Tsukihime, Lunar Legend Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tsukihime, Lunar Legend

Tsukihime, Lunar Legend Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     September 10, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004

Tsukihime, Lunar Legend Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The ability to see the threads that bind everything and to be able to destroy anything just by severing it is known as the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. Shiki has such a power, or would that be a curse that he must endure? Thankfully, he was given glasses that can seal this curse and he was finally able to live life normally - until now. When Shiki is strangely attracted to a woman and unwillingly kills her, his life takes a strange turn in that he didn't actually kill her? After all, it's takes more than a simple cut to kill a vampire?

The Review!
In the darker corners of this world, vampires and mages still walk and a young boy learns that when he grows up he'll have a terribly deadly but important power to use against those who want to hurt the ones he needs to protect.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a stereo mix that's not all that immersive. A lot of the show is seeming quiet pauses and then a few lines of dialogue or a passage of music. The music for the show is gorgeous and the opening and ending sequences showcase it nicely, but the incidental music tends to not stand out too much. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout it and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This series is very heavy on the dark colors with much of it taking place at night and a good number of sequences at dusk. The blacks maintain a good solid feel to them and most of the varying shades of gray do as well. In general, the colors look good throughout this but there's some noticeable gradient issues going on with it due to the style of digital painting used. On our Panasonic 50" set, it was very noticeable in a lot of the darker scenes and you'd see the gradient waves across a solid image. On the Dell 23" set it was far less pronounced and often invisible during a number of scenes. It may be the difference between 480p and 720p. Cross coloration and aliasing are both non-issues with this release and other than the gradient issue, this is a good looking transfer.

Using the artwork from the first Japanese DVD release, we get a very good looking shot of the serious looking Arcueid set against a background that has the lines that Shiki can see. The Japanese logo for the series sits in the upper right corner and we get another one along the lower half with just the title and its subtitle, just like the Japanese release. The back cover gives a focus to the moon and places various character headshots and splotches of blood all around. The summary below is pretty simple and we get a good listing of the episode numbers and titles as well as the basic technical features. The insert has a variant of the front cover without most of the logos and a cleaner background and opens up to show two brief character introductions for Arcueid and Hisui. The back of the insert has the episode number and titles as well as some interesting quotes for each episode, along with showcasing future artwork (Japanese volume five for US release volume three while the second US release is likely an insert piece of artwork). Continuing to use reversible covers for many of their series, Tsukihime uses the second Japanese DVD cover to provide a good shot of Hisui set against a similar background while the back cover is the same style but with different character shots and a different color focus.

Set with a collage of clips playing underneath the series logo and a looming moon just above it, the menu is nicely animated and plays out very well with the beautiful music from the opening sequence to it. I was amused at one point in coming back to the main menu that the cursor was available before the selections had appeared or faded in though. This is another release from Geneon that seems to be combining the extras and setup information into one menu, something I'm not sure I like yet or not. The disc did read our players preset language information correctly.

The only extra included in this release is a textless version of the opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tsukihime, a series with what seems like a number of variants on its title, is an atmosphere twelve episode series that takes the eastern form of vampires and brings it into play in the modern day once more but set around the focus of a young man with a mysterious but very dangerous power.

The series focuses, at least initially, on a young boy named Shiki Tohno. As we learn, he's the survivor of a very bad car accident but seems to have managed it fairly well. Due to the accident, his father sends him away from the household to live with other relatives when he gets out, which may be explained by his behavior in the hospital. Though the doctors can't find anything and just don't seem to believe him, he claims to see graffiti everywhere and on everything. These red lines that we see of his are everywhere though. Strangely, during one of his walks outside, he meets an older woman who introduces herself as a mage and she gives him a pair of glasses that cause him to not see the lines when he's wearing them. Telling him that he'll need that power one day to protect someone important, she disappears and he gets on with a fairly average life until high school.

In the present day, Shiki's life is changing once again as he's leaving his relatives and going back to his family's mansion now that his father has died. He's going to live with his only immediate relative, that of his sister. While his life with his relatives has been pretty much problem free, his sister is a strange one right from the start. The house has a number of maids working throughout it, there's a seven PM curfew and the gates are locked at eight PM. It's almost like the place is locked down before darkness truly settles into the area. This goes against Shiki completely, especially since there isn't any real access to the outside world even by a TV or radio, so it's little surprise that he sneaks out that night to get some books and snacks.

What happens instead is that he ends up coming across a woman that he had met earlier in the park that day and believed that he had a dream about killing. But it turns out that he really did kill her, using his knowledge of the lines, to cut her up quite well. She reveals her vampiric nature and insists that he has to protect her now since she's weakened and one of her enemies is close to tracking her down. While he disbelieves a lot of this, at least until the killer wolves start showing up, she explains about there being two types of vampires, the True Ancestors and then these other lesser types that cause more of the same kind of vampires. Everything seems like a dream to Shiki though as he goes from place to place with this strange woman and mixing it up with the wolves and her enemy.

Much of what goes on feels pretty confusing. Before Shiki goes to his sisters for the first time, we get him in the school environment where he keeps coming across a fellow female student named Ciel. To him, Ciel feels a bit out of place for the first few minutes but then she's like a normal student there. But something sticks in him that she doesn't belong in this picture, such as when he's with his friends and Ciel and Satsuki are acting like old girlfriends from years gone by. This plays heavily in these early gatherings but as his time at school goes on, Ciel becomes more and more simply accepted as always being there. It's not said overtly and even Shiki can't quite put his finger on it, but they do an interesting job of getting that feeling across without verbalizing it.

Unfortunately, a lot of the other interactions throughout the show don't fare anywhere near as well. There's such a seeming stilted way of talking by these characters that it's very awkward in how the dialogue exchanges play out. A lot of it just feels like small talk amongst the characters and nothing of any import. That's not bad by itself, but it's combined with some performances that seem to require bland and almost deadpan acting to it. And even then it seems like it's made worse by the way everything is staged in a scene. Watching a lot of the school interactions, it almost feels like a high school play is being put on as the characters walk to their marks, say their lines while standing still and then move on again. There's a lifelessness to this show that seems like its imbued into each character. Even when everything starts going wrong around Shiki, his moments of fear don't really strike you the way they should.

While the series is very atmospheric in its attempts to create a mysterious world just outside of reach, one of the best things about it is its score, at least with its opening and ending sequence. The opening song is a really beautiful piece that reminded me heavily of the group Aria and fit the animation set to it perfectly. The opening does a great job of setting up the mood of the show and making you want to see more, but then the show itself seems to just stagger forward, almost zombie-like at times, with its plot.

In Summary:
When the Japanese do vampires, I'm usually pretty interested since there's enough difference and variety to their take on these creatures that it doesn't feel like every single idea has been exhausted. We get some tidbits of this culture in this volume but it's been wrapped around by some very slow pacing, amateurish dialogue and character interactions that look just plain bad. There are some small highlights here and there, such as the opening sequence and the all too brief action sequences, but eventually the fog that seems to inhabit this show hit me in much the same way and just left me bored.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Texltess Opening

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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