ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 6

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!

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ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 5

And we’re back for another episode of A Tale of Memories. Last episode was, as usual, a mix of the good and the bad. On the positive side, Chihiro’s story has surprisingly turned out to be the strongest narrative within this series, with Chihiro’s condition being handled in a thoughtful way and her personality coming through gracefully throughout. On the negative side, Kei’s material last week was pretty much all romantic comedy cliches, as she flipped from a misunderstanding in the first half to a walking-in-on-her-rival moment in the second. But considering ef was able to turn Chihiro’s story into something compelling, I have reasonable hope that Kei will turn out the same. Let’s find out!

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ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 4

And we’re back with more ef! Last episode accomplished something absolutely crucial for this story – it made me actually care about Chihiro and her strange condition. Chihiro seemed designed as that classic mix of frail, demure, and doomed that’s pretty much death to my investment, but by immediately acknowledging and exploring the lived experience of her condition, the show was able to make her feel not just pitiable, but actually relatable. Fantastical situations inherently dampen an audience’s ability to relate to drama, but if those situations are framed in terms of understandable human feelings, that bridge becomes easy to cross. Let’s see what episode four brings!

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ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 3

And we’re back with more ef! The second episode did a great deal to increase my confidence in this series, largely because it was so quick in revealing the dark and tragic secret of Chihiro’s memory. Chihiro’s problem is a Maeda-style device that would have made for a totally inert reveal if it were dragged out – her problem is tough to relate to, but that doesn’t actually matter if we can relate to her feelings about her problem. When dramas like this hide their tragic twists, they trade the audience’s ability to sympathize with their characters for a cheap combination of suspense and surprise. By revealing her condition right now, the show can work to put that condition in tangible, relatable terms through her future actions.

Anyway! We’ll see soon enough whether the show actually takes its variables in compelling directions. Let’s get right to it!

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ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 2

And we’re back to ef! I’ve spent a little time away from this one, but I’m excited to continue Shin Oonuma’s big SHAFT treatise. The first episode mostly impressed through visual invention, though I did also enjoy the banter between at least one of the couples we’ve met so far. The implied melodrama of the narrative seems to match nicely with the aggressive theater of the presentation, making for a beautiful and cohesive overall package. If the writing can hold up, this could be a pretty special show!

Alright, let’s get right to it.

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Ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 1

Hey everybody! Today I’ll be running through some notes for a new series: Ef – A Tale of Memories. I’ve heard this franchise was one of Shin Oonuma’s greatest contributions to studio SHAFT, before he went off to reign over Silver Link for all eternity. I’ve also heard that it’s both extremely visually compelling and exactly my kind of thing, full of sharp character writing and romance and visual storytelling that actually elevates those things. Either way, the die has been cast for the first couple episodes, so we’ll see what Ef has to offer. Onward!

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