January 9, 2008

ef - A Tale of Memories

ef - a tale of memoriesTitle: ef - A Tale of Memories
Episodes: 12
Studio: Shaft
Genre: Seinen

I can honestly say that I liked ef - A Tale of Memories' animation than the story itself. From what I've learned about the anime, the story supposedly centers on three male protagonists: Hiro, Kyosuke and Renji. They each have their own love interests to pursue but they have to face many challenges just to be able to be with the girl they love. Ah and like Myself; Yourself, ef - A Tale of Memories is based on a visual novel entitled ef - A Fairy Tale for Two.

ef - A Tale of Memories' plot is easy enough to follow right? Wrong. First of all, Kyosuke, with the amount of parts he's given in the series, falls short on becoming a "main character" - he's more of a supporting character. Next, it seems as if the females of ef, Miyako, Kei and Chihiro, are the protagonists instead of the males. I'm not too sure if this was the intention of the director though.

Another thing that I didn't enjoy about ef's plot is that Renji and Chihiro's "story" made me think that they're better off having their own series. Apart from the fact that Kei and Chihiro are twins, there's no other relation between the love triangle of Hiro, Miyako and Kei (with Kyosuke loving Kei on the sidelines), and Chihiro and Renji's relationship.

Both sub-plots seem to happen at the same time, simultaneously, but each episode would focus more on one sub-plot, giving little time for the other. I didn't like the discontinuity of each episode in terms of merging both storylines together. It probably would have really been better if they focused on just one sub-plot for the series. If they wanted a dark tone to the series, they should've focused on Renji and Chihiro. Bittersweet melancholy? Miyako and Hiro. Unreciprocated feelings? Kyosuke and Kei.

Oh and another confusing thing about ef is that there are two extra characters there: Yu and Yuko. Yu seems to be Chihiro's guardian but it wasn't shown how he came to be Chihiro's guardian. Yuko on the other hand, looks like a nun and keeps appearing throughout the series sporadically. She comes and give advices to the six main characters then disappears quickly. Maybe they're really characters of the visual novel but I wished they were introduced more.

The only saving grace of ef - A Tale of Memories is that the animation is really something else. It's full of artsy shots that sometimes I find myself just watching ef for the sake of the animation (more than the story). It's practically a new approach in animating (based on what I can compare it with). I'm not a film critic, so I can't really name what kind of techniques they used in animating ef.

Anyway, ef - A Tale of Memories is good if you appreciate great animation, the different storylines mentioned above or you want something...new? I think the story would be greatly understood if you played the game first, otherwise, you'd be asking who Yu and Yuko are too! >v<
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