ef ~a tale of melodies~

Genre: Romance
Length: 12 episodes
Score: Beyond Excellent

The sequel to ef ~a take of memories~, it once again tells two intertwined love stories.

The first story takes place in the past. Himura Yuu meets a girl, Amamiya Yuuko, who seems to know him, but he doesn’t know her. He soon remembers that she was a girl whom he knew in his early childhood, but due to traumatic events at the time, had long since suppressed the memories. The second story takes place in the present, set just after the events of Memories. Shuuichi Kuze meets Renji’s cousin, Hayama Mizuki and spends time with her. Unknown to Mizuki, Kuze has little time left to live and made the effort to break all romantic ties. His plan falls apart somewhat when Mizuki tells him that she loves him.

Well, where to start?

Not content with the harrowing topics of illness and loneliness explored in Memories, the Melodies team go way further than almost any other series I’ve seen: topics this time round focus on terminal illness and child abuse. I watched this series as each episode came out, and each week I discovered more about the characters. Not only do the individual stories in Melodies play out beautifully, but the characters from Memories also make their appearances, and flesh out some of the detail missing from Memories, so all 4 stories become more complete as a result.

Episode 6 is the turning point in Melodies. At a risk of spoilers (which I don’t like doing in reviews), I will say this much: Yuuko’s monologue about her time since parting with Himura in childhood and the present is *the* most harrowing (yet brilliantly rendered) description of pain and suffering I’ve ever heard. And the pain and suffering is not over yet. This scene will remain with you for a long time after you’ve finished watching the series.

The artistic style between both Memories and Melodies is used to brilliant effect. The scene colours change depending on the mood of the characters in them. The pace of scene changes depending on the temprament of the characters in them. In one episode, the credits are inverted to coincide with the almost inversion of the characters’ state of mind. Likewise, music is matched brilliantly with the mood and temprament of the characters, with heavy classical sections in periods of extreme trauma and almost jovial pieces for the lighter moments of the series.

I can’t find words to do the Memories and Melodies series’ justice. They’re both absolutely brilliant love stories, without shadow of a doubt one of the best in genre over the last couple of years.

Provided you can cope with the harrowing nature of the stories, you are doing yourself a disservice by not watching these two series.