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Dated 15 November 2006: Tsukihime

Mirror Moon completed their English translation patch for the Tsukihime game. This is no small feat, as the Tsukihime game reportedly contains as much text as all the Lord of the Rings books. (I have no idea if this is true or not.)

Hisui
Don't blame Hisui for these ungodly hours.

I'm far enough along to understand why I keep seeing "This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair" pasted all over the place. (It had it coming.) Just a few observations:

  • From the anime, I concluded Kohaku > Hisui. Thus far through the game, the reverse is true.
  • In fact, Hisui is the only character I particularly like so far. She's the best.
  • Akiha better back the Hell away from Hisui. Damn.
  • Shiki is kind of a putz for letting his kid sister talk to him like that all the time.
  • If an American company ever licenses the Tsukihime game, I propose that they use "the vapors" for all the instances where Mirror Moon used "anemia."

Also, I'm working on my Tsukihime playlist to substitute for the rather uninspired soundtrack.

Dated 20 November 2006: Tsukihime

So, it seems many people who have played the Tsukihime game also agree that Hisui is one of their favorite characters—disproportionately so compared to the fans of her anime counterpart.

I have a theory about that, actually: Hisui spends nearly the entire game standing next to your bed.

Hisui and Akiha
Dammit, Akiha, get the Hell out of here. Hisui, go stand by the bed some more.

In other news, I've also discovered that many of the tracks from the Mai-Otome soundtracks are suitable replacements for the Tsukihime in-game music.

Dated 19 March 2008: Tsukihime revisited

Hisui
Anime Hisui doesn't stand by Shiki's bed as much.

I've started re-watching the Tsukihime anime while re-playing the game. I never completed more than half the possible routes in the game, so there's still plenty left in the visual novel that's unexplored.

Arcueid surprised
This isn't what it looks like.

Shingetsutan Tsukihime (Lunar Legend Tsukihime) impresses a viewer differently if he is familiar with the original game. The first time I watched the series, I was wholly ignorant of the game aside from knowing that it was somehow related to Melty Blood (which I had played long enough to remember that I'm ghastly at fighting games).

Young Kohaku
Young Kohaku. Wait, oh no....

Nevertheless, I liked the Tsukihime anime enough to purchase the DVDs (including the very nice box) immediately as Geneon released the R1s. Even then I had little more than a vague understanding regarding the various plotlines and possible endings of the original game.

Hisui blushes
This isn't what it looks like either.

Now that I've finally played the game and completed enough of the paths to be familiar with the backstory, the anime takes on a whole new dimension and I recognize when the anime hints at the untold story's actual depth. Of course, there is no possible way to cover all that material in a single-season series, especially considering that many of the possible plotlines are divergent and mutally exclusive depending upon the player's choices. So, I have a greater appreciation of the work J.C. Staff managed in producing the series.

Ciel
Ciel surely Jedi-mind-fucks everyone when changing for gym class.

In retrospect, it now seems obvious that the show is aimed at viewers who have played through the game (or are at least well-versed in its story). Still, the series works for viewers that approach the title without knowing anything about the game, and to that end I think J.C. Staff succeeded.

Arcueid surprises Shiki
"This really really isn't what it looks like"
-OR-
"At least she didn't turn into a dragon."

Still, complaints that the Tsukihime anime is convoluted and poorly paced are understandable. This is not a perfect series by any means, although as a stand-alone work it doesn't stumble as much as the Fate/Stay Night anime (which I mostly completed only out of general principle). Highlights in J.C. Staff's adaptation of Tsukihime include superlovely character designs (Arcueid in particular is a game-breaking home run) and excellent work evolving the "you-get-the-idea" stills and backdrops from the game into beautiful designs and lavish settings that remain instantly familiar. For example, Shiki's knife looks like a possible heirloom instead of something he pulled out of a kitchen drawer and the Tohno mansion itself actually looks opulent.

Shiki's knife
Shiki's knife.

Akiha and Kohaku
Akiha plays her violin.

Also notable is the music, which is quite good here and much improved from the game BGM. Like many people, I've experimented with replacing the original Tsukihime game's music with a variety of other tracks. Currently, it comprises mostly of tracks from the My-Otome soundtrack, which is going to evoke some curious juxtapositions when I re-watch My-Otome, I'm sure.

Ciel watches over Shiki
Ciel watches over [Edit: stalks] Shiki.

Not so good are the unremarkable fight scenes, but I'm willing to let that go because (1) fight scenes are a persistent J.C. Staff shortcoming (Azumanga Daioh snowball fight notwithstanding) and (2) well, the original game contains only stills, so any animated fights are technical improvements, I suppose. Moreover, even if the occasional fights are nothing special, the show itself looks great.

Dated 30 December 2014: Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works is still good even though it's no Carnival Phantasm

Rin
Nice couch.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is quite good despite all the problems in its source material. This is a testament to ufotable's deft execution, because that source material is sufficiently flawed that it could easily turn into a train wreck in less capable hands. The mythology behind the Holy Grail War is so preposterous that it seems more appropriate for any Fate/stay night adaptation to play it safe and simply be a straight-up farce like Carnival Phantasm. It's a credit to ufotable that I don't spend every moment of every episode asking perfectly reasonable questions such as, "Why hasn't Berserker killed them yet? Why isn't he killing them now?"

Shirou and Saber
Saber could use some coaching.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works legitimately is good, though. The action sequences are exceptionally well done, the production values are great all around, and (most amazingly) Emiya Shirou does not come across as a shitheel. Unfortunately, this is a split-cour series, so we're going to have to wait until spring to find out what manner of CGI euphemism we'll get this time around. Who knows, maybe ufotable will actually animate the sex scene? J.C. Staff did that with Shingetsutan Tsukihime, the first anime adaptation of a TYPE-MOON game (Internet memes notwithstanding), even if it turned out that vampires don't have nipples.