Posted by psgels on 29 December 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews

After looking at the promo-art, it’s easy to label ef as another of those harem-series. I too, at the beginning, wasn’t really motivated to continue with this series. Still, ef proved quite early that it doesn’t care about stereotypes. It’s not even a harem: it’s just a story about one love-triangle and one tragic couple. On top of that, this production has been supervised by Akiyuki Shinbou, which provides excellent graphics that actually symbolize the story, and the music is absolutely terrific. Even those who aren’t into romance can give this series a try.

But the thing that really makes this series is the dialogue. It’s deep, it’s detailed, and it’s meaningful. Neither the characters nor the story are that special for this series, but the dialogue makes everything so much better than if it were written by a lazy writer who only cares about his pay-check. The first half of the series basically builds up and fleshes out the characters, while the second half drastically increases the dramatic tension, and with great results.

There lies my problem with this series, though. ef has an excellent middle part, but I’m a bit iffy on the ending. This series seems to want to go out with a bang, while I think it would have been more appropriate to have let it end more peacefully. The twists near the ending feel forced, and just there to get a happy ending together. I would have liked to see an approach more similar to that of Hitohira: just have one big climax, while the rest of the series either focuses on building-up or the aftermath.

Still, I consider ef as one of the best visual novel-adaptations I’ve ever seen. There is a lot of crap amongst this genre, especially the eroge-adaptations, but ef ignores this and delivers a moving story between multiple couples. While there were a few side-characters who lacked development, the others were just as deep as the main ones. If you don’t plan on watching this series, then at least try to get your hands on the soundtrack, because that one for me has been the best soundtrack of the season.

21 Responses

  1. marmot says:

    I watched all of ef but I feel that the 86 score is only really applicable to half the series. The story about the girl who loses her memories was great and interesting (even if the guy looked like a terrier) but the love triangle was just so dull and cliched I wanted the characters to either seek psychiatric help or get over themselves. I also got the feeling that the budget wasn’t used very well, some parts are full of one visual metaphor after another but the 2 really dramatic moments with the red haired girl nearly sent me to sleep because I was basically watching the same shot for 3 minutes.

  2. omo says:

    I’ve long thought psgels’ scoring system to mean just two things:

    1. any show that’s scored above a 90 or below an 70 is not really all that great.
    2. all my favorite shows have to score between 80 and 90, with a rare couple shows in the 70s.

    I think if you think the Kei-Hirono-Miyako thing isn’t great, then you probably are not paying attention to details. I thought the first 8 episodes were carried purely by that. There are some awesome dialogs and some great concepts tossed around that makes it unlike any romantic anime ever before.

  3. Sasa says:

    Maybe I am too absorbed by the pictures, but so far I have not seen one single memorable part of dialogue yet. So I’m really wondering what makes the dialogue so great for you guys… Do you have examples?

  4. marmot says:

    Hmmm I guess the dialog was above average but I think the story and the characters were fairly mediocre especially compared to the more ambitious memory loss plot. Actually what probably annoyed me the most was that there seemed to be only about 10 people in this world, it’s always so contrived when the only person someone sees when there out is someone they already know.

    regarding psgels scoring; I think he is a bit too forgiving with his scores, ef isn’t bad but I think it’s more than 14 points from perfection, that being said, regardless of scores I think he’s got how good a series is compared to others mostly spot on. And let us all remember it is just a point of view.

  5. psgels psgels says:

    Sasa: I first realized this when the anime itself mentioned how Chihiro’s writing abilities are just like those of a novellist. After that, I realized more and more how the monologues and dialogues of the series were pretty much the same, they felt much more like prose than like dialogue in an average anime. Unfortunately, my memory is a bit too fuzy to give any concrete examples.

    Marmot: yeah, I’ve often been told that my ratings are a tad too high at ties, but it’s indeed like you said a point of view. When I started out with my rating-system, I quickly decided to not base it off anyone else’s rating-system, but just go with my own.

    The reason why I liked this serie smore than you did was probably because I liked the very long telephone-scene with the red-haired girl.

  6. alida says:

    I was so glad this wasn’t harem – I’ve had enough of them, seriously… (Clannad needs to stop copying Kanon, but Kanon is unbearable, and School Days is just… (runs around in frustration) terrible.

  7. omo says:

    There are boatloads of deep dialogs in this show, but my favorite one must be the part where Kei was first introduced to Kyousuke.

    Closely followed by the bit about death and memory which first described Chihiro when she was talking to Renji, then again with Miyako and Hirono. Then again with Chihiro.

    Third would be Chihiro’s sheep analogy.

  8. nahrub says:

    really annoyed by episode 7, 5 minutes of still picture with criss-crossing words that seems done by powerpoint. ef is great and all, but that particular scene is just too annoying. it wont negate the message if it was cut short.

  9. nahrub says:

    watching this again i’ve suddenly realised how empty all the scenes are, exceptions for 1st episode christmas’ and classroom’s. if a character don’t have a dialogue, it won’t be in screen. i’m not sure why the town so empty (all the time); maybe the director want to stress the lonesome characters, or maybe the animators are too lazy.

  10. Wyrdwad says:

    I just finished watching this series today, and I feel compelled to comment just to offset the other comments on here: I believe this show to be one of the best anime of its kind I’ve ever seen, and it easily falls within my top ten favorite shows of all time. Were I to rate it, I’d give it a 90 or above, without a doubt… the writing in it really is top-notch, and while I felt ALL the characters were extremely well-developed, I believe the relationship between Renji and Chihiro to be one of the most unique and beautiful I’ve ever seen in any anime.

    The long telephone scene, too, and that scene with all the writing on the screen that nahrub disliked so much, were also standout moments for me, and represented truly unique approaches to storytelling that I really, really enjoyed.

    All in all, this show was more of a surprise than I could’ve ever expected. Beautiful, beautiful series.


  11. ritchan says:

    Sounds like I’m going with the flow here, but I rewatched it and I feel that the telephone scene is the best one in the series, period. I think it’s overall a very beautiful anime, and not just graphics-wise, although I really appreciate the unconventional approach on that.

    Also, whenever an episode cuts to Renji+Chihiro, I always fast forward. I don’t know why… Chihiro losing her memories every 13 hours should be an interesting enough plot device to keep me hooked, but I wanted to see more of Kei, Miya Miya and Kyousuke.

  12. Frank Lark says:

    I just finnished watching this anime 10 minutes ago and stumbled upon this blog, after frowning at Anime news network giving it a 8.7/10, from public voting.
    The concept is great, the art is beautiful and soundtrack hits the spot. However I think the characters aren’t unique, and the setting is quite confusing and unpleasant. Why such a westernized town, there is a lack of environment (people, life) even though it has such wonderful art. There is attention to detail and certain still scenes are given small movements such as, the elongation of shadow.
    The storyline does have a sense of fresh air to it. However I still couldnt help myself point out the similarities between this anime and the movie “50 first dates”.
    However as stated from a previous comment, the sheep analogy was good and the impact of suddenly waking up 4 years later and realising the changes in body and life itself is very intriguing and Chihiro’s reaction to it was spot on. But the love relationship between all the characters were very linear and predictable. Furthermore i couldn’t feel anything for any of the characters, they just weren’t likeable. I didn’t care for the characters. Maybe because it was only 12 episodes but come on, an anime movie such as 5 centimeters per-second or any of Hayao Miyazaki’s film had way more impact on characters than ef – a tale of memories.

    Cant say much, only seen it once. Personally i would give a good 3/5 or 70-ish%, but thats my opinion. Finally, I think it was really funny that they had intercourse for both relationships right after they discovered they loved each other or kissed for the first time its like; ” I love you ” and they kissed. And than they had sex.

  13. kita says:

    Frank Lark: I couldn’t agree with you more! I felt exactly the same! I really really disliked how the characters, after confessing, had sex. Love is so much more deeper than that, and those scenes made it seem like a joke and really unrealistic…sure the sheep analogy was amazing but i agree with others in that the story was very cliche and there was no outside life…overrall i believe it was overrated and not worth watching or recommending.

  14. Kuro says:

    The series overall had its good points and bad points , what I found most interesting was Chihiro’s was trajically unique of some sort, it really made me feel her misery and how it affected her normal , healthy friend Renji. Also the the writers have showed great talent in using her tragedy to create more and more dramatic scenes , and more importantly , the way the ended this story was just..beautiful.

    On the other hand, Hiro’s story was just another boring, annoying cliche’ , full of irritating scenes , and the way the love traingle ended was just unbelievable to me.

    Aside from that I really agree that it’s just funny how both couples have sex on the same night that they confess , and on the same night they have their first kiss..that’s just hilarious.

  15. JiLLyPooP says:

    i’m currently watching the last part of ep 7…the one where miyako’s leaving messages to the point of going crazy. it’s impacting, yes, but the music added to her messages is really creepy…x_x; feel like some ghost is gonna come up or something lol. not really. but eh. it’s the suspense i suppose…

    but i like the story so far.

  16. Shaun Lance says:

    I feel that Ef: A Tale of Memories is one of the best drama shows I have ever seen. I love how almost every single part was important and contributed in some way to the plot, even opening animations. There were some really great dialogues that caught my attention. Other than the sheep and Chihiro being tied to a chain 12 years long and the farthest her hand can reach was 13 hours, I loved the story she was writing, how it symbolized her life completely. I also liked how they portrayed Chihiro finding herself older by 4 years, unlike the 50 first dates. One of the dialogues with Renji and Kuze especially caught my attention, the part with Kuze explaining how, “… the outcome of your action, which become inevitable, will overlap with accidents, and fulfill your dream unexpectedly. I don’t know if that can be called a miracle, but there’s one thing I’m certain about. Nothing will happen if you don’t wish for it.” There were many more amazing points for the dialogue, but there’s so much and I’ve already talked too much.

  17. Shaun Lance says:

    Well, I personally really liked Ef – A Tale of Memories.

    *Spoilers after this. If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t read it XD*

    One of the reasons being the animation. I’m really surprised how abstract all of the point of views were, such as Hirono walking toward the rooftop door and the dome sky while the buildings stayed the same. In a way, I think the animation is meant to be more “symbolic” rather than “AWWWWW, LOOK AT THE PURRTY COLORS!”

    The scene with Mikako’s phone call really showed the tension and fear she held about losing Hirono, which is one reason why I really like it. It was really scary for me >O

  18. Aaron says:

    This is one of the best anime I’ve seen. I just finished watching it for the second time about 15 mins ago, and once again, tears. Everything I would mention has already been, but I would just like to say this for anybody reading: if you appreciate an amazing love story, you will appreciate this anime series. Regardless of how cliche, regardless of the fact that the ending was somewhat predictable, and the fact that they all ended up having sex, this series is is is is amazing and I would recommend this to anyone. Absolutely anyone.

  19. The Dude says:

    I hate this anime ended i want hirono to end up with Kei. Fking anime disgusts me now!

  20. The Dude says:

    I hated how this anime ended i want hirono to end up with Kei. this anime disgusts me now!

  21. CaptainShrimps says:

    jeez everyone, whats with all the hating? if u don’t like this anime then seriously don’t even visit this page. i have no respect for haters who post hate comments just for the sake of it. honestly guys…

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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: as far as Xavier goes I implore you to download and watch the first episode to get the gist of it. That show is the pinnacle of absurdist and meta humor. It’s strangely adored within the animation circles, getting very high praise from the industry, but it’s very dense and bizarre so people either love or hate it. If you’re anything like me it might become one of your most beloved shows.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:17 AM)
    @kaiser: If Symphogear gets as bad as Valvrave then we’re talkin. Few companies make entertaining trash like Sunrise does.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:54 AM)
    *At first I thought it would be like nanoha
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I read a comment stating that season 3 of symphogear got so bad that it came off as along the lines of “worse than a Mari Okada melodrama”.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:36 AM)
    @Bam: That renegade angel thing looks off the wall, haven’t seen an episode but my thoughts from looking up the show is “I’m not quite sure if this is a good/bad thing lol”

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