The fourth volume of Lunar Legend Tsukihime answers a few of the sticky questions that opened up in the previous volume, but it also leaves us with about as many new ones. The more we learn about Shiki Tohno and his strange family, the vampire-girl Arcueid he’s fighting side-by-side with, the clutch of abilities he has at his command, and the bizarre array of underworld denizens he’s pitted against, the more we worry about him. We don’t worry about him being killed, but rather we fear that he will simply switch sides to make life easier for himself. Better to be a predator and discard all fear, than to hunt other predators and never stop living in fear.
Let’s start with his family. From the opening battle that features Tohno’s sister pitted against a strange intruder in the house — it’s actually Ciel, Tohno’s “exchange student” classmate — it’s clear that Tohno’s family will go to any and all lengths to protect their secrets. Tohno’s sister has a gallery of powers of her own, something she has thus far concealed from her brother, but that secret will not remain bottled up for long — especially not after the battle that sprawls across the opening chapters of the volume. Ciel, too, ends up confounding Tohno more than a little: as you may have guessed by now, she’s no mere transfer student, and when she takes her leave of Tohno and his classmates (for now, anyway), she thoughtfully erases all traces of her presence there … except with Tohno.
Then there’s Tohno himself, now dealing with several disturbing new wrinkles in the way his powers are manifesting. After a grotesque nightmare in which he imagines himself stalking and killing several people in the city and feasting on their corpses, he visits the crime scenes and sees — you guessed it — dead bodies everywhere. "Is this me?" he panics. Has the monster they’re now fighting been reincarnated into the world through him? And even if it’s not true, why was he having those visions? His “death vision,” too, is beginning to grow beyond his immediate control — even his special glasses aren’t always able to keep it in check, and at one point Arcueid makes ominous noises about how if Tohno doesn’t use his power sparingly, he’s likely to end up with a boiled cabbage for a brain.
The final leg of the story kicks things up even further: Tohno is pitted against a knife-wielding assailant … someone else who seems to also have Tohno’s ability to see death lines. There’s a chance this may be the enemy they’re seeking — but again, even though Ciel dives in to lend a hand, the volume still closes off with more questions than answers — which, if you think about it, is a perfect way to keep this series humming nicely.
The next installment in the Tsukihime series is due out in late February of 2008. I’ll be anticipating it - especially after this volume - and in the meantime, you can get caught up on the series as it currently stands.