And we’re back with more ef! I’m actually really enjoying this show at this point – it’s far from perfect, but it’s exactly the kind of messy I like. Chihiro and Renji’s narrative is legitimately great, and the other narratives continue to swing for the fences, even if they sometimes end up in the cliche romcom nonsense infield. The show’s visual style matches its narrative ambitions – consistently throwing everything against the wall, succeeding at least as often as it fails. Messy shows that try really hard are pretty great. Let’s see what this episode brings!
Opening with train crossing lights, because this wouldn’t be a SHAFT show if there weren’t copious road signs everywhere
Miyako and Kei are ready to fight!
“I’ll make you disappear.” Jeez
And now a beautiful shot of the moon through the trees
I guess we’re getting backstory on how Kyosuke and Hiro ran into each other. We need it, frankly – there’s been no connection between the two of them so far, and nothing to justify Hiro throwing Kyosuke at Kei last time
This sequence is going for comedy, but “characters yelling and overreacting while a goofy melody walks up and down a basic progression” is not the height of humor
“You’re a manga artist?” So it seems Kyosuke barely knows Hiro, given it’s impossible to spend any time with Hiro and not learn about his job
Okay, and now Kyosuke’s bribing Hiro to get a date with Kei. But why was Kyosuke over here in the first place?
Ef’s diverse visual styles once again come in handy, presenting an idealized image of Kei on the beach to represent Kyosuke’s fantasy
And now the moon turns red to echo Kei’s anger
Good, she smacks them for this. I’m glad this didn’t play as actual drama – this whole situation is incredibly stupid
“When does it start getting interesting?” “It doesn’t.” Welp
Kyosuke grills Kei on what specifically was effective about the film. The tight focus on his mouth as he speaks is effective – it distances us from his emotions, emphasizing the way he can slip into a professional mode when discussing his passion. Ef in general is interested in exploring the ways our creative passions interact with our identities and personal relationships
Kyosuke wants to shoot a movie with Kei as the star
And the moon shifts again, a bright yellow matching the DVD
“You’ll be the only actor. I’ll just follow you with my camera.” Both this and Chihiro’s story seem pretty… not good. They’re both the kind of aimless, self-involved projects that act as, well, metaphors in other stories. Like the lonely girl from Clannad. They’re not full stories, they’re metaphors for the idea of making a story, and that makes it much harder to invest in the characters who are themselves passionate about these projects. That in turn is a bad thing for this show, because it clearly wants us to understand why these characters are so passionate about their art. Currently only Hiro seems to actually know how to write a story, and all we know about Hiro’s stories are things we’ve heard secondhand
Granted, a show doesn’t need to make someone’s talent utterly parsable in order for their passion to feel real. But when the information we’re given seems to indicate these characters are bad at their passion, it’s a little awkward
“There’s no script. I just want to capture your life and feelings.” Yeah, this movie’s gonna suck
“I just want to see what I can create from the footage.” “Can you create something without a vision?” Ooh, I’m very happy to see pushback from Hiro
“I don’t want to be constrained by an audience or a panel of judges.” “Then you’re just being self-indulgent.” I get the feeling this is supposed to come across as an even-sided argument, but Hiro is just correct and Kyosuke is just wrong, so…
“Am I a nuisance?” Kei sure is terrible at expressing her feelings
“You never take me seriously anymore.” That’s better
“You’ve grown up too fast.” That’s pretty sharp for Kei. Kei only knows how to be close to Hiro in the context of a fairly childish relationship, and can’t adjust to treating him as a young adult. Though I guess Miyako helped her get here
Oh no, Kei says she’ll tell him a secret after she wins a basketball game. The drama flag has been thrown down
Chihiro’s caretaker nicely articulating how her fiction essentially serves the same purpose as her diary. Fiction is often how novelists portray something fundamental to their self, and for Chihiro, it actually becomes the only way to preserve that self, to keep the person who wrote that story alive
Which echoes Kyosuke’s view of art, a work he’s creating specifically to shock and move himself. But Chihiro has some pretty specific reasons to write the way she does
Renji actually asking Himura some very important questions, like who the heck you are, what you do for a living, and why are you always hanging out at this church offering cryptic advice
We see Renji helping Chihiro with a sandcastle that keeps getting washed away, an obvious metaphor for her struggles
The girl in Chihiro’s story began to paint herself a world. Again, this is an incredibly self-indulgent narrative – it’s a dream-story about herself with no grounding
The story-Chihiro finds it easy to draw things she can see, but has a harder time with things she has to imagine, like people. So what is it that our real life Chihiro can’t see, but has to imagine?
Chihiro needs reference material. A very reasonable problem
Kei calls out Miyako again
This scenery is pretty absurd. Post-apocalyptic train tracks in the middle of nowhere
Although I guess this show specifically set up its town to allow for these kinds of settings, what with the earthquake and everything
Kei makes a good point – you can’t simply admire someone for their talent and hope they’ll fall in love with you. Adoration and love are not synonymous, and not really even compatible
Kei declares war. “I’ll make you disappear from his heart”
Miyako seems specifically afraid of disappearing. The first time she’s expressed vulnerability in this conversation
Kuze has a bunch of uniforms, so we get Chihiro in a police officer suit
It’s still nice seeing the sisters support each other. You rarely see that kind of relationship in a romantic drama
Miyako’s fighting back with special lunches for Hiro
Wow, Miyako’s actively trying to sabotage Kei’s basketball date
And of course Kei gets injured
“Some moments are lost forever if you don’t capture them.” Kyosuke continues to echo Chihiro
Hiro arrives! Whew. There are limits to being a dick, Hiro
We even get Chihiro at the library. This show is moving fast!
Alright! That was a very solid episode, all things considered. Perhaps the most important element of this one was how much context we got for Kyosuke’s character. Kyosuke has been the clear weakest link in the narrative so far, but this episode saw him acting passionate, sensitive, and vulnerable, all important qualities in a romantic lead. Miyako’s kinda been relegated to a purely antagonistic role, but the show can only focus on so many characters at once, so I’m guessing she’ll get strong material again eventually. Ef is proceeding nicely!
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