Lunar Legend Tsukihime: Revisiting the Anime that ‘Doesn’t Exist’

Ask a Tsukihime fan what they consider the hit visible novel’s 2003 anime adaptation, they usually’ll in all probability say one thing to the impact of, “What anime? There is no such thing as a Tsukihime anime!” Certainly, in a sequence that is spawned numerous memes, the joke that there is not any Tsukihime anime continues to be one of many extra usually repeated ones. And it is hardly a marvel why followers would in all probability favor to contemplate this anime non-existent. Regardless of the longevity Tsukihime has confirmed to have, its anime adaptation—Lunar Legend Tsukihime (LLT)—is broadly thought of to be among the many worst visible novel adaptation anime of all time.

Initially a visible novel by Type-Moon, Tsukihime follows Tohno Shiki: a sickly excessive schooler who, after a near-death expertise in his childhood, can see strains that in the event that they’re reduce throughout, no matter is reduce is destroyed. However now, eight years later, Shiki is as soon as once more dwelling along with his sister (and two maids, Hisui and Kohaku) in his household’s mansion. However the day he strikes again in, he has a random, however highly effective impulse to brutally dismember a random girl—who, it seems, is an immensely highly effective vampire named Arcueid. To make up for his “killing” her (it takes a substantial quantity of her energy, however she’s in a position to revive herself), Arcueid recruits Shiki to assist her kill one other highly effective vampire on the town.

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As an adaptation, Lunar Legend Tsukihime sucks

There is no sugar (blood?) coating it: as an adaptation of its supply materials, LLT misses the mark fully. Firstly, regardless of primarily being an adaptation of Arcueid’s route, it additionally tries to work in components from different routes—components that make various ranges of sense being there, given the implications that they’ve for the remainder of the story. Admittedly, this is not an unusual factor that anime adapting visible novels with a number of routes attempt to do, however that does not make it any much less jarring, nor does it make the creation of those Franken tales any higher. Moreover, these extra components are by no means unpacked in a significant approach, making them really feel all of the extra pointless.

Equally, LLT additionally features a few authentic story components that flat-out aren’t within the visible novel, even outdoors of Arcueid’s route. To be clear: the including of authentic story components is not inherently a flaw. Loads of anime diversifications have added authentic components which have labored to the story’s profit (DEVILMAN crybaby, for instance, springs to mind). However the additions made in LLT serve no clear function, and really feel very transparently like filler meant to kill time in an anime whose pacing is already a problem—however extra on that in only a bit.

For now, I might prefer to pivot to a different of this anime’s extra extremely seen points: the visuals. Gone is Takeuchi Takashi‘s fashion in all its turn-of-the-millennium, technicolor appeal, glory, and in are the uninteresting, gray-tinted blobs that the anime provides us. That is additional emphasised by animation high quality that is serviceable general, however in some way will get sloppier the longer you take a look at it.

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However with out query, the largest downside with LLT as an adaptation is the removing of Shiki’s interiority. As a result of he narrates the visible novel, the reader walks hand in blood-soaked hand with Shiki as he not-so-gradually descends into insanity. His each thought, fantasy, and grisly nightmare is verbally illustrated in painstaking element. Shiki’s ever-crumbling sense of self is an integral a part of the story. So with out having this context, a number of key moments are bleached of their authentic that means and drama, and far of the horror and stress underscoring the story is gone.

This straight causes additional issues with the pacing as nicely. As a result of none of these nightmares or monologues that take up a lot time in Tsukihime make it to LLT—as a result of LLT is targeted extra on the exterior than inner—the pace at which issues occur is both at a 1 or 11, with nothing in between. Most of the time, issues occur at a snail’s tempo in LLT, to make up for on a regular basis not spent in Shiki’s thoughts. However on occasion, these dragging segments get interrupted by fleeting moments the place so many issues are taking place so rapidly, or a lot data will get thrown on the viewers directly, that it is arduous to maintain up with what is going on on and what its significance is. And particularly in tandem with all of the unfastened ends left behind by this sequence (which, to be truthful, is smart; in case you’re not going to adapt each route, a sense of incompleteness is inevitable) it makes the entire viewing expertise all of the extra complicated.

Maybe probably the most optimistic factor I can say about LLT as an adaptation is that whereas it was arguably the worst visible novel adaptation anime of its time, that is in all probability now not the case immediately. For instance, for my part, that doubtful honor now firmly belongs to Dies irae (which aired in Fall 2017), which was so clumsy in its explanations and lore dumps that while reviewing the sequence for ANN, Theron Martin really helpful that viewers fascinated about sticking with the sequence look on a wiki web page to fill within the many blanks left by the anime. As of the time of writing, the typical ANN group rating of each episode is 3.1 out of 5. In the meantime, its common rating on MyAnimeList is 5.40 out of 10 (for comparability, LLT‘s is at present 6.82). However whereas LLTT would possibly now not be the singular worst visible novel adaptation anime, it is with out query proper up there with titles like Chaos;HEAd and Chaos;Child as stable contenders for the runner-up spot.

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And as a standalone expertise, it is not price batting an eye fixed at

LLT‘s official English launch occurred at a bizarre time. Whereas it aired in Japan in Fall 2003, the official English launch would not begin till October 2004, and finish in February 2005. This was nicely earlier than the primary anime adaptation of Kind Moon‘s largest hit, Fate/stay night (usually nicknamed “Deen/Keep Evening”), aired in Japan in Winter 2006, and fan translations of the visible novels (both Tsukihime or Destiny/keep evening) turned extra broadly obtainable. Equally, though Melty Blood—a Tsukihime preventing recreation by French-Bread—was out in Japan, it is not possible to level to a exact second the place it began getting traction in English-speaking pockets of the preventing recreation group, although I could not discover footage/proof of any Melty Blood tournaments taking place in a predominantly English-speaking nation earlier than 2005 (whereas it is not possible for me to completely confirm this for a protracted record of causes, the uploader claims that this footage comes from the primary Melty Blood match held within the US).

In different phrases, LLT‘s English language launch got here out throughout a time when few folks out there would’ve recognized a lot, if something, about Tsukihime. It makes studying the evaluations from the time an fascinating expertise, as they’re usually uninfluenced by the visible novel, and this anime’s many shortcomings as an adaptation. However whereas they lack the cynical or sarcastic tone extra prevalent in later evaluations, these earliest evaluations—whereas not horrible—nonetheless aren’t precisely nice, both.

For instance, in 2004, Bamboo Dong wrote on ANN concerning the first quantity of the sequence, “The episodes are gradual, and viewers are nonetheless largely left in the dead of night about what is going on on, however it’s an oddly gripping present however.” Equally, AnimeOnDVD‘s Chris Beveridge wrote, “When the Japanese do vampires, I am often fairly since there’s sufficient distinction and selection to their tackle these creatures that it would not really feel like each single concept has been exhausted. We get some tidbits of this tradition on this quantity however it’s been wrapped round by some very gradual pacing, amateurish dialogue, and character interactions that look simply plain unhealthy. There are some small highlights right here and there, such because the opening sequence and the all too transient motion sequences, however finally, the fog that appears to inhabit this present hit me in a lot the identical approach and simply left me bored.”

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Through RightStuf‘s Fall 2004 catalog

As for me, revisiting this anime immediately and attempting my finest to look previous its (lack of) high quality as an adaptation, it is nonetheless unremarkable; it is not good, to be clear, however it’s removed from the worst that I’ve seen. Lots of the identical issues that make it abysmal as an adaptation, additionally contribute towards its being lackluster even in a vacuum: the visuals are lifeless, the story makes little sense, and the pacing makes watching it really feel like a gradual trudge. Admittedly, nonetheless, the soundtrack is sweet for what it’s, and Arcueid’s appeal shines by way of her muted shade palette. Total, if I needed to sum up this anime as a standalone expertise in a phrase, it’d simply be “forgettable.” It isn’t good, however it’s additionally not unhealthy in a approach that makes it memorably unhealthy in case you overlook that that is speculated to be an adaptation of an important visible novel. There are such a lot of higher vampire anime that you possibly can as an alternative spend your time watching, that it feels pointless to even attempt itemizing all of them. That being stated, if you would like some actionable recommendation from this text, let it’s that you need to watch Shiki.

Typically, the one approach visible novel adaptation anime get forgiveness for being poor diversifications is by at the very least being a very good standalone expertise (though as a rule, the higher visible novel adaptation anime are typically good each as diversifications and standalone experiences), and LLT actually would not obtain this, making it a poor expertise general, and much from consultant of the standard of the visible novel. It is actually not the worst anime of all time, and doubtless not even the worst visible novel adaptation anime on the market, however it’s nonetheless not precisely one thing I might readily advocate both for somebody fascinated about dipping their toes into the world of Tsukihime, or to somebody who simply desires to look at a cool, early-2000s vampire anime.

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On the irony of “not present”

As talked about earlier, Tsukihime has an advanced relationship with the English language market: The unique visible novel by no means formally got here out in English, and the anime got here out throughout a time when few (if anybody) would’ve recognized—not to mention cared—about it. And as if this wasn’t all unhealthy sufficient by itself, the English language launch of Sasakishonen‘s Tsukihime manga—which Type-Moon co-founder Kinoko Nasu has expressed positive feelings for—had nearly every little thing that may go incorrect, nicely, go incorrect.

Initially, the English language translation of the Tsukihime manga, revealed by ComicsOne, was supposed to start out its launch in January 2005. However because the phrase “speculated to” would possibly’ve instructed you, this did not find yourself taking place, because it was introduced that ComicsOne would now not be publishing new manga that same January. This allowed for DrMaster to pick up the series. Finally, it might be August 2005 earlier than that first quantity would lastly be launched. However then, after releasing solely six of the ten volumes of the Tsukihime manga, DrMaster quietly ceased operations someday in 2009. The license has by no means been picked up once more, so even now—15 years later—it stays formally unfinished (though unofficial, fan translations are broadly obtainable).

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An archive of the Tsukihime manga’s web page on DrMaster‘s web site from August 2009. Solely six volumes of Tsukihime can be found. Quantity seven, whereas listed, has no obtainable data. Finally, neither this quantity nor any of the opposite three remaining volumes would see an official launch in English.

It is also price citing Melty Blood once more. Whereas not all English-language Melty Blood followers have essentially watched/learn/performed Tsukihime (or vice-versa for that matter), it is nonetheless developed a fan group unto itself. However no matter whether or not or not these gamers have an curiosity in Tsukihime past Melty Blood, the very fact stays that it is nonetheless Tsukihime characters; it nonetheless serves to maintain Tsukihime very a lot round in these fan communities. Predictably, whereas the primary one to get an official English launch of any sort was Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code in 2016, Melty Blood‘s cult success amongst English language gamers—who both performed utilizing the Japanese or with fan-translated English patches—predates that by a number of years. Suffice to say, jokes about Melty Blood gamers being devoted sufficient to play in bathrooms and Popeyes parking lots did not precisely seem out of nowhere.


As of the time of writing, LLT may be streamed on HIDIVE, and its most up-to-date bodily re-release was by way of Sentai in 2015. In different phrases, for English audio system seeking to get into Tsukihime by official means, mockingly the anime has been one of many extra accessible—extra existent, if you’ll—beginning factors. Arguably probably the most, relying on what metrics you wish to use (it is rivaled solely by Melty Blood Actress Once more Present Code and MELTY BLOOD: TYPE LUMINA—which additionally obtained an official English language launch in 2021). Traditionally talking, Tsukihime‘s presence in English language communities of Japanese media followers has—largely out of necessity—predominantly been a very fan-operated affair, saved afloat by little greater than sheer love of Tsukihime and/or Melty Blood. It is due to this fact arduous to overstate how huge a deal Type-Moon’s recent decision to (lastly) launch their visible novels formally in English is, particularly now that it is culminated within the releases of A Piece of Blue Glass Moon and a remastered version of Fate/Stay Night. Nearly 20 years after the primary quantity of LLT‘s DVDs got here out, (a remake of) the visible novel that impressed it can lastly be on world retailer cabinets.