Let’s continue our journey through A Tale of Memories! Last episode was a serious spirit breaker, with its first half dedicated to the seeming dissolution of Renji and Chihiro’s relationship, and its second half diving deep into Miyako’s heretofore unknown childhood trauma. The sudden reveal and immediate consequences of that trauma were a little clumsy, but the visual execution was terrific, and the episode overall placed us in a fraught dramatic space for this here eighth episode. I’m not exactly sure how things could get worse at the moment, so I’m hopeful we’ll see some actual, much-needed honest communication between our main pairs. But then again, ef is an unabashed melodrama, so things very well could get insanely worse in any number of ways. Let’s find out!
Episode eight opens at… a rave?
No, we’re back with Miyako. The fountain she was waiting at is lit up in technicolor, perhaps to emphasize her own colorlessness. It also underlines the fact that she waited here all day
And after Kei deletes her messages, she tosses her phone in the fountain
Kei is outlined in red after her violent action. She seems like Lady Macbeth here – tortured by her own misdeeds, she decides she needs to shower, to get herself clean. But even in the shower, the red background emphasizes her violence
Oh god. She meets Miyako at the door dressed only in a towel. Kei is really going all-in on pushing Miyako out of Hiro’s life
Kei, you are going to drive this girl to suicide. God damn
Renji again runs into Chihiro at the library. He’s initially apprehensive, but she seems happy to see him, so it seems that she didn’t write the previous day’s disastrous final meeting into her diary. Both of them desire a happier memory than that
I keep appreciating the narrative application of her disability more and more. Chihiro sees her life as very closely mirroring that of her fictional self, and that attitude bleeds into how she behaves in the real world. She will edit and delete parts of her own life if she feels the story is going wrong, and her future self will have no recourse but to believe those revisions are what really happened
Hiro tries to get in touch with Miyako, but of course he can’t
As Hiro and Kei have fuwa fuwa times together, Miyako grapples with the door to the roof. Feathers fall beside her, implying she’s losing her freedom
“The girl found herself staring at her drawings more and more. She felt strange looking at the boy in the pictures. She wondered if they should get married. There were many stories in her books that talked about marriage. They said marriage was an important part of life.” Like with the real-world Chihiro, this girl can only think of romance in terms of things that are “supposed to happen,” not immediate feelings. The diary has forced many of her feelings to come to her secondhand
Renji feels he’s not talented enough to become a novelist
Chihiro urges him not to give up, since he taught her the same
Their sandcastle is still on the beach, which is absurdly improbable but metaphorically appropriate
Miyako’s hanging out in the ruins of the old city. This apocalyptic town of theirs is pretty good for brooding
Some gorgeous shots of her against the sunset and ruined city
“Why am I depressed? I just returned to where I used to be.” Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, Miyako. When hope disappears, it doesn’t set us gently back down
And now mysterious hat girl appears
“If you remember what it feels like to be loved, you’ll choose the right path”
Lots of good ugly-crying these last couple episodes. Crying is rarely a glamorous thing
“There are no such things as miracles in this world. There is only the inevitable and the accidental. And what we do.” Dang
The guy at the church rightly thinks Ryuji’s gotten too close to Chihiro, and burdened her with too many of his own expectations
Hiro still can’t get in contact with Miyako. He’s sitting on the roof again, which makes me think the previous scene with Miyako was also meant to imply another way she’d been blocked off from Miyako
Oh hey, they’re both called to the counselor’s office
Kei keeps getting terrified he’ll somehow reconnect with Miyako. This system isn’t going to last
Hiro gets an offer to do a one-shot, and takes it in spite of Kei’s protests. Hiro is definitely pushing himself, but Kei is babying him as well – he really does need to take whatever opportunities he can get right now
And now, contrasted against Kei trying to pamper Hiro, we get Renji trying to pamper Chihiro. All of these are pretty lopsided relationships
And now Kyosuke gets to speak for the first time in a few episodes. He cracks a few sharp comments about “not interfering with an animal in its natural habitat,” in spite of clearly being frustrated with how ridiculous Kei and Hiro are together. It seems like his interest in Kei actually is platonic, since he’s more annoyed the two haven’t gotten together than anything else
Huh. A nice little musical interlude here catching us up with all the characters
Chihiro recites the day’s important events to herself in the bath, drawing her memory of them up into the present moment. Looks like she’s been working hard to conserve her memories of Renji
Ah, it looks like she really has held on to that one terrible evening
And apparently she’s been staying up late every single night to conserve all her Renji memories. Guess that explains why she’s nodding off in the afternoon
“I’ll never forget this.” From Chihiro, that’s the ultimate threat. She has to let many things go, but if you hurt her enough, she’ll work to bear that grudge forever
It actually does seem like Chihiro is remembering more now
Aaand just before they hold hands, Chihiro collapses in the sand. Curse you, melodramas!
In her mind, Chihiro follows through on her sad wedding to a painting. In the real world, she sleeps for hours, passing her time limit and losing all the memories she’d so carefully gathered. This is a mean show
And now Renji sees her at her most vulnerable, when she’s just woken up from being a twelve year old girl
Whew, Miyako finally calls Hiro back. One crisis averted
Aw man, this show is brutal! Miyako’s dancing on the verge of non-existence, and Chihiro is nearly killing herself in a failed bid to maintain a consistent self for Renji. Love isn’t easy at the best of times, but this show sure does make it seem like the most excruciating experience in the world. It’s still very good, though – this was an excellent episode on the whole, and even if there was less visual experimentation than last episode, the strength of the drama more than made up for it. Ef is a very satisfying show.
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