Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

19 March 2008: Tsukihime revisited

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 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"
"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.

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