Tsukihime Lunar Legend (Volume 3: Nocturnal Fate) Review

The Show

With 'Nocturnal Fate', we come to the final instalment of Tsukihime Lunar Legend, and I can only breathe a sigh of relief that it's all over at long last; never before have three DVD volumes of animé seemed so interminable. Having now watched every episode, I'm afraid I have nothing good to say about this show. Between its cardboard characters, wooden dialogue, cookie-cutter conflicts, formulaic über-plot, and glacial pacing, this is a series to be avoided even by dedicated fans of the 'vampire animé' sub-genre.

Of course, I'm speaking here of the show as a whole, which is probably a bit naughty of me as this is supposed to be a review of just the final disc. To be fair, the final two episodes of 'Nocturnal Fate' do tie everything up pretty well… and in fact they - despite being unspectacular - are the only things saving this DVD from getting an even lower 'Film' score. That said, there aren't any Big Reveals in this last volume, and even the way the story's action comes to a close is very pedestrian. Tsukihime has never tried to be groundbreaking, but with this final DVD it proves itself to also be eminently forgettable.

Episode Guide

9: 'Death'

Another snorefest of an episode, with Shiki moping about the mansion trying to ferret out the truth of his family's past and what it might have to do with the disturbing dreams he's been having since Roa's attack. Luckily for him, one of their two maids - Hisui, to be precise - is on his side and deliberately lets slip that with she and Kohaku occupied on errands out of the house, there will be no one to stop him from searching for the answers he seeks. So the moment they're all gone, Shiki makes a beeline for his father's library, finds a mysterious key, and then spends a preposterous amount of screen time trying every door in the manse before coming across the right lock. Behind it is a tiny room with a cage containing a bed and chair, and scrawled on the walls are the words 'help me' over and over…

10: 'Vermillion Crimson Moon'

In case the viewers had forgotten about Arcueid by this point (and frankly, who could blame them?), she gets tired of waiting for Shiki to come out of the family estate and so turns up in his bedroom demanding - what else? - a date. Yes, the soap opera that is Tsukihime Lunar Legend continues apace. So we spend the whole time watching Shiki and Arcueid go the cinema, stroll about town, have a pleasant meal together, go visit his school, etc… the overall point of which being, one must assume, that Arc longs to understand what it would be like to be 'normal' and wonders if she and Shiki could have had a proper relationship had things been otherwise. Sure, there are a few more revelations about Ciel's background and how she ties in with Roa, but that's about 5 minutes out of a half-hour episode.

11: 'Misfortunate Night'

Ah, time once again for a huge expository chunk to be conveyed by one character's dialogue. In the wake of the standoff between Ciel and Arcueid, the former takes the opportunity to explain the history of the Primordials and Proselytes, going back in history to the point where Roa in his original form (a snake, quelle surprise) tempted the 'white princess' (Arcueid, naturally) into drinking his poison on the argument that it would quench her thirst. Thus tainted and having fallen from grace, she spent the following succession of centuries with one purpose in mind: to kill Roa. Every time he surfaced, she would awake from her perpetual slumber and hunt him down. Ciel warns Shiki that since she's grown close to him, her desire to drink his blood has been growing progressively stronger and she wouldn't be able to resist it much longer. Hearing all this, Shiki runs off to find Arcueid, but his old wound distracts him from the search, and instead he is drawn towards Roa. Finding the latter confronting Akiha, Shiki attempts to protect his sister, but it only with Ciel's help that the two of them escape and return back to the manor, where Akiha hands Shiki her father's journal so he can read for himself how this all came to be. He then goes out again, this time to locate Arcueid and return her affection.

12: 'Lunar World'

In this episode, we have the ostensible 'big showdown' between Roa on one side and Shiki, Arcueid, and Ciel on the other. Mostly however, it's just an excuse for Shiki to continue trying to be close to Arcueid, even when Ciel assures him that there's no future for her even if she does manage to defeat Roa. I won't give away the ending, not that it's really anything unpredictable or exciting, but will point out that the writers felt it necessary to tack on an anticlimactic coda afterwards.

Picture/Sound

Volume 3 of Tsukihime Lunar Legend is no different from its predecessors in terms of video or audio quality, so please refer to my comments in the previous two write-ups. (In summary, it's a reasonably clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen print - some mild grain, but not a serious issue - with unremarkable Dolby 2.0 soundtracks in both Japanese and English.) However, the failings on the actual animation end of things are finally beginning to rub me the wrong way. Between the really dingy palette and the shameless recycling of all of the (already quite limited) character movements and fixed backgrounds, the series looks every bit as cheap as it was obviously made. A decent encode of mediocre animation doesn't really excuse it.

Menus/Extras

The disc menus continue to look quite striking, although often the text is difficult to read against the stylish backgrounds. Alas, there are no special features to speak of (unless you actually count a couple of trailers for other MVM DVDs).

Overall

Please - I beg you - save yourselves the time and frustration of watching Tsukihime Lunar Legend. It's 6 hours of your life you'll never get back (in my case, more, as I had to write up the reviews for these 3 discs as well) and there is very little to recommend the series other than one quirky concept (the 'Mystic Eyes of Death Perception') which in the end turns out to be just a throwaway device at best tenuously connected to the main plot. If you're hungry for vampire animé, in the name of all things holy (yes, pun intended) just go rent/buy/watch Vampire Princess Miyu or Hellsing, Blood: The Last Vampire, or even Vampire Hunter D. Tsukihime just isn't worth the aggro.

Film
5 out of 10
Video
7 out of 10
Audio
7 out of 10
Extras
0 out of 10
Overall

5

out of 10

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