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.