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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shiki Doth Protest Too Much: Lunar Legend Tsukihime Episodes 4-6

Spoiler warning: Post contains spoilers for Tsukihime's anime adaptation up to episode six. No visual novel or manga spoilers.
Shiki awakens in the Tohno household, and is scolded over breakfast by Akiha for being late the previous night. At school, Shiki is relieved to see that Yumizuka is safe. Shiki is given a party by Akiha, who formally welcomes her brother into the Tohno household. Later that evening, Shiki has a dreamlike sequence where Arcueid comes, craving for his blood. The next day at school, Arcueid arrives, calling for Shiki, much to his embarrassment. (Source: Wikipedia)
Last time on Tsukihime Drama Island, we met our star cast—the flat-faced Shiki, the mysterious Arcueid, the overbearing sister Akiha, the pink-haired maid twins Kohaku and Hisui, and the sword-wielding weirdo Ciel. In the next three episodes, relationships begin to advance and a new enemy is named, but not many of the questions from before get addressed. Also, there is the sinking feeling that this series is heading into a major bro-con direction and I get vivid flashbacks to the horror days of blogging NakaImo every week and no I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK THERE, OKAY.

Ahem. Did you want to know more about Shiki's abilities or what the hell is going on with Ciel? Nope! No answers for you! But you do get a lot of scenes that have me wondering how the hell Arcueid has been alive for 800 years but has never been on a date. Bwuh?
In this trio of Tsukihime episodes, we see Shiki continually downplay his own abilities. He keeps calling himself just an average, normal human being. Shiki, no normal human I know can see the life lines of other humans and kill them by cutting these lines. I assure you, you aren't human. This is something Arcueid keeps trying to impress on him, but his own humility makes it a useless effort.
In a way, Ciel and Akiha are trying to do the same, although they impress it in different ways—mainly, telling Shiki that he's too important to hang around Arcueid and waste his time sneaking out of the Tohno house at night. Akiha draws Shiki closer with her actions and Ciel with her words, but neither woman is fully successful in keeping Shiki out of the business of hunting vampires.
The Akiha/Shiki relationship that is growing is one of mutual respect for each other, even if Shiki keeps skipping out on her for reasons, but it's stronger on Akiha's end. According to the maids, Akiha sees Shiki as the most precious person in her life. It's a shame Shiki's memories of his childhood are so obscured, or we could see more of the roots of it. Considering Akiha hasn't seen Shiki in so many years, I feel like I need a deeper understanding of their history to get why Akiha cares so much.
It seems like Akiha is heading towards a 'brother complex' relationship with Shiki, although I doubt it will turn troublesome or incestful. She is very protective of him, especially after the death of their father. Shiki is the only family member of hers that she interacts with on a regular basis. I see Akiha and Arcueid clashing in the near future, since Akiha wants to keep Shiki safe and Arcueid wants Shiki's assistance in destroying Roa and his army of walking dead soldiers.
Roa is our latest antagonist and although we have not seen him on-screen, we know he is out there, sending his scouts to destroy Arcueid and by extension Shiki. Unfortunately for our heroes, he is using the classmates of Shiki as pawns in his game, leading Shiki to have to confront their dead vessels and destroy them. Naturally, this messed Shiki up psychologically but with Arcueid, he manages to recover from the act.
There are some interesting insights into Arcueid, especially on how she doesn't drink blood but she's having trouble controlling her basic instincts to make the nearest human her living juice box. The show confirms that she is a better breed of vampire, although that was obvious from the start, and that she's been alive for a long time. Beyond that, not much. Shiki says that he never thought to ask Arcueid about herself, which will probably lead to more Arcueid-centric episodes, but the focus now is on stopping Roa and understanding the circumstances that led the show's cast to this point.
Again, we see Ciel skulking around school and her presence is still not explained, but she's given a lot more to do in these episodes. She finally gets some one-on-one time with Shiki, in which she warns against his relationship with Arcueid. Arcueid gets her own meeting with Ciel, albeit in more suspicious conditions, and it is revealed they are both hunting Roa. Naturally, Ciel's reasoning for acting this way is not explained. Augh!
I feel like, when it comes to bringing Shiki closer to the women in his life, mainly Arcueid and Akiha, the Tsukihime anime is progressing in leaps and bounds. But the actual plot stuff – hunting Roa, discovering the truth of Shiki's past and powers, Ciel being Ciel – is crawling along at a painfully slow pace. Tsukihime is more interested in teasing and dropping hints than outright answering things – and considering this series only has six episodes left, it really doesn't have room to play games like this.
Pacing issues aside, I am intrigued by Shiki and Arcueid's mission and the overall atmosphere of Shikihime, both on an aesthetic and an event level. I would probably benefit so much from playing the visual novel once I finish the anime, but until then I will have to be content with Tsukihime 101: An Abbreviated Walkthrough.