the girl was alone in the world

Categories: anime, ef


Goddamn, I must have set a personal record for most times I have started, scrapped, and re-started writing a post.


ef ~a tale of memories~ is like my writing kryptonite. There’s been more than one time where I wanted to sit down and write about it, but I’m never happy with what I wrote and end up scrapping it. I feel like Chihiro scrapping her novel over and over before Renji entered her life. Ironically, the one time that I was happy with what I wrote, it turned out to be one of the least read posts of November. Go figure.

There’s a lot that I want to write about this series, and I’m not sure where to begin.

The narrative? It’s awesome. It’s one thing to tell three stories; it’s another to pace them so well. One thing ef does is that at no point in time are the multiple stories at the same story progression point. Using the three heroines as the barometer, they are either at a high point, a so-so point, or a low point, but they are never all three at a high point or a low point. When Miya-Miya had her breakdown and left 99 messages for Hirano, that was a low point for her, but, meanwhile, Kei started her counterattack on Hirano (a so-so point), and Chihiro was flying high writing the novel with Renji while secretly twittering about how much she loves him. One episode later? Chihiro and Renji crash landed as badly Evangelion 25/26; Kei is like Simon right before finding out about Kamina’s death in Gurren Lagann 8; and, Miya-Miya was re-enacting Yukino’s post-coital face from Kare Kano 18. By keeping the stories moving differently, it made the stories feel more distinct… the highs were higher, and the lows were lower– juxtapose Miya-Miya furiously dialing Hirano in vein to a happy Chihiro writing with Renji.


The progression? Storytelling, at least, classical storytelling is all about going from A to B to C in a logical, but not necessarily predictable, fashion. We all know that Frodo must go to Mordor, but it doesn’t mean he has to travel in a straight line or necessarily make it there. It’s also not what makes Frodo’s tale enjoyable, but what encompasses his journey to Mordor. ef has done a solid job presenting a scenario for the characters and following it. There’s no Mu La Fraga coming back from the dead, there’s no rebooting, there’s no characters behaving outside of what’s expected of them. We all know that Chihiro and Renji will bounce back, much like how Gainax bounced back from Shinji Ikari; we all know Simon went into a huge funk after Kamina’s death; and, we all knew it wasn’t exactly all roses for Yukino and Arima. I don’t think Chihiro, Kei, and Miya-Miya will take different paths than those, but I’m still excited to see how the final few episodes unfold. I want to see if Renji understands Chihiro’s novels; if Kei has revenge sex; if Miya-Miya becomes overly possessive. There’s a logical progression, and it’s not a mystery novel. Just because I knew there’s no fucking way in hell that Simon would ever lose, it didn’t make the final battle less enjoyable.

The craziness? I’m a big fan of crazy in my anime. My, ef has crazies in spades. Miya-Miya takes the cake with her breakdown after her showdown with Kei. Chihiro unexpectedly turned down Renji for a kiss earlier. Renji then turned the tables and rejected her, leading to me to wonder, what would be worse? Hirano finding 99 voice mails or Chihiro actually writing down how Renji turned her down? Kei is like a more sinister and fragile Nemu who couldn’t finish. When Kei had Miya-Miya on the ropes, and she just needed to close the deal. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t jump Hirano. Why? She was instead feeling sorry for herself, because she found out that Chihiro has been writing a novel. She saw that the two most important people in her life at that point had dreams– dreams that she couldn’t share in– and had a slight breakdown. Craziness and poor decision making… I’m loving it.


The Shaftiness? I’m not a fan of Shaft’s style, as I think it has ruined Negima!? and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and almost ruined Hidamari Sketch. But a lot of people are bitching about Shaft’s post-modernism and missing out on enjoying a great series. Yes, there’s a lot of abstract moments. Yes, there’s a lot of glowing characters. Yes, the animation quality isn’t Clannad-class. But so what? Shaft’s style fits very nicely with Chihiro’s story, and I’m not sure if any studio, Kyoto inclusive, could do a better job at presenting it in a more fitting fashion. For Kei and Miya-Miya’s story, most of that portion is just people talking with Shaft styling it up. There’s not a lot of random references like the shifting chalkboards and “WTF!?!” moments that distract my attention as in other Shaft anime. There’s a few subtle cameos like the Mahora uniform and the dangos, but no greater than the amount in Clannad. Overall, it’s just Kei, Miya-Miya, Hirano, and Kyosuke talking, with some wacky backgrounds. I just don’t think it’s a big deal, and there were even some points, like when Miya-Miya and Kei were having their throwdown, that it helped. It was sure more interesting to look at than most of Lamune, that’s for sure.

The imagery? ef ~a tale of memories~ won me over back when Chihiro explained her chains and her clock. I knew then that this series was going to be fantastic, much like how I knew Rozen Maiden was a winner after the “delicious strategy” episode. I loved that sheep analogy. The unfolding of her novel is one of my favorite aspects of this series. Besides the parallels to her state, there’s a whole Utena-flair and style to it.


The giddiness? I think because I’ve been writing this blog for so long, I’m losing my capacity to be an anime fanboy slowly as time goes by. But, every once in a while, I watch something that reminds me why I like this style of entertainment more than Ghost Whisperer and Scrubs. When I watch something like Haruhi Suzumiya or Gurren Lagann or Muteki Kanban Musume or Minami-ke, I just feel, “Wow, that was just awesome. I have to go tell something about this great show.” When one is a fanboy, one overlooks the flaws and focuses on what’s enjoyable, which is almost opposite of standard operating procedure for a modern blogger. The modern blogger would bitch about Shaft, bitch about how Chihiro can use a computer with only 12 years + 13 hours at her disposal, etc, instead of looking at it through a fanboy’s giddy eyes. “Wow, it tells three compelling stories without compromising any!” “Chihiro has had more costume changes than Ms. Wang!” “No… Miya-Miya… don’t make that call!” “*sob* Renji-kun! *sob*!” This series does remind me that I’m a fanboy, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I just hope I finally wrote a post that properly shows it.

17 Responses to “the girl was alone in the world”

  1. whoa, Jason got a lot of spirit to do the blogging lately, thats great XD

  2. Awesome post!

  3. Jason, you are one of the few remaining good people.
    Were I ever to end up as the male lead in the real-life equivalent of a harem anime.. I’d send the loligothnekomimi-meido your way.

  4. Well, at least I am glad this main character got laid in the anime…unlike most H-game to non H-anime conversions.

  5. Huzzah for sexings! They make the world go rounds. Yeah, I agree that when Shaft does the things with people with strange textures or coloring or backrounds or lack thereof ( sky coloured/textured people?) If I had been a little less focused or if it was less interesting they would be extremely distracting. The art style I mean. I agree that it fits well with Chihiro’s story, but the rest of it almost feels a little forced. Just my two-cents, off to go re-watch Gurren Lagann that was subbed by evil evil fansubbers.

  6. Ah well…but nice to see sex appear in a H-game turned Anime…I didnt think Rin gotten laid in Shuffle (But then again, not many of Asa’s route had a good oppurtunity to make a good H-Scene impression)

  7. Jason corrected my earlier pronouncement by pointing out that ef is not a Steve Vai album – it’s a Jimi Hendrix album, complete with drug use during the creative process. There are times when I have to look away from the screen because the random imagery hurts my head, but the imagery works the rest of the time and there are moments that just send a chill through you. Fly on, Little Wing.

    And Jason, I just don’t believe you when you say you are losing the capacity to be a fanboy.

  8. I didnt think Shaft was capable of making these type of anime when I first started on this series but how wrong i was. This show is being predictable in an unpredictable way, and im still feeling giddy after watching episode 9.

  9. The animation style used in this show is one of the aspects that make me enjoy it as much as I do, it makes any ordinary talking scenes more interesting to watch. I’m sure if they animated the scene with Hirono and Miya-Miya talking -> kiss scene by just having them walk along the beach without any special effects it would be ok, but with this style, now it’s just awesome.
    Ef has yet to sway away from my #1 this season, I can only hope the ending doesn’t ruin it, From what I’ve seen so far in other romance type series more than half end really crappy. But I have faith in shaft for once in my life.

  10. I guess that makes me a fanboy too…

    In the last couple of weeks I have been talking with some friends from College about the new series I gave them to watch; I’m really fascinated of how they enjoyed, hated, laughed or cried with each and every one of them. Like what you said before, taking note of those small details inside the story really make us interact with the characters and their lives. Oh men, they call me “sempai” and “sama” when the series really suit their tastes (many of them). I’m glad to share something with them, not only words and silly things.

    Don’t know if I’ll be able to finish ef, my heart won’t be capable of handle it.

  11. Fanboyism can be silly, but it sure is fun~

    Ef handles its storylines and styles nicely. Mixing logical drama with good use of imagery and symbolism is something that most anime (hell, most entertainment mediums in general) rarely do well. The show has high and low points, but damn does it shine when its at a high point.

  12. Episode 9 was amazing. I seriously cheered and went ‘hell yah!’ with the scene where Hiro wakes up beside Miya. The awkward puttering around of ‘does he/she like me’ and such was delightfully not there between those two and the confession scene was absolutely refreshing in design. Like Wind~A breath of heart~ where the female lead tearfully railed at our very dumb male protagonist, this one skimped on the dragged out confession and went straight for the goal. Scene when Kei found out and afterwards was classic and I’ve jazzed up for the next episode. As for Renji and Chihiro, I’m wondering if Renji will ‘do the right thing: be a man’ or pussy-foot around for another episode or two. I’m hoping that a happy ending is in store for everyone, though solidly done rather than some bland white blanket of ‘And everyone lives happily ever after’.

  13. revenge sex… what a term… i sure want to taste that one…XD
    i really think u did well in this post… i really liked your attitude in this one, it pleases me to see that your post contains no rantings about the show…
    go fanboy!

  14. now that i think about it, i’m still not too sure why i got turned off by the first episode. for some reason, i felt it weirded me out.

    anyhow even with you guys hyping it up, i don’t think my hard drive can handle the rest of the space.

  15. Well, SHAFT is one of the things that starting watching the series, as I usually tend to not watch stories of this variety. The fact that what the characters says (not really most of the characters themselves at the moment) keep me staying is a nice job on ef’s part.

    And for someone who usually pays attention to stuff like this, Hidamari Sketch was much more subdued with SHAFT’s (or rather, Akiyuki Shinbo’s) style than stuff I saw, and I thought it added to the show rather than detracted for it. My favorite episode is the Yuno getting sick episode (number 5), and in that one, it was pure SHAFT and Shinbo all the way. :P

    Taste is relative. :/

  16. Mm looking at that last pictuer made me think maybe some Chihiro x Kei fanservice would go nicely with Kyou x Ryou, a Bi girl is fine too.

    As for the episode, Kei sure failed at getting Hirono for haveing such a tough decleration of war. Also it seems like Chihiro can bounce back really quickly. EF sure is getting good

  17. Bahhh I was cheering for Kei now I’m hoping for a BAD END

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