To Live is to Devour Others

Food Ethics and Tragedy in Tokyo Ghoul


  • Christian Frigerio State University of Milan



food ethics, tragedy, otherness, tokyo ghoul, cannibalism, vegetarianism, animalism, ecology


This paper studies how Ishida Sui’s Tokyo Ghoul creates its typical sense of “tragedy,” by stressing the injustice inherent in every act of eating, and by generalizing the model of nutrition to every ethically laden act. Ishida undermines the Kantian principle that “ought implies can,” depicting a twisted world which forces us into wrongdoing: we have to eat, but there is no Other we can eat with moral impunity. Still, his characters provide some ethical models which could be implemented in our everyday food ethics, given that the tragicality spotted by Ishida is not that alien to our food system: food aesthetics, nihilism, amor fati, living with the tragedy, and letting ourselves be eaten are the options Ishida offers to cope with the tragedy, to approach the devastation our need for food brings into the world in a more aware and charitable way. The examination of Ishida’s narrative device, conducted with the mediation of thinkers such as Lévinas, Ricoeur, Derrida, and other contemporary moral philosophers, shall turn the question: “how to become worthy of eating?” into the core problem for food ethics.


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