ef ~ a tale of memories
ef ~ a tale of memories consists of two independent story arcs. The first centers around Hiro Hirono, a high school boy who draws shōjo manga for a living. Because of his occupation, Hiro is not doing too well with his school work and his childhood friend, Kei Shindou, constantly reminds him to study. On Christmas eve, a girl, Miyako Miyamura, while chasing a purse snatcher runs into Hiro. Afterwards, Hiro and Miyako start hanging out which doesn’t sit well with Kei. The second story is about Renji Asou, a high school boy who is unsure about his career. He meets Chihiro Shindou in the abandoned train station in town where he usually goes to read. He finds out that Chihiro special memory problem which prevents her from going to school. Renji also finds out that Chihiro is trying to write a novel but is often put on hold because of her condition. Renji agrees to help Chihiro write her novel.
koneko-chan – ef is really two independent stories being played out together. Both stories often play out by splitting the episode time in half (half for one story and the other half for the other story). This is a little bit harder for the viewer to follow since the two stories are only held together by common themes. Individually, the two stories are really good. The Hiro story contains a solid build up with some well done drama points. But most of the viewers will be pulled into this series through the Renji story since a critical part is introduced early and from there, the viewer attempts to predict the story’s outcome. The ending (the “dream” part in the last episode) attempts to combine the stories by the general themes. The ending is fulfilling but a little bit cliched and a little bit out of place.
chigaimasu – Each story is well written. They’re gripping, and may move you to tears at the end of them. But I was offput by the lack of connectedness between stories. The only link between the stories occurs in the past, but that link has no bearing on the present circumstances. Sure, it provides background into three of the six main characters, but it does nothing in the now. As a result, you could tell one story without the other one with impunity. I don’t want to take away from either story, because they’re both really good, and I love a good love story, but without the intertwining of stories, it feels like they were put together just so they could have 12 episodes.
Lay out for it, son! That’s devotion right there. Ok, so it’s a little cheesy. Understandable. But that’s why you never, ever give up. Sometimes you have to give the body to make the play work, like Renji here. -chigaimasu
koneko-chan – The characters are solid in ef. The characters are nicely varied and have a somewhat strong personalities. Their personalities are also highlighted by the characters commitments to artistic works (Hiro -> mangaka, Kyosuke -> film maker, Renji -> novel editor, etc.) which contributes well to this symbolism heavy show. My one nit picky point is that I wish they fleshed out more some of the characters. A more elaborated background would better serve Renji’s, Yu’s and Yuko’s character personalities. The character designs are also quite good. The voice acting is pretty good too especially during in the drama parts. Although some characters can be a bit annoying in regular conversation (Chihiro).
chigaimasu – The characters in ef are wonderfully done. Each of the main characters is very well developed. They are each complex and vulnerable, and that makes them very engaging to the viewer. They add a touch of flavor and color to the already excellent stories that makes them easy to love and sympathize with. Some viewers may find the characters a bit longwinded. For teenagers, they do spend a lot of time lost in thought. But don’t let that detract you, because most of it is necessary for character development and dramatic effect. The seiyuu do a good job with it, and character design, well, just see what I have to say about production value.
koneko-chan – ef is artistically beautiful. The backgrounds are lush and the lighting effects are intricate. Animation is a little bit different in ef. One can argue that ef is a little bit subpar in the animation of heavy dialogue scenes especially with their use of wide shots for outside conversations. However, ef is very strong in its use of aggressive/experimental animation techniques and symbolism. The aggressive techniques are somewhat similiar to other Shaft shows such as Negima!? and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. What makes ef’s techniques solid is that they are usually well timed, adding more of an effect to a drama scene. Some of these are particularly memorable (“the words” in episode 7 and “the countdown” at the end of episode 10). The use of symbolism is also heavily used and mostly well timed. Both aggressive animation and symbolism are what defines ef and it might be hard for the traditional anime viewer to appreciate. Music is also very good and timed properly into the right scenes.
chigaimasu – The sell point to ef: a tale of memories has to be the artistic vision. First of all, it is absolutely beautiful. Every scene is visually engaging. Shaft hits this one out of the park with the backgrounds and sky shots. But it’s more than just that. The choice of when and how to contrast was also really well done. The mastery of silhouettes, and the choice between black and white vs. two or three tone vs. full color are a more definitive reason for why ef is so artistically outstanding. Full marks to Art Director Megumi Kato. But if Kato gets an A, then Director Shin Oonuma has to get an A+++. Some scenes in ef: a tale of memories are simply unforgettable, and viewers should thank Oonuma-san for something we could be talking about for years. Sound is also really well done, but gets lost in the visual glory of the anime. The OP (euphoric field) will stick to you, and the EDs are all great in their own respects.
It’s scenes like these where you realize a show has something unique about it. This scene is just one of a number memorable moments in this show. – koneko-chan
The Good – Stylistically beautiful, Solid use of “outside of the box” animation, Strong overall production values
The Bad – Small nit picky points (slightly clichéd ending and needs more background for some characters), Some won’t come to appreciate the show’s production values and style
Overview – 9.0/10 – The primary catch for ef is its high production values and its fairly aggressive approach to the animation. It is probably the same reason why viewers might skip over this. Unfortunately, ef won’t be for everyone. There is just so many symbols and aggressive animation scenes that I feel like a good number of people won’t completely appreciate. If you really like your romance dramas thought provoking and symbolism heavy, then this is the anime for you. Otherwise, ready yourself to watch one or two episodes at a time and sprinkle in between some episodes of a comedy (for me it was Minami-ke).
The Good – Amazing artistic vision, Engaging characters
The Bad – Lack of connectedness between story arcs
Overview – 9.0/10 – There are two reasons I can not give ef: a tale of memories a perfect 10. The first I discussed before. Two short films could do the same thing that ef did. I don’t see the reason for the stories to be intertwined, and a reason definitely needs to be there. Second is a matter of taste: If you don’t like dramatic anime, ef isn’t going to change your mind. Look past that, and ef is something special. We could very well be talking about this anime 4-5 years from now. There are tons of reasons why anime fans should give this a look. Want mine? The last 3-4 mins of episode 7.