|Genre||Eroge, Visual novel|
|Engine||NScripter / KiriKiri|
|Written by||Sasaki Shōnen|
|Published by||ASCII Media Works|
|Original run||August 21, 2003 – July 27, 2010|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Katsushi Sakurabi|
|Produced by||Takeshi Jinguji|
|Written by||Hiroko Tokita|
|Music by||Toshiyuki Omori|
|Original network||Animax, TBS, BS-i|
|Original run||October 10, 2003 – December 26, 2003|
|Tsukihime -A piece of blue glass moon-|
Tsukihime (Japanese: 月姫, lit. "Moon Princess") is a Japanese adult visual novel created by the dōjin circle Type-Moon, who first released it at the Winter Comiket in December 2000. It has been adapted in 2003 into an anime television series, Shingetsutan Tsukihime, animated by J.C.Staff, and a manga series, which was serialized between 2003 and 2010 in MediaWorks' seinen magazine Dengeki Daioh, with 10 volumes released.
Its fame and renown is often attributed to its comprehensive and expansive storyline and its writer Kinoko Nasu's unique style of storytelling. As well as its anime and manga adaptations, it has also spawned numerous merchandising and memorabilia franchises. A remake with updated art and story was announced in 2008. Titled Tsukihime -A piece of blue glass moon-, it will feature a rewritten and expanded version of two of the original routes, and is currently set for release in August 2021.
Tsukihime's gameplay requires little interaction from the player as most of the game's duration is spent on reading the text that appears, representing either dialogue between the characters or the inner thoughts of the protagonist. The player is presented with choices, some affect the story in large ways, others do not affect the story at all or affect it in small ways. Changes that affect Shiki's opinion on the characters and heroines usually change the direction of the story drastically.
Some options can lead to (often violent) deaths for Shiki, after which the player can optionally view a comedic section called Teach Me, Ciel-sensei!, where Ciel educates the player on their decisions and offers hints on how to avoid them on the next playthrough.
There are two scenarios: the Near-Side Route (as in "near-moon") which includes Arcueid and Ciel as selectable heroines, and the Far Side Route (as in "far-moon") which includes Akiha, Hisui, and Kohaku as selectable heroines. Every heroine except Kohaku has two possible endings. When the player has achieved all possible endings, a new section is unlocked, entitled Eclipse. Eclipse is an ending to all routes, and an epilogue of sorts.
Tsukihime's plot follows the perspective of Shiki Tohno (遠野 志貴, Tōno Shiki), a second year high school student of Misaki Town, who suffered a life-threatening injury when he was young. When he regained consciousness, Shiki was able to see "death lines", lines by which things will eventually break when they die. This includes the death of inanimate objects as well as living beings and undead beings. Because of his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception making him see death lines Shiki has immense headaches as his mind cannot cope with the sight of death. Soon after he is given a pair of glasses from Aoko Aozaki that blocks the sight of these lines. The game then advances to Shiki's second year of high school. After his injury, he was banished to a branch family of the Tohno household. After eight years he is called back home by his younger sister, Akiha Tohno (遠野 秋葉, Tōno Akiha), when she assumed the responsibility as the family's head. After moving back Shiki has trouble adjusting to the old-fashioned lifestyle his sister lives by.
As the story progresses the plot diverges depending upon the choices the character makes. Shiki must use his powers to confront supernatural beings such as vampires, that are known as True Ancestor (真祖, Shinso) and Dead Apostles (死徒, Shito). The two plot routes that follow Shiki with Arcueid or Ciel are the Near Side of The Moon routes while the three routes that follow Shiki with Akiha, Hisui or Kohaku are the Far Side of The Moon routes.
In both of the Near Side of The Moon routes, Shiki discovers a beautiful woman named Arceuid passing by and, in a fit of madness and lust, murders her. However, she reveals herself as an immortal vampire and promises to spare Shiki if he acts as her shield in her quest to kill a vampire. Shiki and Arcueid together then defeat a vampire named Nrvnqsr Chaos.
After Nrvnqsr's murder, in the Arcueid route, Shiki discovers that Akiha is not his real sister and that his past as the former heir of Tohno family was made up by his "father", Makihisa Tohno via hypnotism, whose powers the Tohno family had due to a weak demonic lineage. He was adopted in the Tohno family when he was little because he had the same name as the real family heir SHIKI Tohno. However, when SHIKI and Shiki were nine years old, SHIKI murders Shiki in a fit of madness. Makihisa kills SHIKI, thinking that the demonic blood had made him insane, but could not finish the job as he was still his child.
In reality, the vampire named Michael Roa Valdamjong had chosen SHIKI as his host body for his new reincarnation and started to emerge after his sixteenth birthday, which was the real reason that drove him mad. In order to maintain the family name, Makihisa informs the world that the adopted child had died in a car accident, which also left the real heir incapacitated. With this declaration, Makihisa switches the lives of Shiki and SHIKI. However, he still could not have Shiki with him, and had him sent to the Arima family, from where he returned 8 years later, at the beginning of the game.
It is revealed that Arcueid is a royalty amongst vampires; she was created by the True Ancestors as a weapon and had never experienced joy and life as a normal person until she met Shiki. Her intended use was not known, but it eventually became to combat Roa Valdamjong, the Serpent, a vampire who found true immortality: reincarnation. He had fallen in love with her, and found reincarnation as a way of living life by her side; this backfired, as she could not experience emotion.
Shiki and Arcueid fall in love, but after much squabble, they spend a night together, after which she leaves him to fight Roa, alone. However, her death at the hands of Shiki made her incapacitated, using all her power to regenerate herself; thus, requiring the consumption of human blood. She manages to recover enough to fight the Serpent, but not to win; knowing this, Shiki runs to the school, were they were both fighting to the death. Using his Eyes of Death Perception, he manages to kill Roa; However, Arcueid's consumption of blood drives her near to falling to a vampire's instincts and hunger.
This is where the True and Good ending differ; In the True ending, Arcueid can no longer spend any time with Shiki if she wishes to remain lucid, thus leaving him forever. In the Good end, she spends a week in captivity in her castle, recovering afterwards and returning to Shiki's side.
In the Ciel route, Shiki is much more fearful of and cautious around Arcueid; instead he spends more time around his upperclassmate, Ciel. They form a friendship and begin to care for each other. After Shiki and Arcueid defeat Nrvnqsr Chaos, they part ways. Ciel then reveals herself to be a hunter from the Vatican, who came to Japan to kill Roa Valdamjong. It was revealed that SHIKI Tohno was Roa's eighteenth body host in his quest for immortality, while his seventeenth host was none other than Ciel, who was born in 1976 in France as Elesia. After Roa took over on her sixteenth birthday, she killed everyone in her town. Arcueid had come to the town, killing her, leaving Roa to escape into his next host, SHIKI, leaving Elesia's body and soul to perish. Afterwards, her body was taken by the Vatican, where she suffered extensive experimentation in regards to her mortality. All that was discovered is that she could not die until Roa's soul was eliminated.
Together, Ciel and Shiki confront SHIKI, and almost destroy his soul, until Arcueid returns to kill him, where she only destroys his host body. Roa's soul takes refuge in Shiki's body, as the two became connected after SHIKI had murdered Shiki when they were kids. This starts to drive him insane. Ciel reveals that she knew that Roa was now inside Shiki and tries to destroy both their souls, but is unable to do so due to her affections for Shiki.
She leaves the city to look for a way to separate Roa from Shiki using the Church. However, when Arcueid shows up and confronts Shiki, he realises that the only way to destroy Roa's soul was by stabbing himself at his death point. Shiki and Ciel, who has returned from her trip, confront Arcueid, who offers to destroy Roa's soul in exchange for making Shiki her slave.
Depending on how the confrontation goes, Arcueid may or may not attack Shiki and Ciel. If she does, she will leave the country after losing. Either way, Shiki stabs himself, killing Roa, but surviving. At the end, Ciel and Shiki end up together. If Arcueid did not attack, she will remain in the city, revealing that she has feelings for Shiki as well, and decides to remain with him and Ciel.
These routes are unlocked after completing at least one of the Near-side routes and having low affection with the two previous heroines. This side's stories consist of events pertaining to the Tohno family and its dark history. In all of the Far-Side Routes, Shiki finds that his classmate, Satsuki Yumizuka—who has a crush on him, has disappeared. Seeking to find her, he ignores the blonde haired woman (Arcueid) who passes him by, never encountering her.
In a back alley, he finds Satsuki, alone, hands covered in blood and not acting like herself. After a second encounter, she reveals herself as having become a vampire, a surviving victim of the recent incidents. He kills her after she attempts to turn him, believing her responsible for the recent string of murders.
After killing Satsuki, Shiki returns home believing the vampire incidents have ended for good. In this route, he is more home-centered and attached to his sister, Akiha. She has been upset with him, but still seeks to reconnect with him as a sister. As Shiki adjusts to his life at the mansion, he starts having dreams of someone stalking the night and murdering, dismembering and draining people of their blood.
Ciel suspects Shiki of being the culprit and attacks him. After ascertaining his innocence, she reveals that Akiha instead may be responsible. Ciel then reveals details about the Tohno family's non-human nature; after this, Shiki confronts Akiha, whom explains the Inversion Impulse, a tendency for members of the family strong with the non-human blood to drastically shift in personality towards murderous insanity, and that her true brother SHIKI had undergone it 8 years before. The connection formed between SHIKI and Shiki lingers today and gives Shiki visions of SHIKI, who is the real threat.
SHIKI reveals himself to Akiha, wanting to take her back as his sister and kill Shiki for taking her away and living the life that was his. Akiha uses the powers of the Tohno to fight him off, which puts considerable strain on her. She tells Shiki that she may Invert if she overexerts herself, and that most of her power goes into keeping Shiki alive, to compensate for the connection between SHIKI and Shiki. She tells him that his true family was the Nanaya clan, who Makihisa had exterminated years before.
Ciel tells Shiki that, if worse comes to worst, he must kill Akiha; despite this, she gives him the chance to save her. SHIKI kidnaps Akiha and attempts to bring her to his side. Shiki fights and kills SHIKI, who reveals that Akiha has already Inverted. He then runs over to Akiha, who has regressed to a childlike murderous insanity.
Shiki can choose to spare or kill Akiha, or kill himself. Sparing results in Akiha remaining inverted and Shiki working to keep her from killing, whereas killing Akiha results in a 'Bad End'. Choosing to kill himself reverses Akiha's Inversion and after a time-jump she still feels his life-force, meaning that he is still alive.
It is here where Hisui gets focus. In the beginning of the route, rather than his sister, Shiki reminisces about two girls from back then, a cheerful girl, who played with him and Akiha, and a girl by the window, who watched them from the mansion's window, never leaving. He recognizes Hisui as the girl by the window and Kohaku as the cheerful girl; this is a mistake, as he later learns while trying to form a relation with Kohaku. Neither of the two remember the times that Shiki brings up in conversation.
As the route progresses, Shiki's connection to SHIKI gives him glimpses into his mind and visions of a girl who looks like Hisui being abused. Later on, Shiki learns that these visions are indeed SHIKI'S, who, wanting to sever the connection and torture Shiki, mutilates and maims himself to cause his brother immense pain, leaving him bedridden and barely holding on to his sanity. Knowing that killing SHIKI will heal him, Akiha searches for him.
Shiki eventually learns from diaries that Hisui and Kohaku were taken in by Makihisa Tohno to serve him as Synchronizers, to supply him with energy to suppress his demonic blood. Kohaku in particular was raped and never allowed to leave his side. Hisui was unharmed on Kohaku's behest, as she took in all the abuse to keep her sister away from Makihisa. Akiha and Hisui eventually discovered this, and managed to end the abuse. With Shiki's departure, Hisui degraded in emotion, becoming trapped in her sadness and longing; this, in turn, causes Kohaku to suggest their trading of places. As time went on, the one with the heart of a girl gained the skin of a doll, an indifferent face hiding a wealth of feelings; and one smiled in all situations, a doll's heart masked by a girl's skin.
Depending on whether Akiha dies in her fight with SHIKI, there are two endings. In both, Kohaku reveals that she was the cause of everything, by manipulating SHIKI into killing Makihisa, and then into a violent confrontation with Akiha, as a means to kill the Tohno family and get revenge for years of abuse. If Akiha dies, Kohaku stabs herself afterwards, unable to live any longer without purpose. If Akiha lives, Kohaku ingests poison, whose concept is killed by Shiki, saving her. She wakes up without her memory and is given the name, Nanaya, returning as a peaceful maid to the Tohno Mansion.
This route is only playable after playing through Hisui's route. The difference in the beginning is that the girl Shiki wants to meet was the girl by the window. Like in the Hisui route, he assumes that Hisui is the girl by the window, passing over Kohaku. In this route Akiha defeats and kills SHIKI early, resulting in her absorbing some of his energy, becoming more aggressive. Akiha begins to pursue Shiki romantically, but is blocked by Shiki himself, who sees her more as his sister. She becomes angry with his growing relationship with Kohaku. As a result, she began hunting for victims on the streets at night in SHIKI's place because she can't control herself, with only Kohaku being aware of it.
Kohaku hints at this change, which leads to Shiki confronting Akiha, but this nearly kills him. Kohaku states the only way to stop it was by Shiki reciprocating Akiha's feelings for her, but he can't do that as he states he loves Kohaku. In response, Kohaku began to cry and decided not to continue with her revenge against the Tohno family. She offers her ability to Synchronize with Shiki so that he can stop Akiha, and the two make love as a result. However, Kohaku tricks him into swallowing a sedative so that she could go confront Akiha by herself to atone for her past actions. After coming to, Shiki is able to resist the lingering effects of drug and follows her to the school.
There, Shiki finds Kohaku's body tied to the wall by Akiha's hair. Akiha tells Shiki the Tohno family had severely wronged Kohaku, and that everyone, including him, were all just pawns in Kohaku's plot for revenge. Shiki, however, tells Akiha he loves Kohaku no matter what she has done, prompting Akiha to attack Kohaku. Shiki retaliates, but ultimately couldn't bring himself to kill his sister. At that moment, Kohaku appears, telling Akiha to stop because she held no resentment towards her, and that she had already forgiven the Tohno family. Akiha realizes Kohaku survived because she subconsciously held back, as she ultimately still liked her.
Kohaku is the only character with just one ending, which is also her True Ending. In it, she leaves the Tohno mansion after Akiha began drinking blood packs and goes to work in another mansion of a branch of the Tohno family, but she returns to the Tohno mansion every weekend to visit. She eventually sends Shiki a letter telling him to come to Nagano during his summer break, and they meet in the Nanaya forest where Shiki lived in his childhood, surrounded by a field of sunflowers.
Shiki goes to the field where he first met Aoko Aozaki. Aoko meets him again and they discuss Shiki's life since their last meeting. Shiki, even after the death of Roa/SHIKI, is still close to death and thinks that he may not live much longer. Aoko apologizes for what's happened to him so far. Despite that, he regrets nothing. They say farewell and never meet again.
- Shiki Tohno (遠野 志貴, Tōno Shiki)
- The player assumes the role of Shiki Tohno, the protagonist of the series. He has "Mystic Eyes of Death Perception," which allow him to see the death of things in the form of "lines" and "points" on objects and people; cutting the lines destroys the portion cut, while piercing the point destroys the existence of the object itself. He carries a switchblade which he is forced to use as protection against the supernatural enemies he encounters. He has been living with the Arima family, one of the branching families of Tohno, since an accident 8 years ago. At the beginning of the game, he moves back home with his sister, Akiha.
- Arcueid Brunestud (アルクェイド・ブリュンスタッド, Arukweido Buryunsutaddo)
- Arcueid is a mysterious vampire princess. She lacks some vampiric qualities, such as that of needing to consume blood to survive (though she suppresses the desire), and being nocturnal. She seems to be quite knowledgeable about many things, but is portrayed as very naïve when it comes to modern ideas. She is killed by Shiki in the first chapter, but she doesn't actually die, having regenerated from her dismemberment, and, in turn, recruits Shiki to help her fight Roa.
- Ciel (シエル, Shieru)
- The second heroine Ciel is the sole member of the Japanese tea ceremony club and an upperclassman of Shiki's, or so it seems. She is actually the seventh executor for "The Burial Agency", a shadowy branch of the Church created to exterminate "heretics". Her body was used as Roa's last incarnation for its superior magic circuit. She has a strange obsession for curry and will agree to almost anything for food that is curry-related.
- Akiha Tohno (遠野 秋葉, Tōno Akiha)
- Shiki's younger sister Akiha Tohno is one of five heroines in the series, she is currently the head of the Tohno family. Shown to be very prim and proper and with grace and nobility about her. As the story progresses, the viewer discovers that she has had mysterious powers since childhood. When her Tohno blood awakens, her hair turns a crimson shade. Akiha can manipulate her hair as if it was prehensile and she can drain the life force out of anything her hair is in contact with, which creates a burning effect on the object.
- Hisui (翡翠)
- Hisui is the younger of the twin maids in the Tohno mansion, and is a childhood friend of Shiki. She wears a western maid uniform and attends to Shiki when he comes back to the Tohno mansion. She acts cold and unfeeling, but it is only an act to hide her kinder nature for the sake of her sister. Her name, Hisui, is the Japanese word for jade, referring to her eye color. She is a Synchronizer, a person that can give someone life energy through proximity or the exchange of body fluids.
- Kohaku (琥珀)
- Kohaku is the older of the twin maids in the Tohno mansion. She wears a kimono and is always seen to be smiling and cheerful, being especially gifted with medicine. She hides her tragic past behind a cheerful face and Hisui's cold demeanor. Her name, Kohaku, is the Japanese word for amber, referring to her eye color. Like Hisui, Kohaku is a Synchronizer.
- Michael Roa Valdamjong (ミハイル・ロア・バルダムヨォン, Mihairu Roa Barudamuyon)
- An 800-year-old vampire who, after dabbling in sorcery had discovered a path to immortality, reincarnation. He is the main antagonist for the Near-side Routes.
- SHIKI Tohno (遠野 四季, Tōno Shiki)
- Akiha's older brother who underwent the inversion impulse and subsequently was locked up by his father, Makihisa. He is the main antagonist in the Far-side routes. The Tohno blood in him gives him the ability to manipulate his blood into solid objects.
- NRVNQSR Chaos (ネロ・カオス, Nero Kaosu)[a]
- One of the 27 dead apostle ancestors, who to achieve his own immortality fused himself with 666 familiars that he can unleash to feed himself. He is the secondary antagonist of the Near-side routes.
- Satsuki Yumizuka (弓塚 さつき, Yumizuka Satsuki)
- A former classmate-of-Shiki-turned-vampiress. Her fate is only featured in the Far-side routes where Shiki kills her after she attempts to turn him into one of her own kind, due to her years long crush. Satsuki was originally meant to be one of the heroines in Tsukihime with her own scenario. Although it was cut from the final product, it is hinted that her scenario will be included in the remake.
- Aoko Aozaki (蒼崎青子, Aozaki Aoko)
- A mysterious woman, who grants Shiki the Mystic Eye Killers. She is also the protagonist of Mahōtsukai no Yoru.
- Arihiko Inui (乾 有彦, Inui Arihiko)
- A classmate of Shiki's, a delinquent who frequently is absent from school.
- Makihisa Tohno (遠野 槙久, Tōno Makihisa)
- The father of Akiha and SHIKI.
Several trial versions of Tsukihime were released before its full release. The first preview version of Tsukihime was released at Comiket 56 in 1999; only 300 copies were distributed for free on 3½ floppy disks. The game was so early in the making that the cast had not been finalized yet. At the next Comiket 57 in late 1999, a trial edition was released with only 50 copies being distributed on 3½ floppy disks. The cast was still not finalized at this point. At Comiket 58 in 2000, Tsukihime Half Moon Edition was released; 300 copies were sold for 1,000 yen each. This version contained Arcueid and Ciel's "Near Side of the Moon" storylines.
The final product of Tsukihime was first released at Comiket in December 2000. Soon after, Type-Moon released Tsukihime Plus-Disc in January 2001, a light-hearted addition to Tsukihime that featured three side-stories and assorted multimedia. The first edition includes wallpapers, the first four chapters of Kara no Kyōkai, an early demo version of Tsukihime, a contemporary Tsukihime demo, and two short visual novel side-stories featuring Tsukihime characters. In April 2003, Type-Moon released Tsuki-Bako (月箱, lit. Lunar Box), a specially packaged three-disc set that included Tsukihime, Plus-Disc (in an expanded version) and Kagetsu Tohya, a remixed soundtrack and other assorted multimedia. This version came with two new stories compiled from NScripter to the more capable KiriKiri engine.
Staff at Type-Moon revealed details about a possible sequel in a concept art book, character Material, released at Comiket. The sequel would have been called Tsukihime: The Dark Six and would have revolved, at least in part, around a ritual gathering of Dead Apostle ancestors. Arcueid's sister Altrogue would have had a possible role.
In the late 2000s, a visual novel translation group, mirror moon, released an unauthorized fan translation patch for Tsukihime. The translation is complete and has additional features such as optional skipping of erotic scenes. The translation localizes the names of the protagonist and antagonist as Shiki and SHIKI to account for how their names are homophones in Japanese but are written with different kanji.
A remake of the visual novel's soundtrack was released on February 24, 2004 titled Ever After ~Music from "Tsukihime" Reproduction~. Two soundtrack compilations were released for the anime Shingetsutan Tsukihime, titled Moonlit Archives and Moonlit Memoirs. The music was composed by Keita Haga.
A 12-episode anime television series adaptation titled Shingetsutan Tsukihime (真月譚 月姫) was directed by Katsushi Sakurabi and produced by J.C.Staff. The series was written by Hiroko Tokita and features original music by Toshiyuki Ōmori. It first aired between October 10 to December 26, 2003 on BS-i, TBS and Animax, who also subsequently broadcast it worldwide, including its English language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia, under the title Lunar Legend Tsukihime. Two pieces of theme music are used for the episodes; one opening theme and one ending theme. The opening theme was titled "The Sacred Moon" by Toshiyuki Omori, and the ending theme was "Rinne no Hate ni" (輪廻の果てに) by Fumiko Orikasa.
Geneon announced it had licensed the series for distribution in North America in 2004 under the title Tsukihime, Lunar Legend. Upon Geneon's American operations having shut down, the newly instituted licensor Sentai Filmworks acquired the North American rights to the series, with Section23 Films handling its distribution and marketing, along with other titles.
A Tsukihime manga adaptation, illustrated by Sasaki Shonen, was serialized in ASCII Media Works' shōnen manga magazine Dengeki Daioh between October 2003 and September 2010. The plot largely follows the game's Arcueid route with a mix of the other routes. The chapters were collected in ten volumes published by ASCII Media Works. The manga was licensed for an English-language release in North America by ComicsOne in 2004. In 2005, DR Master took over the publication of ComicsOne's manga titles including Tsukihime. Six out of ten volumes were published.
The manga series has shown high sales figures in its later volumes, with volume seven staying in the Japanese comic ranking for two weeks, while volume eight stayed in for three weeks.
Carlos Santos of Anime News Network's opinion on the anime's third DVD release is that it "is a show that's all about creating a mood, which it does very well with its carefully planned color schemes and evocative music score." He states, "It's an ending that takes its time, however, as this show's deliberate pacing ensures that the story is revealed only to those who are patient enough."
Kagetsu Tohya is a sequel released in August 2001 that takes place one year after the events in the main Tsukihime storyline. Shiki gets into an accident and has a repeating dream sequence in which he must relive the same day over until he finds Ren. As the player repeats each day they are able to make different choices which affect the flow of the narrative and unlock extra content in the game, including 10 side-stories.
Melty Blood is a PC dojin fighting game developed by Type-Moon and French-Bread, originally released at Comiket 63 in 2002. The game features characters from the Tsukihime games as well as new characters specific for the games. Multiple updated versions of the game have been created as well as a sequel. It later spawned an arcade version, titled Act Cadenza, that was developed by Ecole Software and was then ported to the PlayStation 2.
In 2008, a remake of Tsukihime was announced by Type-Moon, which would feature updated art and storyline, which they stated would be their next project after Mahōtsukai no Yoru. In May 2012, Type-Moon co-founder Kinoko Nasu stated that the Tsukihime remake was being developed in parallel with the Mahōtsukai no Yoru sequels. Volume eight of the Type-Moon Ace magazine published previews of character art for the remake. On December 31, 2020, a trailer of the remake, titled Tsukihime: A Piece of Blue Glass Moon, was released. It is planned for release on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch consoles on August 26, 2021 in Japan, and will adapt the Near-side routes of the original title, with hints of a potential future release exploring the rest.
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