ken Kaneki, being from both worlds, demonstrates the difficulties and advantages of each species.
Originally human, after a near-fatal attack by a cunning female ghoul, Ken Kaneki undergoes an experimental surgery and becomes the first of many human-ghoul experiments. Everything about Ken, including his scent and exotic nature is rare and exclusive. Ken is coveted by both species because he’s key in maintaining the peace and balance between ghoul and people.
2. Ikoma from Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: April 2016 – July 2016
The world’s most frightful creatures have emerged because of a mysterious virus. As the horrific monsters devour human flesh, the population declines during a time when the world was just getting back on its feet. Their never-ending appetite has put humankind on high alert, researching ways to get rid of these monsters once and for all. The only way to kill these beings known as "Kabane" is by destroying their steel-coated hearts. It seems easy enough, but if one gets bitten, they will experience pain worse than death, becoming the monster they tried to flee.
A collective effort is made and everyone pitches in to help wherever they can. Individuals like Ikoma believe he has the perfect invention to destroy Kabane easily. Unfortunately, testing his weapon comes at a risky cost. In an attack against Kabane, Ikoma is bitten but saves himself just in time from the infection spreading throughout his body. As a human/kabaneri hybrid, he is an undead gem that could be the key to winning this battle.
1. Rentaro Satomi from Black Bullet
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: April 2014 – July 2014
Long ago, for a decade, deadly parasites called Gastrea rose to the top of the food chain. Unclear of their origin, many speculate that Gastrea were once human. The year is 2021 A.D. In this era, the monstrous parasite killed off most of the population. The remaining few have come to reside in the Monolith walls, a secured area composed of Varanium, the only element that can cripple Gastrea.
Second-year student and Promoter Rentaro Satomi is one of many fighting against Gastrea. One Day, in a deadly Gastrea attack, Rentaro lost his right leg, arm, and left eye. While lying on the operating table, Rentaro is given a choice: life or death. A woman scribbles on some paper and is asked a critical question. After countless hours, several doctors saved Rentaro after signing a contract to live. The woman who created this contract becomes a great influence on Rentaro’s life. Some of the conditions he agreed to were to aid in some experimental research. As such, many of the limbs he lost in the attack were replaced with artificial ones made with Varanium. Neither living nor dead according to his human/Gastrea ratio, ghoul boy Rentaro has become a weapon of destruction, and this is why he’s on top of the list.
So as we come to an end, do you think that we’ve made some good choices with these ghoul guys? With everyone enjoying a good scare this time of year, we’d like to hear what your thoughts are on ghoul boys who dominated in the last five years.