ef - a tale of memories

Title:ef - a tale of memories
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Shaft
The story revolves around 2 sisters, Kei and Chihiro Shinou. Kei spends her mornings helping her 'Oni-chan' Hiro Hirono get up in the morning. But Hiro has started to see another girl named Miyako Miyamura who is a bit of a troubled student and Kei feels that she is a bad influence on him. But lately Kei has noticed someone following her around. Chihiro just stays at the train station and reads. One day a boy Renji stops by and starts talking to her. Chihiro likes this boy but she has a problem: About ten years ago she got into an accident and now cannot remember the previous day. Her only link to the past is a hand written diary that one of her previous selves has written.

Based on the visual interactive novel by Minori, featuring character designs by Nanao Naru.
The first letter in each episode's title, plus the "coda" title of the last episode, can be brought together to form "Euphoric Field" which is the name of the OP song of the series (by Tenmon). Three musical themes of the game (Eternal Feather, Emotional Flutter, Ever Forever) share the same initials.

[TV series, 2007, 12 episodes, 24 min; Animation by SHAFT.]

A sequel for the series, ef - a tale of melodies, is currently in production. This new series is scheduled for a Fall 2008 TV airing date.

3min promo - YouTube Video
Episode Details 
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 9 9 8 9 8 7 Ggultra2764 [series:1683#1552]
When I first heard that ef was a storybook game-based title that mixed together two separate storylines, I was curious to check it out since I had enough exposure to storybook game-based titles recently with Clannad, School Days, and Myself; Yourself. This series did go beyond my expectations in how it chose to portray itself thanks to its avant-garde approach of visual storytelling. While the storytelling isn't on par with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, it still stood out enough for me thanks to its visuals.

ef's storyline is focused on two twin sisters trying to find love through different circumstances: one who is caught in a love triangle and the other with a disability that affects her memories from the previous day because of an accident. There is a good amount of psychological insight focused on these characters as I got to understand the traits and flaws to each person I saw, despite how predictable these types of characters are with their problems since I've seen them before in one form or another in other anime titles I've seen. But at the same time, the developments of each situation are painfully believable enough to follow since these characters are only young and lack the lifetime of experience to easily cope with these problems. The resolutions to both stories have their differences that affected my opinion of what I thought to them. The Kei-Hiro-Miyako love triangle was resolved believably for me as the choice Hiro had to make for himself and one of the girls was not an easy one to make. On the otherhand, Chihiro and Renji's resolution seemed forced in order to create your run of the mill happy ending. While I seen Chihiro's actions leading to the resolution believable considering her condition, the resolution didn't feel too believable.

The visuals to ef were my biggest attention of the series filled with bright, beautiful colors with a great amount of detail put onto the settings and character designs. The visuals flow especially well when ef shifts into its avant-garde visual storytelling to reflect on the mood of specific events in the series. A cellphone monitor is shown onscreen while actions onscreen show characters seeing and putting in text messages. Clocks, chains, and pictures are visuals shown through the novel Chihiro narrated as they reflect on her inner world of loneliness and fear of losing memories. These are just some of the visual styles of storytelling that are seen throughout this series.

The soundtrack to the series has a variety of musical pieces that reflect on the mood of specific events that take place throughout the series. An upbeat, powerful opening song reflects on the inner doubts of love that teens go through while there is variety in the choice of music used in the closing to the series to flow with whatever events took place in that specific episode.

Overall, ef is worth checking out for its avant-garde visual storytelling and decent use of psychological character insight. The storyline and characters aren't anything fresh, but this series is still worth checking out.

Last updated Tuesday, July 08 2008. Created Tuesday, July 08 2008.
Rent 9 8 8 9 7 8 Dreamer [series:1683#2279]
This is such a beautifully animated series. Very artsy, full of vibrant colors and brimming with emotions or sorrow and loneliness. However, it's not a dark anime, no, on the other hand, it's a story about the struggle of youth with love, heartbreak, and the painful strive to continue living to the fullest.

The animation style and art was quite unique.... fading from normal scenes to silhouettes to pencil sketches, all to lend to the mood of the current scenario. Backdrops and sceneries were at times breathtaking..... or as breathtaking as an animation can get. One thing that caught my attention was the heavy usage of clouds, clouds of various colors and hues. That doesn't mean much in itself however, clouds generally represent a mood or emotion. And in this anime, there are a number of scenes with such vibrant clouds and how the camera would angle or pan across their "vastness", which lent more of an emotional impact to the characters or the scene portrayed. One such instance is in episode-11, where Chihiro and Renji are on a rooftop and the clouds are a vibrant orange & red, with shades of purple. What it signified? Who knows... maybe only the author might know. However, with the visual depictions of breathtaking clouds coupled with the sorrowful wine of a violin, and the two characters on that rooftop expressing their love for each other, would tend to leave more of an impact on the viewer, thus adding much more depth and meaning to the whole scene. Character design on the other hand was "okay", nothing special.

The music style was soft, plenty of violin, and various other string & cord instruments. At times the music would play a sorrowful dirge in-tune with the scene(s) and I would get a sense of loss, or sorrow and be in-tune with the character's emotions. With that said, the music tracks were above the norm and good enough to purchase as an OST.

Overall this anime was good. The plot wasn't amazing but it was beautifully done.

my favorite line: "I want to go back to the time when we were always together"

Last updated Wednesday, June 25 2008. Created Wednesday, June 25 2008.
Rent Forbin [series:1683#1573]
Analysis : All Fansubs Watched

  • Drama : Med / High
  • Action : None
  • Comedy : Low / Med
  • SciFi : None
  • Ecchi : Low / Med
    • Note there is a few shots of the main characters
Ef, 2 tales rolled up into one. One is about Hiro and Miyako, a strange girl he meets on the way to school, and Kei, his childhood friend. The other is about Renji, a guy who is hasn't decided on his future, and Chihirio, Kei's sister who just happens to forget each day.

What did I walk into? A love triangle meets 50 first dates? It does turn out that Chihiro and Renji are the stars of the show and Hiro's story was just added in. It was very good and SHAFT has out did itself in the beautiful looks and scenery. I was a bit mad that they start with Hiro but he isn't the main storyline. He's #2 (And there is a very loose #3 going on). Miyako is WAY cuter than Chihiro but Chihiro's story is sadder.

It's a good story though and it got a Rent from me.

Last updated Thursday, December 27 2007. Created Thursday, December 27 2007.
Rent 7 9 8 7 8 9 Devil Doll [series:1683#752]
[Score: 79% = "Rent+"; recommended Romance Dramas without Fantasy: Koi Kaze, Lamune, Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora, Suzuka, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Hachimitsu to Kuroba II, Boys Be]
My second anime based on a game by Minori (the first one being the more popular Wind: A Breath of Heart TV just a few weeks ago), and again a nice one.
Chihiro alone would suffice for telling an interesting story; being mixed together with so much other stuff confused me during the first episodes: Half as much would have been more if you ask me. But once I was able to sort the parallel yet unrelated stories apart this series began to enchant me. Still, in the end this parallel narration style cost this series a possible "Buy" rating which two series dealing with one of the sisters each might have earned (like the very similar Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora did).

The Music with an English OP song emphasizing the wrong syllables and a surprising amount of different ED songs none of which is quite my style was a bit of a letdown; the same goes for the Art that made the girls look all too similar. On the other hand, a breathtaking Animation making use of elements like huge amounts of written text, negative cuts of the characters within the scene, combined with 3D elements such as the front wheel of that bicycle or the burning candles (1 point deduction for "moonwalking" of the characters). This presentation hooked me first; unfortunately it clashes with the content for the audience's attention, putting this show in the Shin Seiki Evangelion league as for being not quite accessible to the viewer and thus probably requiring several passes plus sections with the pause key every couple of seconds to get every last detail of information. And I had a hard time sorting out the surreal story elements and trying to make sense of them... are there any fantasy/supernatural elements or is it just trying to be weird? And who was this know-it-all woman who always vanishes into thin air?

The two main stories of these sisters are interesting yet not completely plausible. Why is it that so many high schoolers in anime live without parents? Why would both arcs take place at the same time while being so completely unrelated? Why do the sisters communicate only via this strange mechanism? How exactly does Chihiro's defective memory work? Why is Chihiro sticking to her 12-year-old self when her accident was about 6 years earlier? It was obvious that she would not be able to handle a constantly growing amount of memory within her 13 hours time frame so her arc had no real chance to work without a miracle (i. e. a medical wonder). The Kei arc was less predictable and as such the more interesting one for me - unfortunately with Miyako being too much of a self-appointed freak for my taste.
Then again, the narration was intense enough to make me watch this series in one day. Both arcs had a number of heart-rending scenes near their climaxes, some of which got me on the verge of crying. The "ganbatte" message at the end of the show felt a bit too simple but I still prefer reasonable ethical messages to pure action/comedy.

In the end there's not much missing for a "Buy" rating - it's the sum of small deficits adding up to a score 20 points below the maximum. Nevertheless I enjoyed the ride more than I expected from the artsy look of this show.

Last updated Monday, July 28 2008. Created Tuesday, October 23 2007.
Rent Stretch [series:1683#628]
(All episodes watched):

Of all the new fall series I was curious about, this was the last one I actually viewed. I knew nothing about it, and feared that a "tale of memories" (and an "ef", whatever that is), might be something weird or disturbing. In fact, ef-atom has turned out to be a really neat and classy show, with intelligent dialogue (and lots of it), an interesting avant-garde approach to colors and artwork, philosophical discussions (but not overdoing it), and fun OP and ED songs. In fact, ef-atom is so good that I'm tempted to say that such a show would never get made over here because few Americans would be interested in such a deep and sophisticated work of art (which may not be fair, but also offers one reason why I like anime).

There is a "prologue" (a longer than usual promo), which suggested that this would be a more serious than average school romance. But when I finally watched the opening episode, I was pleasantly surprised. Background colors are strikingly rich, especially sunset scenes. I don't know if the show was supposed to be, but it is kinda funny! A sublime, witty humor which I especially appreciate. Perhaps best of all, the dialogue is clever and the characters have become correspondingly likeable and interesting. It seems that two couples have formed, and I'm eager to see where things will go from here. Indeed, this may well be my favorite romance series of the Fall 2007 season. I'm having a hard time keeping complete track of the plot, because I'm watching four or five school romance series concurrently, but episode four was genuinely moving and almost made me cry at one point. Whereas many series are only modestly entertaining and I'm not unhappy to see an episode end, I was quite sorry to see this one go.

As I watched episode ten it dawned on me that ef-atom was only going to be a 11-13 episode series (12, to be exact). The Hirono/Miyako/Kei love triangle seemed to be resolved, but I was left confused; which girl, if any, will Hirono wind up with? He seems to both breakup and makeup with both. Either I am dim, or the two girls weren't distinctive enough for me to keep track of which was which. There were two more episodes to go, so I figured that maybe the resolution would be made more clear. Anyway, I always found the Renji/Chihiro tale to be far more interesting, no doubt due to the strange twist of Chihiro's unique type of memory loss. This seems to reach an unexpected conclusion--I wasn't sure whether to be sad, or scratch my head, accept it, or what--except once again, there's still an episode on the way. One thing I haven't a clue about is who that woman in a fur cap who shows up occasionally is. The final episode offers a more pleasing conclusion to both plotlines; the Renji/Chihiro one was first-rate, The Hirono/Miyako/Kei one was average. Still, ef-atom was a neat show, being avant-garde but not overdoing it; that is, the unusual artwork and animation "tricks" are interesting and pleasing without confusing me or distracting me from the main plot. Anyone up for a little "artistic" anime romance? Try ef.

The artistic, avant-garde approach and the unusual premise of one of the storylines were well done and result in a pleasingly unusual anime romance

Last updated Saturday, January 05 2008. Created Tuesday, October 16 2007.

Other Sites
Japanese (Language) Series Web Site http://www.ef-memo.com/

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