What They Say:
Shiki Tohno has a secret. As the result of a childhood injury, he can see the lines of energy that bind all things together… and by severing those lines he can destroy almost anything! Only a special pair of glasses that mute his extraordinary perceptions have kept him sane, but his attempts at living a “normal” life come to a shocking end when he is approached by a strange and dangerous woman with her own terrifying secret.Now Shiki is fighting both for his life and to unravel the secrets of his own past; for even with a mysterious female vampire as an ally, how can anyone defeat an enemy whose power is to always be reborn?Spoken Languages: English, Japanese, English subtitles.
The audio presentation for Tsukihime mirrors what the Geneon release was as we get a pair of stereo mixes encoded at 224kbps. Tsukihime is mostly an atmospheric and dialogue driven show with a few scenes of action here and there. By and large, it’s a straightforward stereo mix where it’s center channel based and has that full feeling to it. There’s some minor placement to be had at various times but nothing in the way of any serious depth to it. Neither track stands out more than the other but they’re both well represented here and convey the source material well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally release in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Tsukihime is presented on two discs for the twelve episodes in a standard 6/6 format. Each of the discs come across well and bring back to mind how the Geneon release looked where it was good but could be only so much because of the source material. This is a fairly dark show throughout so we get a lot of dark shading which introduces some noise in a lot of places. There’s also a fair bit of gradients visible during these scenes, from the light that is cast to the shades of darkness itself. It’s never truly distracting or bad, but it’s certainly noticeable and could both some more than others. Colors are generally solid throughout other than these areas and the show is free from cross coloration and has very little with line noise.
Tsukihime is given a decent package as it’s a single sized keepcase that holds the two DVDs on each side inside. The front cover is really nicely done with a framing that has a certainly atmospheric quality to it that helps to add to the mystery of what it’s all about. Inside of that is the really nice image of Arcueid from behind as she looks over her shoulder. The contrast of her with the looming moon and the flowers showing so brightly in the reflected light looks wonderful. The back cover is well laid out as well with a good mention of how much is in the collection along the top and a solid description of what the show is all about in the summary. Add in several small shots from the show of most of the characters and you get a good feel of what to expect. The remainder is given over to the standard things such as the listing of extras, production credits, and a clean technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is done in the way that I suspect a lot of Sentai releases will be in that it has a basic episode list along the left side while the right has the options and whatever extras are available for it. The background is made up of a dark and creepy night scene with the white pieces floating about to give it a little more eeriness. Between the two navigation pieces is the series logo which admittedly looks really nice here as it helps to tie it all together. This is one of those releases that actually works without any character artwork here. The disc is quick and easy to navigate and it correctly read our players’ language presets.
The only extras included on this release are on the first disc where we have the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the visual novel created by Type-Moon, Lunar Legend Tsukihime is a twelve episode series that deals in vampires and the usual kind of atmosphere you find in it. Originally licensed by Geneon several years ago, it found a new life in a cheap two-disc collection from Sentai Filmworks back in 2009. When I first saw this series across three volumes, it left me feeling rather disconnected from it because of its particular storytelling style. Something about its nature just rubbed me the wrong way and it was hard to really get enthused about the show, especially since so many other people were raving about. So now, a few years later, taking it in during a single day, it’s certainly improved my opinion of it.
Tsukihime focuses on a young man named Shiki Tohno. It turns out that he’s the survivor of a very bad car accident but seems to have managed it fairly well. Due to the accident, his father sends him away from the household to live with other relatives when he gets out, which may be explained by his behavior in the hospital. Though the doctors can’t find anything and just don’t seem to believe him, he claims to see graffiti everywhere and on everything. These red lines that we see of his are everywhere, though. Strangely, during one of his walks outside, he meets an older woman who introduces herself as a mage and she gives him a pair of glasses that cause him to not see the lines when he’s wearing them. Telling him that he’ll need that power one day to protect someone important, she disappears and he gets on with a fairly average life until high school.
In the present day, Shiki’s life is changing once again as he’s leaving his relatives and going back to his family’s mansion now that his father has died. He’s going to live with his only immediate relative, his sister Akiha. While his life with his relatives has been pretty much problem free, his sister is a strange one right from the start. The house has a pair of identical twin maids working there and there’s a seven PM curfew which is so strict that the gates are locked at eight PM. It’s almost like the place is locked down before darkness truly settles into the area. This goes against Shiki completely, especially since there isn’t any real access to the outside world even by a TV or radio, so it’s little surprise that he sneaks out that night to get some books and snacks.
What happens instead is that he ends up coming across a woman that he had met earlier in the park that day and believed that he had a dream about killing. But it turns out that he really did kill her, using his knowledge of the lines, to cut her up quite well. She reveals her vampiric nature and insists that he has to protect her now since she’s weakened and one of her enemies is close to tracking her down. While he disbelieves a lot of this, at least until the killer wolves start showing up, she explains about there being two types of vampires, the True Ancestors and then these other lesser types that cause more of the same kind of vampires. Everything seems like a dream to Shiki though as he goes from place to place with this strange woman and mixing it up with the wolves and her enemy.
Much of what goes on feels pretty confusing. Before Shiki goes to his sisters for the first time, we get him in the school environment where he keeps coming across a fellow female student named Ciel. To him, Ciel feels a bit out of place for the first few minutes but then she’s like a normal student there. But something sticks in him that she doesn’t belong in this picture, such as when he’s with his friends and Ciel and Satsuki are acting like old girlfriends from years gone by. This plays heavily in these early gatherings but as his time at school goes on, Ciel becomes more and more simply accepted as always being there. It’s not said overtly and even Shiki can’t quite put his finger on it, but they do an interesting job of getting that feeling across without verbalizing it.
Thankfully, the material involving Ciel is fairly minimal overall as Shiki spends more of his time with Arcueid than Ciel. That starts to open up the story more about what’s going on as Arcueid reveals that she’s a True Ancestor, sort of the pure side of the vampire world. Having lived eight hundred years, she’s had a life where she only wakes up for short periods of time in which to perform the mission she’s given herself. She now lives to kill the Dead Apostles that are in the world, vampires who aren’t as pure as the True Ancestors and who create the Dead, which are basically low-grade vampires. Vampires in this don’t play like normal since we see Arcueid in the day and she insists she doesn’t care for drinking blood, so there are some amusing moments as Shiki tries to reconcile the movie view of vampires with the apparent reality that has stepped in front of him.
Tsukihime does have an overall plot to it as Arcueid is searching for one particular Dead Apostle to deal with named Roa. Though Roa doesn’t really show himself for awhile, and Shiki and Arcueid only deal with his minions a bit, everything is tied together very well. There’s a meandering feeling to the show at times as it slowly teases out the connections and backstory to it all, but watching it in a marathon form like this shows it as a much tighter piece of work. When I had the two month wait between volumes, it was easier to lose track of some of the connections and how some of it ties together. Ciel didn’t bother me anywhere near as much as she did before and even felt like more of a castaway character for a lot of it whereas I thought she was a key player the first time around. Some of it does get a little confusing at times, especially as it delves into Shiki’s story, and you wonder if there’s more to the twin maids, but by and large this is a show that makes out better by being seen in this form.
Tsukihime left me underwhelmed the first time I saw it and at times turned me away because of the way it was telling its story. Something about it just irked me and kept me from connecting with it enough to enjoy it. This new viewing of the show in a much shorter space of time has greatly improved my view of it. The series feels a bit tighter than it did before, though it does have its lulls, and I find myself appreciating the pacing more than before as well. It doesn’t feel quite as moody as I recalled it which worked in its favor but it also leaves a lot open for exploration, presumably because of its game origins. Tsukihime is a title that I wasn’t looking forward to checking out again but is yet another experience where a new viewing has altered my view of a series for the positive.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 20th, 2009
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.