ef - a tale of melodies

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vivafruit's avatar By vivafruit on Feb 24, 2009

Story

Ef ~ A Tale of Melodies so slavishly follows the formula set by its predecessor that it's almost unwatchable. Even with low expectations coming in, it’s a letdown.

Like Ef ~ A Tale of Memories before it, Melodies’ plot covers two different sets of tangentially related characters. Unlike Memories, Melodies utterly fails to engage the audience. Instead, the series plods along with trite, uninteresting character development for five spectacularly uneventful episodes before finally dropping the angst hammer.

Even when the OMGDRAMA hits, the series mainly feels like a replica of what the first season did better. For example, the Memories uses a massive amount of text during a key emotional scene to blindside the audience, and the result is extremely powerful. However, when the device is used again (TWICE) in the second season, it's both predictable and tiresome. Most of the emotional punch of the original scene comes from surprise and shock value, and without either of these elements most reactions will either and mild amusement at the wall of text.

Furthermore, the conclusions of each arc are almost comically inept. Now, I realize that Memories does not have the most originally plotted premise out there, but it at least has the good sense to limit its clichés to the beginning. After that, the plot ventures into unexpected territory, making the story seem new despite the familiar premise. On the other hand, Melodies' clichés continue to the very end, and savvy watchers will find the story horrifyingly easy to predict.

The final episode is the worst: a lukewarm and largely plotless mishmash bloated with anticlimactic cameos of characters from season one. What little new plot that's there is tedious.


Animation

Melodies’ art direction is largely unchanged from the previous season, but for once this is actually a good thing. The imagery continues to be challenging and memorable, and as a whole complements the story well. Moreover, even when the story is borderline unwatchable, the animation continues to be engaging and creative.

Like Memories, the visuals are about taking bold risks. Sadly, the experiments don’t always work this time, as not all of the imagery fits. For one character, masks are used heavily as a symbol, but since his character’s personality has absolutely nothing to do with multiple personalities, the imagery is ineffective.

There’s also a general lack of freshness to the visuals, which is no more clear than in the aforementioned “let’s overuse text” scenes copied from the first season.

Fortunately, these are minor quibbles. For the most part, the challenging, avant-garde imagery continues to work. Throughout the anime, the pretty animation is often welcome relief from the creatively braindead plot and aggravatingly cookie-cutter characters, to the point where at times it feels like the sole redeeming factor of the show.


Sound

The OP and EDs are nowhere near the level of quality that I was hoping for and sound like bad remixes of songs from the previous season: predictable and flaccid.

Moreover, Melodies' background music is so similar to Memories that at first I thought it was identical, track for track. The most memorable songs are reused pieces from the original OST, and the "new" songs are  generic and nigh identical to the first season's music.

While the original soundtrack was amazing and heartfelt, the new soundtrack's borderline duplication of it reinforces the idea that Melodies is an unnecessary retread of a better show rather than an original work of art.

That said, the soundtrack is still fine on its own terms, and is certainly preferable to completely new music of inferior quality. Most likely, if the animation and characters had been up to snuff, the recycled soundtrack would be fine.


Characters

While some fare better than others, for the most part the characters are aggravatingly shallow and simple-minded. One of the main characters, Mizuki, is the “genki girl” cliché on repeat. Another protagonist, Himura, repeats the same line ad nauseum (“Who knows? I’ve already forgotten”), to the point that he loses all credibility as a real character.

On the other hand, some of the other characterization relies on plot devices so artificial and hackneyed that you almost wish the characters had remained one-dimensional. Both Kuze and Yuuko’s development essentially hinges on a single revelation. After their token formulaic “surprise,” each character’s development grinds to a halt, as if the writers thought that merely having a dark secret would suffice. Sadly, this is not the case, and both characters’ unrealized potential remains exactly that.

The problem is exacerbated by numerous cameos of characters from the previous season. Not only do these clips break the narrative flow, but they serve to illustrate just how terrible these new characters are in comparison to the old ones.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
4.5/10 characters
5/10 overall
FullmetalCowboy24's avatar By FullmetalCowboy24 on Jul 31, 2012

Critic's Log - Earthdate: July 31, 2012. Review #16: Ef - A Tale of Melodies

The Past can be hard to leave behind, because remembering it might be pleasant, but remembering it can also be painful. But the best way to leave it behind is to keep moving forward to the future, do you have memories that you do not want to forget? Anyway, here is Ef - A Tale of Melodies!

Ef - A Tale of Melodies tells two stories (like "Memories" did) one takes place in the past where Himura Yuu meets a girl named Amamiya Yuuko who seems to know him, but he doesn't know her. However, he soon remembers that she was a girl that he knew from long ago. Yuuko then tells him something which he never knew. He was her first love since then and her first love hasn't ended yet. The second story takes place in the present (after the events in "Memories") Shuuchi Kuze meets the cousin of Aso Renji, Hayama Mizuki and spends a lot of time with her. Unknown to Mizuki, Kuze had contracted an illness and has little time to live. Kuze had decided to break all romantic ties, but things go for the worse when Mizuki tells him that she loves him.

To be technical, this is a Studio Shaft production (obviously). This is also a sequel to Ef - A Tale of Memories. This is also an anime that had great potential for Studio Shaft but this show almost looks like Memories but with some differences. The animation is almost the same but it's starting to look a lot better than Ef - A Tale of Memories. Melodies is also much darker than Memories. There are a couple of dark moments in Melodies; The 6th episode of Melodies was a bit haunting. Which I wasn't expecting.

I might mention that the story is full of dialogue with some non-violent action. Like Memories, the dialogue rarely stops. Back is the melodrama (which is a bit darker this time). The romance is a bit believable this time. There is a bit of a lot going on and you really have to pay attention to what's going on. This is also a bit less boring than Memories. and I guess Shin Oonuma surprised some people with the tone of this anime than its predecessor on the direction of this anime.

When it comes to voice acting, The subtitled version is very good, the dub isn't bad at all. I prefer the subs here because of cultural settings. Christopher Ayres was the ADR director in the first series and the dub was good in the first show and the same applies here.

The music by Eiichiro Yanagi and Tenmon has a different tone than Memories, which is good because the music fits the tone of Melodies, especially on the 6th episode of Melodies. The opening for Ef- a tale of melodies is really good

The characters that are shown frequently in Melodies are a bit more interesting than those that were in Memories, but some characters don't really get developed that well. But oh well... The story is Melodies' shortcoming.

The Visual gimmick that Memories sorta overuses is present, but the usage of each application of these visual gimmicks is tolerable this time.

Ef - A Tale of Melodies is available by Sentai Filmworks. The Ef video games never made it in the US and never will be, the Ef manga and light novels have not been licensed in the US as of yet.

With that said, I really appreciate the dark elements in Ef - a tale of melodies, I like the really haunting visuals but I really don't have much to say about this anime. If you liked Ef - A Tale of Memories, you'll really like Ef- A Tale of Melodies. I cannot guarantee that the effect of Memories will remain in Melodies. There are indeed some flaws present in Melodies, Memories had some flaws too, but that was not a bad anime. Ef - A Tale of Melodies isn't a bad anime either. It isn't a masterpiece by any standard. It is really a good work of art with some flaws.


I give Ef - A Tale of Melodies a 6.8 out of 10, it is DECENT!

Feel free to comment below, and can you hear it? The Melody of Truth?

6/10 story
9.5/10 animation
6/10 sound
6/10 characters
6.8/10 overall
KillerZEK87's avatar By KillerZEK87 on Oct 5, 2012

 ef - a tale of melodies is a very disappointing sequel to  ef - a tale of memories (which was very good) and makes you want to watch the first series again just to remind yourself why you loved the first one to begin with. You remember all of the likeable characters in the first series? Yeah now they all have little minor roles and are barely in the melodies; now we have all the minor characters in memories as the main characters now. That’s Yuu, Shuichi, Yuuko, and Mutha Fuckin Mizuki (WHY?!)

This really could’ve been good if it was done right, I don’t know if it was because these characters aren’t as good as the first series but to me it just was very boring and just plain weird (Shuichi has some trippy scenes). The story is essentiality trying to do the same as memories by having two story arcs going on simultaneously; there’s a flashback story of when Yuu and Yuuko were younger and how they met each other and that story is ok but doesn’t really go anywhere. The second story is so bad, apparently Mizuki falls in love with Shuichi but Shuichi is dying of some sort of condition I can’t really remember what it was but all I know is Shuichi is like 10 years older than Mizuki and they try to turn it into a love story but the whole time it was just plain weird and I did not like it.

Had no problems with the animation, it was probably the most redeeming factor of the whole series but just the animation only could not save it. Once again the animation does the same artistic style of memories and if only the story was better it could’ve been added to it.

Characters this time around are very forgettable; Mizuki is annoying, Shuichi is a letdown because I thought he was a ladies man in memories and now he’s a whinny little bitch in melodies, Yuu is ok, and Yuuko is a pointless character who dies all of a sudden and it’s so random that it just makes you go “WHAT?!”

Overall I could not believe this was the same group that made ef - a tale of memories, I had to double check to see if I was watching the right show a couple of times and I just was very disappointed. Who anyone how has seen the first series please do not waste your time with ef - a tale of melodies, it really does not add anything to the series as a whole and you will save yourself a lot of time by just skipping it.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
3/10 overall
Neon1988's avatar By Neon1988 on May 19, 2011

Ef - a tale of melodies

 

 

Story 9/10

 

Desperate in my pursuit of finding a brand-new drama anime with the dignity of my beloved Clannad, I was tempted by many promising series, most of which could be characterised by irksome mediocrity to worrying disturbance – always regarding their creators and what they may have had in mind while producing them. Nonetheless, my at large quest for pure drama and self-forgetting romance paid off and led (with the help of Anime-planet’s search function) to a dreadfully memorable anime by the name of Ef and its two adequate seasons: A tale of memories and a tale of melodies. Melodies – to which I shall comment in this review, should be considered as a direct sequel to Memories, hence the actual continuation of the story.

A tale of melodies (a.k.a. The latter tale of “Ef – A fairy tale of the two”, as it is best known to those indulged in the visual game’s saga) depicts the ground story to which Memories was built. The viewer finds out more about the relations formed between the protagonists of the first story along with their affinities in point of one another. The story of the ghostly Yuko is finally revealed while a 10-year-old past hounding Yu and Kuze unfolds the very essence of their tragic figures. The series’ storyline once again fluctuates between the two cities of the previous chapter, however this time it subtends the narration to both the present and the past of the heroes.

Once again, the direction is unique in its own kind. Although I was never fond of such artistic delineations, I was completely fascinated by the handling it gave out.

Of the few infirm points of the anime should be considered the lack of some innovation in order to differentiate from the previous season. Also, add some drama-clichés that I personally expect in almost every anime. Yet, the average spectator should not consider this a major drawback since the story was given the utmost attention in order to captivate the eye and the mind.

 

 

Animation 9.5/10

 

Why not 10? Who knows… maybe there’s a better 2008 animation I am not aware of.

Anyhow, the beauty of the picture is unmatchable and probably one of all-time’s best. Shaft inc. achieved in drawing some magnificent backgrounds and of course a variety of beautiful heroines – a true banquet of colours for the eye. Splendid work has also been done to the area of CG and light effects.

 

 

Sound 9/10

 

Despite the dearth of an enchanting intro song worthy of Memories’ "Euphoric Field", Melodies takes a slightly different turn, mostly now involving classic music without vocals. Calm and intense parts take their respective turns so as to endue the images, and thus create a fairy-tale-like story.

The actors are quite the same as the first season, so no big surprises there. Smooth, talented voices surround the characters modestly.

 

 

Characters 8/10

 

Living aside some repetitive deportment that will always come across our path, the diversification of the major characters is more than enough to make things interesting. My personal best is the protagonistic duo of Yu and Yuko, since their acts – especially the girl’s – don’t always correspond with the ideal profile of a nice guy or gal (she makes him fall in love only to break his heart).

Abuse, maltreatment, revenge, insanity along with purity, nostalgia, atonement and redemption compose a variety of characters wishing to live by their memories, through their melodies and on to a future unwritten. Any clichés? Hell yeah. But still, the effort put into creating such shivery tragic figures surely deserves praise if not admiration.

 

 

Overall 9/10

 

Ef – A tale of melodies is a story about the will of the heart, the desire to live and to love. A true masterpiece, inferior only to its predecessor and a few other classics, it deserves a rightful place at any drama-lover’s collection.

 

9/10 story
9.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
MashMash's avatar By MashMash on Jan 25, 2013

Well well, what a special series we have here. It is nothing close to what I have expected and I watched this and ef: tale of memories right after Kanon. If you expect to find a main storyline to follow well good luck with that. Ef has various overlapping arcs that are loosely connected with each other. Instead of focusing on character developments the anime tries to bring out some ideas from those relationships. It is hard to keep track of the past and present with all those artistic cutscenes, which I found them extremely annoying at first. However, if you realize that the storyline is not what you should be mainly focused on your viewpoint of this anime will change and you will definitely grow to like it.


Note: Try to enjoy and focus on the ideas the Anime is trying to convey rather than trying to focus on the story itself. It is hard to tell if there is any main characters at all although Ef: Tale of Melodies focuses more on Yuu Himura and Yuuko Amamiya

6/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall