Ash here with another Afterword. This time I decided to marathon the two ef series, which I’d been meaning to for years. I find that my graduation in a month as an ending point of sorts for part of my life and I hope to wrap up many things I had wanted to do before reaching that point. Ef is a series that has been on my list for so long that I now own the bluray discs of the actual product in english. It’s been a long 6 or so years since I first laid eyes upon it, but hopefully now I can log this series down and be done with it. As for the ratings at the end, I realize there’s been a pattern with Afterwords lately but that’s just how it is. These are the kinds of shows I’ve been watching and they deserve every bit of it.

Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two consists of two parts. The first part is titled Ef: The First Tale and primarily consists of the story of Hiro Hirono, Miyako Miyamura, Kyosuke Tsutsumi, Kei Shindo, and Yuko Amamiya. It consists of a prologue and two main chapters with Miyako as the focus for the first chapter, and Kei for the second. This is followed by the second part of the story, Ef: The Latter Tale, which primarily deals with the story of Renji Aso, Chihiro Shindo, Shuichi Kuze, Mizuki Hayama, and Yu Himura. The second part consists of two more main chapters and an ending chapter, with Chihiro as the focus for the third chapter, and Mizuki for the fourth. Bringing the two parts together forms the all-encompassing Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two. The story is set in the town Otowa (音羽).

I’m not quite sure how I should write this. More or less, this series came to break most any and all expectations I had of it. My first attempt at watching the series back when it aired in 2007 ended in utter failure. I admit that this series needs a more mature audience to really connect everything together and perhaps my 2007 self wasn’t up to it. This epic drama is probably the perfection of Greek drama on top of the romantic expectations in this day and age. But here is a warning, ef demands more of the viewer than the average drama does.

For starters I’ll talk about the first tale/series, ef – a tale of memories.

Bonds and dreams- they are two of the things which connect human beings on a universal level. Humans are social creatures, they need bonds in order to keep on living, and they also need those bonds in order to strengthen their confidence in themselves when things do not seem to be going the way they wish them to go. Unfortunately, life works that way sometimes and as result, the bonds formed between lovers and even friends are at times necessary to remind us of who we are and that which we wish to become.

This story is a very exquisite piece of work that comes across with a philosophical message. People behave very differently and they constantly changing their mind depending on their experiences or memories. Decisions aren’t easy things to initiate because no one can account for what will be in store for them in their future. This story shows the perspective of 3 selected male individuals deciding on what they should do when a serious decision needed to be made. However what they do share in common is that they all feel that something is missing in their lives and this story shows how they find this missing piece when they each encounter the female protagonists. However not everyone can adapt to the sudden changes in ones environment, thus having mental breakdowns/ despair on what they should do next. The art style and sequence of colors and frames really capture the emotions of the character during each scene. The artist also incorporates various sceneries using them as motifs and messages. I find that point shines the most in the entire anime.

“The anime revolves around two protagonists, Hirono Hiro and Asou Renji. On Christmas Eve, Hirono Hiro meets a girl named Miyamura Miyako who was chasing a purse snatcher. Hiro later finds out that Miyako also goes to the same school as he does and they start hanging out together. This made Hiro’s childhood friend, Shindou Kei, feel left out. Kei then tries to compete with Miyako for Hiro’s affection and a love triangle ensues. The anime also tells the story of Asou Renji. Renji meets a girl named Shindou Chihiro at an abandoned train station. He soon learns that Chihiro suffers from a type of amnesia where her memory span only lasts for 13 hours. He also discovers Chihiro’s dream of writing a novel, but she has never been able to fulfill that dream due to her condition. Renji then decides to help her fulfill that dream.” (From Anime News Network)

Viewers will most likely find the beginning of Ef – a tale of memories hard to follow. This can be attributed to the introduction of most (if not all) of the primary casts in the first episode. However, it was necessary to introduce all the seemingly unrelated characters at once since the storyline focuses deeply on the various characters’ developments. It should also be pointed out that a few of the secondary characters will actually become the main characters of the sequel, Ef – a tale of melodies. Thus becoming familiar with the sideline characters now will serve as a good foundation for the sequel.

There are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe the beauty and skillfulness of the artwork in this series. The characters were drawn very well and the sceneries were just breathtaking. The scenic drawings were like paintings; truly artistic. Another unique area in this series is how the story is expressed with special visual effects and how they they use the colours to enhance the atmosphere such as the use of a negative viewpoint(black and white). This unique animation is often used to amplify scenes, to act as metaphors, and used simply as an artistic take on certain scenes. In addition, the colors and visuals will often tell us exactly how the characters are feeling and/or reflect the mood of the scenes. The clouds in particular are often used in this manner.

As previously mentioned, the entire show is beautifully executed. This includes the music as well. From the BGM in the prelude episode to the OP to the BGM throughout the series to the ending, they all fulfill their purpose very nicely and matches perfectly with the particularly scene at that particularly moment. Personally, it was the amazing OP (plus stunning animation from the OP) that caught my attention to this series. The music are largely composed by Tenmon who happened to be the music composer of other great shows such as 5 Centimeters per Second, Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, et cetera.

Onto Melodies aka the Second Season.

“Sequel.” A variety of reactions could be displayed when seeing/hearing this word: “I hope this is as good as/keeps up with/better than the original.” “Will they explain that?” “No, this is enough; anything more will ruin the story.” Some more of this piece of crap?” “Yes, more of this show!” Of course, I had the last sentiment. It is no easy task to follow up on a story. As we all know, if something drags on for too long, it loses its essence, and I believe that usually, beginnings are the best part of anything. Rarely they are not. This is an especially difficult task with an anime as great as Ef. I can safely say, though, that Ef – A Tale of Melodies lives up to its prequel, Ef – A Tale of Memories.

As narrated by the protagonist, Himura, there are two cities called Otowa, one that is built on the burnt rubble of its former self, and another that is a fake mirror of it. Yuu and Shuuichi are talking while the latter is burning his letters, ending his relationships, including one by Nagi, which, though rare of her, he does not read. In the past, a high school boy was walking down the street, when he noticed a girl on a roof. He went to her, and the two talked. It seemed as if she, Amamiya Yuuko, knew who he, Himura Yuu, was, yet, he did not recognize her. She proceeded by saying that she still hated Yuu. At school, Himura saw the words “Art room – Hirono” on his desk, and exclaimed “ano baka (that idiot).” On his way there, to his surprise, he met with his friend, Kuze, who was having a flea market before going abroad. After Shuuichi learned where Yuu was going, he wished him a safe trip (as if he were leaving to a dangerous place). Near the art room, Himura also met with Amamiya Akira-sensei, who thought that Yuu was at last joining the art club, like Amamiya had always wanted him to, but Himura quickly and bluntly dismisses the idea. Holding an unlighted cigarette, Amamiya said that it is horrible how people are always drawn to art, whether it is voluntary or by being dragged thanks to those who are, advising Himura to simply join. After reaching the room, Yuu witnessed Hirono Nagi there, drawing a nude self-portrait with no clothes on. He immediately told her to wear her uniform, thinking that what Amamiya had said might really be true, then she forced him to go shopping with her, much to his dismay. Going home, they noticed a girl, Amamiya Yuuko, following them. A conversation ensued between the three, and ended up with Hirono throwing a sketch book she wanted to give as a present on Himura. Yuu and Yuuko went to the beach, where the former eventually said he remembered the latter. At the present, Hayama Mizuki, who is about to enter college by recommendation, is staying with her cousin, Asou Renji, a former protagonist. After waking up from another bad dream, she realizes that famous violinist, Kuze Shuuichi, is living next door, and insists on meeting him to hear him play nama (live or bare; there is a small joke on that here and a big one in B Gata H Kei). Renji suspiciously tries to prevent her from doing so, but he has no choice, since, unlike Mizuki, he has to study for college examinations. She finally meets Shuuichi, who immediately reminds her of Tsutsumi Kyousuku, another previous protagonist and her senpai, Shindou Kei’s boyfriend; a womanizer. He agrees to play with her. However, Mizuki notices strange things at Shuuichi’s place, but for which he always comes up with an excuse. First of all, his living room contains very little furniture, making Hayama think Kuze is about to move, but he says he just likes big spaces. Second of all, she tells him she wants to hear him play the violin, but he replies he cannot, and after being inquired as to why, he says it is broken. Third of all, a clock alarm rings in the afternoon, and Shuuichi exclaims that it is for his stomach (to eat). Mizuki only finds drinks in the refrigerator, but he informs her he has ice as well. Kuze speaks in a formal manner, which Hayama picks up on, but he explains that he has to talk this way, as he meets a lot of people, likening it to wearing masks, which he has hung up on the wall. Mizuki lightly says that cat masks are kawaii (cute), and asks Shuuichi to lie on the ground with her, just relaxing and enjoying the lack of shoujo manga, which she loves, that takes up space in her room. Later, however, when Hayama leaves, Kuze, alone in a dark room, feels a severe chest pain, and is forced to sit on his couch, saying, “not yet . . .”

A good mystery is answered with more mysteries.

The impact this story leaves on the viewer is tremendous.
First of all this is a series that gets you very emotionally involved: Before you even realise, you’re crying, you’re laughing, you’re frustrated, you’re angry and so on and on and on. There are very few anime that manage to make the viewer believe the emotion shown on screen and experience it for themselves. I would credit this to the amazing characterisation. Throughout both the first and this season, the characters have proven that no matter how hard life is on you, no matter how much you loose, no matter how impossible your dream is, there is always a way to make things right: ”The first step to make your dream come true is by clinging onto it and never letting go”.
Also, it’s almost impossible not to identify with at least one of the characters. Each and every one of them has experienced tremendous pain, but managed to come out as a winner.
It’s an ending all of us desire, isn’t it?

The best way to continue a series is by showing past events, linking them to current ones, which Ef – A Tale of Melodies brilliantly and intricately executes, despite the aforementioned extraordinary happening. Showing the main characters as young kids is informative and gives depth to them. Seeing the lead, Himura Yuu being more carefree and displaying funny facial expressions is refreshing from his current more depressing, somber self. The same thing can be said of the heroine, Amamiya Yuuko, who is now a serious, wise girl, where she was outgoing and always smiling, hiding her true feelings. Hirono Hiro, the prequel’s protagonist’s oneechan (older sister) surprisingly plays a major role now, where she was just mentioned as part of his pseudonym, Shindou Nagi. Their love triangle is similar to Hirono Hiro, Miyamura Miyako, and Shindou Kei’s, where two of them have a friendly relationship, and a girl appears, changing things. Another surprise is that two people have met before any of them could remember, but it happens later, in episode ten, the best and saddest one, although it is in black and white.

All that being said, I enjoyed this show very much; it is probably one of the best dramas I have ever seen. But it must be noted that the show needs to be watched multiple times since if it is only watched once, viewers will lose many of the subtle nuances that make ef the show that it is. Ef is not like any other anime you have ever experienced. Instead of watching what the main characters go through from an stranger’s third eye, you experience the emotions as if you were there and a part of them. To be able to see the emotions of pain, hear the echoes of loneliness, and feel your stomach turn and throat tighten up feeling your hope slip away, the art and the music, together, play such a powerful melody that you can’t help but get chills from the effect.

Perfection is a term that is impossible to achieve in any form of media. People have different ideas on what perfection is, and there will always be something, no matter how minor it may be, that will prevent this phenomenon from occurring. Very rarely does an anime touch my heart. For me who has seen my fair share of anime, it seems that I have started to build up a resistance against the emotional effects of seeing such emotional scenes. That wasn’t the case with Ef. After watching countless animes that has done nothing but barely scratch the surface of my icy cold heart, here comes Ef, one of the very few animes that managed to make me feel once again the reason why I loved anime.

Pursuing happiness, seeking love and acknowledgment, chasing dreams, and all being led with the faint whisper of hope, Ef is one of the most emotionally powerfully pieces of art out there. Redefining how animation can be emotionally jarring to all the senses, Ef illustrates how anime can really be more than just a show; it’s an art. For those who enjoy heart-wrenching drama and heart-warming romance, this is a story you do not want to miss.

With that said,

I proudly give the ef series as a whole a 100/100.

A perfect series.

“For a dream to come true apparently you need to have a dream to start with. Nothing will happen if you throw away your dreams. So don’t give up, and keep on hoping. Supposedly, that’s the first step in making a dream come true. If you keep on dreaming, and don’t give up, then surely your dream will come true.”

My favorite song of the series.

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