Shiki Tohno is a male character that features in Tsukihime.
Shiki is in fact not a real member of the Tohno family, is not Akiha's biological brother, and is not Makihisa's son. While the Tohno family is a family with demon blood, Shiki's real surname is Nanaya, and he is the eldest son of the Nanaya (七夜) clan, a family of powerful demon-slaying assassins, it is revealed in Kagetsu Tohya that he is the son of Kiri Nanaya. The Nanaya clan lived in a secluded mansion in the mountains, but was one night destroyed by the Tohno and the Kishima (another half-demon branch of the Tohno family). Shiki was the only survivor of that attack. In a moment of amused irony, Makihisa spared and adopted the boy because his name was similar to the name of Makihisa's eldest son, SHIKI (四季).The fact that the Nanaya clan is also an exorcist clan contributed to Shiki's adoption because Makihisa thought that Shiki might have some kind of Nanaya skill which could help the Tohno family(especially Akiha) to control their demon blood.
Shiki lived in a small Japanese-style building on the grounds of the Tohno's western-style mansion. At the same time, he was learning to accept and be accepted by his new siblings. Although he was lonely and unwilling to leave his room at first, eventually he warmed to the cheerful red-haired girl (Hisui) who would come every day to ask him to play, and in turn lead his shy and often-nervous sister outside as well. He, his sister, his brother, and the red-haired girl would play together frequently.
Eight years before the beginning of the game, everything changed. Although Shiki did not know it, the Tohno family's demon blood led to inhuman urges in all its members; every descendant eventually became insane from its effects, a process called "inversion impulse". When this happens, the person loses all ability for conscious thought and becomes a monster with only the mind to kill and consume others. One hot summer day as Shiki played with his brother SHIKI and sister Akiha, SHIKI inverted without warning, and immediately attacked Akiha. Shiki managed to shield Akiha at the cost of his own life; the wound that SHIKI caused by stabbing him in the chest became the large scar that Shiki would bear from that day forward.
It is the duty of the Tohno's family head to police demon activity in the area, and specifically to execute any Tohno who underwent inversion so that he or she cannot do the sort of damage that such inhuman beings inevitably do. Makihisa arrived on the scene immediately and, without a second thought, killed his own son with the same dagger. However, neither Shiki nor SHIKI died that day. Although Shiki did not know it then, his sister Akiha provided him with half of her own lifeforce, keeping him alive. In turn, SHIKI instinctively stole half of Shiki's borrowed lifeforce to avoid his own death. It is this lack of energy that causes Shiki's anemic tendencies.
When Makihisa realized this convoluted state of affairs, he concocted a ruse to deceive the outside world. As the head of a publicly important family, which held an influential position in business, he could not allow others to know that the eldest son of the family had become inhuman, died, or disappeared. To conceal this, Makihisa locked SHIKI away and hypnotized Shiki into believing that he was the Tohno's eldest son instead, erasing the details of that day from the boy's mind. After installing Shiki in SHIKI's place as eldest son, Makihisa then sent Shiki away to live with the Arima family branch under the pretext that a boy so dreadfully injured, and who could die at any time from a fragile constitution could not be the heir to the Tohno house. Despite the necessity of making Shiki believe in his new identity as a Tohno, however, Makihisa retains an antique knife, having a tomoe design. The knife is inscribed with the name of the Nanaya clan, and later bequeathes it to Shiki, although the ambiguous nature of Japanese kanji causes Shiki to misread the inscription as "Nanatsu-yoru", or "Seven Nights", despite its actual kanji being read as "Nanaya".
While Makihisa began grooming Akiha in earnest as the next family head, Shiki lived with the Arima family branch, which consisted of only a mother, father, and young daughter. The Arimas, though related to the Tohno, had negligible demon blood, and he lived there in relative quiet and comfort for eight years.
Personality and attributes
In appearance, outwardly he was a normal second-year high school student with a somewhat poor constitution. Eight years before the start of the game, he was involved in a life-threatening accident, which led to anemic symptoms and left him with a large scar on his chest. Due to these symptoms, he suffers from frequent collapsing and fainting. In addition to the physical problems, the accident also caused Shiki's eyes to develop a peculiar ability, the ability to see lines superimposed on objects and people. If Shiki traces these lines with a sharp tool, the object immediately falls apart along them regardless of the force used. Upon discovery of this ability, Shiki understood how destructive it was and how fragile the world around him could be. Because his eyes would not return to normal, the realization began to gnaw at him.
Thankfully, a few days after his time in the hospital, he ran outside and met Aoko Aozaki. Aoko (who preferred to be called sensei by Shiki) comforted him during the next few days. Shiki was eager to impress Aoko, thus he demonstrated the ability of his eyes by destroying a tree. Aoko reprimanded him by slapping him and explained to him that what he had done was unjust. Aoko later provided a pair of magical glasses which when worn removed the lines from sight.
Despite his physical condition, Shiki holds a cheerful outlook on life. More so than most of his peers, because he understands how fragile life really is.
Because of his poor health, Shiki was removed from the Tohno household by his father, Makihisa Tohno, despite being the eldest son of the family. Instead, he was sent to live with a distant branch of the Tohno family named Arima. At the start of the game, Shiki was called back by his younger sister, Akiha Tohno, to the Tohno mansion after eight years of absence due to Makihisa's death. Although he hadn't seen his sister in those eight years, she has grown into a proper lady of a high-class family, and after removing all of the family residents and servants of the mansion except for a pair of maids, had chosen to invite him to return.
Shiki is a fairly normal high school student most of the time. Due to his close brush with death, he is not overly concerned about dying, and instead seeks to cherish every moment of his life. He is playful with his sister Akiha and the maids Hisui and Kohaku, sometimes silly, and not at all above exchanging jibes with his best friend and classmate Arihiko or pleasantries with his senpai Ciel. He's entirely capable of being serious in a serious situation, and just as often flustered or embarrassed.
However Shiki has an alternate personality due to the blood he inherited from his real family. The Nanaya clan was a family focused on destroying demons, and promoted their own special powers through inbreeding. This heritage manifests as an alternate personality known as Shiki Nanaya. The Nanaya side of Shiki is a highly trained killer. Smooth, confident, and highly dismissive of life, Nanaya is a very large contrast with how Shiki usually behaves. This personality awakens when Shiki is confronted with a situation that matches the demon-slaying need, usually when Shiki is in mortal danger, or when he spots something inhuman. When the Nanaya blood awakens, Shiki drops into the fugue state of his anemia attacks; he blacks out and has no memory of what he has done during the time Nanaya was in control. As befitting an elite demon-slaying assassin, Nanaya has highly enhanced strength, speed, reflexes and has all the skills of a highly trained killer. His greatest attribute is speed, as he is capable of running up walls and along ceilings, and moving faster than normal human sight for a fast kill. While Shiki, at the beginning of the story, can be utterly overwhelmed by superhuman adversaries like the Dead Apostles and their servants, Nanaya is capable of slaying those same adversaries a second later with an air somewhere between amused enthusiasm and general contempt. Nanaya's personality takes over several times throughout Tsukihime (namely, against Arcueid and the various Dead Apostles), although it only fully manifests once as a distinct persona. The other times, Shiki is merely filled with a desire to kill, and instinctual knowledge of how to do it.
Powers and abilities
As an anemic, yet physically adept, high school student, Shiki is defenseless except for his knife, a relic of the Nanaya family named Nanatsu-Yoru from what Shiki recalled, though it's actually called Nanaya.
However, this is only when his glasses are off. His ability to see lines, known as the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception (直死の魔眼 Chokushi no Magan) (literally Demon/Magic Eyes of Direct Death), is an incredibly powerful pseudo-magical effect. The eyes are not really different set of eyes but are a circuit (possibly similar to a Magic Circuit) that opens up in the user's brain and normal eyes, allowing him to see the eventual fated destruction of an object or entity expressed as small points on the object or entity's body and as thin glowing reddish black lines that extend from those points and crawl over the body. Along with the perception is the ability to trace the lines without much exertion; doing so effectively realizes the fated destruction, and the victim is cut along those lines. Because this destruction is destined, this method of injury ignores any of the victim's defenses; armor, magical protection, and so forth are useless. While a line symbolizes "damage" along that part of the body, a dot symbolizes the totality of that body's damage, and by extension, "existence". When a dot is pierced, the victim's concept is destroyed. This method of killing is apparently absolute; it bypasses even reincarnation, and can even be used against a collective entity. The only entity immune is Tatari, since that entity does not exist. As it erases existence, then by extension, the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception can also destroy non-physical things, such as spells, thoughts, magecraft, and even nature.
The Mystic Eyes of Death Perception are not infallible. The human mind was not meant to perceive death in such a way, and using it is highly taxing on the human brain, causing headaches. In addition, there are multiple levels of perception; in the beginning, Shiki could only see lines on people and objects, then progressed to seeing dots on living things, then dots on inanimate objects. Each step takes the mind further from natural perception, and each step is more damaging to the brain; eventually the stress leads the brain's blood vessels to burst and death for the user. In addition, there exist in nature entities which have no fated destruction in particular circumstances; for instance, Arcueid during the point where she is strongest. In these cases, no lines or dots can be seen. Lastly, the ability to perceive and trace lines or pierce dots does not give the user any added physical capacity to perform the task itself, especially against an unwilling target. Shiki must still get in range, aim, and move his hand by himself, which is not a trivial task against the kind of enemies he faces.
- IGN comic reviewer A. E. Sparrow praised his complexity as a character, stating "Tohno is certainly not your typical manga schoolboy...He's an absolute mixture of good and evil, and it's hard to say which side you want to see prevail." Animefringe noted Shiki's development through the series, stating "The character growth of Shiki must be commented upon. It's really quite refreshing to see a character in anime grow so deeply through twelve episodes." In a later review they cited his character as "plagued with the hero-saves-girl complex", noting him as an example of emphasized guilt in the series. Insert Credit described Shiki's appearance in Melty Blood as "[exuding] a seriousness that befits the relatively dark treatment of much of the game's story."