Plot: An extension to the series Ef: A Tale of Memories, Melodies is a look at the lives of different characters from the series. Melodies follows two couples, Yuu Himura and Yuko Amamiya and Mizuki Hayama and Shuichi Kuze. Melodies is seen as darker and more tragic than Memories, but there is light within the darkness.
Breakdown: It really breaks my heart that there aren’t more episodes of the Ef series….This has to be my favorite romantic drama anime ever. The biggest problem I had with Memories was that, despite having a wonderful pairing and story with Renji and Chihiro, the love square with Hirono, Miyako, Kei and Kyousuke was annoying and dragged the show down. Luckily, there’s none of that bull in this series.
It is a lot darker than Memories, though, dealing with rape (perhaps pedophilia depending on the ages of the characters when it started) self-harm, suicide, mental instability, abuse, impending death of a main character and more. However, that’s not to say that it’s a total depression-fest. There are plenty of romantic, funny and light-hearted moments to brighten things up. And yes, we also get semi-frequent cameos from the Memories characters. However, you might not be as familiar with these characters, even though they were in Memories, so let me bring you up to speed.
Yuu Himura: Yuu’s role in Memories was probably the most significant out of the Melodies main cast. He is Chihiro’s caretaker through Memories and frequently spoke with Renji about his relationship to Chihiro. In Melodies, most of his story takes place in the past as we learn of his backstory and his connection with the mysterious girl, Yuko. Yuu’s a bit of a rough character, but he has plenty of likable traits.
Yuko Amamiya: Yuko’s role in Memories is mysterious. She frequently popped in and out of the story to give advice to the characters when they needed to talk. Throughout Memories you don’t know who or what she really is, nor why is speaking with these kids. In Melodies we learn that she used to go to the same orphanage as Yuu and always wanted to refer to him as her big brother. They go several years without seeing each other, but then suddenly meet again in high school where Yuko seems to have picked right back up with her affection for him. Yuko’s story gets incredibly dark and you can somewhat predict what’s going to happen to her if you pay attention, but she’s a bright and hopeful character for the most part.
Shuichi Kuze: Kuze is a violinist and a good friend to Yuko, Yuu and Nagi in high school. He eventually becomes a famous violinist, but gives it up due to a severe illness that has little in terms of hope for survival. Throughout Memories, he’s mostly comic relief. He’s a womanizer who has a thing for girls in costumes. In Melodies, however, his stance drastically changes. His illness and thoughts of his impending death make him into a dark almost cold character. He creates a relationship with Renji’s cousin, Mizuki.
Mizuki Hayama: Mizuki’s role in Memories was rather small. She is Renji’s cousin and a good friend of Kei’s. She mostly just plays the part of a best friend through the series and is shown to be a big fan of Hirono’s manga. In Melodies, she develops a relationship with Kuze. Despite the age difference, they get along rather well and eventually fall in love. However, Kuze’s illness and his change of outlook due to his impending fate greatly impacts their relationship. She is eventually shown to have a link to Yuu and Yuko’s past. Mizuki is a lot more likable in Melodies than she is in memories, which is basically the polar opposite of the way Kuze’s character went.
Nagi Hirono: Nagi’s role in Memories was really small. She’s Hirono’s older sister and a fellow artist just like her little brother. In Melodies, her role is also not entirely significant. She’s a good friend to Yuu, Yuko and Kuze and used to be in love with Yuu. She mostly has a mentor role in Melodies, however there is one plot point with her that has a decent impact. Nagi’s a cool character.
What of the Memories Crew?
I really thought at the beginning that Melodies would build more on the lives of the main characters from Memories, but their stories really were ended in Memories, so it’s understandable that they don’t have a big role in this series. We do learn some interesting things about them though and there are a few plot points that get revealed about them in Melodies.
WARNING: I’M GOING TO BE SPOILING SOMEWHAT SIGNIFICANT PLOT POINTS HERE. NOTHING TOO MAJOR, ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY’RE SIDE CHARACTERS IN THIS SERIES, BUT STILL. WARNING.
Chihiro: Chihiro has gone to Australia with Renji, his family and Yuu in Melodies. (In fact, a lot of Melodies takes place in Australia.) Chihiro is still in love with Renji and eventually gives her a key to the school roof to Mizuki as a good luck charm. The major plot point about Chihiro, other than the one with Kei that I will get to in a minute, is that it’s revealed that she was the granddaughter of Yuu and Yuko’s landlord. However, the one thing that really bugs me is that we never learn why Yuu became Chihiro’s caretaker after her accident. It was a passing mention that Kei and Chihiro were the granddaughters of their landlord, yet somehow that jumped to being close enough to take care of her after her accident. Rrrgh. Also, it seems that Chihiro’s memory, while still continuously getting lost, is actually improving.
Renji: Renji has gone to Australia with his family and Mizuki. Not much develops with Renji in Melodies. All we know is that Renji still loves Chihiro.
Kei: Okay, I complained about Kei and her relationship with Chihiro in Memories. I said it seemed cold that Kei decided to spend her time obsessing over Hiro and acting like a jealous biz-natch than taking care of or spending time with Chihiro, especially since she was essentially the cause of Chihiro’s accident.
Well, in Melodies this is actually addressed. She wasn’t staying away from Chihiro because she wanted to, but apparently they were being kept apart by their family and Yuu. Everytime that they’d see each other, they’d burst out crying while Kei would blame herself for what happened to her and they’d have a constant back and forth about the guilt. Since Chihiro forgets everything after 13 hours, they’d keep going through that day after day when they saw each other. So, they separated them and contacted each other by phone only. In Melodies, since they’ve gotten their lives together, Kei travels to Australia and they do the same thing again, only this time they both realize that the guilt is in the past and that they need to move to the future. Kei’s also eons more likable here since she has a new guy now and she’s not frothing at the mouth over Hiro. She also gives her key to Mizuki as a good luck charm.
Hiro: Hiro probably has the second to least amount of screentime in Melodies. Well, that’s not very surprising. He was dull in Memories, he has to be duller in Melodies….99% of Hiro’s scenes just show him for a few seconds as he’s working on his manga. That’s about it.
Miyako: Miyako’s role is even smaller. She hardly appears at all. She’s shown to actually not be living with Hiro, but she does visit him every day.
Kyousuke: His role in Melodies is also incredibly small, but it is confirmed that Kei and Kyousuke are dating now. Despite never kissing on screen, there is a sketch or Kyousuke kissing her on the cheek in the last ending credits.
END OF SPOILERS
These two series, especially Melodies, were treats to sit through. I wish all romantic drama anime that I watch were this good. Usually they’re too boggled down in fanservice or stupidity.
If there’s anything bad that I can say about this series, it’s that the first few episodes are a bit slow. Also, the darker tone might try on people’s nerves. Don’t worry. It has a fairly happy ending. 🙂
Voice acting: English dub: the voices are great, but I have some issues. First, it only happens in one or two episodes, but Yuu’s kid voice sounds too much like an adult emulating a child. In addition, Yuko sounds so weird in the final episode. She sounds so much different than she does in the rest of the series. I have no clue what happened there. Other than that, the voices are fitting and the acting is great. Oh yeah and, if it matters to you, they still say -chan, -san, -kun etc. in the English dub. It doesn’t bother me as much anymore, but still.
Music: The music had to grow on me, but indeed it did. In fact, I’d say I like this soundtrack better than Memories’. The opener sounds a lot like the opener to Memories, but I like it better than Memories’. However, it does have weird lyrics in broken Engrish. The weirdest line being “I wish I could see your insides.” I’m guessing that’s supposed to be metaphoric (ya know, like the person wants to see your soul or something) but it really sounds like something a serial killer would say.
Art: The art and animation are even better than in Memories. Some of artsy shots may get on people’s nerves and the design on the eyes seems off to me, but I found it beautiful.
Bottomline: If you liked Memories, you’ll love Melodies. If you like romantic dramas, check it out too. There are many likable characters (There was only one character that I despised, but you’re supposed to hate him.) wonderful music, great art and animation, wonderful story and nice mixture of dark drama with hope and happiness. I honestly can’t find much to say that’s bad about it.
Additional Information and Notes
Ef: A Tale of Melodies was based on adult visual novel games called Ef: The First Tale and Ef: The Latter Tale. The games are combined with several different different stories taken from different characters’ perspectives and their own specific stories that are separated into chapters.
Melodies is comprised of the prologues of both games and Chapter 4 from The Latter Tale.
Memories is produced by Shaft, producers of other notably stylized series such as the Monogatari franchise, Dance in the Vampire Bund, the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei franchise and Madoka Magica. Eye candy galore!
The series was directed by Shin Onuma who is also the directing force behind C3, Bakemonogatari, Princess Tutu, Pani Poni Dash! And Silent Mobius.
Recommended Audience: Surprisingly, even though this series deals with the older characters from Memories, there’s no sex scenes or real nudity. Which is odd, seeing as how there are two sex scenes (albeit brief and non-graphic) in Memories and all of them were underage. There is some nudity, but it’s nonsexual and it’s only because Nagi has this weird thing about painting her portrait while nude in the art room. You don’t see much, though. There’s no real fanservice, no swearing, however the very heavy themes are enough to deter younger audiences. Around episode, err 6 or 7 is where it really hits the fan. 15 or 16+