Hein (fub) wrote,

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Finished series: ef - a tale of memories

We've finished watching ef - a tale of memories. My first episode review is here.

Based on a bishoujo game, this series seems to be two completely separate stories put in a single series. One story is about Hiro, an aspiring manga artist. He is always chased by deadlines, and so his schoolwork suffers from it. He very rarely visits school, even though his childhood friend Kei prods him to stay in school and not drop out. On christmas eve, Hiro meets Miyako, who drags him along when she pursues a thief who stole her purse. She doesn't have the keys to her house anymore (they were in her purse) and so sort-of forces Hiro to hang out with her.
It turns out that Miyako also goes to the same school as Hiro -- but she skips school a lot too, so that explains why they hadn't met before. When they are at school, they hang out together as well, which makes Kei more and more jealous.

The other story is about Renji. He goes to the old train station to read in peace, and one day he meets Chihiro there. She is shy, but Renji's friendliness wins her over. It turns out that Chihiro had an accident when she was thirteen, which caused damage to her brain: she can't remember anything more than thirteen hours back. She keeps a diary which she obsessively scribbles in -- reading things back is the only way for her to keep her memories of recent events.

Of course it's no cake-walk. Hiro has to content with his own depression and he has to make a choice between the helpful Kei and the flirtatious and teasing Miyako. That part of the story is actually not very interesting, as it is basic bishoujo-game fare.

But the relationship between Renji and Chihiro is where the real treats are. Chihiro has a dream: she wants to write a novel -- something that is obviously quite hard for her with her condition. Renji decides to help her, and together they shape the story. But of course there is an episode where Chihiro falls ill and faints -- and so she doesn't read her diary within thirteen hours. Which means she forgets all about Renji and the novel...

Of course, the character designs are very nice to look at, and the backgrounds and scenes are designed to give a sense of mystery to everyday occurrences. The voice acting is quite good, though it took me a long time to get used to Chihiro's sqeaky voice!
Story-wise, it all comes together nicely, and there are some very high-impact scenes here. The two stories are connected, but they don't mix. It's a bit weak, as if it was only an afterthought. And the whole situation with Chihiro, while an interesting story-seed, is also quite gimmicky.

The direction is very non-standard, but good. The camera angles, the cuts and the pacing are more like those seen in an action-oriented series, which gives this series a very cinematographic feel. And sometimes the camera focusses on a single detail of the background for a few seconds, while the characters talk on. If these cuts were long, it would simply be cheap animation, but the cuts are so short and fast-paced that you continously think: "Hey, is that an important detail? Did I just miss something...?" That certainly keeps you interested, even through the slower parts.

Good points:
- Some good high-impact scenes;
- Attractive character designs and backgrounds;
- Very good direction.
Bad points:
- Gimmicky;
- Seemingly two unrelated stories that don't really mix;
- Chihiro's sqeaky voice.

If you're into bishoujo series, this is an excellent addition! But it won't win anyone over who doesn't like the genre to begin with. As such, it's a solid offering within the genre. An 8.
Tags: anime, full review

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