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

ef_tale_of_melodies_review_screenshot_5Ef – Tale of Melodies is the uniquely styled second season to Ef – A Tale of Memories, but what did we think the series had to offer? Find out in our DVD Review.

Synopsis:

Shuichi Kuze’s been spending time with Mizuki Hayama, and as they’ve been getting to know each other, they’ve been growing closer. Sadly, Kuze discovers that he’s contracted a fatal illness and decides to break all romantic ties for the little time left to him. Before he can break things off, however, Mizuki tells him that she loves him. Will her declaration change Kuze’s mind?

In another city, in the not-so-distant past, Yuu Himura meets a girl who seems to know him, but he doesn’t know her. Soon enough, he remembers Yuko Amamiya, a girl he met long ago, and begins to rediscover the depth of their feelings for each other. Will Yuko’s love reach across time to find her true love once and for all? Kuze and Mizuki, Yu and Yuko… Intertwining fate, tragic, bittersweet and beautiful.

Our View:

The synopsis pretty much covers whats included, but in my eyes Ef – a tale of melodies is a continuation of Ef- a tale of memories however unlike traditional ‘second seasons’ the main characters from Season One are now the support characters while support characters are now the main characters. For instance Mizuki Hayama (Renji’s cousin) and Shuuichi Kuze (Renji’s next door neighbour) as well as Yuu Himura (priest looking guy) and Yuko Amamiya (mysterious long haird girl) are now the main focus of the story, while previous main characters Kei, Chihiro, Renji , Miyako, Kyosuke and Hiro are now support characters with barely any screen time.

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The reason the previous main characters hardly get any screen time is because Ef – a tale of melodies is set mostly in the past, with the storyline focusing on a teenage (higschool) version of Yuu Himura as he re-encounters a childhood friend. This childhood friend, Yuko Amamiya, brings up painful memories of their past in the orphanage, namely the death of Yuu’s younger sister, and so he tries to avoid Yuko but in the process new secrets and love interests are revealed, ones which will change Yuu’s life forever. This interaction, along with engagements with school friends Shuuichi Kuze and Nagi Hirono explain how Yuu became the man he is today and why he is always found waiting at the church.

Yuu’s complicated relationship isn’t the only focus in this series either, as in the present Renji’s cousin, Mizuki Hayama, spends time with Shuuichi Kuze and inevitably develops a love interest in him, but Shuuichi isn’t interested due to ‘complicated’ issues of his own. This storyline also has its own difficult hardships, with Mizuki soon discovering that Shuuichi is suffering from a life threating illness that could kill him at any moment and so relies upon help from Yuu, Kei and Chihiro in how to communicate with him as well as possibly save him from his lonely thoughts of impending death.

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It’s not just the characters love stories that are explained in this series either, as this series also makes a ‘continued’ point in telling viewers that there are two identical towns in the world, with each town portraying their own love story. Basically there is a town in Australia that is identical to a town in Japan, something which wasn’t mentioned much (if not at all) in the original series. So basically one of the characters storylines takes place in Japan, while the other characrers storyline take place in Australia and towards the end of the series the two main characters of the franchise (i.e. the sisters Chihiro and Kei as well as Yuu and Yuko) eventually meet up after several years apart to conclude this emotional ride of a story.

At its core Ef – a tale of Melodies mimics the elements seen within the first season, such as its multiple storylines, unique animation style (SHAFT) and complex love stories, however to keep this series fresh it has a much dark tone, with the constant recollection of sorrow, abuse and impeding death and as a whole offers a more ‘depressing’ and possibly realistic story compared to the previous installment.

Extras:

This particular DVD release only includes a handful of extra features, which include text less (clean) opening and ending animations as well as a variety of trailers for other anime titles.

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Much like the previous season, Ef – a tale of Melodies, has a variety of opening and ending animations – all of which are available in text less (clean) form via the extras menu and they offer around 30 minutes worth of additional content. In addition to the opening / closing animations there is also trailers for Arakawa Under the Bridge, Bodacious Space Pirates, Alien Nine and .Hack//GU Trilogy.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  2:25:01 (Disc 1), 2:24:55 (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 Melodies portrays the story of Mizuki Hayama, Shuuichi Kuze, Yuu Himura and Yuko Amamiya and combines them with the already told stories of Ef – a tale of memories to offer a complete end and satisfactory end to the Ef storyline which each character getting their own respectable screen time. The animation and artwork is exactly the same as the previous season and follows the traditional animation style of Shaft, with close-up shots of characters, multi-coloured scenes that are designed to depict a meaning (such as broken glass being a shattered heart) and the odd variation between colour to black & white during the final stages of the anime.

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In regards to the DVD itself there is the inclusion of both a Japanese & English audio track (both presented in stereo), with the Japanese audio (with optional English subtitles) offering a far superior viewing experience. This is because the Japanese audio track provides more ‘emotion’ through the voice acting compared to the English Dub, saying that though the English Dub does have its highlights, such as Yuu doing a “May the force be with you” impression.  As expected the episodes are spread out evenly between the two discs with the second disc containing a few extras, namely trailers of other anime series as well as all of the text less songs that have ever featured in Ef – a tale of melodies.

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Overall Ef – a tale of Melodies brings a satisfying conclusion to the franchise but it won’t appeal to the masses as, at its core, it’s a long-winded love story that is surrounded by deceit, mystery and death but the darker tone of the series does make it more interesting. Those who have yet to see Ef – a tale of memories can still watch this series, however I’d advise watching a tale of memories so that this series makes more sense, otherwise you’d be lost on why the support characters are important (as it does little in the way of explaining the events of the previous series).  If you enjoyed SHAFT’s previous animations, such as Bakemonogatari and Ef – a Tale of Memories that you will most likely enjoy Ef – Tale of Melodies, if not then you’ll either find something uniquely interesting or uniquely boring.

Score: review-stars-3

Ef – A Tale of Melodies will be available on DVD from the 2nd September 2013.

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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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