In the latest chapter of Choujin X, mangaka Sui Ishida explores the dynamics of a semi-reformed villain in his new manga, drawing fascinating comparisons to his earlier work, Tokyo Ghoul. The character in question is Azuma, who lost control when he first transformed into a choujin and attempted to kill his best friend, Tokio. In chapter 26.1, it is clear that many of the other choujins where Tokio trains don’t trust Azuma. A more established and experienced choujin named Kagomura even confronts the young Azuma directly and makes sure he’s aware of his grievances. Meanwhile, two choujin leaders discuss why they are taking the risk of protecting such an unstable person in the same chapter.
This dynamic is reminiscent of the relationship between Shuu Tsukiyama, a semi-reformed villain from Tokyo Ghoul, and the series’ protagonist, Ken Kaneki. As a ghoul who enjoys eating the rarest and most delicious human and ghoul meats, Tsukiyama has always been obsessed with the prospect of feasting on Kaneki’s flesh, since Kaneki is a rare hybrid. Eventually, Tsukiyama joined Kaneki’s group under the guise of friendship, though he planned on eventually betraying Kaneki. Ironically, Tsukiyama came to actually love and even worship Kaneki, though he still fantasized about eating his flesh. Although his feelings were genuine, Kaneki and his friends could sense the twisted nature of Tsukiyama’s desires and therefore never truly trusted him. But Kaneki always kept him close regardless, to the surprise of his allies.
Sui Ishida is now emulating this dynamic in Choujin X through his character Azuma. However, there are newer elements incorporated into Azuma’s relationship with the other choujins when compared to Tokyo Ghoul. Unlike Tsukiyama, Azuma is much less established as a monster with superhuman powers that could easily overpower the other choujins in his group. Therefore, when other choujins give him a hard time and even threaten him, the situation is much more dire, and readers are more inclined to fear for his wellbeing. Moreover, Choujin X’s version of Kaneki, Tokio, is much more naive and innocent and has accepted Azuma full-heartedly. There isn’t any “begrudging trust” going on with their relationship. It definitely helps that Tokio is more compelled to love and trust Azuma since they grew up together as kids and Tokio has always admired him, even worshipping him like a hero.
The parallels between Choujin X and Tokyo Ghoul are not limited to character dynamics, as Sui Ishida has drawn other parallels between the two series. For example, he named the protagonist of Choujin X, Tokio, after the previous series. Even the premise of how Tokio and Azuma became choujins mimics the grisliness of how Kaneki became a ghoul. However, the character of Azuma is undoubtedly complex, remixing many ideas and themes from Tokyo Ghoul into an intriguing new form for Choujin X.