Shingetsutan Tsukihime Manga Review (How to adapt a visual novel.)

Shingetsutan Tsukihime Manga Review
Lunar Legend Tsukihime

***SPOILERS***

Shingetsutan TsukihimeI’ve been a fan of the Type-Moon series Fate/stay night through its anime adaptation, the Fate/Zero anime series, and the recent ufotable series Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.  I’m a fan of the spinoff Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya.  (All titles I’ve reviewed on the blog here.) So when I recently watched the comedy, parody anime series Carnival Phantasm, which draws heavily from both the Fate/stay night franchise as well as the Tsukihime franchise, it was suggested that I read the Shingetsutan Tsukihime manga, which is reported to be an excellent adaptation of the Tsukihime visual novel. So I read it.

The story centers around TOHNO Shiki, who’s a high school student who can see death lines for all things, whether living, the undead, or inanimate objects, thanks to an accident from his youth. After having been expelled from the Tohno family as a child, when his father dies, his little sister Akiha brings him back to the family mansion after becoming head of the house. So when he walks to the Tohno home for the first time after school one day, he passes a young, blonde woman and suddenly has a murderous rage and using a knife, hacks her to pieces along her death lines. He then passes out.

He awakens in the family mansion, where he is reintroduced to his sister and meets his sister’s maid Kohaku, who’d been sent to find him. Finding no evidence of a murder or blood on his person, Shiki wonders if it is a dream and is introduced to his maid Hisui, the sister of Kohaku. The next day, Shiki is horrified when on the way to school the woman he’d butchered is alive and aware of what was done to her. He eludes her and goes to school, where he doesn’t recognize his senpai named Ciel until she gets upset, and then he remembers.

Heading home, he’s confronted by the young woman again, who’s name is Arcueid, a shinso vampire. He has a hard time accepting it, but she drafts him to help him kill the vampire who’s responsible for a string of murders in the town. Over the course of time, Shiki and Arcueid become closer as they work together to ultimately defeat Arcueid’s true enemy, Rao, whom Shiki discovers he has a tie to. Ciel, a former host of Rao and an immortal assassin for the Church who’s also after Rao, but who also sees the danger of Arcueid, also aids them at times on this goal.

***REVIEW***

Shingetsutan TsukihimeI have to say that the story of Tsukihime is just incredible and has a powerful but frustrating ending.

If you are aware of the Fate/stay night structure, Shingetsutan Tsukihime follows a similar pattern, which is not surprising since both were written by Type-Moon (NASU Kinoko) and both are set in the same universe.  Shiki is similar to Shiro from Fate/stay night in that both experienced tragic events when they were boys. As high school boys, both are introduced to a much larger world around them that they were only vaguely aware of. Both then find themselves surrounded by a bevy of hot babes, all of whom care about the lead male. Both fall in love it the lead, supernatural female. And on and on.

But while there are those similarities, Shingetsutan Tsukihime is a darker story overall. This is primarily due to the fact that this aspect of the Nasu-verse deals with the undead, specifically vampires. As such, things get quite gory and violent from the start. I was quite surprised when Shiki literally butchered Arcueid (whom I knew was the female lead) and left her a gory mess. After Shiki and Arcueid team up, there are more bloody battles to be had. This isn’t a problem, but because the battles are against the undead rather than Servants from Fate/stay night, it is going to be more gory and darker than FSN.

Shingetsutan TsukihimeThe manga pans out the information regarding Shiki, Arcueid, and other characters at a regular rate. While I had the advantage of being versed in the Nasu-verse (Fate/Zero has strong elements from the Tsukihime side of things during the flashback of Kiritsugu’s childhood), I strongly believe that if one had no previous experience with Type-Moon works and the Nasu-verse, that person would have no problem understanding the rules of this universe as laid out in Shingetsutan Tsukihime. I really appreciated that.

The manga’s story really is quite interesting and quite good, thanks to the strong base (visual novel) story of Nasu-sensei. However, credit has to go to Sasaki-sensei for making the manga a strong adaptation. I found it difficult to put this manga down at times because even though I had other things I needed to do, I wanted to know more on how everything would pan out. That is the sign of a good manga, right? 🙂

While there is the harem aspect to this story, the manga avoids any romantic elements for any of the girls save for Arcueid (which is understandable since the manga follows her route from the visual novel) and Shiki’s classmate YUMIDUKA Satsuki. I only knew Satsuki as a joke character in Carnival Phantasm, so I was surprised by how she was not a joke in Shingetsutan Tsukihime. I felt badly for her since she has an unrequited love for Shiki, and I honestly expected bad things to happen to her, which I presume result from my having watched Carnival Phantasm. She disappears from the manga after a while, which is probably for the best because unfortunately for her, Shiki isn’t going down her route.

As to Arcueid, I liked how the relationship between her and Shiki develops over time. Arcueid has mostly been alone for her 800 plus years of existence, and as a shinso vampire who was tricked into consuming the blood of the series villain way back when, she’s not really someone who is safe to be around, should she lose control of her vampiric urges. However, it made sense to me that the equally lonely Shiki would go for her, especially once their abilities as a team go so well together.

As this is a seinen manga, in addition to the higher levels of gore, we do get some detailed, topless nudity of Arcueid. One is when she’s nearly raped and another is when she and Shiki spend the night together. If you are someone trying to give up PMO, this could be a trigger incident since Arcueid is an attractive female character, and the romantic elements associated with her and Shiki getting together feel quite real.

Shingetsutan TsukihimeThe ending of the manga is powerful and highly emotional. I won’t deny that I had tears in the final chapter (not the epilogue, which I’ll discuss in a moment). Without saying too much, I had hoped against hope that maybe things wouldn’t go down the way they did, but alas, Nasu-sensei seems to love tragic love stories and Sasaki-sensei adapted it quite well. Had the story ended here, while I would not have cared for the ending, it would have been the ending and I would have accepted that.

The epilogue is where things get a bit frustrating. I’m told this is not part of the original visual novel, but some time after chapter 73, Shiki is able to meet with the mage he met as a child before continuing his quest. He and Ciel find Arcueid, but whether these events of being found by Shiki actually happened, or if they were just the dreams of Arcueid, Sasaki-sensei leaves for the reader to decide. I don’t like those “you decide how it was” endings. I would have preferred a straight out good ending with the, “and they lived happily ever after” ’cause after everything Shiki and Arcueid went through, I want them to have a happy life.

In the end, Shingetsutan Tsukihime manga is a well crafted, well drawn story that sucks the reader in and doesn’t let go. It can get dark at times, and a little erotic at times, but there’s no denying that this was an excellent read. It is a shame someone doesn’t get a new license for this manga and republish it in English.

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5 Responses to “Shingetsutan Tsukihime Manga Review (How to adapt a visual novel.)”

  1. jeffers says:

    Glad too see you liked it, tsukihime was what got me into type moon in the first place.

    there’s also a spinoff titled melty blood if your interested but in my opinion its nowhere near as good.

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