It’s the One Year Anniversary of The Tsukihime Remake, A Piece of Blue Glass Moon which was released in Japan after over ten years of development. Thanks to the effort of the fan-translation team Tsukihimates, English-speaking fans now have the chance to emulate and play a fully translated version of the first route centering around the Moon Princess herself Arcueid.
As one of those English-speaking fans, I was more than happy to return to Type Moon’s world of vampires, and after spending the last week going through it, it was well worth the wait. Tsukihime – A Piece of Blue Glass Moon is a fantastic re-imagining that brings the visual novel to modern consoles.
Considering I have yet to play the other route in the VN, this will be less of a straightforward review and more just be my general thoughts on the Arceuid Route and what I enjoyed about Tsukihime’s long-awaited return.
Returning to Tsukihime
The plot of the VN is familiar. Shiki Tohno is a high schooler that can see lines of death in all living things following a freak accident. He returns to live in his childhood home with his sister following the passing of his father. While coming back from school he sees a beautiful blond woman and feels a murderous urge to stalk and kill her for reasons even he doesn’t understand. Yet, she appears alive again the next day as if nothing happened. This is Arcueid Brunstud, a vampire that recruits Shiki to hunt down another vampire since she can no longer act at full power after being chopped into 17 pieces.
The greatest strength and weakness of the Acruied Route is that it’s ultimately the same story as the original. All the plot beats are more or less left intact with a few notable tweaks.
I can see older fans being disappointed that Arcuied seems to get so little new material when the Ciel route has been heavily rewritten but I personally don’t mind. The original Arciued route acted as the perfect introduction to the world of Tsukihime, clearly demonstrating the VNs concepts, and setting up the other routes. The Tsukihime Remake clearly does the same.
It’s interesting to see Nasu return to this story 20 years later. You can see just how much more experience he has in terms of writing and world-building. The Tsukihime Remake goes deeper into setting up the vampires of this world, their hierarchy, and the different factions that support or oppose them, all in a way that is easily digestible for the player. These are complemented by some incredibly well-written action scenes that take full advantage of the more advanced music and visuals to make for some truly fantastic spectacle.
The Tsukihime Remake also gets rid of the H-scenes, and considering they were the worst part of the original VN, it’s better off without them.
The Moon Princess
The route being so similar to the original is also good since the original Arcuied story is honestly one of my favorite Type-Moon plotlines. It’s a classic love story wrapped in a layer of demented horror.
The vast majority of the route is Shiki and Arcuied talking about their plans, cracking jokes, discussing philosophy, and just being cute. These two always had great chemistry and they still do.
I love seeing Shiki’s tsundere side coming out, having to deal with Arcuied many quirks. While it’s easy to see the guy as just a generic anime protagonist, he has enough personality to make him feel distinct. I enjoy his more realist outlook on life, knowing that the world can be dark and cruel but trying to enjoy the little things that make it fun.
It’s also genuinely quite chilling when his murderous side emerges. You can really see him becoming distressed and unhinged, recognizing his actions are horrific yet fully wishing to embrace these darker urges.
That brings us to our main heroine, a vampire that has no comprehension of what regular life is supposed to look like. While it’s easy to see Arcuied as a bubbly airhead and don’t get me wrong, she is and it’s adorable, The Tsukihime Remake is a good reminder that she has way more dimension than that.
As the VN itself says Arcuied is a lot like a cat (la creatura wasn’t far off). She’s aloof, intelligent, and deadly serious when it comes to completing her mission. However, she can also be very playful when it comes to new experiences and people she’s grown fond of. She wanders where she pleases, confident and cheerful even if she’s has no awareness of the world around her. Cute, smart, and badass all at the same time.
A lot of people like to make fun of artist Takashi Takeuchi for giving all his characters similar faces but I got to applaud his art in the Tsukihime Remake. He gives each character so many distinct expressions that show off so much of their personality. This is especially true of Arc since you spend the majority of the route looking at her model.
At her core, however, Arcuied is a monster. She’s a blood-sucking predator of the night with an innate desire to hunt and kill, and just as Shiki (and by extension the player) learns to adore her, the VN smacks you back with that reality of her true nature. That’s when the horror side of the VN seeps back in. You’re given a grim reminder that these two can’t be together, not just because they’re different species but because they’re literally going to kill each other just being together. Forbidden love at its most tragic, and most dread-inducing.
Back From The Dead
In terms of the rest of the cast, they’re all pretty solid. Shiki’s sister Akiha and their two maids Hisui, and Kohaku are all fairly minor characters in this route, playing the same roles they did in the original VN. I do have to admit though, that it does become quite funny just how adamant Akiha is at Shiki sticking to curfew only to slowly be forced to let it go as he continues to break out of the mansion anyway (Arcuied is a bad influence).
I’ll admit I’m a bit disappointed with what they did with Ciel. Her role was reduced a bit to make room for the new characters. You only really see her right at the start and end of the route and while she’s still cool, I really appreciated her larger role of being Shiki’s supportive senpai in the original game, even if she didn’t approve of Arcuied. Regardless, when Senpai finally does show up, she doesn’t disappoint. Here’s hoping her route will be translated soon.
Speaking of new characters, the majority of them are good additions to the story and fit in well with the original cast. Noel is a good comic relief character and her attempts to be tough or seductive only to get bullied by others are well done black comedy.
The one doing said bullying, Mario is likewise a good addition. He’s a vulgar little kid, but I like just how real he gets with Shiki about how dangerous the vampires are. You can tell he’s got a decent heart underneath all the Noel bullying.
They can’t all be winners though. I, unfortunately, wasn’t a big fan of Dr. Arach. I know she’s supposed to be comic relief, but there’s a reason Taiga is reserved for the just beginning of Fate/Stay Night. Arach just came off as loud and obnoxious every time she appeared. That does seem to be the intention though since even Shiki doesn’t’ seem to like her. I’ve heard about what she does in the Ciel route and general theories around her though so I am interested to see where they take her character in the future.
Finally, there’s Vlov Arkhangel, the new Dead Apostle Ancestor who replaces Nrvnqsr (Nero) Chaos as the starter boss of the VN. I do prefer Nero just for how weird his power set is, but I can understand wanting to change things up for the remake. Also, Nero’s just way too cool of a character to be killed off so early in the series.
Vlov is still good in his own right. His vampiric need to drink blood comes off as legitimately grotesque and his powers make for some incredible fight scenes. These are some of the highlights of the Tsukihime Remake much like how Nero’s were in the original. I do also think it’s fitting that Shiki start the VN fighting a more classical gothic-looking vampire before meeting the more unorthodox ones revealed later on.
A Shining New Moon
The most notable aspect of the Tsukihme Remake is the new graphical glow-up. While the writing is the most important aspect of a VN I can’t deny how immersive it is to hear the characters fully voiced, combined with more detailed art and effects to make each action feel more real.
The new OST is likewise fantastic. The Tsukhime theme is as hauntingly serene as it’s always been and the added instrumentals just make it feel heavier and more eventful. The composer of the track Keita Haga actually uploaded it to their Youtube account so give it a listen:
Other returning tracks like Genbu and Youka likewise sound far more polished adding to the sense of dread they create whenever you hear them start playing.
The new songs also fit in well with my favorites being Vlov’s theme which works well for a fast-paced dangerous battle as well as the opening theme ‘Seimeisen’ by Renoa which suits the fantastical world of Type-Moon and goes great with the opening by Ufotable.
A Piece of Blue Glass Moon
I’ll end this review by saying it’s a bit surreal that the Tsukihime Remake is not only out, but also translated. I’m very thankful to the team at Tsukihimates for giving us such a good localization in a relatively short amount of time.
Tsukihime remains one of my favorite sides of the Type-Moon Universe, combining Nasu’s brilliant world-building with a raw slice of psychological horror. As Fate continues to expand ever forward, it’s also nice being able to re-visit an earlier Type-Moon story, with a smaller, more tight-knit cast and slightly lower stakes conflict but still with plenty of heart.
Do I think the Remake is better than the original Tsukihime? It’s hard to say. I love the original VN and it’s not entirely fair to judge the Remake when I’ve only read one part. That being said, with its updated art and audio, I do think this might actually be a better introduction for newcomers to Tsukihime as a series. Its high production value combined with Nasu’s stellar writing makes it a very accessible VNs even for people that don’t know much about Type-Moon.
Of course, Acrueid’s route is only one piece of the glass moon. Hopefully, Ciel’s story will appear soon enough, later followed by elusive routes on The Far Side of The Moon. The night is far from over and I’m happy to see what’s next.
Tsukihime A Piece of Blue Glass Moon is available for Switch and PS4 in Japan. To play it in English you’ll need to use an emulator and fan translation patch.
For more information on the original Tsukihime, check out our retrospective overview of the original series.