DVD Review: Ef – A Tale of Memories – The Complete Collection

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Ef – A Tale of Memories is a colleciton of characters, stories and relationships but is it any good? Well find out in our DVD Review of Ef – A Tale of Memories – The Complete Collection.

Synopsis:

One Christmas Eve, Hiro Hirono helps Miyako, the victim of a purse snatching, and discovers that she goes to the same school he does. To the dismay of his childhood friend, Kei, Hiro starts hanging out with Miyako. But Kei isn’t about to let a new girl in Hiro’s life take him away from her, and sets out to prove that she’s the only one for him.

When Renji Asou meets Chihiro Shindou at an abandoned train station, he doesn’t notice anything unusual at first. But he soon discovers that she suffers from a rare form of amnesia and can only remember things for thirteen hours. Chihiro dreams of writing a novel, but her amnesia has made it an impossible task. Renji is determined to help her fulfill her dream.

Our View:

Ef – A Tale of Memories is an anime adaptation of the visual novel game franchise, Ef –A Fairy Tale of the Two, which was released as two separate PC Games Ef – The First Tale and Ef – The Latter Tale, in 2006 and 2008. The Anime adaptation, Ef – A Tale of Memories, attempts to combine both gameplay stories into one anime series with both stories overlapping and interlinking with each other but never meeting up, at the heart though its one long love story with some incredible, beautiful animation and complex characters.

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Since there are two ‘main’ developing stories to be told within the series each episode is split into two segments, with the first segment referring to one story while the second segment, which starts at the halfway point, will refer to the second story – this way viewers aren’t confused about which storyline they are viewing and it gives a nice break from the confrontations that are taking place in the other storyline. This being said the storyline segment won’t always appear in the same place of an episode, for instance Storyline A may start for the first 10 minutes of Episode 1, but in Episode 2 it may be the last 10 minutes of the episode. It may sound distracting but in reality it’s a fresh approach and works effectively well – not to mention the story can move swiftly along without dragging on.

The stories themselves are the relationships between Hirono Hiro and childhood friend Kei Shindou (as featured in Ef – The First Tale) as well as the relationship between Chihiro Shindou, who is the younger twin sister to Kei, and Renji Asou (as featured in Ef – The Latter Tale). What makes these two ‘love’ stories interesting is the unique characteristics of the characters, such as Chihiro suffering from anterograde amnesia which means she can only recall the past 13 hours of her life and because of this ends up writing everything down, including her feelings and desires for Renji, while on the other hand Miyamura Miyako, a girl Hirono encounted over Christmas, Is not only infaturated with Hirono but also hides a hidden desire and a dark past, which ultimately create consequences for both Hirono and Kei.

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It’s not just Chihiro and Miyamura that have issues either, as the other main characters each have their own problems, with Hirono attempting to complete his Manga deadlines, Kei attempting to be the best basketball player and Renji debating what to do for his career path. They may seem like ‘mundane’ objectives but they are often brought up throughout the series, with some used as starting points for deeper relationships to start, such as Renji’s obsession with books which leads him to help Chihiro fore fill her dream of writing a novel herself.  As you’d assume though, this being a love story, things never go to plan, so hearts are broken and dreams are shattered but it has never been done so effectively, and emotionally, as it is portrayed in Ef – A Tale of Memories.

Extras:

Ef – A Tale of Memories is quite scarce on extra features and all that is included is the text less opening and ending videos for the series along with a selection of trailers, some of which have yet to be released (or even licensed) for UK Release.

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On a good note all of the different endings (and there is a lot) are included under the ‘text less ending animation’, which means that we are treated to around 9 minutes worth of additional animation.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time: 2:36:31 (Disc 1), 2:26:14 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Ef – A Tale of Memories is, at it’s core a simple and emotional love story, but the series itself is far from being simple with its multiple characters, unique characteristics and devious plot twists – all of which create an enjoyable viewing experience that, for once, is even enjoyable in its English Dub format.

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Sentai produced English Dubs are usually unentertaining, boring and filled with Chris Patton as the main character, however in Ef – A Tale of Memories not only is David Matranga a ‘minor’ character (who only appears for brief scenes) but the rest of the voices are portrayed by characters that actually want to present an emotional rollercoaster for the viewer, such as Luci Christian’s portrayal of Miyamura Miyako. Miyamura has a ‘lonely’ past and her emotion changes from happy to depressed throughout the series, and Luci manages to pull off these mood changes extremely well. It’s not just Luci that presents a perfect voice for her character, as the remaining cast also provide realistic voices for their characters as well.

While the English Dub is an enjoyable, entertaining and an emotional rollercoaster some anime viewers may wish to watch the ‘Japanese’ Version of the series and luckily the Japanese Audio is included. By default the DVD disc’s are set to Japanese with English Subtitles, so those wishing to watch it in English will have to use the Setup menu each time they insert the Disc. It may seem like an annoyance but it just shows that the Japanese version of series is the one to watch, even though the English Audio is exceptionally well produced (by Sentai standards). In regards to the Audio both are presented in Stereo 2.0, which is no surprise but no surround sound is needed within this series so it’s not missed, while the subtitles are presented in English for both full speak and text translation.

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Overall Ef – A Tale of Memories is a simple effective love story with unique characters. interesting twists and an enjoyable produced English Dub, however those unfamiliar with SHAFT’s animation style may feel alienated with its constant close-ups and bleak backgrounds, but this should’nt put people off wanting to watch a ‘coming-of-age’ love story. Anime fans who enjoyed Bakemonogatari’s unique animation style and love stories similar to Eureka Seven’s determination will most likely enjoy Ef – A Tale of Memories.

Score: review-stars-3

Ef – A Tale of Memories – The Complete Collection will be available on DVD from 5th August 2013.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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