Love. It’s such a fickle, dangerous but ultimately glorious thing. Human beings, big or small, short or tall, dumb or smart, all feel the need for love in one way or another. I believe that we were never to be in complete solitude. Instead, I think each and every individual’s true life work is to find a partner that shares with them the greatest gift of all. Finding that “one and only” can be a journey that may never end.
It’s definitely one that’s treacherous. There are ups and downs, danger at every single corner but the reward for completing such a quest is something so much better than any material item. Unfortunately some people search their entire lives for love but never find it. It’s something that, once again, we as human beings each fear. Loneliness. At least, this is what I think now after watching one of Hanabee’s latest Anime releases “Ef: A Tale Of Memories and Melodies”. I always new life and love was supposed to be a little bit of a battle…but not THIS much of a battle.
This is a string of interwoven stories over love won and love lost. ef ~ a tale of memories tells the story of Hiro Hirono, who meets Miyako Miyamura on Christmas Eve and their unlikely friendship. But as their relationship evolves Hiro’s childhood friend, Kei Shindou, enters the fray. Meanwhile Renji Asou is learning how to love a girl that won’t ever remember him properly. The sequel, ef ~ a tale of melodies, focuses itself on both the past and present. Years ago Yu meets Yuko in high school as they reconnect after a ten-year separation while in the present Shuichi Kuze is finding a new lease on life through one Mizuki Hayama. But with both pairs battling their own personal demons will they be able to receive their happy ending?– Hanabee
This truly is a tale of tragedy. “Ef” is filled to the brim with a character cast of highly unlikable personalities. Despite the fact that the series revolves tightly around romance and love, it does not feature many characters that you’d hope the best for. Instead, I found myself hating the characters who were getting what they wanted and feeling even more sorry for those that didn’t. This was one of the bigger problems of the series, in my opinion. The story was actually quite interesting: It focused on a couple different parties each vying for someones affection and, in the second season, told stories from both the past AND the present which was a very nice touch, so there’s no real problem there. But when you have a bunch of characters who are insane or neurotic or overly anxious or selfish or two dimensional, it kind of takes you out of the story. Now I know it is meant to be a little darker of a romance story but that doesn’t mean you have to hate the people that are in love. I already do that enough now in my own life…damn kids.
Even worse is that most of the characters were voiced by actors and actresses who I believe didn’t perform to the best of their abilities. The English dub of the series was greatly lacking in, let’s say, “heart and soul”. This was the case for many but not all of the characters. I did find myself quite impressed during some scenes where the more experienced voice actors really showed that they had mastered their art. The characters weren’t that relatable at all so that built a whole other wall of separation between the show and its audience. What it did right was the theme of tragedy. Any fan of darker romance will definitely get a kick out of “Ef”. Every character, though seemingly quite flat, does have an interesting backstory which comes up every now and then. It also wasn’t laid out in excess so you didn’t feel as though you were being pelted with upsetting stories or scenes.
What kept me going with “Ef” was not the quality of animation but the different cinematic techniques used by the development staff. It’s not every so often that you see live action-style camera work in an Anime. Usually scenes are pretty standard; characters talk to each other head on, sometimes there may be a fight scene and the shot may change but it still feels like an Anime. “Ef” employed many cinematic techniques, I believe, to compensate for what the actual animation quality lacked because, without sound TOO harsh, it was terrible. Character movements were clunky, there were many still frames and many examples of sloppy line work…it was a bit of a mess. It WAS interesting to see different film techniques being used though. It isn’t even that specific ones were used, it’s more that I haven’t seen an Anime series use them in quite some time. It’s actually fairly admirable for a studio to attempt to do such a thing.
Backing up the English dub, of which I mentioned above, is a pretty fitting soundtrack that is made up of a great deal of classical tunes. Not so much orchestral work but there’s a lot of piano and violin, which actually plays into the story in “A Tale Of Melodies”. Also, each of the tracks were clearly composed in a classical nature. This did fit the series very well. You can’t exactly have electric guitar riffs going off in the background as a young lady confess her love to a young man. Though, in saying that, I think I’d maybe enjoy that too. None of the tracks are too memorable but that doesn’t exactly mean it’s a terrible soundtrack it just means nothing stuck but that could be because I was focusing on maybe the more negative auditory aspects.
“Ef: A Tale of Memories and Melodies” is a fantastic series for those of you out there who enjoy a bit of romance but hate people actually being happy. As I mentioned in the first paragraph; love truly is a battlefield but the love found in “Ef” is so much worse than that. You have to remember though; this is an Anime series from 2006 so everything that’s wrong with it is, I suppose, the fault of time. The industry has evolved so much in recent times to the point where I doubt you’d now see a series with this many faults especially when it comes to things like an English dub or animation quality. Though it is what it is and I have to review only for what it is, and that is…not very good. It has some redeeming qualities, it really does, but that’s only for its target audience which, unfortunately, is not twenty year old males who’ve grown to be somewhat apathetic. If you’re to watch it, I suggest doing so in its original Japanese. That will eliminate the bad voice acting. As for the animation quality…nothing can really change that. It’s just something you have to bear with. “Ef: A Tale of Memories and Melodies” is a series for those that are forgiving and have an open mind but it definitely wasn’t for me.
Feel the heartache of love by heading to the official Hanabee store to purchase “Ef: A Tale of Memories and Melodies” now: Click Here