Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tsukihime (Lunar Legend) - vol. 1 life threads - review

Director: Katsushi Sakurabi

Release date: 2005 (UK DVD)

Contains spoilers

Tsukihime is an anime in three volumes, with four episodes in volume one. The first episode, “reversal impulse” sets the scene. It begins with a young Shiki Tohno in hospital saying he can see lines. Then, in the countryside a scene of a mysterious woman handing him glasses and finally a woman in a parking lot being attacked by a vampire.

Shiki has lived with his Aunt and Uncle, but he is now moving back to the family home. Because of his delicate health since a traffic accident – the same accident that led to him seeing lines – his recently deceased father took the unusual step of naming his sister the head of the household.

The first episode is rather slow paced, full of half explained exposition, but as the first 4 episodes come in at 100 minutes this is understandable.

However we do see him finding a recently vampire attacked man and then approached by a girl with claws blades, who we see again, briefly, in episode three, with no further explanation.

Shiki, for some reason unbeknown to the audience, as it is also unbeknown to him to the point that he can’t really remember the events, attacks and kills a girl – Arcueid Brunstein. Yet by the end of the episode she approaches him, whole again, accusing him of her murder.

The other episodes are “Black Beast”, “Mystic eyes of Death Perception” and “Garden of a Cradle”. Episode two is again rather slow, with a brief interlude of action when Shiki is cornered by Arcueid and they are attacked by savage dogs that “dust” when killed. There is also an attack in a hotel, which they barely escape.

It is in episode three that the series hots up. The exposition is fuller. We discover that Shiki has ‘mystic eyes of death perception’, caused by his childhood accident. He can see the death inherent in all things in the form of lines and, by cutting those lines, can cut and destroy things. His glasses stop him seeing the lines. Arcueid is a vampire. In the series there are two types of vampire. The True Ancestors, who need not drink blood and can walk in daylight, and the Dead Apostles. These are what we would commonly term as vampires, created when bitten by a True Ancestor – it seems that though they do not need it, some True Ancestors drink blood for enjoyment – so far we know that these can create animal servants (we’ve seen dogs, serpents and ravens thus far), can develop a fearsome mouth in their stomachs and cannot go out in daylight. During the vampire explanation there is a fantastic line of understatement, “humans wouldn’t like it if they multiplied.” Arcueid explains when she tells Shiki that she is a True Ancestor who hunts Dead Apostles.

Episode three sees Shiki and Arcueid take on the Dead Apostle Nero. At this point Shiki believes it is over, but with 9 more episodes in the series we are not fooled. Unfortunately the pace of episode four slows again as more building blocks are added to the story.

The animation is good, though in some places it has an almost retro feel. Perhaps it is because much of the action takes place in a high school but I almost got a “Vampire Princess Miyu” feel.

The shame of this is that it is so languid in places, which might put casual viewers off. If you have not seen much anime, or more specifically vampire orientated anime, I would suggest that you begin with the vastly superior “Hellsing” or either of the “Vampire Hunter D” movies.

If, however, you are familiar with the art form then this does have things to offer, or at least hints of things to come. I’m giving this 6.5 out of 10, with the caveat that this is only volume 1 and it is important to note that the whole series might well score higher as a complete experience, certainly the building blocks are in place.

At the time of review the series does not have an IMDB page.


Mateo said...

I have to admit that I don't "get" anime. I've tried. I watched Vampire Hunter D and was completely unmoved. I just don't get it.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Fair play - it's very much each to their own. However, if you were unmoved by D then I would avoid this one... If you get a chance to watch Hellsing however, give it a go - if nothing else the Japanese view of the UK is amusing!