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***WARNING - The following review contains spoilers for Tsukihime. If you don't want to spoil the story or any important plot points, please do not continue reading. - WARNING***

By now, I am sure everyone knows about the company known as TYPE-MOON. This former doujinshi circle is known for their incredibly likable characters, use of established forms of fiction and intrinsic story-telling in order to bring about moving, compelling and interesting plots. By now, I am also sure that everyone knows the work that helped them grow out of the doujinshi circle phase, thus helping establish them as an official company. The game I speak of is a rather old one by industry standards, though at the same time, it has built up a considerable fanbase all over the world. That game is none other than TYPE-MOON's Tsukihime.

Game: Tsukihime ~Blue blue glass moon, under the crimson air~

Tsukihime dates back to the year 2000, released by the doujinshi circle known as TYPE-MOON. The story centers on a teenager named Tohno Shiki. Shiki has been living away from his real home for the past eight years, but after the sudden death of his father, he is called back to the Tohno Mansion by the new head of the family (his sister, Akiha, to be precise). Shiki is a constant victim of anemia attacks, which have somewhat become a part of his everyday life.

Unknown to most, Shiki's eyes have a sort of special power. The "Mystic Eyes of Death Perception", as they are called, can see the actual death of both objects and living things. His brain interprets this imminent death as lines and points that, when stabbed or cut through, will instantly "kill" or "destroy" the object in question. This dangerous power happens to fit in quite well in the myriad of strange things that happen around the city after he moves back to the Tohno Mansion: a series of murders and dissapearances are constantly reported on the news, where said victims are found drained of all blood. Of course, the mysterious "vampire serial killer" is but the tip of the iceberg as the player is witness to the events involving not only Shiki, but friends and family, proving that nothing is what it seems to be.

Staying true to the ero-ge formula, along the course of this visual novel we have five heroines that play very important roles that affect not only the events around Shiki, but also his development as a character.

Protagonist: Tohno Shiki

Shiki earns his own subsection, simply because he is a very complicated character, and many of the events that unfold are either connected to his own abilities, his blood, or the past he doesn't know about.

To start, Shiki is not really of the Tohno family. He was actually adopted after becoming the sole survivor of a family of demon hunters. His family managed to ingrain the desire to kill anything non-human into their own blood, and Shiki's homicidal impulses are all driven by his own blood when encountering a non-human. One could call it an instinct built into him. In certain routes, he develops a bit of an alter-ego when faced in sticky situations involving vampires and demons, and will switch into this alter-ego without realizing it.

Additionally, Shiki possesses the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, which he gained after surviving an accident when he was nine years old. This power allows him to see lines and points on objects and people that he can cut in order to instantly kill them. In order to keep from going crazy from seeing these lines and points all day, every day, he wears special glasses that filter the power of his own eyes.

Heroine: Arcueid Brunestud

Arcueid is, for all intents and purposes, a vampire that doesn't like blood. She is introduced as the unfortunate victim of Shiki's knife, but it turns out that she is powerful enough to revive after being absolutely killed.

Feeling weak after her incident, she charges Shiki with the task of helping her find the "vampire serial killer" that is mentioned in the news. She obviously has her own agenda, but doesn't talk about it to any length.

Though she is called the Executioner by some, Arcueid is actually a very naive and cheerful young woman. She finds interest in things that many humans take for granted, and tends to cause trouble for Shiki because of her lack of understanding of the world.

Heroine: Ciel

Ciel is introduced as the nosy, doting Senpai at Shiki's high school. Even though she is a third year student, she preffers to spend time around Shiki and his best friend, Arihiko.

Ciel is actually a member of a group under the Roman Catholic Church called the Burial Agency. This agency focuses on the extermination of heretics and anything that stands against Catholic doctrine (vampires included). Out of the seven members of the Burial Agency, Ciel is powerful enough to work alone, and possesses greater strength and speed than that of a normal human. She has shown to be familiar with magic, since her weapons involve the use of sorcery, and she can heal wounds through magic as well.

Heroine: Tohno Akiha

Akiha is introduced as Shiki's younger sister, whom he left behind in the Tohno Mansion after he was ordered to live with some relatives eight years before the story begins. For a while, Shiki is convinced Akiha hates him for moving out of the mansion, leaving her to bear all the responsibilites to the Tohno clan.

Eight years later, Akiha has ascended to the role of head of the family after the death of her father. Though Akiha herself is only sixteen years old, she is strong-minded enough to bear the full responsibilities as head of the clan.

Because the Tohno family has non-human blood, Akiha herself suffers from strange urges, and uses most of her power and will to supress these urges. Even though Shiki sees her as his little sister, Akiha likes him the way any girl would like a guy. Because of this, Akiha is extremely jealous of anyone that gets near Shiki (male or female, strangely enough).

Heroine: Hisui & Kohaku

Hisui and Kohaku are twins that work as maids in the Tohno Mansion. Being the younger of the twins, Hisui is strangely quiet and devoid of all emotion most of the time. Shiki at one point compares her lack of emotion to that of a doll. Kohaku, on the other hand, is always smiling and maintains a very positive attitude.

Though it is not mentioned, they are known as Synchronizers. Both possess the ability to enhance, empower and energize those they make a bond with.

Story Structure and Game Engine

The game takes place over the course of two weeks, each day representing a chapter. Though each heroine has her own route, the whole of Tsukihime is divided into two parts: the "near side of the moon" stories, which contain Arcueid and Ciel's routes, and the "far side of the moon" stories, which contain Akiha, Hisui and Kohaku's routes.

Interestingly, while it is possible to go for someone other than the lead heroin from the get-go, the game literally forces the player to go through at least one of the near side stories before any of the far side stories open up. The game encourages replay by increasing the number of options in certain events as one unlocks more endings. What may be have two choices may have five or six during a replay. As it stands, the game allows play through the near side stories first, allowing the far side stories to open up. Furthermore, in order to access Kohaku's route, the player must first complete and get both endings for Hisui.

Four of the five heroines have two possible endings. Arcueid, Ciel and Hisui have Good Endings and True endings, Akiha has a Normal Ending and a True Ending, and Kohaku only has a True Ending. As explained by the after-game commentary, Kohaku's story is meant to tie up any loose ends left in the far side of the moon routes.

It is possible to get bad endings, hit dead end, or have things turn out so that Shiki can die during the story. Should the player end up with any of the aforementioned, an after-game session called "Oshiete Kudasai, Ciel-sensei" (Please teach/tell me, Ciel-sensei) will pop up, in which Ciel will give hints to the player to let them know where they made their mistake. Ciel-sensei will also hold post-game commentary after unlocking endings.

After unlocking all endings, an additional story called Eclipse becomes accessible. This short story basically wraps up the whole of Tsukihime by focusing on Tohno Shiki, and hints that he may not have much longer to live because of all that has happened in his life.

Engine wise, this is a true visual novel. The artwork is merely a sort of visual aid, but the meat of the story is in the text. The log can only store a limited amount of previewsly-viewed text. Due to the lack of a text panel, all necessary commands can be accessed by pressing the right mouse button. Options include skipping to the next choice event, saving, loading and returning to the title screen.

Music and Video

Musically, the game has a very short, yet effective soundtrack. Due to lack of voices, music plays a much bigger role in helping set the atmosphere, and in this sense Tsukihime does not dissapoint.

As far as video goes, there is none.

Omake

There's nothing extra to Tsukihime outside of the Eclipse story.

Verdict

An impressive game in more ways than I can possibly count. Granted, the lack of voices make the game harder to play through to some, and the total span of the game's text is said to rival War and Peace in length, but overall what we have here is a very interesting work that manages to convey a meaningful plot while introducing a universe where all kinds of forces are forced to coexist in order to preserve some sort of balance. The interesting thing about this is that Tsukihime is suposedly part of a bigger universe (much like the Gundam or Matsumoto universes). Definitely a keeper, and a milestone for TYPE-MOON. As mentioned in another post, given the greatness that is packed into this game, I can see why so many people were dissapointed with Rondo Robe's anime adaptation of this great title. I'll review that and talk about the discrepancies when I get a chance. Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter.

-Moroboshi Yuumei
"You're not scared, are you? It's a path you're quite familiar with. If there's a difference, it's only one thing.

--This time you can't come back."

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
hybrid_xisha
Jun. 21st, 2007 02:18 am (UTC)
I had to drop that BOTH Kohaku and Hisui are on Camp Fuck You Die now. XD Though they don't do much more than hang around the mess hall offering to cook for anyone who walks in. Well, Kohaku IS dating Yagami Light, in that "we're totally lying to each other about who/what we really are" way. XD

So for once, I actually know a BIT about some of these characters. It's been so long since watching a little bit of the anime that I really couldn't tell you anything about feelings of disappointment or whatnot.
moroboshiyuumei
Jun. 21st, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
0.o;
I'm afraid to ask.

Either way, Kohaku is scary when you find out why she is always so cheerful. Her story is really weird, since it focuses on honesty, a bit on redemption and a LOT on finding a reason to live. Granted, that last bit is a major element when it comes to her character (e-mail me or something and I'll spoil it for you =P).

And don't worry, I'll definitely cover the anime and give my take on things.
astria
Jun. 21st, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
So... Arcueid or Ciel? Which one would you prefer?
moroboshiyuumei
Jun. 21st, 2007 02:55 am (UTC)
>.>;
I went with Ciel's route. I know she's sneaky and all, but Elecia holds a very special place in my heart, if only because I can do 30-hit combos with her in Melty Blood. >.>;

I'll at some point do a "girls in ero-ge" post, and I definitely want to do at least a section on Arcueid, though. She's one of the most peculiar lead female characters ever, and she breaks almost every possible stereotype out there.
astria
Jun. 21st, 2007 04:55 am (UTC)
Re: >.>;
Ok, but which one is hotter?
moroboshiyuumei
Jun. 21st, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
Re: >.>;
Oh, you were talking visual appeal...

Hmm...I can't really say, since I don't find either particularly attractive. There's something to be said of Akiha, though I visually liked Hisui better than the rest. >.>
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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