ef ~A Tale Of Memories~

March 21, 2009

The main reason why I’m watching this 2007 anime series, ef ~A Tale Of Memories~ was because I read that there is a sequel of this series which has been released back in October 2008. So before going on to watching the sequel, I figure out that it would be best for me to watch the prequel first. Common sense, right? I mean, if the sequel does have any continuation from the prequel. So better play safe first.
 
Having say that, is the storyline exciting and interesting? At first it seems so to me. In this 12 episode series, there are 2 different but almost similar stories running concurrently. However, even after finish watching the series, I still couldn’t get the big picture. Is it that confusing? Well, let’s not blame anybody else and say that I’m not that intelligent of a guy. I mean, I could still understand what the story is about if I don’t do any further analytical thinking and just accept what it is.
 
The theme of this series, I believe is about memories (just as indicated in its title) and probably existence. Even though I was hoping for some something supernatural in the end, I’m left to conclude that it’s more of a psychological romance drama. Yes, there are some supernatural elements but it isn’t that obvious, just like the comedy aspect. It isn’t the main driving force of the series.
 
Based on the adult visual novel which is later adapted into an adult dating simulation PC game entitled ef ~ A Fairytale Of The Two~, I later found out that the game is split into 2 parts but I’m not going to divulge myself in the game since I have not played it. Only just watched the anime. The prologue which I watched prior before watching the series proper was intriguing enough and I particularly like the dramatic background music. So it’s set, I have got to watch and find out more about what this series is about.
 
I find the first episode a little hard to understand mainly because well, that’s where everything is introduced, right? The characters, the setting. A little confusing and it felt like this anime was playing mind games with my poor memory. Hey, that’s the theme of the series. Anyway, as mentioned that there are 2 stories running concurrently, the episode begins with a boy named Renji Asou who is wandering at an abandoned train station only to meet a girl with an eye patch, Chihiro Shindou, who is reading a little diary of hers. Is she waiting for a train that will never come? No she isn’t. Just bidding her time. We shift to the other story which involves a student who is a shoujo mangaka wannabe, Hiro Hirono, having trouble with his work. Writer’s block perhaps. He gets an SMS from his sister (not blood related, by the way), Kei Shindou, about spending Christmas together before leaving his room.
 
Meanwhile in town, Kyousuke Tsutsumi spots the prettiest girl zooming past him (Kei, that is) and starts whipping out his handycam to capture that beauty. Note, that he’s from his school’s movie club and not because he’s a big time pervert. But I guess even if he has a good reason, I’m sure his girlfriend (let’s just call her Girlfriend) isn’t too pleased about it. Kei meets her friend Mizuki Hayama and heads back to her place but is upset when she finds Hiro is not in. Hiro enters a church and has a chat with an angel-like girl named Yuko Amamiya before leaving. When he does, a girl named Miyako Miyamura (her name can be shortened to Miya Miya. But no reference to that one in Bamboo Blade) passes him as she is chasing down a thief who had just stolen her bag. In that instant, she ‘borrows’ Hiro’s bicycle to give chase and in return Hiro chases her for stealing his bike (he didn’t give his permission, didn’t he?). Hiro is interrupted by a call from Kei but soon finds Miyako collapsed in the middle of the street. Though he wanted to call an ambulance, Miyako refused and continued her chase. Too bad his bike has been trashed. Funny thing is, to Hiro’s dismay, he soon finds Miyako at the nearby park and has given up chasing the thief as she got tired! So they got acquainted and since Miyako finds Hiro interesting, she decides to tag along with him because she can’t go back to her house since her keys were in that bag.
 
Elsewhere, Renji meets a guy he knows, Yu Himura at that church asking for his opinion as he is unsure of what career choice to choose in his school’s survey form. But Himura isn’t really interested as he’s waiting for someone. After that Renji visits Chihiro again as they get further acquainted but Chihiro doesn’t exactly remember who he is and wonders if they have met before. Renji visits Chihiro at the abandoned train station every day and Chihiro’s words didn’t really make sense to me because she’s saying how she’s a different person. But when she gradually remembers who Renji is (with the words he said yesterday), Chihiro hugs him in her happiness. As evening comes and Renji has left, Chihiro writes in her diary about the day but becomes saddened to know that she shouldn’t indulge herself in something like this. It’s that point that I realized that she is the sister of Kei. Finally we see Kei spending time at her place with Mizuki, Hiro walking around in the snowy town with Miyako and Kyousuke works late into the night trying to edit his blur film to find out about the identity of that mysterious beauty.
 
So in each episode the progress of both stories will alternate between each other as the plot develops. I want to also mention about that Yuko girl and at the end I’m still wondering what her role is. I mean, all that I noticed is that she seems to pop out mysteriously to talk to the characters from time to time, sometimes giving them advice, sometimes questioning them.
 
Episode 2 has Chihiro talking to her guardian, Himura about her encounter with Renji. Himura says that it is up to her if he wants to get involve with him. Meanwhile, Hiro is rudely awakened by Kei who tells him that he has to go to school. Ah, your typical over-protective sister. Hiro is so engrossed with his shoujo manga that he slept on it. Uh huh. It’s prints are stuck on his cheek. We find out that Hiro doesn’t really like attending classes and usually finds his sanctuary on the school rooftop. As Yuko appears to talk to him (Hiro mentioning about the trouble of the right colour he’s looking for), the next thing Hiro knows is that Miyako is there with him. We also find out that Miyako is from Hiro’s same school but of a different class. Yeah, she’s the queen of ditching classes too. The reason why Hiro has never seen her before. Is this what kids are today? Is the education system that bad? Anyway Miyako finds out about Hiro’s work and is excited to know about it. Looks like Hiro too is publishing his manga works under his pen name Nagi Shindou. I guess that’s one reason why Hiro too doesn’t attend classes. But do 2 wrongs make a right? At the same time, Kyousuke is still having trouble figuring out who that mysterious beauty is. It’s closer than he think.
 
Renji arrives at the train station but Chihiro isn’t there. She soon arrives and apologizes because she was reading a book. However Chihiro soon tells him a secret that she has actually been writing instead of reading. Renji then mentions about his ambition to be a novelist but is rather having a hard time in achieving it. Likewise, Chihiro wants to write stories instead of being a novelist. So as Renji takes a stroll with Chihiro and even says how he’d prefer to skip school just to be with Chihiro (oh no. Not another case please), Chihiro is delighted when he mentions about school as she tells him that she has an elder sister attending one. Note that Chihiro isn’t attending one herself. Another case of ditching class and prefer to be alone at an abandoned train station? Why, Chihiro has a very special reason for that as we and Renji will soon find out. After they have parted, Himura approaches Renji and warns him that if he wants to get involve further with Chihiro, he has to prepare himself. No, he’s not an over-protective guardian, though he may sound like one. The next day as Renji and Chihiro take a stroll on the beach, Chihiro tells him a secret about her true self. Ever since an accident 4 years ago, not only has she lost her left eye, Chihiro has a memory defect in which her memories could only last for 13 hours! So as the hours pass by, her old memories will soon fade. Everytime she wakes up, she’ll be like a different person and not knowing what has happened the previous day. That’s right. Time has stood still for this poor soul and thus she has to read her diary of her daily jottings everytime she wakes up just to barely remember what has happened.
 
Now Chihiro’s premise of her memory defect is quite fascinating and this has been metaphorised in an interesting way as told by Chihiro. We see her being tied down to a long chain in a round circle. The length of the chain represents her age of 12 years old, which is the time that has stopped ever since her accident 4 years ago (she’s 16 now by the way) while her outstretching arms represents the 13 hours of memories she has. She can never reach and go further than the circle nor could she go out to see what is beyond her window. And just like a sheep being tied down, after eating all the grass around the circle, the sheep will eventually die. Very interesting. This is one serious amnesia condition you wouldn’t want to have.
 
All that is further explained in episode 3. Ironically if she has a memory defect, she could remember all this and her daily what-to-do ritual well. So if she reads her ever expanding diary everyday, wouldn’t take up most of her precious time and by the time she’s done, it would be bedtime? But Chihiro did mention how she could make herself remember important things like her meeting with Renji albeit it may last just a little longer. Renji goes home to find his young mom Sumire (honestly, I thought she was his sister) who tells him that their neighbour Shuuichi Kuze has returned and wants him to go over to bring some food to him. Renji decides to come back another time upon finding out that Kuze is with some other woman. Uh huh. Kuze doesn’t mind if Renji comes in. That is, "If you don’t mind the naked lady on the bed…". Renji goes to see Chihiro everyday and wonders if he should continue after finding out her condition. But Chihiro tells him that she isn’t afraid of dying, but rather afraid of being forgotten and losing her memories. One day when Renji skipped visiting her, the next rainy day he finds Himura sitting there in her place. It seems she has caught a cold from waiting for Renji to appear the previous day. Gosh. I mean, for a girl whose memories don’t last very long, a promise to meet the next day is very important. And that is what Renji had promised her before. Feeling guilty?
 
Hiro and Miyako are once again seen together on the school rooftop but Hiro won’t hand over the keys to this personal sanctuary of his so Miyako drags him out to a town cafe for lunch. Hey, don’t they know it’s illegal to do that during school hours? Oh wait. They’re season class ditchers. Also, Kyousuke’s movie club members are criticizing him for concentrating too long on that mysterious beauty (looks like Girlfriend is the president of the movie club). Because of that, he decides to leave the club. At the cafe, Hiro learns that Miyako ditches class not because she hates them but rather the boredom of it. If she’s so smart why isn’t she in a university now? Something about enjoying life to the max? Yeah well, to each his own. Mizuki then comes by to show Hiro her newly bought manga (another manga freak and a big fan of Nagi Shindou though she doesn’t know of his real identity). When Hiro forgets Miyako’s name while introducing her to Mizuki, Miyako got upset and storms off. Even Mizuki thinks that it’s Hiro’s fault and thinks Miyako is his girlfriend. Of course Hiro denies. Mizuki is disappointed because if Hiro and Miyako were a couple then Kei could’ve been hers. OMG! Is she thinking of something yuri with Kei?! At and abandoned site, Kyousuke has a chat with Girlfriend and decides to break up (don’t tell me he got too obsessed with that mysterious beauty) as he wishes to do thinks his way. He thinks that the movie club members emphasis too much of how other people evaluate their work. Later Yuko appears next to Kyousuke and he tells her that he wants to film dreams.
 
As Kei gets an SMS from Chihiro about how Himura won’t let her go out to see Renji, Chihiro soon calls Hiro to come practice basketball with her. But Hiro is still sleepy after pulling an all-nighter on his manga. Kei soon finds out that he’s spending more time with Miyako and continues to tell of Miyako’s famous legacy of ditching classes and it seems she has dragged Hiro into it too. It turned into a little argument as Hiro says not to badmouth Miyako and with a slip of his tongue, he mentions how he first met Miyako during Christmas. With that, Kei is devastated to know that he broke their promise to spend Christmas day together just to meet Miyako.
 
Episode 4 begins with a short flashback. It seems Hiro’s love for drawing started when he was young. Also, he also seems to be spending lots of time with Kei and Chihiro. Back in present time, Renji finally meets Chihiro and apologizes for not turning up that day. He then suggests for her to write a novel with him but Chihiro disagrees and even though it was her dream, that was a different Chihiro. She gets upset and runs away. As Kei buys some ingredients to cook, Kyousuke spots her and notes that she is that mysterious beauty. Kei reaches home to cook for Hiro (who by the way has been dragged off to somewhere by Miyako) and has Mizuki sample her cooking. In short, Kei CANNOT COOK! Don’t ever enter the kitchen again dear girl. Meanwhile Miyako has Hiro bring her to his room (note Hiro and Kei live in different houses) and Hiro is worried that Miyako is unfazed that she has no qualms entering a boy’s room so casually. After much pestering, Hiro gives in to let Miyako read his works. She is amazed by them and continues to read more. As gratitude, Miyako cooks for Hiro (yeah, she’s a better cook) and as she tries to feed Hiro, Kei comes in and is devastated to see them together and runs away.
 
At the same time, Renji manages to catch up to Chihiro at the beach. She’s still upset due to the fact somebody else knows her better than herself. Then as the waves hit the shore, it’s like Chihiro’s legs lose power and starts to fall. He catches Chihiro as she requests him to save her. After she calms down, Chihiro says that she really do want to write but is afraid if nothing works out, she will be left with nothing. At that point, I don’t know how Renji came out with this idea after seeing a tear in her eye, "Can I kiss you?". Kinda awkward and lame, don’t you think? Well of course Chihiro denies it but would’ve done so if it was her yesterday’s personality as written in her diary (too bad he missed it haha) as she hugs him. Chihiro soon agrees to write her story with him. So Chihiro tells him a brief synopsis of the story she has in mind. About a girl who is the only survivor in a world that has been destroyed. Hmm… Seems a little similar to the one in Nagisa’s of Clannad. Mizuki finds Kei crying on the steps outside of the church.
 
In episode 5, Kyousuke remembers his mom telling him to find his dream. And since he already found his dream in the form of Kei, he is filming Kei during basketball practice but she soon punches him in the stomach for that unauthorized shot. And that’s just a warning. Anymore unauthorized shot, Kei will use her powerful right hand. Beware. Meanwhile Renji brings Chihiro home to meet with Sumire and Kuze and the duo are pretty thrilled that Renji has brought a pretty girl home. Yeah, they’re excitedly ‘bombarding’ (more like teasing too) shy Chihiro with questions about their relationship while Renji is cooking in the kitchen so much so he can’t stand it anymore and tries to tell off his busybody grown-ups not to bother her. Kei is still upset over that Hiro-Miyako scene so she confronts Miyako about not dragging him into her class ditching activities for the sake of his future. Kei thinks she can outtalk Miyako but Miyako is pretty smooth firing back at Kei like saying only Hiro can decide what he wants to do, or if Kei could handle the responsibility that if he attends school, his future will be guaranteed. Smooth…
 
Back at Renji’s place, though Chihiro finds his cooking delicious, she herself can’t cook. Yeah, it runs in the family. Later Chihiro passes her notebook on her ideas for their novel but wishes for him to read it only after she’s gone. Then at the beach, after that heavy defeat from Miyako, Kei remembers her childhood time with Hiro and Chihiro. She recalls how Chihiro has spent more time with Hiro and in a way you could say she’s jealous to get his attention. So one day Kei dragged Hiro to the beach and left a note on their whereabouts. When Chihiro found out about it, she hurriedly ran to where they were but on her way she was met with an accident. Though Kei still blames herself for what has happened, she receives a call from Hiro who wants to meet her. In the meantime, Kuze walks Chihiro back to the church and he mentions how he’s a close friend of Himura when she asks if she has seen him before. Kei arrives at Hiro’s room to find out that Kyousuke is there as well and is shocked to find out that Kyousuke wants her to go out with him. Renji reads the notes Chihiro gave to him about a girl living alone in a castle on an island. She is reading many stories from the seemingly abundant books but even so she remains lonely.
 
In episode 6, Kyousuke forces his way into Hiro’s room and discovers that he’s a shoujo mangaka. Because Hiro wants this to be kept a secret, Kyousuke agrees on 1 condition, that is to meet Kei. So that’s the reason of how it came to be in the previous episode. Kei slaps them both upon learning this. After Kyousuke lets Kei watch several videos he filmed of her (can it be consider stalking?), he asks for her to participate in his filming. Yeah, the filming of her life. However Kei hasn’t agreed to be in it or not. As Hiro walks Kei home, she invites him to come to an upcoming basketball tournament of hers because she says she has something to tell him after that match. Meanwhile Renji meets Himura at the church and the latter tells the former about how writing is like survival to Chihiro as she’s trying to connect her past with her future. Chihiro on the other hand continues her story of that lonely girl who now paints numerous paintings. Since Chihiro experiences some writer’s block, Renji suggests bringing her to his school library to look up for some ideas and inspiration. So Renji asks Sumire if she has any school uniform suitable for Chihiro and she tells him that Kuze might have. Yeah, he does. Hey, why does he have them? Cosplay maniac? Yeah, Chihiro tried on a few outfits before putting on the school uniform. She is delighted because this is the same uniform her sister wears to school.
 
Elsewhere Kei confronts Miyako at the train crossing. I guess she doesn’t want to give up yet as she tells Miyako about how they came to meet Hiro. As Kei mentions that she has always had feelings for Hiro, Miyako counters that by saying even if she said that, it wouldn’t make any difference. With that, Kei is determined to erase Miyako from Hiro’s heart and memory. I guess something in that line pushes the worry button in Miyako because it seems she’s afraid of being vanished. Later as Miyako gives her bento to Hiro, she finds out that he’s really not interested in attending Kei’s basketball match so she has him go out on a date with her instead. During the basketball game, Kyousuke is filming Kei in action when she injures her leg. Kyousuke calls Hiro about Kei’s condition as he soon arrives. As Hiro carries Kei back, she finds out that Hiro stood up on his date with Miyako because he can’t leave her alone. He soon asks what is the thing she wanted to tell him but Kei says never mind. Also Chihiro is delighted when she arrives at school with Renji while Miyako left many messages on Hiro’s handphone because he forgot to bring it with him.
 
Chihiro’s co-written story continues in episode 7 as they work around the clock to complete it. At the school library, I’m not sure why but when Renji says the girl protagonist is cute, Chihiro objects and tells him she isn’t meant to be represented that way. So the progress of Chihiro’s story is now something like this as it’s near its conclusion. That girl had painted several paintings of a boy and wonders if he is real or just a person in a painting. As Renji takes a walk with Chihiro on the beach, he wonders what kind of ending Chihiro would put in and she thanks him for all that he has done for her. When Chihiro asks if he would like to kiss her, Renji starts to panic on why she had said that instead of confessing that she loves him. Something about how similar his case as with her story. Then this is the weird part. While Renji is thinking and confused about it, the animation shows his body going into violent convolutions and spasms before collapsing. Is it to be a metaphor of something? Renji then says that their relationship isn’t like that, causing Chihiro to misunderstand him as she runs away in tears. Regretting his actions, Renji hopes that she won’t write this down in her diary.
 
Over to Miyako, she explains of her past. In short, she comes from a broken family. She thought she had given up on everything in life until she has met Hiro. When she was living with her parents, their love for each other faded as time goes by. They hated each other so much so they didn’t talk to one another, what more called Miyako by her name, thus neglecting her. Slowly, one by one, every sound from the house starts to ‘vanish’ and her life was meaningless and the ‘colour’ of her world disappeared. So when her parents finally divorced, it was like she’s partly relieved. Back in present time, Miyako is waiting for Hiro on her date (but he was busy taking care of Kei). Now the last 10 minutes of this episode is like ‘frightening’ because Miyako tries to call Hiro on his handphone but he doesn’t pick up. Each time Miyako narrates a line, the kanji and hiragana will appear on the screen. It starts off with the usual playful and teasing Miyako until she gets impatient that this is a bad joke. Then when she remembers Kei’s words of erasing her from Hiro’s heart, she starts to panic and that turned into desperation. At first she wanted Hiro to just answer, then just to hear his voice, then even a text message reply would’ve been good, and finally anything and just anything to indicate that Hiro is still there and not ignoring her. Beep after beep, by now the screen is bloody cluttered with kanji and hiragana words! And the background music grows even more dramatic as each second ticks by. It’s so heartbreaking and pitiful to hear Miyako pleading and begging for some sort of assurance which will never be replied. It all ended with a piercing high-pitched beep (like the one you hear in hospitals’ life support machine whereby a person’s heart has stopped) as the screen starts to erase itself. Poor Miyako… Has she been erased? As Hiro goes out to buy some stuff, Kei spots Hiro’s handphone and notices several messages. Woah! A whole lot of them and all of them from Miyako! She’s like a stalker! Heartless Kei then erases all of them…
 
In episode 8, frustrated Miyako throws away her handphone into the fountain. Kei takes a shower and hears her doorbell ring. Thinking that it’s Hiro, to her surprise she finds Miyako. Kei denies Miyako to see Hiro (even if he’s not in) and shuts the door on her. Likewise Hiro couldn’t contact Miyako either. Miyako tries to go to the school rooftop but finds it locked. As Kei can’t participate in anymore basketball matches till her injuries are healed, Hiro too eases off from his manga work. Back to Chihiro’s story, the girl now wonders if she should marry the boy in the painting and even looked up on several books on the topic of weddings. When Renji mentions how being a novelist needs talents, Chihiro reminds him that he mustn’t give up and that he was the one who helped her through all this even though she has a disability. Meanwhile Miyako is sitting alone dejectedly when Yuko appears to talk to her. I’m not sure about a place where Yuko suggests she should go but Miyako soon falls into her arms in tears. Also when Renji goes to talk about Chihiro’s improving memory retention to Himura, the latter denies anything of it as it is impossible for her to regain her lost memories.
 
As Hiro and Kei are on their way home, he still wonders why he can’t contact Miyako when he gets a call to do a one-shot manga job and excitedly accepts. Kei then gets upset because Hiro’s wrist are a little injured from being overworked and even if his reason that such chances are once in a lifetime and would never come again, Kei gets up and walks back, ignoring her injury. Tit for tat? Hiro protests about what Kei is doing since aggravating her injury would permanently make her unable to play basketball for life. Kei tells him the same thing too about his wrists. In the end, Kei rides back home with Kyousuke. Chihiro wakes up and panics a little and wonders how long she has fallen asleep while writing her story. However, Renji says it’s just a few minutes. Well, time is quite important to her. Any second lost means a lost of precious memories that could be made. Back at her home, Chihiro thinks she can do the impossible by remembering as she starts reading her diary. Himura is against what she’s doing and snatches her diary away. But eventually Himura has no choice but to give it back to her seeing that it is what she wants to do.
 
The next day Renji and Chihiro meet but Chihiro soon collapses due to exhaustion. With all the prolonged stress and lack of sleep, Chihiro hopes that she can remember it all. A short continuation of Chihiro’s story whereby we see the girl marrying the boy in the painting. As Renji goes to visit Chihiro, Himura tells him that she has slept passed her limit. That is, she has slept more than 13 hours. Oh no. When Chihiro wakes up, she reverts to herself after the accident and all her memories spent with Renji are gone! She doesn’t remember who he is! NO! Chihiro is now like a scared kid just waking up from the aftermath of the accident which seemed like yesterday. She gets even horrified to see that her left eye is gone. We won’t get to see it, but I’m sure it’s pretty scary. Chihiro still remembers Himura as the latter tells Renji that this is the real Chihiro, living eternally for only 13 hours at a time. That’s why Himura warned him earlier. If Renji wants to turn back, this is his best chance to walk away from it all. Meanwhile Hiro gets a call from an unknown number and it seems it’s Miyako on the other line. She’s making a call from a public phone and is relieved to know that she hasn’t disappeared yet.
 
Episode 9 has Himura doing his usual ritual of restarting Chihiro’s memories and warns Renji that he will be the one who will suffer the greatest pain. He suggests that he disappear from her life before matters get worse but Renji is upset and doesn’t want to. Renji painfully stays by Chihiro side as she reads her diary. Chihiro is frustrated and throws her diary at him and yells what is the point of doing this. Kyousuke meets up with Kei at the park as they chat like he wonders about their relationship as siblings. Likewise, Hiro meets up with Miyako at the public phone as they chat while they walk. They talk about the different freedom they have. While Hiro’s freedom means the ability to do anything he wants, Miyako’s freedom leans more toward emptiness. Soon they both kissed and before you know it, those 2 head back to Hiro’s place and had sex! Is Miyako that desperate not to disappear from his heart? Renji goes to seek Himura’s advice at the church and he tells him to take her story seriously and the reason she’s writing this story. Renji continues to see Chihiro the next day as she regains her composure after reading what is written in her diary and learns that she’s been writing a story. Although Chihiro says that it would’ve been better if she had disappear after reading such depressing notes in her diary but notes how things cheered up a little after Renji appeared in her diary pages. Then at the graves, they discussed what are memories and do personalities change when memories change. Chihiro also thinks her former self that had spent time with Renji had already disappeared. But Renji disagrees that she has died or a different person as she has always been the Chihiro he knew. But on his way home, Renji becomes emotional and is in a dilemma on what he said, whether it can be true or not. Meanwhile Kei enters Hiro’s room and freaks out on what she sees and runs away (bad for her leg and now her heart). Deja vu?
 
The whole of episode 10 focuses on Kei-Hiro-Miyako storyline. The episode continues after Kei rushes out after witnessing their unholy act. Hiro tries to go after her but Miyako stops him and tells him to only look at her. However Hiro still went after her. As he tries to find her, he gets a call from Kyousuke to meet. Kyousuke starts beating up Hiro because of his half-hearted attitude in doing things and tries to beat some sense into him, especially his actions having an effect on Kei. When Hiro returns to his room, he finds Miyako gone and his place all tidy up. He then receives a call from her in which Miyako suggests for them to break-up and stop seeing each other. As Hiro shifts his focus on finding Miyako, he bumps into Mizuki and finds out that she’s a huge fan of Nagi Shindou’s works but she notes that his work has been dipping lately. At the school rooftop, Hiro speaks with Yuko and the latter tells him that he has to choose or end up losing it all. With that, he realizes and rushes to Kei’s place. She refuses to let him in when Hiro tells her how he has decided to quit school to be a full time mangaka. Kei then says how she doesn’t want him to leave and want to go back to those days where they spent time together. Hiro replies that they still can and that Kei is an important person in his life. With tears streaming down both their eyes, Kei finally opens the door as they embrace.
 
Meanwhile Miyako prepares to leave town and decides to call Hiro from a public phone one last time. Now the screen then starts with a countdown timer from 100 which I think represents the credit she has from her prepaid phone card. At first I didn’t think they’re going to show each and every number from 100 down to zero but surprisingly, they did! And it’s like they’re alternating between a scene of that public phone booth Miyako is in and a black screen which only shows that countdown number. Anyway, Miyako tries to say her goodbye but Hiro protests to whatever Miyako is thinking. He’s saying how her home is here now. Just before Hiro could confess to her, her credits are up and they’re being cut off. Hahaha. See lah. Waste time some more lah. And he had to say it right before the tensed cut off point. Like as though all this were precisely planned and timed so that he could say it when the timer hits zero. Too bad he didn’t make it. Miyako sheds a tear but is surprised to hear Hiro confessed from behind. I can’t believe that guy went from each public phone in town to find her. How did he do it so fast on his bicycle? Yeah, love made him fly. Hahaha. They kissed once again and Miyako is back to her bubbly cheeky self saying that now he has to take responsibility and not let go of her since he has caught her. And Hiro thought she didn’t want to be bound by anyone. So I guess he chose Miyako though he confessed that he loves Kei but I supposed that must be in sibling sense.
 
After being sidelined in the previous episode, episode 11 focuses totally on Renji and Chihiro. Chihiro has finished writing her story but only wants Renji to read it after she has gone. She asks what would he want in gratitude for what he has done and Renji suggests if they could go on a date. Isn’t that what lovers do? Yeah, he too suggests that they become one as she agrees. So looks like she’s going to have a trial date for a day. As Chihiro talks to Himura about it, Himura gives her a key which he wants her to give to Renji. The next day, the duo meet up and are wondering which kind of movie to watch. Though Renji suggests a comedy but the funny part was Chihiro came out in tears due to its bad ending. She’s so cute when she’s crying like that. Then at the plushie crane machine, Chihiro’s inability to get a chicken plushie left her in tears again. Renji does it and manages to get it, making her happy. Then they took some photos together and Chihiro placed a sticker on a page of her diary. Then at the beach, Chihiro mentions how such same thing should happen everyday, Renji says that it’s better that tomorrow never comes. But Chihiro doesn’t think so because she feels that he’s wrong to say that as tomorrow may be a better day than today. She then gives him the key and Renji notices that this is the key to the school rooftop and takes her there. They have a magnificent view of things and Renji suggests to kiss, in which they did. The second kiss, made Chihiro a little cautious as Renji apologizes for going a little too far. Then this part caught me by surprise because the duo soon had sex on the rooftop! Wow. Now they’re doing it.
 
Later that night as Renji thinks how all those memories they made in the day will soon fade as her 13 hour limit nears, Chihiro takes out her finished story and gives it to Renji to read alone. The continuing story of a girl who lived alone on an island who now witness the people in her paintings moving. However as she continues to paint, the painting becomes blurred as time goes by and the cycle repeats itself no matter how she repaints them. In the end, she burns them all. What a shocking ending. Renji goes to see Chihiro on the rooftop to tell of his opinion of her choice of ending but Chihiro says that girl is her and that the story is somewhat similar to her case. In short, she wants to break-up with Renji in order not to cause anymore unhappiness or pain. But Renji refuses. She thinks they should do so while being able to say "I love you" and mean it while thanking him for all that he has done. Just like in the story, because the girl found happiness, she came to know about loneliness as well. She also mentioned how she has planned all this from the start, that she would end this once the story has been completed. Though she wants him to be happy, but staying the way they are now would only bring him pain. Then in her last attempt to forever erase Renji from her memories, she tears all the pages from her diary which has his existence and scatters it through the air. Now she won’t remember who Renji is and that they have really broken up. Oh dear. Chihiro’s farewell speech was like heartbreaking but so true at the same time. This turn of event is really unexpected.
 
Renji is still reeling from this heartbreak in episode 12. He goes to talk to Himura who tells him that he didn’t tell Renji to forget about Chihiro but going on living while shouldering such burden is also a way to live. Back home Sumire talks to a depressed Renji and when he mentions it’s better for tomorrow to never come, Sumire’s answer of there’d be a better tomorrow than today shocks Renji because that is what Chihiro had said. He runs out of his room but bumps into Kuze, who gives him his own advice about dreams and miracles. Then as Renji goes to see Chihiro at the abandoned train station, she wonders if she they had met before. This causes Renji to run away to the school rooftop until he sees a paper airplane. He chases and manages to grab it and finds that it’s a page of Chihiro’s diary containing that sticker. He then recalls the time spent with her and decides to gather all the torn pages of her diary throughout town! It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack but hey, it’s worth a shot. Hopefully it wasn’t that sex part which motivated him to do so. Hahaha, just kidding. At the end of the day, seemingly tired and out-of-breath, he goes to Chihiro and tells her that even though this isn’t all the pages of her diary, he won’t give up on making her remember him. Then to his surprise (and mine), Chihiro says no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t forget about him for the past 13 hours. Oh yes! OH YES! Chihiro finally remembers! Then we see the metaphor chain which ties her down shatter as the duo embraced each other.
 
In the aftermath, we hear Yuko narrating how people at least prayed once to God in their lifetime and that dreams are created between everyone’s continued wishes and bonds. We also see Girlfriend working on a film project that Kyousuke left behind while the other movie club members tell her to give them some new motivation, Kyousuke continues to film Kei, and Miyako making breakfast (or dinner, depends on how you look at it) for Hiro. Looks like the 2 are living together and even so, they’re like waking up at different times. Since Hiro is a mangaka, he wakes up at night to work and goes to bed in the morning as opposed to Miyako who is attending classes now. Also, Mizuki is particularly annoyed to find out that Nagi Shindou is no other than Hiro. Yeah, right under her noses. This time, Renji is now certain of his future. He now wants to become a novelist. Kyousuke has found what he wants to film, Hiro has found the colour he has looking for and Renji has found his dream thanks to Chihiro. A movie producer, a manga artist and a novelist. Three cheers to the arts stream! Likewise, Miyako found her way of living though she hasn’t found her dream yet, Kei wants to run anywhere with all her heart and Chihiro already satisfied that her last dream came true. But it won’t be the last because it’s just the beginning. In the final scenes, we see Himura meeting Yuko face to face in the church. Himura apologizes for making her wait for a long time as she says it has been a long time. So she is the person that he’s waiting for? Ah well, good that they’ve met than never. So it ends with a reminder: Put your wishes into the memories you don’t want to forget…
 
I’m glad how everything turned out well in the end. Say, we have 4 happy couples now. Though I’m still wondering the implications of Himura and Yuko’s relationship (perhaps one can find out more while playing the game?), but I guess the overall development, twists and turns of the series is one of the most exciting and interesting that I have seen in recent times. I really did enjoy this series though sometimes their dialogues about memories and such are a little hard for me to understand at times. But if you listen to their dialogues, I’m sure we could learn a thing or two and get some ‘inspiration’ from it. One thing which still bothers me was that I was hoping that the 2 main stories would eventually meet and come as one in the end. But it didn’t. So you could say that the characters of both stories don’t even meet each other! Unless you want to count the fact that Chihiro’s SMS to Kei as the only form of connection between the 2 stories.
 
The character development is sufficient for a short series. But we get to see how Chihiro has been freed from her eternal prison after all that will and determination. It goes to show that if one puts all his/her mind and efforts into it and with the proper support and help, miracles do happen. Do you dig chics with eye patches? I don’t know but Chihiro makes them look moe. Renji’s persistence to stay by Chihiro’s side no matter what is something admirable. How many of us would be tempted to walk away from such troublesome situation at first thought. Speaking of which, doesn’t Chihiro and Renji’s case seem somewhat familiar to the Hollywood movie "50 First Dates" starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore?
 
I thought Kei and Miyako’s story was going to turn out into another typical love triangle affair but it seems that they too have their own set of problems to deal with. Kei may seem selfish to want Hiro all to herself but in the end she grew strong enough to walk/run on her 2 feet. She doesn’t need to be physically close in order to be with him. If their hearts beat as one then no matter how far they are, they’ll still be together. Miyako’s cheerful exterior hides a painful memory. I guess all she wants is to be accepted and I think she found that in Hiro. So you could call that snatch thief incident a blessing in disguise. I find Kuze and Sumire’s role were minimal and to provide a little comic relief and advice. The same with Himura and Yuko. But the latter 2 feels more serious and enigmatic.
 
One of the plus point which I find about this series is the breathtaking animation and art. If you pay attention to the background like the moving clouds in the sky, or the particles in to ocean to the reflection of the sun rays, each of the drawing are given a very detailed finishing in terms of hue, tone, lighting and shading. The animation too is fluid and smooth. They’re more than just eye candy and if they’re akin to real candies itself, I’m sure you’ll find them delicious, addicted and wanting for more. Sometimes I just can’t help staring in awe at those awesome sceneries. Super good high quality anime, I’d give them that. An amazing and splendid anime which I recommend for those who haven’t watch it yet.
 
Another unique thing about this show is the different viewpoints, angles, frames and colour tones that they used to show and present the scenes. Sometimes the art may be in full colour in 1 scene but changes to a monochrome one in the next. Or from a fully detailed drawing to a very simple and sketchy work. It may be a little confusing at first but after a while, you’ll get used to it. This is quite essential since it enhances the dramatic setting of the story as it progresses. Also the background music helps in increasing the atmosphere of the scene, be it dramatic or slow and easy. Everything fits nicely as they are quite nicely done.
 
I also like the voice acting and my favourite one is still Chihiro who is voiced by Natsumi Yanase (Akane in Da Capo II series). She did an excellent job in portraying her character as a shaky and vulnerable girl but yet a strong and powerful character underneath that exterior. Also, Miyako is my other favourite one and she is voiced by Hiroko Taguchi (Sakura in Lamune). I can’t help but love her teasing, bubbly and lively nature. Other casts include Hiro Shimono as Hiro (Ikuto in Nagasarete Airantou), Junko Okada as Kei (Nozomi of Wind: A Breath Of Heart), Motoki Takagi as Renji (Nozomu in Futakoi), Yuuki Tai as Kyousuke (Junichi of Da Capo series), Kouichi Toochika as Himura (Neji in Naruto, Hayato in Himawari!) and Yumiko Nakajima as Yuko.
 
The opening song is lively and dramatic pop rock and is entirely in English. Entitled Euphoric Field by Tenmon feat. ELISA. However in the final episode, this song is sung in its Japanese version. If you’re wondering why the opening credits animation is cluttered with lots of words seemingly like they’re taken out from a story book, that’s because those lines are actually the English translation of what Chihiro writes in her story. Even the mid-intermission shows a short excerpt from her story. So for those interested of reading it, you can pause and read while the opening credits are being played. I didn’t. For a short series, there has been 4 different ending themes alternating between each other after 1 or 2 episodes. My Each of them have a dramatic feel to it and my favourite one is still Kizamu Kisetsu by Junko Okada (the animation shows Kei endlessly running. To where may I ask?). Other ending themes include I’m Here by Hiroko Taguchi, Sora No Yume by Natsumi Yanase, and Yukyuu No Tsubasa 07mix by Yumiko Nakajima. Hey, aren’t all those who sang the ending themes the female protagonists of the series? Besides, some of the ending credits animation has the drawing in inverse colours. Just different.
 
On a trivial note, I noticed that during the episodes, I’m not sure if they work as a scene changer or a topic marker because the screen will turn totally black to project short kanji words. Then the meaning of the hiragana of the kanji words differs from the latter’s meaning as it could either mean something contradictory or totally unrelated. If not for the good prompting of the fansubbers, I wouldn’t even noticed it. Though I’m still thinking its significance. The titles of each episode are short and some are a real eyebrow raiser like episode 7’s "I…". Yup, that’s what it’s called. Then I also wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t read about this in Wikipedia. Each of the first alphabet of the title can be spelled out to Euphoric Field. Neat. Hey, that’s 13 words and this series has only 12 episodes, right? Well, the final episode has been split into 2 segments so 2 separate titles have been given to it. I’m starting to think that the producers have an obsession with the word ‘ef’ because not only the opening theme of this series stands for it but I learned that the opening themes for its PC game also have those letters as its connotations.
 
Over the series if you keep your eyes peeled, there are a few trivia that you can spot. For example, in Chihiro’s diary, you can see that Utamaru cat of Da Capo drawn over her pages, the prepaid phone card Miyako posses has a design which is similar to Nagisa of Clannad’s Big Dango Family, and a young Kei holding up a manga from Card Captor Sakura. Yeah, so if you have watched several animes before and if your memories serve you well, feast your eyes on them.
 
So what are memories, really? That depends on how you make and remember them. Just like in the end narration after the next episode’s preview, "Do you have any memories that you don’t want to forget?", I’m sure we all have many fond and good memories that we don’t want to forget. I know that bad ones we tend to think less of them but it’s good too to serve as a reminder. And those sitting for an important exam… Due to the nature of a human’s brain, it’s natural for our brain to filter and ‘erase’ memories that are not put in use. Now I can’t wait and will be going to watch the sequel of this show. Hey, wait a minute. I’ve been thinking of my poor memory all the while. Can’t it be that I have a memory defect too? I mean, I can’t even remember what animes I watched last week! OH NO! Thank goodness I have blogged all this down as my memories. Am I a real-life Chihiro in the making? Don’t know. Can’t remember.
 

ef ~A Tale Of Memories~