[Anime Mini Review]: Ef: A Tale of Memories & A Tale of Melodies

efa

Director: Shin Ōnuma

Developer of Original Visual Novel: Minori

Animation Studios: Shaft

Version Watched: Subbed

Here we are once again with an anime adaptation of a visual novel I’ve read and reviewed previously. You may recall that I didn’t particularly like Ef’s visual novel and may be wondering why I bothered to watch the anime. Well, a friend of mine who had only seen the anime assured me that it sounded a whole lot better than the visual novel I was describing. And you know what? He was right. Ef’s first season was a great deal more enjoyable than its source material, fixing a number of the problems I had with the original. Unfortunately, however, due to some truly obnoxious animation techniques and a second season that drops the figurative ball, I still can’t recommend Ef.

Since I’ve already covered the characters and story in another review, here I’ll be focusing primarily on what makes the anime different. There are a lot of comparisons that you won’t care about if you’re only interested in the anime, so if that description fits you then go ahead and skip to the last two paragraphs. As I’ve already mentioned I much preferred Ef’s first season, A Tale of Memories, to its visual novel counterpart. Many opportunities to spice up the story that were missed in the first telling were picked up in the second and the whole production benefitted from it. There was enough new material to keep things interesting for me while still staying true to the original story and its outcomes. Whereas many anime adaptations feel rushed due to the necessity of condensing an original, much longer story, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get that feeling from Ef. Admittedly an entire route was skimmed over but it was the least important of the lot and I would go so far as to say that nothing was lost in its loss.

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A Tale of Melodies, however, takes everything its counterpart builds up and drags it all back down again. Where the first season added new improvements to the story, the second failed to emphasize a number of important plot points that needed to be brought to the viewer’s attention. Where the first season stayed true to its source material in all the right ways, the second featured two episodes of completely new and unnecessary material that served only to bulk up its episode count. Where the first season dropped weaker sections to shore up its better ones, the second rushed through its strongest points despite having other, less important moments fully explored. All in all, it was a very disappointing continuation of the series.

But now we get to the crux of the matter which concerns both halves of the show. Ef is what I would call a very artistic series, which in itself is not a problem. While watching you’ll see a large number of varying animation techniques, of which some are very tasteful and add positively to the experience. Unfortunately the frequency with which these techniques are employed borders on the ridiculous, to the point where the animators seem to be desperately seeking to draw your attention away from the story at hand. Ef’s visual novel was visually striking because of its gorgeous art, whereas its anime struck me as trying very hard to be artistic for the sake of being artistic. If everything had been toned down a little and not been right up in my face the entire time, I would have enjoyed the experience a lot more.

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Summary – Despite my complaints Ef is not a bad anime. Fans of the visual novel will most likely be able to see past its flaws and enjoy the spectacle of their favorite characters coming to life. For others, however, I would advise you to stay away from this average adaptation of an already average story. The combination of a lacklustre story and garish animation techniques mean that there are a lot of other series much more worth your time.

Score: 6/10 – Average

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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11 Responses to [Anime Mini Review]: Ef: A Tale of Memories & A Tale of Melodies

  1. Overlord-G says:

    Basically an adaptation with much premise that got full of itself and dropped the ball in the second season. Nothing new as far as adaptations go, from what I’ve seen and heard anyway. I had plans to pick this one up because there were things that piqued my interest from what I heard. Unfortunately I lost interest and basically removed both seasons from my hard drive without picking them up at all. I bet what was worth my time got insufficient screen time.

    • Silvachief says:

      That’s pretty much hit the nail on the head. Ef has some great scenes and stories that don’t get the attention they deserve mixed in with other very average stuff. You haven’t missed out on anything in my opinion, though there are a good number of people that would argue that particular point.

  2. lifesongsoa says:

    I take it you didn’t like Yuuko’s part in the story? I haven’t actually read the second half of the VNs yet, but I’ve been told that it was expanded in the anime. Personally I was uncomfortable with the age difference between Shuuichi and Mizuki and that kept me from enjoying their part in the story too much… though it did make it memorable. I probably wouldn’t feel that nearly as strongly if I were to watch it again today. The selling point of the series for me was how Yuuko tied in and brought everything together. Chihiro and Yuuko’s stories were easily my favorite parts of the anime. The art and directing were a big part of why I liked it so much.

    I know we have talked about Ef before and that we aren’t going to agree on this series, but as something I loved I have a hard time being quiet about it. Maybe I should actually get around to writing about the VN…

    • Silvachief says:

      I had to go back and re-read our previous conversation before writing this >.>

      I’m not sure whether i’ve mentioned it on this blog but I love when others like series that I disliked. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t enjoy Ef but the fact that so many other people did is a great thing. I’m more than happy to hear conflicting opinions =P

      Yuuko’s story is one of the better parts of Ef in my opinion (with Chihiro’s coming first), though the way it was handled in the anime frustrated me. When I mention filler episodes and missed emphasis, it’s her portion of the show that i’m talking about. As for the way she connects the stories together…we may just have to disagree on that point.
      The age difference thing also gets me, so we’re together on that one. For a 15-ish year old to start a relationship with a 30-ish year old (with severe heart disease), while nobody around them bats an eye, is simply too bizarre for me.

      Specifics aside, for me Ef has some really exciting stories mixed in with some really poor ones and the sum of those parts just didn’t do anything for me. Likewise, the anime is better than the VN in parts and worse in others, but those animation techniques were just not my cup of tea. I would go so far as to say that I feel they trivialized a lot of what was going on.

      • lifesongsoa says:

        I haven’t read Yuuko’s story in the VN yet so maybe I have something to look forward too? Funny thing is I didn’t like the other stories the first I watched the anime, but when I played the VN I noticed so many about the story I hadn’t noticed before. Ultimately I enjoyed all of them though I agree with you on the top two it seems. They were the easy leaders of the pack.

        I’m glad to know I’m safe in being allowed to like Ef here. 🙂 Shin Oonuma’s style is something I fell in love with when I watched Ef. At this point I can’t even say if there were distracting choices or not, it’s simply been to long. I do remember it being one of the first “artsy” shows I really liked. Of course what I remember best in the end is that I took a lot away from Ef. It was the rare type of show where it made me uncomfortable, but I was able to appreciate it anyway if that makes sense. Not in spite of what it was, but because of it.

        I wonder have you watched Dusk Maiden of Amnesia or Kokoro Connect? I apologize if I’ve asked this before. Those are two more modern examples of Shin Oonuma’s directing that I liked.

        • Silvachief says:

          While Yuuko’s part in things is done better in the VN, it’s not such a huge improvement that it will blow you away. It was more that small nuances that were nonetheless important to the story were missed, which annoyed me, rather than there being major changes (other than the filler episodes). To someone who’s just watched to anime it probably wouldn’t matter at all, and will just mean there’s a little bit of extra depth to your visual novel experience.

          Do you mean uncomfortable but still able to appreciate it in terms of the emotion in routes like Yuuko’s and Chihiro’s, or in terms of Mizuki’s route? If it’s the former then I can definitely identify. If a story can make my chest tighten with sympathy, sadness or even anger, then it’s done a good job; happiness isn’t the only emotion stories should aim to make you feel. If it’s the latter, though, i’m not sure I can agree. There’s just too much wrong with that portion of Ef that’s portrayed as right, and although i’m normally pretty laid back concerning relationships and who’s in them I just can’t find it in myself to be alright with that one. If I remember correctly, it’s actually worse in the visual novel >.< If you want to discuss it more after you've finished the VN, i'd be more than happy to do so.

          I'll bump up Kokoro Connect to watch next so I can finally have an opinion on this =P At the moment that means that I can't make any solid comments on Shin's style, other than that I liked it in Baka to Test and didn't like it in Ef. Thinking about it now, some of my dislike for Ef's anime style may come from the fact that said style simply doesn't exist in the visual novel. Still, it was just a little too much for me to enjoy.

          • lifesongsoa says:

            All of the Ef stories made me uncomfortable to a degree back when I first watched it. Yuuko’s and Chihiro probably had the most powerful moments, but I think I was actually more comfortable watching those most of the time. Kei and Miyako affected me in a way that no other love triangle had before that. Which is probably just to say that I let myself invest in it to a degree that I hadn’t before and got a story that was more mature than a mindless harem. I actually hated Miyako’s guts when I first watched the anime, but even as I was watching it I had a weird sort of experience because I kind of related with her attitude at that time. It was kind of like having a mirror held up and being forced to look at it. It’s was interesting to read her route in the VN years later and see the same things as something that was meaningful for me in the past. It’s weird to express because it’s one of the few pieces of fiction where I’ve hated something so strongly and come to like it in the end.

            • Silvachief says:

              You may be glad to hear that Kokoro Connect has easily made its way onto my list of favorites! I’ll be adding it to the recommendations list as soon as I finish my review. Thank you so much for recommending it, I really loved the series ^_^

  3. Kai says:

    Likewise, my favorite routes are pretty much Chihiro and Yuuko, and if we’re talking about separate routes alone, Chihiro’s easily take the cake. I really like the idea behind the route, though the ending to that route seems kinda.. anticlimactic, though I guess the author’s going for a generally more optimistic end. Like Lifesongsoa, I also like how Yuuko’s route tie everything together and just made the whole visual novel such a conclusive, richer experience.

    Admittedly, I haven’t watch the anime but the route that you mentioned was skimmed over, I assume it’s Kyousuke’s route? I don’t know but it just seems to have the least impact in the visual novel.

    • Silvachief says:

      I think we discussed Ef in a decent amount of detail when I posted my original review. In summary, though, I agree with your thoughts; it’s just that the individual threads of the story didn’t resonate with me, so their joining together didn’t have as much of an impact as it could have.

      And yep, Kyousuke’s the one that gets shafted =O

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