In Kohaku’s route, many of the twists and turns we’ve learned from the previous routes are turned on their head. This is because Akiha is able to kill SHIKI, the primary antagonist of Akiha and Hisui’s routes, within the first few days of the route. Since Akiha’s power is based on absorption, when she absorbs SHIKI’s energy to kill him, she also absorbs his insanity caused by his inversion impulse. Akiha is unable to control her Tohno blood, and she begins to find her own victims to suck blood from. SHIKI’s madness also causes Akiha to gradually deteriorate mentally, and she becomes single mindedly obsessed with Shiki.
In a scene on day 6, Shiki collapses in the detached house and shares an intimate moment with Kohaku as she cares for him. Akiha then finds the two there.
It's only a moment after.
Slap! The dry sound echoes through the room.
Shiki is shocked at Akiha’s actions, but Kohaku does not appear to be fazed.
The next morning, Shiki meets Akiha and Kohaku for breakfast, and is surprised by how normally they’re acting.
Akiha and Kohaku-san seemed to have reached an understanding, but I haven't spoken with Akiha yet.
"...... I'm very sorry. What I did yesterday was stupid. There was something wrong with me, and I've already apologized to Kohaku---"
"You apologized to Kohaku-san!?"
I blurt this out in surprise. Not only did she apologize, but she apologized to Kohaku-san.
"---Hey. Nii-san, just what kind of person do you think I am? I was at fault, so it is only natural that I apologized to Kohaku, right?"
An overtly sexual scene on day 12 depicting Akiha sucking Kohaku’s blood elevates the subtext between these two to pure text. Shiki finds Akiha and Kohaku in the detached house behind the mansion. (Image is NSFW, contains female nudity)
Kohaku stands there with a flushed face, but does not move.
Akiha presses her lips against the bared white breast.
Kohaku looks down at her bare chest, and Akiha crouches down before her. A thin red drop makes a line down her breast.
Akiha's throat starts to move, swallowing something.
What---what is she drinking? There's no need to ask; I already understand.
Akiha, she's drinking, Kohaku's blood----
"...... Akiha, sama."
Kohaku's lips tremble.
"...... Please, stop. If you take any more, it will be bad for you. Just like overdosing on medicine, getting too used to blood would cause you---"
"You want to say I will be like SHIKI? That is strange, Kohaku. You don't want that?"
Her eyes are filled with enjoyment.
Kohaku doesn't answer.
"That is fine, I didn't like Father, either.
He was pure evil. Just thinking he was my real father made even me want to kill him.
Right? Succumbing to his blood and forcing his passions on you when you were still a child.
Every, every day, he would do those disgraceful assaults without end.
So, Kohaku. I already know that you have a grudge against me and SHIKI."
“……Why? You know all that and still drink my blood?”
“Of course, I know it can’t be helped that you have a grudge against me, but I still like you.
So whatever you do, I will forgive you. ……Unless, you mess with what’s important to me, that is.”
With a smile, Akiha licks Kohaku’s nipple.
With a sudden jerk.
Shaking her shoulders, Kohaku stifles a gasp.
After drinking her fill, Akiha and Kohaku collapse together in the shed.
On the final day of the route, Kohaku leaves to stop Akiha from hunting down more victims.
"Please stop. If you do this, you will only hurt yourself, Akiha-sama......
Even if you keep drinking blood and go insane like SHIKI-sama, you will still suffer."
Like she will collapse at any moment, Kohaku-san walks towards Akiha.
"No matter how crazy you may act, you're really----"
"Silence............! Don't try and act like a good person after setting us up to kill each other......!"
"You must be satisfied. Just like you planned, Nii-san and I are fighting to the death. Your revenge is now complete, right?"
Kohaku-san's words are cut off.
In the ensuing scene, Akiha kills Kohaku for getting in her way. Shiki then battles and defeats Akiha. Akiha asks Shiki to kill her, but he can’t bring himself to kill his sister.
"...... Stop it. It's not fair to die looking like that.
......I'm the one to blame here, so you should hate me to the end. Can't you even say that you hate me for killing Kohaku?
Kohaku had to hate me too. I'm the daughter of Tohno Makihisa, and I kept her bound to the mansion while I knew her feelings.
......That's why I thought it would be okay if it was Kohaku.
If she wanted revenge on the Tohno family, then I would play along.
Even if drinking her blood made me less than human---because she hated me, I thought it couldn't be helped.
But it couldn't be helped, right? I had no way of making it up to her.
...... If she wanted it, then the most I could do as a member of the Tohno blood was to support her."
Since Shiki won’t do it, Akiha decides to bring the knife down on herself, but is stopped.
"Yes......! Akiha-sama, it is me......! It is me, so please---please let go......!"
With a face close to tears, Kohaku-san pulls the knife away from Akiha.
".................. Ko, haku."
Akiha is in a daze. As if the demon that caught a hold of her has completely left, she stares at Kohaku-san in surprise.
"............... I see. You were alive, Kohaku."
"----Yes. Akiha-sama, you only made me lose consciousness.
At that last instant, you held back from killing me."
Her eyes flicker with sadness.
...... Even while possessed by fury, there was still humanity deep within Akiha.
That---was what saved Kohaku-san and Akiha.
She closes her eyes as she lets out that breath.
“---------Goodness. I guess this means you’ve won everything. You’re alive, and this is the end of the Tohno bloodline.......But, maybe it’s for the best. To be honest, I was thinking of resting, too. Go ahead, Kohaku. ...... Nii-san wasn't able to, but you can kill me, right? I tried to kill you, and I am the daughter of the hated Tohno Makihisa."
Kohaku-san holds the knife and stares at Akiha. And she shakes her head.
".................. That's strange. I wonder why even Kohaku can't kill me."
With her eyes still closed, she speaks softly as if she was sleeping.
"Of course. It is because I like you, Akiha-sama."
The knife Kohaku-san was holding clatters to the ground.
“No matter how much you hate me, I always want to serve you. So Akiha-sama-----if you feel sorry for me at all, please do not die. If you die like this, I------will go back to being the Kohaku from before.”
"............... You're asking something pretty difficult."
A deep sigh.
Akiha averts her gaze as if she was pouting.
"But, I guess it can't be helped. I owe you from before, so I won't do anything for now."
The route proceeds to conclude happily for all parties involved, including Akiha and Kohaku.
Kohaku-san and Akiha are on very good terms.
Kohaku-san likes Akiha, and Akiha cares for Kohaku-san.
Despite initial impressions of Akiha and Kohaku’s relationship being friendly and comfortable, one of two people who had grown up together, first impressions can be deceiving.
Akiha’s guilt causes her to take the blame for Kohaku’s fate in the place of SHIKI and Makihisa, although she was uninvolved with Kohaku’s abuse. However, she still realizes Kohaku’s need for retribution and, despite knowing how likely it is that Kohaku’s revenge would kill her, takes no action to stop Kohaku. Akiha cannot bring herself to resent Kohaku no matter what actions she takes because of her own feelings for Kohaku. Even though Akiha is aware of Kohaku’s mask, even though she understands how broken her friend is, and even though Akiha believes that Kohaku feels nothing other than hatred for her, Akiha still cannot help but care for Kohaku. In the split second when Kohaku is about to die by SHIKI’s hand, Akiha acts to take the killing blow in Kohaku’s place. Since Akiha has the same knowledge of Kohaku’s situation in every route, Akiha likely knows that Kohaku intended for Akiha to sacrifice herself, yet she still does it without a second thought.
The only instances of Akiha acting out against Kohaku occur in Kohaku’s route, when Shiki falls in love with Kohaku and Akiha’s demonic blood overtakes her and induces madness. Shiki’s rejection of Akiha’s love for him enrages her, and she blames Kohaku for her brother’s decision. Akiha’s outlashes against Kohaku cause her remorse, as seen when she apologizes to Kohaku for slapping her, and even more so when she seemingly kills Kohaku at the height of her rage and believes she deserves to die for what she had done. But, even then, when Akiha has almost completely succumbed to her insanity, she is unable to kill Kohaku. Upon learning of Kohaku’s survival, Akiha still wants to die and thinks it is a fitting end for her to be killed by the one who had suffered so much at the hands of her family.
Kohaku’s feelings towards Akiha are more difficult to ascertain, mostly because of Kohaku’s own lack of self-awareness. After Akiha’s death, all Kohaku can say for certain is that she does not hate or resent Akiha for her ties with the Tohno. However, her actions speak differently than her true feelings. For Kohaku, her friendship with Akiha was supposed to just be an act that fit with her role as a cheerful servant. Since Akiha is now gone, Kohaku realizes she does not need to play that role anymore, yet can’t understand why Akiha had shielded her, not accepting that Akiha’s feelings for her were real, or even why she still brings tea to Akiha’s room, not accepting that Akiha’s death had greatly impacted her. In the end, after she commits suicide, she accepts that pretending to be a doll was just an illusion. The entire time, Kohaku still felt pain, and happiness, and sadness, and simply denied her feelings. Kohaku’s love for the people in her life, including Akiha, was not a lie.
"...... That's not true. Acting, faking, that doesn't have anything to do with it. You are you.
...... A truly mean-hearted person can't pretend to be truly kind. No matter how you act, you are still the same inside, Kohaku-san."
...... That's right.
Even if it is just an act, Kohaku-san seems like she is having so much fun.
That means she is enjoying that role. It was her dream that could become real if she really wished for it.
- Day 11, Kohaku route
Although Akiha/Kohaku is a noncanonical ship, where their relationship ends up at the end of Kohaku’s route is the closest that I, as a shipper, can be satisfied with. Akiha and Kohaku make so many assumptions about the other, and build so many facades, that seeing them reveal the truth to the other finally brings a sense of resolution to their complicated relationship. Kohaku knows that Akiha likes her to the point of sacrificing her own life for Kohaku’s sake, yet she doesn’t know that Akiha was aware of Kohaku’s plans to destroy the Tohno family and liked her regardless. Akiha knows of Kohaku’s mask and how she manipulates so many people in order to enact her revenge, yet she doesn’t know that Kohaku actually does not begrudge Akiha and actually likes her.
When Akiha attempts suicide, Kohaku threatens her by saying that she will return to being the doll she was before if Akiha dies. This entire time, Akiha thought that the only way she could possibly make amends to Kohaku was by dying. But, what Akiha actually has to do in order to atone for her family’s sin and even more, to earn Kohaku’s forgiveness, is to live. Akiha is willing to die for Kohaku, but, even if she considers it the more difficult choice, she is also willing to live.
Subtext to Text
I believe that there is basis for an Akiha/Kohaku relationship in canon. This is mostly due to the extremely erotic blood-sucking scene that Shiki stumbles in on. At that point in canon, Akiha is heavily influenced by her Tohno blood, so she could be construed as “giving into her desires”, which includes acting in a very sexual manner with Kohaku. It is important to keep in mind that Akiha had been sucking Kohaku’s blood for years at that point. Kohaku does remark that Akiha is taking more blood than usual, but she does not seem to be surprised at the way that Akiha is sucking her blood. So, it could be assumed that this degree of sensuality is not unusual for these two, meaning that an attraction to other females is not entirely out of the question for either of them.
I also have to discuss Akiha and Kohaku in regards to their feelings for Shiki. Akiha is in love with Shiki. However, in every route that is not her own, Akiha is able to accept that Shiki only loves her as a sister. While Shiki always remains the most important person in Akiha’s life, she does not need him to love her back, and would only want him to be as happy as possible. Kohaku is arguably also in love with Shiki, the boy who she could not understand, although she does not realize it due to her facade. At the very least, Shiki was Kohaku’s hope and the way out of her planned destruction. If Shiki remembers his promise and realizes that Kohaku is the one he has to return the white ribbon to, Kohaku will not go through with her revenge. Shiki only remembers his promise In Kohaku’s route, where he falls in love with Kohaku before returning the ribbon. Shiki’s expression of his love for Kohaku is what causes her to return his feelings.
Is there a hypothetical world where Shiki returns the ribbon but falls in love with someone other than Akiha or Kohaku? In this world, Kohaku would not enact her revenge against the Tohno family, and Akiha would accept that Shiki’s feelings towards her are familial. These are the factors that must occur in order for the possibility for an Akiha/Kohaku relationship to develop. This can actually happen in the two “Near Side” routes, and if we want to take it further, the Nasuverse (the name given to the shared universe of the Type-Moon games) is actually an infinite multiverse (although that rationale as support is kind of lame!).
Personal Take and History
In my first read-through of Tsukihime, I wasn't open to the idea of non-canon pairings. I didn't understand the point of shipping something that wasn't going to happen; this was before I discovered the fun of reading fanfiction and being in a shipping community. In my eyes, Akiha and Kohaku was just the sweet relationship of two good friends, that is, until Hisui's True End, where I (along with every other reader) was slammed by the plot twist and the realization that I didn't understand Kohaku at all. This also meant, by extension, that all of my notions about Kohaku's relationships with others were also flawed. The tragedy of Akiha's sacrifice, along with Kohaku's lack of self-awareness not letting her see that past her plotted revenge, she really did like Akiha, and really did miss her, was the tipping point of how I fell into this ship.
So, what appeals to me about them?
At the heart of it, I think they’re intriguing. There is so much history and pain for these two that so many things get left unsaid, partly because of guilt, partly because of avoidance, partly because of denial. A wall exists between them that they can’t breach because of what they don’t know about the other’s true feelings, and even what they don’t understand about their own feelings. There’s a factor of “how I think I should feel and hence will act accordingly” versus “how I actually do feel”. Kohaku and Akiha both believe that they are just playacting their friendship, even though they really are important to each other.
Another part of their relationship that appeals to me is how understanding these two are of each other’s inner demons and how they still accept and like each other, fully aware of everything the other is. A theme throughout the entirety of Tsukihime is how love is unconditional. Each heroine is designed similarly in that they each have a “dark”, hidden self that alienates and ostracizes them from what is perceived as socially acceptable. Shiki falls in love with each heroine fully aware of their entire beings, not believing that they are lesser because of these qualities, or that these qualities are even flaws. So, it’s really moving for me, knowing that Akiha and Kohaku have already been doing exactly this for years prior to the start of the game. This is partly why I believe that even if Akiha and Kohaku are never together romantically, they could be content being together for the rest of their lives.
Even though Akiha and Kohaku both wear masks, even though there is so much in the way of their happiness, there is a genuine connection between them. And I find that a little tragic, a little touching, and so, so bittersweet.
Fandom Guide and Links
The Akiha/Kohaku fandom is next to non-existent, which is to be expected considering how Tsukihime fandom as a whole is small. However, there is hope for an upsurge in interest in the franchise due to an in-progress Tsukihime remake, although the details of its release date are unannounced.
All of the fanworks listed below are the only fanworks I’ve been able to find.
Sun Bird by Yuurei-san is an excellent Akiha/Kohaku fanfiction taking place after Ciel’s True End
Autumn Rain by komatsurui is set after a deviation of Hisui’s Good End
A fill by anonymous from the Type-Moon kink meme
A drabble by thirdmagic from an askbox meme on tumblr
I apologize for the self-rec, but for the sake of completion, I have written Heat Inversion that takes place after Arcueid's Good End.
飲みすぎですよぉ by 稲枝田ケイ on pixiv
家政婦を見た by アキミチ on pixiv
Akiha and Kohaku by sevenmilesaway on deviantart
There is some very pretty fanart made by artists that have taken down their fansites. Unfortunately, most of these are unsourced but I have decided to link them here anyways for the sake of completion.
糸 by かむろの里
0329turime_0032 by turime
月姫fantasy同人誌ベストセレクション 萌え編 (ミッシィコミックス) - a doujinshi cover
There are two general Type-Moon communities on LJ: type_moon_ and nasuverse
Beast’s Lair is a large and active Type-Moon discussion forum.
Tsukihime, as well as the Plus+Disc, has been fan-translated by mirror moon. Kagetsu Tohya is a fandisc that has been translated by members of Beast’s Lair. Unfortunately, Tsukihime is long out of print and rare. Acquiring a hard-copy of the game will cost upwards to a few hundred dollars. If you don’t want to pony up the cash or resort to piracy to experience it, there is also the option of reading through the Tsukihime Let’s Play by Seorin.
Thank you very much for reading!