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Tsukihime Lunar Legend
- volume 2: Inhumane And Beautiful
voice cast: Hitomi Nabatame, Kenichi Suzumura

director: Katsushi Katurabi

100 minutes (12) 2004
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
The fun continues in this second volume of the Tsukihime Lunar Legend series. Shiki and Arcueid begin to grow closer as they hunt for Arcueid's nemesis and the people he has turned into vampires. Shiki tries desperately to balance the demands of his sister, his friends (one of whom is also a vampire of some kind) and his new friend Arcueid. He does this with little success but everything comes to a head when Shiki agrees to attend a theme park with his school friends. Unexpectedly both his sister and Arcueid turn up and there follows much bitchiness and awkwardness as Shiki is caught in the middle of a four-way tug of love between his sister, the friend he knows is a vampire, the one he doesn't and a human girl who fancies him. It is almost enough to make you feel sorry for Shiki's loud-mouthed friend with the red toupee. Almost, but not quite... The volume finishes with Shiki wounded in combat and realising that there is more to his family than meets the eye.

This volume is undoubtedly better than volume one. The visit to the theme part brings a welcome change of scene and pace as the writers flirt unsuccessfully with The Office-style comedy of embarrassment and roller-coasters are more interesting artistically than the same old school, house, alley way and park that keep popping up. There is even a slight improvement in the levels of design as a baddie with a bandaged face shows up. The plotting even improves slightly and we learn more about Arcueid and Shiki's family secret. Nevertheless, despite the improvement, it is still substandard stuff.

It is difficult to decide whether to blame the glacial pacing or the dialogue first but the whole DVD seems padded. There is enough material here for one episode or maybe two but it is stretched out to four by endless reaction shots and crowd scenes. This is compounded by the fact that the writers refuse to say in one sentence what they could say in four or five.

A typical Tsukihime exchange goes as follows:
- "Shiki, what do you think about X?"
- "Uh?"
- "X Shiki! What do you think about it?"
- "X? What do you mean?"

Hardly Oscar Wilde, and always accompanied by shots of Shiki staring into space with his gormless mouth hanging open. At one point, a character notes that Shiki's lack of sensitivity must be a defence mechanism. Insensitive? Autistic and deaf as a post more like!

As a central character, Shiki Thono is utterly disastrous as all he ever does is gawp and be confused. He never acts or has an opinion about anything; he simply apologises and fails to understand perfectly straightforward sentences.

The most appalling thing about this DVD though is how utterly frustrating to watch it is. It is frustrating because there are some nice ideas struggling to get out from beneath layers of padding and direction that owes altogether too much to the work of Peter Greenaway. We have vampires who have gone on the wagon, old families with dark secrets, complex relationships and a fine line in weirdness and claustrophobic existential dread. There is solid material here but it is under-exploited.

Frustratingly sub-par, Tsukihime Lunar Legend's second volume sees it improve and build upon the work carried out in the first volume. The pacing and writing is still sluggish but the developing characters and plot show some promise.

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