Archive for February, 2009
I’m very glad I watched ef.
Partly because it started out so slow, and so clichÃ©d. It was a typical romance show, spiced up with some odd visual seasoning.
Then it began to explore the consequences of its characters’ relationships. Those characters do some surprisingly unpleasant things to each other.
And the show maintains a realism that’s rare in romance series. Oh, it’s not the hardcore realism of a Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, but there’s very little silly animation so common to romantic comedies here. Granted, this relative realism in anime romance is a larger modern trend, but it’s good to see it upheld even in an adaptation of a popular erogame.
Is ef perfect? Hardly. I had a tough time differentiating characters for several episodes. Much of the dialogue lacks any significant content. The show’s relatively low animation budget results in frequent periods of no movement, a static camera, and color tricks to distract the eye. The weird camera angles confuse as often as they assist in telling the story.
But that sputtering engine roars to life for the final few episodes. I held my breath during several extended sequences. In particular, the final conversation between Kei and Hirono feels so natural and right that it’s become one of my favorite conversations in anime. It’s on par with the Lain/Alice “You’re wrong” conversation in episode 12 of serial experiments lain.
I could probably find things to complain about in the conclusion, but it ends solidly enough that I now have great fondness for the show. It ends, satisfyingly for the viewer. I don’t mean that everyone’s happy at the end; far from it. But the various romantic threads are satisfactorily tied off.
Which is what makes the show so satisfying, and why I’m so glad I watched it. At the end, you see who ends up with whom, and you understand why. The relational pieces fit together.
Rare enough in any work.
Man, I love this thing.
It’s definitely not for everyone. It’s a quiet, serious, emotional little tale. It focuses on love, though it’s not exactly romantic. Its artistic beauty takes my breath away.
Sorry, everyone; I’ve been under the weather all week and am now heading out for a conference. I should’ve had everything ready, but just had a constellation of stresses this week. I hope to be able to post this week’s podcast episode–the finale of our review of ef–tomorrow.