TYPE-MOON reviews: Shingetsutan Tsukihime (anime)

Yes, I know I said my next review would be Heart de Roommate. Sue me, I haven't finished it yet.
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Ah, Tsukihime. The breakout hit of the doujin circle TYPE-MOON*, which eventually became its own franchise. Said franchise, of course, includes adaptations to other media in addition to spinoffs. Having already covered the game itself, I feel I'd be remiss if I, as a fan, miss the opportunity to talk about said adaptations, and whether they live up to the standards of the original.

...oh, come back already! This is a review, not a rant!

That said, I'll give my impressions on the adaptations of Tsukihime into anime and manga formats. Let's get started.

Anime

There is no Tsukihime anime.

Next question.

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Manga

The manga adaptation of Tsukihime, however, most definitely exists, as it OW! What the hell was that for?! Well, no, I don't...um, K-Koha-?

No, no, put the broom down, please! Please, I'll do it right this time! NO, anything but that! Okay, okay, I'm on it! Back off!

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Times two.

First difference: art style.

Shingetsutan Tsukihime

Yeesh, s'not like she's ever important in the anime...*grumble*

As might be guessed, the anime adaptation of Tsukihime is a bit of a contentious subject in TYPE-MOON fandom, even to the point where it's spawned an internet meme denying its existence. There are very understandable reasons for this, though.

As an adaptation, Shingetsutan Tsukihime fails utterly. It's not just that things are changed. It's that things are changed to near-unrecognizable levels.

There are some complaints milder than others, of course. Hisui and Kohaku certainly get shafted by the story, because there's extremely little about them...but that's pretty much what actually happened in Arcueid's route, which the anime follows. In that scenario (the recommended first one), they really are little more than supporting characters, and I understand their lack of importance in an adaptation. No matter how much I chafe at calling Kohaku "unimportant." I'm going to go shiver with incredulity until I'm ready to be objective again.

...actually, that didn't take long.

Most of the problems come from the characterization. Arcueid I found to be the particularly infuriating example. The game characterizes her as cold and ruthless when it comes to her primary purpose (hunting down other vampires), but playful and childlike when she's around Shiki. After all, the only emotions she's ever felt on a significant level before meeting him were rage and hatred, and even those were only in a few very specific instances; it's a huge part of her character development that her curiosity upon meeting Shiki and her unexpectedly long time awake opened the gates to other emotions. The anime throws pretty much all of this out and makes her more of a ditz. I think the crowning moment, where I actually had to pause the DVD in shock, was when Shiki manages to catch her before she pays for their dinner with fake money. That she printed. The woman who specifically learns about the society she wakes up in in order to do her hunting, who's clearly shown to be smart enough in every adaptation to buy an apartment, and who once rented out an entire hotel floor without a hitch.

*incredulous shivering*

There is another giant weird thing that she does (her, the second most powerful being in the world, running away from Shiki in the beginning, rather than him ambushing her), but I should drop that and move onto Shiki himself. There's not much to comment on...which is the problem. Now, I find criticisms of "emo Shiki" in the anime to be exaggerated, but he really is bland compared to the game. Ciel doesn't suffer much in characterization, but she shares Hisui and Kohaku's problem in that, as I recall, nothing is explained about her (and unlike with them, that's actually kind of odd here). On the villain side, Roa is downgraded a little bit in both power and personality, but nowhere near the extent of Nero. It seems that for this anime, Nrvnqsr Chaos, 1000 year-old vampire and true monster comprised of 666 demonic beasts, was replaced by his underachieving younger brother who summons a few trained wolves and can turn to liquid. It's the single most disappointing aspect of this anime when you expect the huge final confrontation, vampire versus kid with eyes that see Death, the prospect that probably drew more fans of the game than anything else...and the vampire goes down like a pansy. To schoolboy Shiki. Oh, and there's a problem with Nanaya as well: he's not really in the anime. Which also explains some of the disappointment in that Nero fight.

And all that is in addition to a few storyline problems. The anime follows Arcueid's route very closely, but some things show up in her route that aren't explained until later in the game. Ciel is the giant example, but there's only a little detail on the Tohnos as well, on Arcueid's true purpose, on just what Hisui and Kohaku are doing (there's one thing in particular that should have been either explained or dropped). But probably the biggest thing: the ending goes completely unexplained. You really don't know what's going on that scene, and unless you've played the game, the answer might surprise you! But the worst, the absolute worst thing is...

This isn't a bad anime.

I'm totally serious.

Wait, did I say "worst?" I meant "redeeming." It's true that it did take a lot of reflection, and was a surprising conclusion, but hear me out.

The key factor in the whole thing is that Shingetsutan Tsukihime has a very different...atmosphere, I guess you could say, from the game. Tsukihime has many things: suspense, exposition, mystery, psychological horror, exposition, daily life humor, some action, and love themes abound. The anime, limited as it was to twelve episodes and focusing solely on adapting one of the game routes, couldn't really cover all of this while still doing justice to the Nasuverse, so the sense of a larger world is mostly discarded, and the sense of mystery and supernatural love is played up considerably.

This being the case, some of the characterization differences can be explained, because everyone becomes closer to human. Anime-version Shiki loses some of his personality and deeper ties to the supernatural, but what remains is still a normal guy, drawn against his will into a world he doesn't understand. Far from being unlikable, he's in some ways even more sympathetic than in the game, as this time his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception are really his only defense, and a poorly-understood one at that, against the horrors he encounters. Arcueid seems unforgivably stupider and weaker than in the game, but here again, all that really happens is that she starts out closer to human. Ironically, this sort of makes her seem ever more otherworldly than in the game, which fits the atmosphere of the anime much better...and it also helps that Shiki and Arcueid's relationship, while rather different from the game due to the different personalities, is still very well-written. The decision to use the SHIKI Tohno version of Roa fits in with this design as well.

This only makes the Nero fight slightly less lame, though. I mean, geez, that scene could only be more watered down if you turned a hose on it.

As a technical production, this anime is incredible. The art style is a more realist style, very different from Takashi Takeuchi's work, and took some getting used to for me as a fan of the game (especially with regards to Arcueid's design). Nonetheless, it's still quite good. The animation is also surprisingly good for a mostly non-action series. And the soundtrack is nothing short of a masterpiece, comprised mostly of hauntingly beautiful orchestral pieces and a few semi-impressionistic pieces with other instruments. Of particular note would be the opening theme, "The Sacred Moon."

The technical quality isn't perfect, of course. In particular, the English dub is little short of terrible (and that little is Arcueid's voice). People in general sound fairly unnatural, and Shiki in particular is godawful to listen to; also, why oh why, can't any dub track get the right translation for "Nii-san?" Hell, even if they just left that word in with a translator's note, it would have sounded less strange than Akiha always using "my brother" (it's supposed to sound formal, but just comes off as weird). The Japanese track is much better, though, so I strongly recommend going subtitled.

There are also a few instances of direction that can be called nothing short of bizarre. Much as I rail on the Nero Chaos fight, it at least made a modicum of sense (and Shiki still managed to look like a bit of a badass). On the other hand, talk to anyone who's seen this show, and ask them about the bridge scene with Roa if you want to know how strange things can get.

Still, I personally forgive those aspects for two things in particular. One, any adaptation where Satsuki Yumizuka, of all people, can lay the verbal smackdown on Arcueid, Ciel, and Akiha is one I'm inclined to appreciate. Second, there's a bit of direction in the final episode that I found strangely cool*.

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Okay...that was a little longer than I was expecting. Looks like I'll get to the manga some other time.

Bottom line: this anime is a terrible adaptation, but good enough on its own merits that I feel comfortable recommending it. Just don't watch it dubbed unless absolutely necessary...and if you're a fan of the game, be very careful.

...*sigh*

I think I prefer reviewing games. They make me feel more organized.

Pretty excellent review you got there, I like how the humour got progressively natural as the review went on. I remember a friend told me that certain parts at the beginning made no sense (the fatal "stabbing") in the anime, but perhaps he wasn't paying too much attention, and he also hasn't read the manga, or played the game (I haven't played it either).

Interesting that this review is a follow up of sorts, as characters are only referenced rather than explained (which could be a tad unforgiving, but your other review is available), and while I knew because I've been reading the manga, I haven't read that first review, I'll take a look. I'm interested to see how the manga stacks up to the visual novel.

And that intro is probably one of the best anime intros I've seen in a while.

ChromeAlchemist:
Pretty excellent review you got there, I like how the humour got progressively natural as the review went on.

Ah. I think that's because I stopped trying after the first joke.

...that's got some embarrassing, if helpful, implications.

I remember a friend told me that certain parts at the beginning made no sense (the fatal "stabbing") in the anime, but perhaps he wasn't paying too much attention, and he also hasn't read the manga, or played the game (I haven't played it either).

I may have just forgotten that (unless he's talking about Shiki's flashback, which does look pretty strange). The last time I actually watched the whole series completely (not counting a few refresher episodes in the past week) was a few months ago.

Interesting that this review is a follow up of sorts, as characters are only referenced rather than explained (which could be a tad unforgiving, but your other review is available), and while I knew because I've been reading the manga, I haven't read that first review, I'll take a look. I'm interested to see how the manga stacks up to the visual novel.

Eh, like I said, I originally was planning to review the quality and faithfulness of both adaptations in one review. I just wound up wanting to be fair about it, and went on a little longer than I'd anticipated...though, truth be told, I actually give more details on Arcueid here than in the game review. Strange how that worked out.

Oh, and minor hint for my opinion on the manga adaptation.

Well seeing as I seem to be the only other TYPE-MOON fan on the site, I might as well throw my completely valueless two cents in.

Basically my thoughts boil down to "I see the point you are making, but I disagree with it." Tsukihime fans don't WANT to see the characters brought down to size. We want to see them kick ass. We don't WANT the girls to get MAN FACES. In short, what Tsukihime fans WANT is an adaptation. We'd also like something akin to coherence (see: bridge fight, although personally I found that HILARIOUS). We want an adaptation of the game, not some mutilated version that tries and fails to stand on it's own. That's the general, non-meme consensus.

Music is LOVELY though. I can't seem to find a full version of the opening though. Or maybe that IS the full version.

lordlee:
Well seeing as I seem to be the only other TYPE-MOON fan on the site, I might as well throw my completely valueless two cents in.

Basically my thoughts boil down to "I see the point you are making, but I disagree with it." Tsukihime fans don't WANT to see the characters brought down to size. We want to see them kick ass. We don't WANT the girls to get MAN FACES. In short, what Tsukihime fans WANT is an adaptation. We'd also like something akin to coherence (see: bridge fight, although personally I found that HILARIOUS). We want an adaptation of the game, not some mutilated version that tries and fails to stand on it's own. That's the general, non-meme consensus.

Where exactly are you disagreeing with me? ^_^

NeutralDrow:

lordlee:
Well seeing as I seem to be the only other TYPE-MOON fan on the site, I might as well throw my completely valueless two cents in.

Basically my thoughts boil down to "I see the point you are making, but I disagree with it." Tsukihime fans don't WANT to see the characters brought down to size. We want to see them kick ass. We don't WANT the girls to get MAN FACES. In short, what Tsukihime fans WANT is an adaptation. We'd also like something akin to coherence (see: bridge fight, although personally I found that HILARIOUS). We want an adaptation of the game, not some mutilated version that tries and fails to stand on it's own. That's the general, non-meme consensus.

Where exactly are you disagreeing with me? ^_^

The part where you recommended it. Other than that, golden.

lordlee:

NeutralDrow:

lordlee:
Well seeing as I seem to be the only other TYPE-MOON fan on the site, I might as well throw my completely valueless two cents in.

Basically my thoughts boil down to "I see the point you are making, but I disagree with it." Tsukihime fans don't WANT to see the characters brought down to size. We want to see them kick ass. We don't WANT the girls to get MAN FACES. In short, what Tsukihime fans WANT is an adaptation. We'd also like something akin to coherence (see: bridge fight, although personally I found that HILARIOUS). We want an adaptation of the game, not some mutilated version that tries and fails to stand on it's own. That's the general, non-meme consensus.

Where exactly are you disagreeing with me? ^_^

The part where you recommended it. Other than that, golden.

I do recommend it, since it's at least a decent anime...just not if you're looking for an adaptation (in other words, a fan of the game already). I probably didn't phrase the last sentence of the review strongly enough for that, I guess.

Just because I don't like more than a few aspects of it myself (I'm sorry, but Satsuki telling Arc, Ciel, and Akiha to sit down, shut up, and leave Shiki the hell alone was a great moment) doesn't mean I shouldn't at least aim to be objective. I truly suspect that it would be far more enjoyable to someone who doesn't know the greatness of th-- er...I mean, someone who isn't already attached to the game.

NeutralDrow:

lordlee:

NeutralDrow:

lordlee:
Well seeing as I seem to be the only other TYPE-MOON fan on the site, I might as well throw my completely valueless two cents in.

Basically my thoughts boil down to "I see the point you are making, but I disagree with it." Tsukihime fans don't WANT to see the characters brought down to size. We want to see them kick ass. We don't WANT the girls to get MAN FACES. In short, what Tsukihime fans WANT is an adaptation. We'd also like something akin to coherence (see: bridge fight, although personally I found that HILARIOUS). We want an adaptation of the game, not some mutilated version that tries and fails to stand on it's own. That's the general, non-meme consensus.

Where exactly are you disagreeing with me? ^_^

The part where you recommended it. Other than that, golden.

I do recommend it, since it's at least a decent anime...just not if you're looking for an adaptation (in other words, a fan of the game already). I probably didn't phrase the last sentence of the review strongly enough for that, I guess.

Just because I don't like more than a few aspects of it myself (I'm sorry, but Satsuki telling Arc, Ciel, and Akiha to sit down, shut up, and leave Shiki the hell alone was a great moment) doesn't mean I shouldn't at least aim to be objective. I truly suspect that it would be far more enjoyable to someone who doesn't know the greatness of th-- er...I mean, someone who isn't already attached to the game.

I certainly see your point BUUUUT shouldn't the ultimate goal get them to BECOME fans of the game and try visual novels? True an anime would be a much easier way to get them interested, but the thing of it is, Fate Stay Night has an anime too (as do Higurashi and now Umineko but that's another group, albeit one that TYPE-MOON are friends and fans of), and it's both decent in quality and popular, thus massively increasing the chance that someone would be willing to try the visual novel, and circumventing this... thing (which, like you said, has it's moments but falls flat overall). Perhaps I'm just being too picky over the matter, since in the end it all comes down to taste. In any case, your analysis is smooth as are all your reviews as far as I can tell.

...Though on the subject of the manga, I wonder if when it finishes (speaking of which, the Melty Blood manga got its scans finished two days ago) Tsukihime's story and they've defrosted hell, they might continue and do Kagetsu Tohya. Or even better, it goes through Arc True instead of the obvious Arc Good and Tsukihime 2's storyline ceases to be a few pieces of trolling short stories and a Kagetsu Tohya 4th wall trailer and comes to life in manga form.

lordlee:
I certainly see your point BUUUUT shouldn't the ultimate goal get them to BECOME fans of the game and try visual novels? True an anime would be a much easier way to get them interested, but the thing of it is, Fate Stay Night has an anime too (as do Higurashi and now Umineko but that's another group, albeit one that TYPE-MOON are friends and fans of), and it's both decent in quality and popular, thus massively increasing the chance that someone would be willing to try the visual novel, and circumventing this... thing (which, like you said, has it's moments but falls flat overall). Perhaps I'm just being too picky over the matter, since in the end it all comes down to taste. In any case, your analysis is smooth as are all your reviews as far as I can tell.

The thought did cross my mind, but I'm hoping I communicated enough of a gap in feeling between the game and manga on one side, and this on the other. Blasphemous though it may be, I honestly wouldn't mind people reading the manga in place of playing the game, if need be. Even if it's only half of the story. I can just keep Kohaku to myself, thank you very much. Though, in the ideal case, they'll somehow manage to throw in Kohaku's role anyway...

*has bad flashbacks to Hisui's True Ending and shuts up*

As for Fate's anime...I'll get to that, eventually. It was pretty good, but had one crippling flaw in my mind. Well...two if you count people completely misunderstanding Shirou's character. I find I have to argue against that in other places, and I find a lot of apologists having to state "that's only in the Fate route, he's much better in Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel." Of course, I don't see the case that he's anything but an effective character even in Fate, so I have a rant specially prepared for such occasions.

Ultimately, though...I think I prefer writing game reviews. Even though that's going to eventually take me to a few dating sims...

...Though on the subject of the manga, I wonder if when it finishes (speaking of which, the Melty Blood manga got its scans finished two days ago) Tsukihime's story and they've defrosted hell, they might continue and do Kagetsu Tohya. Or even better, it goes through Arc True instead of the obvious Arc Good and Tsukihime 2's storyline ceases to be a few pieces of trolling short stories and a Kagetsu Tohya 4th wall trailer and comes to life in manga form.

I'm wondering how exactly they could do Kagetsu Tohya; I can't imagine it as anything but a visual novel. Granted, that would be an impressive feat if they somehow accomplish it.

As for the Tsukihime manga...what makes you think they'll go with Arcueid's Good Ending? I thought the obvious choice was her True Ending (which was what the anime went with, after all, even if they didn't explain it). Hell, if they actually went with "Moon at Dawn", I'd be ecstatic.

And thanks for the heads-up on the Melty Blood manga. I've been curious about it!

Shirou Rant

Memes man, memes. Most realize your points (probably not quite as eloquently, but at a base level), but it's just a running joke. One that can get annoying, but it's there and we are stuck with it. Also there was that one time he said that maybe getting attacked/molested would teach Ayako some femininity.

Arc Good Vs Arc True

My main reason for thinking that it'll be Arc good is that the Melty Blood manga exists. Not a solid reason, but there you are. Also as far as continuations go Kagetsu is WAAAAY more likely than The Dark Six (although can you begin to imagine how awesome it would be to see Satsunjinki, a bunch of the DAA including Altorouge at last, and all that other crazy stuff in manga glory?) and while Kagetsu is exclusive to Arc Good by matter of the situation shown in the prologue, The Dark Six happens BECAUSE of Arc True.

Melty Blood

As for the Melty Blood manga, it's right over on One Manga, waiting in all it's eye sockets that spew blood and wires and read minds glory. Supposedly there IS a part two going on in Japan (presumably for Re:Act) but I don't know if that's true.

lordlee:

Shirou Rant

Memes man, memes. Most realize your points (probably not quite as eloquently, but at a base level), but it's just a running joke. One that can get annoying, but it's there and we are stuck with it. Also there was that one time he said that maybe getting attacked/molested would teach Ayako some femininity.

True. It would require not only realizing Shirou's next thought was essentially "what the hell am I saying?!", but also reading the part in Unlimited Blade Works where Ayako does get attacked, and he can only think of how horrible it was to happen to someone like her.

In other words, I think he was projecting his frustrations about Saber.

Arc Good Vs Arc True

My main reason for thinking that it'll be Arc good is that the Melty Blood manga exists. Not a solid reason, but there you are. Also as far as continuations go Kagetsu is WAAAAY more likely than The Dark Six (although can you begin to imagine how awesome it would be to see Satsunjinki, a bunch of the DAA including Altorouge at last, and all that other crazy stuff in manga glory?) and while Kagetsu is exclusive to Arc Good by matter of the situation shown in the prologue, The Dark Six happens BECAUSE of Arc True.

I seem to remember speculation that Melty Blood follows the unreleased Satsuki route, though Arcueid's Good Ending also makes sense. That's assuming they try to tie the two manga together; since one is done by Sasaki Shounen and the other by Takeru Kirishima (and published in two different magazines, though Kadokawa owns both), they might not bother.

Minor nitpick: Kagetsu Tohya could technically follow from Ciel's Good Ending, too, since Arc sticks around for that.

And, truth be told, I'm looking forward to Tsukihime 2 being a VN or light novel before a manga.

Melty Blood

As for the Melty Blood manga, it's right over on One Manga, waiting in all it's eye sockets that spew blood and wires and read minds glory. Supposedly there IS a part two going on in Japan (presumably for Re:Act) but I don't know if that's true.

If they do one based on ReAct, I'd want it, mainly to see if they add in

Good review. also expanding on the akiha comment the anime made her seem alot more tame than the visual novel would suggest, i also did like that they included elements out of the never finished Yumidska route. However the anime gets points in my book for actualy useing the proper story I.E Arcuied's true end, whereas the fate stay night anime good as it was, uses fate when the proper ending is Sakura's true end in the hevens feel route. I know that fate makes alot more sense to new people but lets face it, 99% of the people who pick fate stay night off the shelf are going to already be fans.

Legna eno:
Good review. also expanding on the akiha comment the anime made her seem alot more tame than the visual novel would suggest, i also did like that they included elements out of the never finished Yumidska route.

Um...which elements would those be? The only things the anime adds in whole-cloth are the amusement park visit and Satsuki being listed as a victim at the hotel.

However the anime gets points in my book for actualy useing the proper story I.E Arcuied's true end, whereas the fate stay night anime good as it was, uses fate when the proper ending is Sakura's true end in the hevens feel route.

I'm fairly certain that's just a matter of personal preference. I honestly think that if they were going to botch Arcueid's True Ending that badly, they may as well have gone with her Good ending. Or hell, maybe Ciel's Good ending.

As for Fate/Stay Night, I rather suspect most people would argue for going with the Unlimited Blade Works good ending (except me, I want Realta Nua Last Episode). Since they were clearly following the Fate route from the start, going with a Heaven's Feel ending would have made absolutely no sense; it would be like the Tsukihime anime going with Hisui's True Ending.

Granted, I certainly wouldn't object to them animating Heaven's Feel, since it was my favorite route, but that would take a crapton of effort to get right. Much of the effectiveness of HF was how downright unnerving it was seeing everything you saw in the other routes get subverted in front of your eyes, people you've gotten attached to dying left and right or corrupted by the Shadow.

I know that fate makes alot more sense to new people but lets face it, 99% of the people who pick fate stay night off the shelf are going to already be fans.

...no. I'm quite sure they aren't, much like most people who watch Kanon, Clannad, or Higurashi aren't going to have played the VNs. The anime is both more visible and much easier to come by than the game, and therefore has a much bigger audience outside Japan.

sorry for how this i set out, i suck at quoteing.

in the original idea for a Sacchin route she turned into a vampire much later than she did in the routes we were shown and she becomes a friend of sorts to shiki at school. like what the anime was portraying. thats what i was meaning. several sorces talk about this but i can only remeber one of them which is Tsukihime Plus disc, which i recomend if you havent already checked it out.

As for the fate thing, all routes start the same and then branch off. each route is designed to make sense by itself, but with the knowledge of the other routes gives you a deeper meaning. so it would have been fine useing HF instead of fate. imagine with me if you will that final fist fight with keri. his fists slowly getting destroyed by the swords that are apperaing in shirous body, and evil sakura. anyway they used quite a few elemenmts from UBW and HF anyway so its not like they were faithfull to fate. i mean yeah i would have loved an UBW ending but then archer and rin are my favourite characters. On a side note is realta nua any good?

ok you win at my third point. I overexaggerated and poorly explained this one so yeah. your right maybe i should have said that the fanbase would be the one that is most intrested in this sort of thing.

 

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