Lunar Legend Tsukihime (1-5) through the eyes of a Tsukihime fan

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What Tsukihime anime? I thought it didn't exist.

Such is the legendary reputation of the anime Shingetsutan Tsukihime, the incredibly polarizing adaptation of Type-Moon's hit (or at least, quite good) visual novel Tsukihime. The general consensus is, if you're seeing the content for the first time - if the anime is your only experience with Tsukihime - then it's a very good show. But if you've played the visual novel to any degree of completion, you're going to hate it like it's name was Makoto Itou.

(Incidentally, the reason why we don't have a School Days 10 post today is because it would be five pages of ranting about how everybody sucks and that there are no more heroes - except maybe Nanami - and that everybody should die, burn, fire, katto katto katto katto, etc or at the least not have a happy ending. An entertaining post maybe but School Days has it's direction pretty well defined by now, so I don't need to talk much about it.)

And so, having read the Tsukihime visual novel "cover-to-cover", finishing all 5 paths and the epilogue, I embarked on possibly the most masochistic quest yet: watching the Tsukihime anime. It would be a true test to see if I could really, really hate an anime.

Going into it I was vaguely familiar with some of the fan community's bigger gripes about what Lunar Legend Tsukihime got wrong, so I can't say I was completely shocked by the incorrectness of some things, but seeing it in person is always better and more complete than listening to one person flame about it (hopefully in this post I will just be smoldering) - not to mention, there were still a few minor surprises in store in terms of direction taken.

So. Love? Hate? Love? (I don't even watch that anime.) As usual, as much as I'd like to take the arugment to some sort the real answer is somewhere in between in that the anime does a lot of things right - one might say passably - but there are some things that hurt (and not so good, either) to watch.

Spoilers on the Tsukihime visual novel follow. Jump, how high, etc.

Well, my first gripe with the anime is sort of a silly one in that of course, they're following the Arcueid path. I say silly because it makes logistical sense to follow the Arc path, since she's the main heroine and most popular character and all. Not to mention, her story features a lot of action as opposed to paths like Hisui's where Shiki spends somewhere along the lines of 3 chapters in bed paralyzed, spouting cryptic^11 Nasulogues.

But what I'm hoping will happen (which will probably turn into 'hoped') is that Lunar Legend Tsukihime will blend a few of the paths. The issue with this is that it's not like Kanon where all the paths can be combined together smoothly in that they're wholly separate. Tsukihime is a bit more messy as events overlap between paths (Nero, Roa fights prominently) and that characters play largely different roles depending on whose path you take (Ciel and Arcueid: pick one to like you and another to hate you).

But the Far Side and the Near Side paths are somewhat separable and so hopefully we can get a bit of backstory on Akiha and the maids thrown into all this and have it blend well. Because my main gripe with Arc's path is that it's...well..predictable. It's not like Captain Obvious predictable, but it's a fairly straightforward boy-meets-strange-girl and Fighting Together Ensues stuff that can be seen in a lot of anime. Granted, the whole ending and the whole "Nero was actually pretty irrelevant" thing probably threw some people for twists.

Since however Lunar Legend Tsukihime has been so fully lambasted by the community though, somehow I think that won't happen. And speaking of Nero he's become one of my first major gripes of Tsukihime the anime. In the game his conflict was pretty huge and epic and it could have been very well seemed like the Main Conflict for a lot of first timers.

In the anime, he showed up in the end of episode 3 and the mental conversation went sort of like this:
"Huh, Nero fight at episode 3 already? They'll probably begin it and cliffhang it."
"It's still going...? Wait, they hurt Shiki. That's a cliffhanger. OMG Shiki's gonna die and all."
"No!? Why is Nero jumping into the air and...WTF Shiki's doing this evil you're-already-dead smile and...no. Just no. Nero does not go down in 3 minutes in the 3 episode. Especially when we didn't even see Shiki put a scratch on him."

There's really no pretenses that Nero is Someone Important in Lunar Legend Tsukihime. Which would be cool, except, y'know, he liquefied a hotel full of 100 people. And he died in the snap of a finger. My only reasoning would be that this would show just how unbelievably hax Shiki is to kill both Nero and Arc so easily.

So why is he so afraid of Roa then? If they're going to give you this much power Shiki, use it. Don't give me "I wonder if I'm strong enough" rubbish. They don't even hint that it's his Nanaya blood who took over and pwned Nero/Arc - so certainly it would seem that Shiki is aware of his ridiculous power. Hmm.

It would seem that Ciel is being pitched as the antagonist, given her "attack" on Shiki in episode 1 and the tens of times we've seen her standing on a lightpole or at least out-of-the-way watching Arc and Shiki do stuff. But really, they're starting to destroy that when Arc and Ciel confronted in 5, and Ciel said that "their targets are the same."

So essentially Roa is a nameless face at this point. I was expecting them to keep up the Ciel red herring (although it isn't a total lie) a bit longer, but I guess they'll have to get the whole Shiki/SHIKI backstory going soon then.

Ah, what's next on the whine list...Satsuki? I know that she lives and as such her vampire powers probably never existed in this version. Which is strange because there could easily be a reversal - a conversation like "just kidding, I wasn't sick that day, I really did go there and, uh, died or something", since Satsuki's eyes don't change color, I believe, unless she has vampiric impulses anyway.

But in the end Satsuki never plays a strong role in the Far Side. Sad, sad, sad, Sacchin.

And of course the relatively minor issues that have been discussed a million times - Arc running from Shiki (can be argued for dramatic effect), Arc not smiling when she said "I'll make you responsible", Ciel not eating curry 24/7, Ciel throwing a spear, etc; minor complaints, but they do taint one's overall view of the series.

On the good side there have been a few pleasant surprises. Len's dream sequence, which I was expecting to be kind of throwaway, did a good job of showing both sides of Arc; not just the Shiki-liking, friendly side but also the dangerous, blood-lusting side as well.

(On a side note, never ever ever pick Akiha in the corresponding scene in the visual novel, even - or especially - if it's your first time and you don't know it's a dream scene and try to pick the logical choice. The more you know-)

Satsuki has had a decent amount of attention and that's not too bad - it gives me a glimmer of hope that they might expound just even the tiniest bit on her story given that they had the setup for her with the walking home scene and Shiki's emo trip on when she "died." And if not, Sacchin screentime; she can at least play the role of "shy schoolgirl who loses" in the harem for now.

Outside of Tsukihime knowledge, the anime has done a fairly good job at being an anime - there's plenty of loose ends and hints for first-time viewers to pick up on (just like in the visual novel), the graphics are good-looking (even if the character design is ugly, it's ugly done well), and the soundtrack is superb. It's a different type of soundtrack than the purely emotional, tear-inducing ones like AIR's, but the high-tension and dramatic music of Lunar Legend Tsukihime has a place of it's own (even in my Stepmania folder).

I'm not sure on the pacing, considering it's been months since I played the VN, but outside of the Nero fight (might have been forced early) the anime seems to have a good pace, or as good as it'll get for a 12 episode anime.

I'd probably have almost nothing but praise for something like this if I didn't play the visual novel, and even having done so I don't entirely hate it yet, as most of the wrongdoings can be somewhat overlooked. I have a feeling though that the contempt towards Shingetsutan Tsukihime is based off of not what it does wrong, but what it doesn't do at all...

(Tangentially related: I'm first in line for "tsukihime hanepin" in Google. Man, there is no English Hanepin love. Will have to search in Japanese.)



I thought the character designs, while markedly different from TYPE-MOON style, were still pretty good. As someone who's seen the anime first, you'll know what I think, but I'm slogging through the game and reading the manga. It's interesting to see different iterations of the same theme too. :P

dmrcshr0: HANEPINNNNNNNNN~ (the new "Whazzup?", although that's a few forevers old? XD)

theBigN: Well, I guess maybe I wasn't specific enough when I called the character design ugly. It looks fine, and it certainly suits the dramatic mood of the anime, but every time I look at still frames or art I keep thinking "When did they make everybody into a guy?"

Good job on trying all three forums of Tsukihime though. ^^ Haven't kept up with the manga as I've only now just found scanlations for the later chapters and can't find the licensed ones in any stores but it seems promising. Make sure to play Kagetsu Tohya too. :P

I've watched the anime recently and quite frankly I'm a bit disappointed. Been reading the manga too, and it's pretty safe to say that I enjoyed it more than the anime, since it follows the game more faithfully (such as Shiki being "cruel" to Arc).