Tsukihime, Lunar Legend Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C+

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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
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tsukihime, Lunar Legend

Tsukihime, Lunar Legend Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 22, 2004
Release Date: December 28, 2004

Tsukihime, Lunar Legend Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The nightmare is far from over. Arcueid's true target, Roa, still roams the streets and is claiming more victims. But how can you destroy a man who keeps being reincarnated? This person could be anyone? Shiki?s friends... his family... even himself? The mystery deepens as Shiki investigates the secrets that have shrouded his life.

The Review!
Slowly the mysteries hidden behind each character is touched upon and the revelations about them set the stage for the final few episodes – if it's as predictable as it seems.

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 Japanese DVD release, Ciel takes the front piece with her black and white outfit and the darkly serious look she has about her. 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 another image of Ciel here but in her normal schoolgirl outfit but set against the same kind of darkened imagery of the moon. It opens up to a two panel spread where the first panel has a look at Ciel with a few words about her and the second one covers Kohaku in the same way. 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.

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 ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To say that the first volume under whelmed us is a pretty accurate statement. We're generally interested in the way the Japanese tend to present vampires in their culture as there is often a lot more tied to the history and customs there than what we've gotten over the years out of Europe, which has for the most part followed one or two accepted paths. Though Tsukihime does deal with vampires, they're generally more on the periphery than the main focus.

A lot of the slowness of the first volume came from the necessity of introducing so much stuff but doing it at a pace that wouldn't overwhelm so they could keep to the style that they wanted and build some atmosphere. That pacing is kept relatively the same here but it isn't quite as bad since I ended up breaking this up into an episode a night so as to not have it put me to sleep so quickly. While that remains the same, I was happy that the dialogue seems to have improved as it's gone along and some of the really bad lines and deliveries of the first set of episodes is far reduced. But the overall feel of the show is still very much the same and something about it just feels like it's being lazy, almost like it's being forced to tell a story and every now and then sort of gets along with it.

What drives the show is the character interactions. The vampire moments make up probably all of five minutes worth of screen time during this volume so the bulk of the time is spent with the cast playing their little dance around each other, each hiding their own secrets and trying to ferret out the others secrets. In the middle of all of it is poor oblivious Shiki who, while having his own secrets, is the one that needs to know the most about what's going on around him. Everyone else has something about the situation that's going on but he's the one that needs to have the full knowledge so that he can make the decisions.

One of the biggest changes in this set of episodes is that we get to see more of Akiha as she tries to get things more comfortable with Shiki and makes some compromises, so far as to allow a television into the house. But as Shiki continues his nightly excursions with Arcueid in search of Roa, he eventually comes back at the wrong time and she catches him in the act. This puts a sizeable damper on their relationship and completely takes the trust issue out of play for Akiha. This gets to be amusing since she ends up going with him the next day to the amusement park since he had a prior engagement there with his friends. While I don't know that I'd say Akiha is stuck-up, she's got the airs about her that keeps her aloof from others. Placing her with high school students…

Well, it gets amusing if mainly because of how she reacts when she meets Ciel. The two are like ice towards each other but Ciel at least makes the effort to be polite while Akiha wants nothing to do with her. The reason becomes obvious enough as it plays out and there isn't anything surprising about it at all, but the way it goes about being told is just great. The normally calm and collected Akiha doesn't really get out of character but she has that level of annoyance about her that’s just priceless at times. As they all get mixed about on different rides, different things come about such as Arcueid and Ciel not calling a truce but at least discussing things in regards to Akiha. The ones that make out the worst are the two friends, especially the young woman who finds herself in love with Shiki but can't bring herself to say it.

In Summary:
Tsukihime manages to not completely under whelm me with this set of episodes but at the same time it's setting things up in what seems to be a very predictable manner. I'm hoping for some sort of surprise for the final set of episodes because if there isn't, this is one of the more formulaic setups for an ending that I've seen recently. The show maintains a beautiful air of mystery and atmosphere to it as it tells the tale, but the tale itself just doesn't seem to have any real meat to it here or a hook strong enough to keep things going. The characters are a bit more lively this time around, partially just due to familiarity, but that's about the extent of it. The series is very easy to watch as a dispassionate observer.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending

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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