Last year, I wrote an article about the Arceuied Route of the Tsukihime Remake: A Piece of Blue Glass Moon when it was localized by the fan-translation group Tsukihimates, and now they’ve localized the second route of the game starting the lovely Ciel.
While everyone has their preferences, the original Ciel route was generally considered the worst route of the original Tsukihime VN due to it sharing too many scenes with the Arcuied route. This is arguably a sign of the game’s indie title roots and author Kinoko Nasu still being fairly new in his writing career.
But it’s been over 20 years since then, Type-Moon’s a whole lot bigger, especially when it comes to budget, and it certainly shows. The Tsukihime Remake Ciel route is a very different beast from the new characters, with tighter writing, and some stunning horror and action scenes.
I should note that like my Arcuied Route article, this will be less of a straightforward review and more my general thoughts on the route. I also won’t be talking as much about Tsukihime’s general plot, art, and music of the game as I covered most of that in the first article.
The Tsukihime Remake Ciel Route diverges on day 3 of the VN. We once again follow anemic high schooler Shiki Tohno, feeling a sudden urge to butcher an allusive blond woman he passes on the street. While believing this might just be a nightmare will bring him closer to the strange blond lady than he could have ever imagined, choosing to accept the reality of the situation causes him to flee to the park in despair and meet with his reliable older senpai from school: Ciel.
Ciel is soon revealed to be an executor of the Church, trained to hunt vampires but with a dark past of her own setting the two of them on an all-new path.
Justice For Ciel
The Remake Ciel Route is noticeably longer than the Arcuied route, clocking in at about 25-30 hours in total with most of it being new material. I will say that the first half of the route was definitely more on the slow side with a lot of scenes dedicated to Shiki and Ciel hanging out in the tea room. They admittedly do drag a little compared to the more steady pace Arc’s route moves but many of these scenes are still very cute though and help set up our two leads.
This all builds up to around Day 11 however when it goes full-in on the action horror. Here we see Shiki undergo his first days-long mental breakdown of the story, showing the paranoia of slowly being possessed by a supernatural force. He struggles with these murderous impulses and wishes to commit some terrible acts only to pull himself back keeping you on the edge of your seat as you never know how much you can trust him as the narrator.
This is followed by multiple action scenes that are both intense in their use of horror and gore yet meaningful in their character interaction. Ciel isn’t as strong as Arc but she makes up for it with a number of interesting weapons from the church from the Black Keys to the 7th Scripture.
This culminates in two endings. The “Normal Ending” is a more bittersweet affair, while the “True Ending” goes nuts with Arcuied at her absolute strongest, and the heroes finding new powers in order to stop her. It goes all-in on that larger-than-life fantasy shounen feeling almost more like something out of F/GO than Tsukihime.
It’s more for this reason I actually prefer the Normal Ending a little more. It’s not as grand as the True Ending but its melancholy outcome feels more appropriate for Tsukihime and keeps to the themes of forgiveness and redemption that are seen throughout the route.
I’ll admit when it comes to Tsukihime, I’ve always seen Arcuied as the best heroine but Ciel is still a fantastic character in her own right, with some of the strongest and most nuanced writing among Type-Moon’s various works.
What I like the most about Ciel compared to the other Tsuki heroines is that she seems like such a regular person. She’s your dorky senpai, always happy to hang out at lunch and talk about random nothings, a little ditzy but more than willing to tease you a little if she spots a weak point. I’m sure we’ve all school friends like Ciel.
This reliability however also makes it all the more horrifying when you hear her backstory and the trauma she faced as a child and makes you want to help her more so she can return to her normal life. This ties into the main theme of the Ciel Route: Forgiveness from sin.
Both Ciel and Shiki feel that they are horrible people that have committed atrocities actions. The route centers on the two learning to forgive themselves, especially as these acts were very much beyond their control. There are a number of heartwarming scenes where the two essentially save each other, showing that they are more than their sins and can move forward together.
Also, Ciel loves curry, the objectively most perfect form of food in the world. No matter what you say about her, she certainly her good taste.
That Funny Vampire
Ciel may be in but Arcuied isn’t exactly out. Another big complaint about the OG Ciel Route was it felt like she was overshadowed by Arc in her own route (that “Good Ending”) and while the remake certainly gives Ciel her due, you can tell Nasu wasn’t completely ready to say bye to everyone’s favorite vampire princess.
Even Shiki himself admits he’s in love with her on this route with the love triangle between him, Arc, and Ciel making up a large part of the first half of the route.
We do however see a very different side of Arc. She starts off just as clueless and excitable as in her own route but by the end of the Ciel route, she’s a major antagonist and you see just how dangerous she can be, a force of nature who requires all of the hero’s efforts to just slow her down.
Her faults become extremes, going from possessive of Shiki to a full-on yandere, and her moody personality swings become very much lethal. It’s a perfect reminder that Arcuied is essentially an all-power Eldrich abomination in the shape of a cute girl and the last thing the viewer should do is forget it.
The Shadows of The Church
In terms of supporting characters Akiha, Vlov, and the maids aren’t too different from Arc’s route but we do see more darker sides to a few people. Mario is still a sharped-tongued ally to far more morally grey with an agenda of his own. Dr. Arach, also went from an annoying comic-relief character to actually plot-relevant and in a very interesting way that makes me actually excited to see more of her.
The side character that gets the most screen time however is Noel, Ciel’s cocky-yet cowardly partner in vampire hunting. This is probably a bit too mean to say but, Noel is very much shaping up to be the Shinji Matou of Tsukihime. She’s not as irredeemable as Shinji but this route shows how utterly detestable she can be as a person and much of the comedy and drama comes from the other characters clowning on her. Yet once you learn of her true personality and backstory, she just comes across as so pathetic that you can’t help but feel some pity for her as well. I guess what I’m saying, she’s a fun and unpredictable character all around.
Finally without spoiling anything you even learn more about Tsukihime’s main villain. It’s interesting as he dies far earlier in this route but he doesn’t exactly stay dead and you end up learning more about his philosophy and why he acts the way he does.
A Rainbow in The Night
The Ciel Route of the Tsukihime Remake was a well-written story filled with the horror and tragedy you[‘d expect from Tsukihime and rectifies some of the major flaws of the original. No one can say Ciel’s route is just Arcuied 1.5 after this. It beautifully highlights Ciel as a character and gives new insight into people like Noel, Mario, and even Arc as well.
After playing through both routes of the Tsukihime: A Piece of Blue Glass Moon, I can safely say that I honestly prefer it to the original games Near Side Routes (Arcuied and Ciel routes). It really feels like Nasu took everything he’s learned from his 20-plus years of storytelling since the original and applied it back to this story with a bigger budget for a beautiful dark fantasy tale. I’m eternally grateful that the game is now being localized officially so that more people can experience it.
Now, we wait to journey to The Other Side of Red Garden, the upcoming second volume of the Tsukihime Remake that contains the routes for Akiha, Hisiui, Kohaku, and our new heroine: Satsuki Yumizuka (aren’t you glad Sacchin).
The Tsukihime: A Piece of Blue Glass Moon Remake will be available officially in English for Nintendo Switch and PS4 in 2024.