a tale of ef

I gave it a try, trying the recommended fansubs and the latest VLC and everything, but just couldn’t get ef: a tale of memories to work past three or four episodes. So, my thoughts are incomplete, admittedly, and surely unfair, because in the episode just after the one I gave up on for technical difficulties, the story probably soared, all became clear, and hearts were duly wrenched. That said, my impressions of the part I did see were not, on the whole, good. And here is why, below the spoiler fold.

(UPDATE: I also reply below to some points in Pete’s post)

1. Who the heck are these people? I confused the two main male leads a couple of times, and there seemed to be two extraneous females, not counting the twins (in different grades of school). The outset of the series gives you no clue as to who is important and who is less so. I really thought that the video guy was the main character initially. Then I thought maybe it’s the running girl. Then the bicycling guy. No wait it’s the girl who steals his bike. No wait it’s this OTHER guy who hangs out at this deserted rail station. NO wait wait it’s this girl who he meets there… two episodes later, everything sort of sorts itself out, but that first episode was a menagerie.

2. Really annoying visual “pieces of flair”. These are hard to describe; if I had the patience I’d have screenshot a few. I’m not even going to make the attempt to explain; if you see the series, you will immediately notice, because it’s utterly useless and pretentious and VERY distracting from the important things like just who the heck are these people.

3. The big secret, that the girl only remembers events for one day, was somewhat well played initially, but I still guessed it a full episode before the reveal. Maybe it’s because I had already seen that Sandler flick, 50 First Dates. In retrospect, it seemed underplayed, especially the notebook. Does she treat her words as gospel therein? if she’d written “I love him” would she act on this the next day, assuming it to be true? Os she a slave to herself, her past experiences, in a more literal sense because of her amnesia? I dunno if I am overthinking it, but it seems that an anime series (ie, not for kids) with plenty of episodes to fill might address some of the more intriguing aspects of such a malady. And maybe it does, as I said I havent gotten very far (technical difficulties).

Overall, the series hasn’t grabbed me thus far. If I can find a working fansub then I will dutifully redownload it, but it’s going to be at the end of the todo queue. I am heartily enjoying Ranma now, despite having hated it on first pass, so it’s entirely possible I will be raving like a lunatic about ef and cursing Pete for having hooked me on it within a month or two. Or maybe not.

UPDATE: in response to Pete (grumble grumble no comments at his blog grumble), a few more comments here.

– regarding the ensemble cast, I think my complaint is more that they were not treated like an ensemble in the first few episodes, but rather like you are watching three different shows with minimal connection and character overlap. In a good ensemble show, like Ranma (my current obsession) or The Office (my other current obsession), characters are always introduced in a way that builds their linkages to the characters you already know. I have no gripe with a large cast but ef really squandered its opening opportunity here.

– visual flair included the streetlights yes, but also that weird moon reflection thing, and then that bit where the girl is replicated horizontally for no apparent reason, or the psychedelic colors of the sky while the character in the foreground muses dramatically, etc. There were so many of these that I started tuning them out. Maybe my grip on this score would be less the further in I get.

– Pete revived my interest in the show with his offhand comment about Chihiro misinterpreting her own notes. Thats brilliant. If I could get the damn show to work in VLC I would continue. I guess I will wait for a new version of VLC.