Fall Finales: ef – a tale of melodies

25 12 2008

Whether or not if you liked ef – a tale of melodies, is really dependent on what you expected from this series before hand.  If you expected another season w/ soaring emotional climaxes and portions that will take your breath away… prepare to be somewhat disappointed.  However, if you expect answers to a lot of the lingering questions from ef – memories, then you’re just in luck.

Of all the questions answered, the most critical one was “Who is Yuuko?”.  The answer was stunning, riveting, and very emotional.  Simply put, her story is one of a tragic life turned happy thanks to a loved one.  In spite of her tale cutting short, All the stories of ef revolve around her and Himura’s desire to share the happiness that they had felt.  Her willingness to help Mizuki and his determination to create a new Otowa were their first attempts at this goal.  The result is a finale that not only does the second season justice, but also the entire ef story.

Unfortunately the one story that COULD be compared to first season, didn’t live up to expectations.  Perhaps it was because it was being overshadowed by Yuuko’s story, but in the end Kuze/Mizuki’s path ended up being a disappointment, by ef standards.  Kuze spent a little too much time wallowing in self-pity without any noticeable improvements.  When he does improve it seems that it happened because it was convenient for the ending.  I never really saw the benefits of the Kuze/Mizuki relationship.

In my opinion, Mizuki ended up being a very likable female lead.  Throughout the first season and most of the second, she is shown to be rather optimistic and having a bubbly personality.  But when her past with Yuuko was revealed, it becomes evident that Mizuki is deeper then she looks.

Besides the story, nearly everything else remained the same.  A sharp concentration on implications through creative artistry, a wonderful soundtrack that emphasizes key scenes, two stories that are relatively independent of each other, and of course a wonderfully animated and sung opening.  So in those categories, ef – melodies gets a perfect 10 from me.  But in terms of story, I’ll say something similar to what I said for Code Geass R2.  For an anime, the story is wonderful, but for ef, it was a dissapointment… at least Kuze’s part.

After thinking rather hard, and managing to keep the fanboy in me out of the picture, I realize that ef – a tale of melodies just didn’t have the same magic as ef – a tale of memories.  While together I’ll give the franchise as VERY strong 10 out of 10… as an individual season…

FINAL RATING: 9/10

 





ef – a tale of melodies – Episode 12 [END]

24 12 2008

Thoughts

First of all, this post will only review this episode (episdoe 12) as a standalone.  I’ll have a full series review posted later.  

That being said… if you are able to overlook some drastic drops in animation quality this week, then you will be treated to a VERY definitive ending as the ef – melodies finale ties everything up with a nice bow.

There’s a short timeskip after episode 11 and it’s Christmas time at both Otowa, Japan, and Otowa, Australia.  The first half of the episode takes some snapshots of the lives of the main characters.  Chihiro is staying at Renji’s house for the holidays, Kuze has started to occupy his house again (with Mizuki helping out), Hiro is still trying to meet those deadlines w/ Miyako supporting him all the way, and Kyousuke is forced to help the film club (and his ex) despite being very happy with Kei.  This portion sorta felt like the coda in the ef – memories finale.

The second half returns to Himura as word finally reaches him about Yuuko’s reappearance in Japan.  He decides that it’s time for him to return to Japan’s Otowa and see what’s going on. (I find it terribly amusing that all the characters are a) filthy rich and b) have no problems booking flights as nearly everyone seems to be able to get last minute international tickets btw Japan and Australia)  And as such, he is reunited with Yuuko.  The two of them have the date that were robbed of 10 years ago which culminates in one more rooftop scene.

Yuuko mentioned something this episode, something that I had figured out as early as episode 3.  The tragedy of Yuuko and Himura ended up leading them to help the 4 main couples of the story to their happiness.  And now, as then, I think that was some marvelous writing.

It’s never explicitly stated that Yuuko is an angel, but I think from all the hints and imagery (w/ the wings and feathers) it’s safe to say that she is one.  In the end, this episode felt perfect to air during Christmas week

As for why this was definitive ending, I’ll leave that to the overall series review.





ef – a tale of melodies – Episode 11

24 12 2008

Thoughts

Complain all you want about the number of openings and endings in that episode, but in the end… this episode of ef  was an emotional powerhouse.  The intensity just kept rising and rising and capped off in the last musical montage in which I was left trying to remember the last time was so engulfed by an anime episode.

While the episode essentially is the conclusion to the Kuze’s story, it only spends about half it’s length getting Kuze over his reason to die.  The confrontation itself was very Mizuki-like: odd, funny, yet meaningful.  If anyone wondered why Kuze’s confession in episode 7 was so weak in comparison to Yuuko’s, the answer is.. it wasn’t complete.  Mizuki reveals that she only walked away because she didn’t know how to respond to Kuze’s interrogation.  After a little while, she was able to figure out the answer.  The resulting scene was very well made, and was purposely contrasting in tone to Kuze’s confession.  The two scene combined leave me very satisfied.

The second half of the episode began working towards the overarching finale of ef – a fairy tale of the two.  Kuze’s decision to go forward w/ a risky surgery was indicative of his wish to change.  Everyone else deals with this decision in their own way.  In the meanwhile, all the Otowa, Japan characters reminisce about how Yuuko had helped all of them in their time of need.

The ensuing musical montage was all that was needed to remind me of the magic of the two seasons.  And with the ending seemingly showing us that Kuze did in fact survive his surgery, all eyes are on the finale to see exactly how the story will end.





ef – a tale of melodies – Episode 10

18 12 2008

Thoughts

Even though it wasn’t as climactic as the episode 10 of memories, this episode left quite an impact.  As you can tell, this episode marked the end of Yuuko’s story and everyone’s worst fear is confirmed in the final few minutes.

From what I’m hearing around the internet is that there is a lot of complaints about Yuuko’s death since it feels soo anticlimactic.  Part of me thought that too, but I soon came up with a justification.  The traumatic part of Yuuko’s life ended in episode 9 with Amamiya’s death.  A few points in the dialogue indicate that some time HAS passed since that event and Yuuko and Himura were able to settle into a new life.  Unfortunately, Yuuko was destined to have a tragic life from beginning to her sudden end.

Besides Yuuko there were a lot of other tidbits and details that really expand the ef universe.  We’re finally given an explanation for the two Otowas, and that it originated as Himura’s plan to create a new Otowa that isn’t hiding it’s painful past.  Of course his job as a designer helped him greatly.

But I’m getting off the point, the big portion of this episode dealt with a young and very different Mizuki.  It was interesting to see that the eternally cheerful and optimistic Mizuki had such a harsh/depressing childhood.  Well after Yuuko’s story it shouldn’t be that surprising.  But I mean parent’s forcing you into suicide, that is quite twisted…  But anyway… the young mizuki was in fact a loner a somewhat of a crybaby, but thanks you Yuuko she was able to open herself up again and have a positive disposition once again.  

And also interesting, is how Yuuko probably led Mizuki to her initial attraction to Kuze.  As Kuze’s song, garnered lyrics through Yuuko, taught to Mizuki who eventually met Kuze after recognizing him playing that song again.

Lastly, the usage of ebullient future as the ending theme was quite powerful and it’s safe to say that I had to fight back a few tears.

I’m actually avoiding giving ratings out to episode 10 and 11 because I want to judge the season as a whole rather then it’s individual parts.





ef – a tale of melodies – Episode 09

6 12 2008

Thoughts

There was some really nice imagery this week as the show builds towards a joint conclusion?! Well maybe not, but the ties between them have never been stronger, especially w/ what Mizuki said in the closing scene. On the whole a strong episode with one major weakness, but ef as always.

Yuuko’s story took a good ¾ of the episode. Yuuko realizes that she does, in fact, love Himura.. yeah no surprise there. In spite of that, the episode did a great job bringing out the parallelisms btw Yuuko and Himura using the filmstrip imagery.

The next part of their story was primarily about drawing out (quite literally) the differences between Himura and Amamiya-sensei. The show spent the last episode showing us the similarities about how they both are only running away from their tragic past. This episode shows that the critical difference is that Amamiya was stuck looking at the past to the very end while Himura was able to look to the future. This brings me to the biggest problem with this episode… Amamiya’s death scene. It was rather dragged out.

In the present, Kuze’s story finally takes the upturn that it so drastically needed. Kuze, after sucessfully alienating everyone finally realizes his own folly. I can’t help but think to something the Joker said in Dark Knight. About how people show their true color when they’re close to death, and it only makes sense that Kuze actually wants to live because of Mizuki. With Mizuki, she comes up with a plan regarding Kuze and she executes it. But, not before paying her respects to Yuuko(?!)

So the show finally reaches to my biggest question that I’ve had since watching the ef – the latter tale opening. What is the relationship between Yuuko and Mizuki?

Last little tidbits about the episode, even if it’s last season stuff, I really liked seeing the sister dynamics between Kei and Chihiro. The finale is fast approaching… only 3 more episodes. To get a better feel of melodies with respect to memories, I am going to marathon the first 11 episodes before viewing the finale.

RATING: 9/10





ef – a tale of melodies – Episode 08

27 11 2008

Thoughts

The show is slowly but surely working towards a climax.  This episode confirms what the overarching message of this season in.  The first season’s was “being erased from someone’s heart”… this season is “running away”.  And as we see here, both Kuze and Himura are at fault.

The episode was primarily centered around the past with only a few new revelations in the present.  It was kinda frustrating though, cause throughout the episode I thought Himura was finally making progress w/ Yuuko but it was all for naught when he decides to go wandering/wallowing instead of going back to the apartment… as such Yuuko panics and goes back to Amamiya-sensei.

What Kuze said about “Yuu never being able to see Yuuko again” only further pushes that she is dead.  I’m not going as far as to say dead, but rather in some sort of state that prevents her from leaving Otowa, Japan.  Obviously, Kuze and Nagi find out about it one way or another, and the topic is still sensitive to the adult Himura.

Last little tidbit about the past, the young Himura is starting to adopt parts of his older personlity.  Namely, saying stuff like “I’ve forgotten already”

Not really much happens in the present, except for Nagi and Himura realizing that their past is getting in the way of them helping Kuze.  As such, Nagi pins all her hopes onto Mizuki… as she says, she’s the only person that hasn’t run away.

Considering the way that this episode ended and that the show has been pretty Yuuko-centric as of late… The next two episodes will probably wrap up Mizuki/Kuze’s story.  So it’s their last chance to come up to par w/ the other ef stories.

RATING: 8.5/10





ef – a tale of melodies – Episode 07

27 11 2008

Thoughts

It’s aftermath time… Yuuko’s confession was probably one of the most disturbing and best things we’ve seen from ef yet. All eyes were on episode 7 to see what the writers would pull now. The result: Yuuko’s story is now filled with incredible tension, while Kuze’s story is being overshadowed… BIG TIME.

In the past, we got some new revelations… according to her, Yuuko never actually loved Himura, but rather wanted him to feel a bit of the pain that she’s felt ever since he “abandoned” her. First of all, that’s stupid… how was Himura supposed to know when she asked him if he wanted a sister that she meant if he wished her to go away. And also, how was she supposed to know that her new brother was a potential rapist? Anyway, my point is… she knows this, her explanation to Himura is nothing but another mask. I’m almost certain that she truly loves him. However on the other hand… Amamiya-sensei is more mysterious.

Why give your victim a weapon to fight back with? Why try to teach Himura about resolve and essentially asking him to kill you? There’s something else of his past that we haven’t heard either… The question is… what?

For the present story, Nagi isn’t actually Kuze’s fiancé… it was just set up so that Mizuki could move on. Unfortunately it backfires, as Mizuki just wants to be more involved in Kuze’s life. The result is Kuze’s meltdown.

This one wasn’t nearly as good as Yuuko’s, probably because the topic isn’t as edgy. In summary, Kuze, deep down, still wants to do thing with his life and not give up. I’m guessing that’s probably gonna start leading to a change of heart (figure of speech, not literal). I’m still holding out on this story, there’s something about a young Mizuki that we haven’t seen yet.

RATING: 9/10