Secret Santa Review
It was a chance meeting that lasted less than 45 seconds. What I am referring to is the Anime Planet Secret Santa challenge of 2012. I have no regrets about taking the 45 seconds to sign up, because Ef- A Tale of Memories is an anime I should regret not watching sooner!
Ef- a Tale of Memories is, at it’s core, a romance anime with loads of characters and many separate romances within it- some of which barely had any relevance to each other. At twelve episodes, it would be difficult to imagine an anime that can wrap up three different love stories without sacrificing quality, but somehow Ef managed to not only give each story more or less equal airtime and development, but also make them have an impact on the viewer. Somehow, they were able to conclude each story in a believable way.
The pacing got confusing at times, and often frustrating when one storyline really got interesting only to have the narrative switch to an entirely different group of characters. This could easily turn off people who prefer linear sorts of stories or even episodes, as the show was liable to switch around multiple times an episode.
I’ll be honest- the visual novel style of people has never been my favourite. The character designs were my biggest issue with the animation, however, with girls that looked like bugs and boys that looked also like bugs. And their pupils were as big as my fist, which when I noticed I didn’t cease to find unsettling.
That said, the character designs were easy to get used to. The rest of the pallet was bright and bold and very beautiful. But the real cake of the show’s animation was how it came off feeling almost experimental. The emotions of characters were heavily accented by sudden switches to pastel colours, or any number of symbolic images popping up on the screen. Of course, the use of symbolism may go into overuse to some viewers, but it really did enhance the show for me.
The OP was beautiful, and it fit the show very nicely. You may notice that it switches languages between episodes sometimes. There were multiple EDs used and they also fit the show well. Insert music was fine, it never seemed to overshadow the events taking place.
Voice acting was okay. I will admit that in either language I watched (English and Japanese) the girls were a bit annoying sounding, but they didn’t screech or cause any general discomfort to the viewer so I digress.
Loads and loads of characters did detract from my experience. The church characters, for example, never appear to have much use except to act as a catalyst for moving the story forward only by telling the main characters advice. Their presence, more so of the woman, is never so much as explained and actually left me with a few questions.
Many other characters were somewhat stock material. The most glaringly obvious of this flaw being Kei, the childhood friend. Although eventually she becomes somewhat more interesting, the majority of the time she just acts childish and predictable.
Ef- A Tale of Memories is without a doubt, a good romance anime. It makes observations about love that you don’t find in most anime, focusing on the question of whether we can love people for who they are, or for our perception of that person. The plot of Ef is without a doubt melodramatic and unrealistic, but it couldn’t have been nearly as powerful and successful at conveying its message otherwise.
Although it starts off cute and sweet, this show is definitely not something I’d suggest you watch expecting only comic relief. If you’re into romance or drama, definitely do not pass up this show! Don’t bother with it if you only want some moe antics with a bit of romance mixed in, though.