The suspense horror/dark fantasy story is set in Tokyo, which is haunted by mysterious "ghouls" who are devouring humans. People are gripped by the fear of these ghouls whose identities are masked in mystery. An ordinary college student named Kaneki encounters Rize, a girl who is an avid reader like him, at the café he frequents. Little does he realize that his fate will change overnight.
Amid news reports of "Ghoul" attacks nearby, ordinary college student, Ken Kaneki, encounters Rize — a girl who is an avid reader like him, at the café he frequents. Little does he realize that his fate will change overnight.
Kaneki struggles to adapt to his new nature with no success, until another ghoul, Nishiki Nishio attempts to prey on his friend Hideyoshi Nagachika and he must fight to protect him.
Yoshimura teaches Kaneki more about how to blend in with mankind, and takes in a mother and daughter needing protection. Two ghoul investigators are assigned to the 20th Ward.
Kaneki starts receiving self-defense lessons from Yomo. He meets Itori, who runs her own bar, and is friends with Uta and Yomo. Kaneki is befriended by Tsukiyama, a ghoul who knew Rize, who also enjoys reading, and possesses other, more epicurean tastes.
When Touka falls ill, Kaneki pays her a visit that has unexpected consequences. Meanwhile, as Nishiki is still recovering from his run-in with Kaneki, he is nearly preyed upon by other ghouls.
The fight against Tsukiyama is resolved, but Touka wants to kill Kimi, now that it's clear she knows that Nishiki and Kaneki are ghouls. Meanwhile, Hinami is eager to see her father again after being apart for so long.
After Kaneki and Hinami witness Ryoko's fate, the personnel at Anteiku are grieved, and Touka decides to take the investigation into her own hands. Kaneki is fed up with not being able to do anything, and decides to get involved.
Touka sets out to lure the ghoul investigators, but before she can strike, she finds that Hinami has run away. When Touka and Kaneki go out looking for her, they find themselves face to face with Amon and Mado, who has a few surprises of their own.
After several weeks go by, everyone tries to return to their normal lives. Hinami moves in with Touka, and despite her aversion to birds, they nurse an injured cockatiel they name Hetare back to health. Kaneki visits Itori to try to learn more about Rize.
Kaneki is kidnapped by members of Aogiri Tree, an underground ghoul faction who is interested in his connection with Rize. Meanwhile, Amon is introduced to his new partner, the eccentric and dangerous Juuzou Suzuya.
Kaneki is held captive by Yamori, who practices his torturous craft on him. The police and CCG move in to deal with Aogiri Tree, who have made an 11th Ward shopping mall their headquarters. In all the commotion, the Anteiku team tries to rescue Kaneki.
As Yamori continues to brutally torture Kaneki, Rize once again appears to him, and the two of them explore Kaneki's childhood and relationship with his mother. Kaneki is forced to make a choice that has a profound impact on him.