In a story set years in the past, Himura Yuu is a studious and diligent young man intent solely on maintaining his top academic position at Otowa Academy. One day, he meets a mysterious girl named Amamiya Yuuko, who, to his surprise, recognizes him. Memories of a distant childhood, memories rather left forgotten... meeting Yuuko again will force Yuu to confront the regrets and sorrows of their collective pasts and presents.
In the present, Kuze Shuuichi may seem like a womanizer, but upon closer inspection, is a man who would rather be left alone. Hayama Mizuki, however, is not the type of girl who would let him be, especially after hearing the beautiful sounds of his violin performance. As Mizuki attempts to become closer to him, Kuze attempts to push her away—the tale of their budding relationship is darkened with undertones of an imminent tragedy.
Watching "ef- a tale of melodies" is not like watching a regular anime, but more like an artistic painting come to life. It really is a unique experience!
Taking place after the first installment known as ef- a tale of memories, we now follow the tale of most of the supporting cast from the original I just mentioned. Going into this I was a bit bummed that they didn’t decide to simply go with a whole brand new cast for this, but it actually worked out quite well, as this time around we get to learn more about: Kuze, Mizuki, Yuuko and Yu. (which again
were simply the supporting cast from the first ef series) And get a better understanding as to who they are, and also answer questions that were not answered from the original. You will be transported back and forth from the past to the present, as the overall plot can only be understood by doing so. Now watching this series you won’t really find anything particularly new here with the story, most of the events that take place are more along the lines of what you would see in a Soap Opera---in other words, lots and LOTS of drama here. Basically each of the four cast members will (or eventually) fall for one another, each having to face their own personal demons (just a medifore) in the process. Most of them are not quite what they appear to be at first, and as the story progress you get a much more in depth look as to who they are. The way it is told though, is what really makes "ef- a tale of melodies" stand out. You don’t just simply watch the story and love scenes progress like you would a regular anime. This one is told in a more artistic tone. For example: when the characters are in deep thought from a certain situation, you may see them in a room by themselves--or even see them all chained up as a black silhouette, (this of course represents that the certain character is a prisoner either to themselves, or by another) and a lot of it takes place in the character’s mind and not in the physical form. So you can’t go into this series expecting a "what you see is what you get" idea, because this series doesn’t do it that way. Setting the artistic themes aside for a moment, the situations themselves are pretty standard for a drama, which may turn off some people and give the feeling to them that the whole "medifore" idea is simply there to only cover up a more standard fared story. Which quite honestly isn’t too far from the truth, as many scenes tended to last quite long, and sometimes seemed to give a more slower pace to the storyline. Still, what it lacks in actual new material with its story, it makes up for by the artistic way it shows it. It also has a worth while ending too!
The art of this series is so rich and detailed, I would expect nothing less from the "ef" series, in fact just watching the opening scene with the paper airplane gliding along the sunset sky, is truly appealing for the eyes, as is the entire series. The character design (while nothing particularly new) is well distinct. I especially liked the eyes of the characters. The water effects that come from the ocean will seem to just glide across your screen so fluently. And the character animation and backgrounds are truly superb!
I have to say that the sound was the weakest link for me in the anime, the opening and closing were indeed well planned out tracks (both ranging from soft and sincere, to catchy "finger snapping" tunes, " one even sung in English no less) The background music was a bit lack luster though, while you do get nice and appropriate orchestral music that plays in the back during events, nothing ever really stands out too much, with the exception of Kuze’s violin piece. The voice cast was a bit of a "hit and miss" for me too. Most of the deep males voices were nice at complimenting the artistic theme of the anime. But most of the female cast I found to be a bit on the standard side, with the exception of a girl name Yuuko, her’s was well fitting the part. Overall it was a great soundtrack, but it just didn't seem to be quite as good as the original's.
I really liked each and everyone of the characters, nobody ever came off as annoying, or would make you feel that they tossed one in just for the sake of doing so. I was especially captivated with the character "Kuze, " he is a musician with a quite interesting past, and the turmoil he goes through is quite sad--yet exciting at times. The character chemistry was a bit rushed for one of the couples, but seemed to be pulled off appropriately at the end. Since half of this title is all about back story, you get a pretty in depth look into the character’s lives and can really connect with just who they are, and will feel what they feel!
ef - a tale of melodies is a truly satisfying experience if you can appreciate it’s approach in things. It's debatable as to whether this one surpassed the original or not. It can at least be said however, that this is truly an outstanding sequel! If you prefer a simple and casual romance themed anime then it would probably be best to avoid this one. As many of its extended medifore scenes may tend to drag out and frustrate some viewers. But if you’re an anime fan with a taste for the arts, or perhaps looking for a new way of viewing a romance title, then this series is for you. ef - a tale of melodies is not spectacular in what it shows...but how it shows it!
Side Note: If you are interested in watching this title, I would recommend watching the prequel first. As some of the original main characters from the first make an appearance here, and the whole overall story can only be understood fully from both sides.
*Please watch ef: A Tale of Memories first, because there is a continuation of the love stories presented in the prequel. Feel free to read my review for Memories also.*
After watching Memories, you probably asked yourself these questions:
- Why does Yuuko pop up out of nowhere and disappear before you can blink an eye?
- How do Yuuko and Yuu know each other?
- How do Renji and Chihiro; Hiro and Miyako; and Kyousuke and Kei's relationships continue?
ef: A Tale of Melodies will answer all of those questions as it introduces the background of vague characters from Memories: Mizuki, Yuuko, Yuu, Kuze, and Nagi. There is a
brilliant connection between those characters and the ones from Memories. Just like in Memories, there's drama, psychological history in characters, brutal pasts, and everlasting romance resulting from someone refusing to let go of the person they love.
The anime shows three stories:
- Yuuko and Yuu have one of the most romantic histories in the series, mainly because they knew each other since childhood. They met each other in an orphanage when they were younger. Yuu lost his little sister in an earthquake in Japan, and he rejects Yuuko because of his grievance. Once they meet again in high school, Yuu regrets how he treated Yuuko after he finds out how brutal her life became after she left the orphanage. Determined to protect the woman he loves, he goes through all odds to hold onto her.
- While visiting her cousin Renji in Australia, Mizuki was introduced to Kuze by Renji's mom. Mizuki heard a beautiful song played by the violin one day, and Renji's mom insisted that Mizuki and Kuze spend time together. Mizuki and Kuze spend the next few days together in Kuze's nearly-empty house. After confessing her love for Kuze, their relationship began to blossom. Shortly, Kuze began pushing Mizuki away to avoid hurting her, even though he loved her, too. Despite Kuze's medical condition and his rejection, Mizuki is determined to stay by his side no matter what it takes. You should see all of the crazy yet romantic things she does to make him happy.
- Relationships from Memories continue...
Art and Sound: The art and sound fit perfectly together. It is more museum-like with the mirrored bodies and masks. As the art is displayed, dramatic music is played simultaneously. Kuze's violin piece and Yuuko's improvised lyrics fully explains the moral of the entire series. In order to avoid confusion, the anime presents footnotes at the end of each episode to describe certain terms and references mentioned in the episode. Also, it attaches the time so you can recall where you heard the reference.
- Yuu is an artist and draws quite often. He never desired to join the Art Club, but he drew amazing landscapes and portraits, especially of Yuuko. His dream is to create a beautiful city filled with kind people, which is why he stayed in Australia.
- Yuuko was Yuu's lover in the past. She is now the magical advisor that appears before the main characters to bring happiness to them all. With the same dream as Yuu, she is located in Japan.
- Kuze is a famous violinist and Renji's next-door neighbor. He struggled with a personality disorder ever since he had a heart spasm during a concert. As he awaits for his death, he attempts to end all relationships in an attempt to make it so that he simply disappeared.
- Mizuki is Kei's close friend and appears off and on in Memories. She's quite energetic and refuses to shed a tear in front of others. After graduating from Otawa Academy, she moved to Australia to live with Renji (her cousin). There is when she met Kuze.
- Nagi is the elder sister of Hiro, Kei, and Chihiro. She used to crush on Yuu in high school but lost to Yuuko. She later became engaged to Kuze.
Just as Memories, you're in for some deep romantic stories.
“Right art tells right people the right things"
I don’t remember exactly in which movie did I hear this phrase, but it has haunted me ever since the first time I heard it. It contains in itself an irrevocable truth about human mind, that tastes are not "universal", but rather contained in each individual.
Thus some people would manage to enjoy stuff like Rosario to Vampire and Miley Sirius music, while others might rather puke at mere mention of them.
Where does the difference lie? In the intelligence of the one who enjoys it, perhaps? I doubt it. If such were the case, it would
be reason, not emotions, the one that would makes the difference, and its a well know empirical fact that don’t "think" you like something, you just "know". (It is more probable that intelligent people might be reluctant to be lumped up with "the stupid" and avoid everything that’s "main stream" like not long ago the aristocracy rejected that which was done by those not belonging to noble class. )
I think the difference falls into the capability of the subject to relate it self with the art. Once it become something similar, akin to experience, one can truly understand its meaning and able to get its true message. Think of this: love songs will often sound "shallow" and "stupid" until you fall in for the first time. Then, Oh! everything make sense. In fact , Too much sense
When one "gets" what they are talking about, then you can move on to the next phase. The art cannot only speak of what you have already experienced, but leave you with a new perspective of the situation. It might affect your way of thinking altogether and change you for good. That is right art, one that is not only a passive object, but one that becomes part of the observant and modifies him into something new.
With that in mind, I can say with out regrets that Ef- a tale of memories/melodies ( I must consider both, since they actualy belong to the same game) is not only a piece art, but "right art". It tackled to of my favourite topics (God and death) and managed to give me new perspective into those issues, and some little changes in my view of my life as a whole. (it may sound exaggerated and melodramatic, but think how many people had their life changed because of Evangelion. That one did screw up my entire generation, and almost every generation after that one. Compared to that this one is just a mere breeze )
With that in mind, I must lay down a warning. You might find it either a Masterpiece or no more than a cheap soap opera with around 15 minutes of talk and 10 minutes of Songs. It depends on your capacity to relate to the story, which in itself depends on the way you had lived your life so far. It will also depends in the reason you have to watch anime as a whole, or even in your emotional states as you go throught the episodes.
Then, I specially recommend trying it if had ever thought you are fucked up and hated God, if you had loss someone you loved, or if you like pretty drawings and shiny colourful scenes that have nothing to do with the story. If you are not one of those, I could still recommend it if you have nothing else to watch, if only so you can brag about it later and write condescending reviews to mocks those who didnt like it so they can see how cool you are.
Ef- a Tale of Melodies is somehow an unnecessary sequel. Unnecessary in a way the first season didn't let any hole for a new season, as I felt it was complete and didn't need to go on. Even tough, I was still thrilled to watch A Tale of Melodies since its predecessor was absolutely beautiful. Perhaps, it would be as beautiful or as interesting.
Sadly, I could only dream about it.
The story is presented in the same pattern as Memories, at this point the viewer shouldn't be confused in the way it's made. While most of the cast are back, they actually switch roll in
a sense that the main characters of the first season would become the support cast and vice versa. The most drastic change some can feel while watching Melodies is that is darker than the first season and perhaps darker than someone would Imagine. And here's the problem, both of the story arcs were dark and yet they both failed to have a sense of suspense. SHAFT was successful in creating a blend of suspense and romance in the first season(Notably the ending of the Hiro-Miyako) and thus the reason why A Tale of Memories was very good. One could think that A Tale of Melodies would be a parallel. Well, Shaft didn't succeed this time.While the stories had a premise start, As darker these story arcs were, they also felt more cliché, more unbelievable and sadly more boring as it was getting to its end.
I also have to point that ending didn't have the same expectation as the first season. While A Tale of Memories felt completed, the ending of a Tale of Melodies is left with the feeling that there's still something more to tell which can leave an unsatisfying feeling for the viewers.
Nothing can't really be said against the art except for some of the characters design that really felt bland or been done before. Truly amazing backgrounds and sunset. The SHAFT art, which consist of high contrast, simple colours, black and white and so on is also magnificent as it played a key role in the most important scenes.
A Tale of melodies did deliver a great cast, no doubt about that. Yet, the series still suffered from few characters who weren't developed enough and made them quite uninteresting(Notably Nagi, who even though she's a supporting character, still had an important role). Another problem that can be regarded is the quality of the dialogues. The series did have some good dialogues, yet a lot of them were predictable, silly and also cliché.
I have to admit, enjoying the series was quite hard. While I admit Melodies had beautiful moment and memorable SHAFT scenes, it still suffered from long scenes where all it did was turning around the block(Not getting to the point).
In overall, A Tale of Melodies could have been a great sequel there's no doubt about that. We hoped for something as good or better, but it isn't the case. Like I said, it had a premised start and the only element needed was a good execution. This element was never included.
Beside, most of the fans of first did like this one. I guess I wasn't in the majority. So go on, flame me.