Before I begin my review, I should point out that Tsukihime is the manga adaptation of a Type-Moon visual novel of the same name. Like Fate/Stay Night, another work by Type-Moon, Tsukihime is a story set in a world of magic. It is fundamentally a mystery and drama series, along the lines of the currently airing ERASED, where the main character has a supernatural power and struggles to find his place in the world. There is also a well developed romance with a satisfying conclusion, making this one of my favorite manga of all time.
Story (9): Tohno Shiki is a boy who gained the mysterious power to see “Lines of Death” after a near-fatal accident in his childhood. When he cuts along these lines, whatever it was falls apart with a clean cut; in other words, killing it. When he stumbles upon a traveling magician, Shiki learns how to suppress his unnatural sight and lives a seemingly ordinary life. However, as events from his past begin to resurface, Shiki will begin to uncover the mystery of the serial murders happening in town, while struggling to understand his own powers and his identity. The story of Tsukihime is both simple and complex: while the plot of the vampires and the murders is relatively straightforward, the characters give the mystery a chance to shine. Almost every character in Tsukihime is given ample characterization and we come to understand and empathize with all of them, which makes the stakes much higher when they are torn apart. In some regard, I feel like Tsukihime is more like Fate/Zero in this way, because the characterization is just great. They all go through their own unique transformation, have struggles and setbacks, and have their own personal histories. And speaking of histories, that is one of the strongest aspects of the story. Every character has a personal history that links to the overarching plot, the vampires and magicians have their own rivalry, and it just feels like a large, fleshed-out world of magic to explore. The only possible issue I can see is that the pace isn’t exactly the most consistent, but I felt like the pacing was done very well regardless.
Art (8): The manga started publishing in 2003, so the first few chapters had less polished art. Even later on, the art wasn’t exactly the best that it could have been, but it was still a good, clean art style and never detracted from the amazing story. Character designs were done well and captured emotions beautifully.
Enjoyment/Overall (9): Tsukihime is definitely one of the most polished packages I have read. It had an interesting premise, likeable characters, good development, and a satisfying conclusion. Reading this manga made me want to learn all about the Tsukihime universe (already read the visual novel), and I still think the story is superior to that of Nasu’s other work, Fate/Stay Night. If you are a fan of the Fate series, or just of mystery/drama/romance in general, I highly recommend checking out Tsukihime. And then watch Carnival Phantasm to get the exact opposite experience, plus all the extra references.