Rail of the Star Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: Chitose Kobayashi reflects back on her life as a child in Japanese-occupied Korea as the Pacific War and World War II begin.

Breakdown: The response for this movie doesn’t seem to be very positive. At best, I’d say it’s mixed.

Obviously, there are many people saying this movie feels like it’s trying very hard to be Grave of the Fireflies or at least play like a Studio Ghibli film, which I get. However, from the get-go, you know it won’t be the largely tragic story of Grave of the Fireflies mostly because Chitose is alive and well at the start, a successful actress even, and she starts the whole flashback by confirming that her family escaped. As opposed to Grave of the Fireflies, which also works on a flashback, but is told by the perspective of a homeless and clearly dying Seita.

Even the names seem in stark contrast. Rail of the Star sounds a lot more optimistic and positive than Grave of the Fireflies.

But is it really fair to make such comparisons when this is supposedly a true story? This is an autobiographical tale of a real woman named Chitose Kobayashi. How much has been changed for dramatic effect, I don’t know. However, can you really say a movie is aiming to be a rip-off or an homage if the story is, more or less, true?

I got invested in this movie just fine. I was never fooling myself into thinking this was a Ghibli film, but it’s still compelling and interesting enough to grasp your attention for an hour and fifteen minutes. Plus there were moments where I almost teared up a little.

The problem I have with this movie is that there are moments where it is a bit melodramatic and yet, at the same time, the movie doesn’t do enough to have heavy dramatic impact. For instance, the scene where Chiko (Chitose’s nickname as a child) sat on a pin that was stuck in her pants really seems over the top for the situation. I mean, I get that it probably hurt a lot, a given with her insane screaming (props to her VA), but it was really so bad that another hour or so without treatment and she would’ve died? Can someone with more medical knowledge tell me if this is legitimate? Is it an infection risk kind of thing?

None of the characters really stand out at all. Chiko is a very real child reacting to everything as most children would. I don’t even mind the scene where she blows up because the new backpack she got was a plain brown color instead of the red she wanted because it’s the very tip of the iceberg of effects from the war. I’m sure, looking back, Chitose probably thinks she was being very foolish getting upset over such a thing in comparison with everything else.

The mom is nice, but typical. The dad is nice and brave, but typical. Her aunt Yohko and grandparents are nice, but typical. Are you seeing a pattern here? Probably the second character to get any sort of real character development is her nanny/maid (?) Ohana, a Korean woman who is scrounging together funds for her mother’s medicine. She is pretty close to Chiko, and she has a father who….I guess doesn’t like her. The one time we see him, he throws out her money and shuts the door in her face. No idea why.

And, that’s pretty much it. They make a big thing out of Ohana being in the audience of Chitose’s play, the framing device of the movie, but there wasn’t a big enough connection made between the two for me to care that much.

Finally, there is Miko, Chiko’s little sister and the source of the most impacting scene of the movie. Which is a shame because, outside of the default ‘she’s a kid so it’s extra awful’ bit of sadness in her part of the story, she’s also very much a typical little girl. There aren’t really any major scenes that make you connect with her. The one scene they keep going back to is a short scene where she’s asking Chiko if she can play with the paper ball she’s playing with, but Chiko won’t let her. But she leaves the ball behind when she goes to play with her friends, so Miko is finally able to play with the ball.

The ball is a major artifact throughout the rest of the movie, but since there wasn’t enough emotional connection made, it’s hard to feel that pang in your heart when it keeps reappearing.

Finally, our title namesake, the rail of the star…..also isn’t dramatic or impacting enough. One night, Chiko’s dad taught her that the North Star always points north and is well-known for helping travelers along their way. The scene in which this is taking place isn’t particularly sweet or emotionally impacting. It’s a fine scene, but it’s not terribly memorable.

When they’re escaping, she remembers what he taught her as they realize they’re lost and they follow a ‘rail of the star’ to get to the 38th parallel and get back to Japan. She also asks the stars to be brighter when she’s too scared to cross a railroad bridge in the dark. That’s about it.

They do a good job at keeping the movie grounded and even bringing some of the other elements of the war to light that most other movies like this don’t, like the plight of the Koreans who basically traded one invader for another.

The art and animation for this movie are dated and not the best, but I am still a sucker for classic-styled art and animation. Not saying much, though, because this movie isn’t terribly old coming out in ‘93. I’m older than this movie. Surprising, really, since the studio behind this is Madhouse.

The music is fine and does the job well, but some of the tracks seem to repeat too much. I’m not sure if the tracks are too similar or if they’re really playing the same song over and over, I couldn’t tell.

The voice acting, Japanese version, is really good. And serious props to Chiko’s VA for that screaming. That was some soul breaking screaming.

Bottomline: It’s a fine wartime drama, but it has a lot of problems utilizing dramatic moments and there’s not much that is horribly memorable about it. There are several parallels to Grave of the Fireflies, which might be unfortunate because I really think the movie stands fine on its own and it is supposedly a mostly true story. It’s not like it’s a huge ‘point out the rip-off moments’ movie, but it’s hard not to make comparisons.

Give it a shot if you like the genre. It does give you a few heart pangs, but don’t expect it to be an uncovered classic.

Additional Information and Notes:

Rail of the Star was directed by Toshio Hirata, who also directed Petshop of Horrors and it was produced by Madhouse. It is currently licensed in the US by ADV films.

Duration: 1h 17m

Year: 1993

Recommended Audience: The genre itself is more geared towards an older audience. Other than that, some people do die, but no one dies on screen. There’s no blood, swearing, nudity, sex etc. Really, the most they do is shove a big pin into Chiko’s rear end and there’s not even any blood in that scene either. E for everyone, preferably with a parent present, though.


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SSBS – Boys Over Flowers Episode 2: No Brand Girl!

SSBS - Boys Over Flowers 2

Plot: When Tsukushi arrives at school, she finds that things are still the same, but slightly better. Her resolve is still strong, Makiko continues to send messages back and forth to her through the little electronic frog, and she overhears some kids actually admiring her for standing up for herself to the F4, even if they’re still having fun with her situation at her expense.

She tries to find Rui to thank him once again for saving her the other day and finds him on a bench in the garden playing a beautiful song on the violin. He stops and asks what she’s doing there. She thanks him for saving her, but he says he shouldn’t have done so if he knew she’d become a pest about it. She tells him she’ll maybe catch him again hanging out in the emergency stairwell and he replies that he’ll stop going there.

After he leaves, Tsukushi muses, not bothered by his words. She believes he was being more honest in his violin playing than what he was saying and happily goes about her day.

At the end of school, she’s suddenly kidnapped and taken to a car by Tsukasa’s goons. She struggles and fights, but it’s no use. In the car, they knock her out with chloroform as Tsukasa looks on with a smirk telling her that she’ll pay.

When she awakes, she finds herself at the mercy of three people who strip her naked before giving her a deep-tissue massage. She then gets a makeover including a new hairstyle and set of clothes.

She’s brought to the dining room where she meets Tsukasa. He reveals that she’s actually in his house. He asks her if she’s in love with Rui, but doesn’t wait for an answer before he tells her Rui’s not single. He then…gives a really confusing explanation as to what’s going on. He directs her to a portrait of his sister and tells her they’re as different as night and day, but this makeover proves that even someone as average as her can shine with polish.

He’s willing to let her hang around him when no one’s around, but she’ll never be a replacement for his sister….I guess.

She’s deeply insulted that he thinks he can buy her with money and demands her uniform back so she can head home. He’s equally insulted at her refusal, claiming she’s a pauper while he’s name brand from head to toe. She proudly proclaims she’s no-brand and tells him to not lump her together with the other girls who fawn over him for his money.

After she leaves, she runs into Rui on his way home from school. She asks him if there’s anything money can’t buy. He replies ‘Air.’ Rui actually manages to legitimately smile at her, calling her a weird girl.

The next day, someone has written ‘Tsukushi Makino ran a mob outfit in jr. high! She sleeps around and has a bastard child!’ on the chalkboard.

Tsukushi rushes out to confront the F4, blaming them for the writing, proclaiming she cannot possibly have a bastard child, because she’s a virgin. She then runs off, leaving the boys flustered and confused. Tsukasa claims her telling them she’s a virgin is her way of telling them she’s single and believes she likes him.

She rushes back to class to find three girls she’s never really spoken with erasing the writing and badmouthing the F4 for what they’ve done. They call Tsukushi a very strong girl for taking all of this without standing down and invite her to a party they’re having. They tell her they’ll pay for the ticket and to not worry about the clothes because it’s a jeans party. Tsukushi is a little confused considering she doesn’t know these girls, but she accepts.

Later, at the bakery in which Tsukushi works, she’s surprised to find Rui and Sojiro visiting. Rui buys a cupcake because it’s cute.

That night, Tsukushi arrives at the party only to find out that the girls were lying about it being a jeans party. It’s actually a very fancy party, and they tricked her just to laugh at her when she arrived in such casual clothing.

————————————

This episode is pretty bad. I like that Tsukushi continues to keep her resolve strong, but the fact that she keeps her heart soft for Rui just because he plays violin and likes cute things, no matter the mean things he says to her, is a bit frustrating.

And, dear god, what the hell is up with Tsukasa? This creepy bastard legitimately kidnapped her and essentially had her sexually assaulted (Drugging her and having people strip her completely naked and massage her against her will) just so he could dress her up in a similar manner to his sister and offer to have her hang around him (as long as no one’s around) to replace his sister? Someone call the cops!

Actually, I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising given that he tried to have her gang raped in the previous episode. What is wrong with this guy?

Then believing her telling them she’s a virgin is her way of telling him that she’s available and likes him? I just got done reading Boku wa Imouto ni Koi Wo Suru. I don’t need to go through another lengthy series where one of the main love interests is a rapey creeper.

It’s also a bit awkward that the ending ‘cliffhanger,’ if you will, is Tsukushi learning the girls tricked her to mock her. I saw that coming from a mile away and the fact that Tsukushi is even surprised at this by this point is a little silly.

Small note, but the music is really starting to grate on me. Half of it is repetitive and the other half sounds like it belongs in a 1950s short film.

Rating: 3/10

Next episode, Tsukushi deals with stuck up bitches, and Rui actually does have a girlfriend. How will this mesh with Tsukushi’s budding feelings for him?

….Previous Episode

The Salty Anime Challenge Day 15: What is Something that You Find Yourself Avoiding?

This entry stumped me for quite a while. My approach to anime is usually to give everything a decent chance. Unless it’s just seriously not clicking with me as a whole, I don’t tend to avoid something due to one factor. I’ll even give harem anime the benefit of the doubt by throwing it at least one episode watch.

I guess if there’s something that keeps rubbing me the wrong way though, it’s probably ultra drama romances in anime. Whether the romance is the main focus or not, I just tend to roll my eyes and resist the urge to fast forward when these soap-opera level romances spring up.

And I don’t….really mean the super corny romances like Renton and Eureka from Eureka 7, because they can still be very sweet…..but seriously, I can’t stand the cheese in that show. Wisconsin would tell them to tone down the cheese. I mean the ones that have to constantly include misunderstandings and relationship-ending drama all the time, usually making at least a few people look like complete assholes.

“I should probably tell her I’ve been banging her manager….and kissed a close friend….and another close friend….and slept with her too…and made out with another friend……But she might put out tonight sooooo….” —-”I wonder if I should tell him that I care way more about my best friend and my career than I do my relationship with him. But he might put out tonight sooooo…”

Inuyasha, Fushigi Yuugi, Gundam SEED, Vampire Knight, I’’s, and just to cheat a little, even The Legend of Korra’s first and second seasons suffered because of romance drama, whether these shows are objectively good without the romance or not.

I still never forgave either of them for this. Korra for kissing another guy while on a date with Bolin (You can’t convince me she didn’t realize Bolin was taking that as a real date. She’s not that dumb.) Korra for kissing Mako when he’s dating Asami. Mako for kissing back. Note: He was forced into being kissed, but he clearly reciprocated after. Mako for being a lying bag of dicks who tries to pass the buck after Asami finds out. Blah blah. This whole love triangle BS marred a really great season plot concept otherwise.

I’m not an idiot, I know no relationship is perfect. I wouldn’t want it to be, either. Those overly saccharine ‘love conquers all’ romances are almost as bad. I just prefer realistic romances with likable characters who encounter hiccups that they actually work through, not ones that are forgotten or swept under the rug. Romances where being with the other actually makes the characters grow and mature not stagnate and worsen.

I don’t want couples that do terrible things and act like asstards then end up together because ehhh the series is wrapping up, chop chop kissy kissy. I want them to work for the happily ever after. I don’t want either of them to get together because the writers said so or one or the other is a prize or, god forbid, because the fans demanded it.

I’m not even going to touch upon shipping wars because fuck that mess, especially after the stupidity that was the Darling in the Franxx death threat fiasco – And I’ve never even watched that show! These things can get scarily out of hand. I’m all for shipping whatever you want for any series, but guys, calm down. They are characters, they are drawings – as much as you care about them, they literally do not possess the ability to care about you. You’re barking at a tree.

Also, this isn’t to say I technically avoid shows that have overly dramatic or terrible romances. I either tune them out if they’re on the side or I use them as handy-dandy rant fodder because, dear god, the kinds of ridiculousness this can spawn. You want to see the dark side of people? You don’t need to go to some dark, gory horror anime – You can find them in the romance section. There’s something depressingly poetic in that.

The Salty Anime Challenge Day 13: A Sad Anime that Made You Feel Nothing

Today’s dishonor goes to H2O: Footprints in the Sand.

This show does a lot to try and make you feel sad. One of the main characters, Hayami, is bullied so much and so harshly by all of the characters in the village, child, adult or otherwise, that it’s insane. She also has a tragic backstory ™, is an orphan (I think?) because of it, and is severely psychologically damaged by her situation.

Hirose, the main character in this dramatic harem, is blind, became blind through psychological trauma in his tragic backstory ™ in which his mother commits suicide right in front of him. He gets better but then there’s a tragic plot twist that reveals he never was better. He becomes emotionally broken and basically becomes a walking vegetable. Then he gets better. The love of his life kills herself in a manner identical to how his mother killed herself, all to….cure his…blindness….and then…he gets better….and…..she…gets…better?

Hinata has a tragic backstory ™ with her grandfather being a horrible bastard. Her life and identity aren’t even really hers – they were thrust upon her by her grandfather who basically ‘killed’ her off in order to have her take the place of the person who really died.

Otoha has a tragic backstory ™ Long story short –

Even people not in the H2O circle (Hinata, Hayami (interchangeable Hirose) and Otoha, get it?) have tragic backstories like Yui whose grandfather died because Hayami’s family refused to give him medical treatment because Yui’s family was poor.

….Did I mention this is based off of an H-game? That’s probably important. Who wants to try to get turned on while wading through a sea of tragedy and horrible circumstances? There are no hentai scenes or anything close here, so you’re just left with an overly dramatic harem anime that is unabashedly sad.

Thing is, even though I enjoyed most of the show well enough, barring the last three episodes, I never felt sad. There were a couple decent heartwarming moments, but sad? No. Not once.

I don’t know if I was just numb to it very quickly or if they were obviously doing their best to make everything as tragic as possible from the get-go while still having an unrealistically happy ending where damn near everything is fixed so I just felt like….Have you ever seen something that is obviously overly dramatic and sad to the point where your reaction is more ‘wow, what the hell?’ than it is sadness?

It’s hard for me to have a legitimately sad response to all of this soap-opera-esque tragedy. And it just snowballs as the series goes concludes until the snowball gets hit by a train.

Read my original review for the full stupid insanity of the last three episode of the series, but trust me, it’s just sad event after sad event.

And I still don’t feel remotely sad. If anything, I got pretty angry and confused as the series ended simply because I couldn’t believe the stupidity of it all.

Sad, however, no. They’re just trying way too hard.

H2O: Footprints in the Sand Review

Rating: 3/10

Plot: Hirose Takuma has recently moved to a small village to live a more restful life due to his blindness. He soon meets a girl named Hayami and wants to befriend her. However, she rejects him. He is confused by her rejection until he learns that everyone in the village treats Hayami like garbage and no one bats an eye at it. She’s regularly mocked, bullied and beaten by her classmates while none of the adults do anything about it – some actually partake in it. Why is this? And why does Hayami feel that she deserves it?

Breakdown: WARNING: I AM GOING TO BE SPOILING NEARLY ALL OF THIS SERIES BECAUSE THE ENDING IS A PIVITOL PART OF THE FINAL RATING. SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOMLINE IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN UNSPOILED.

Wow. Just wow. I haven’t seen an anime blow it so badly since….I can’t even come up with an example. I was somewhat excited about this series because I had heard that it was even better than Air. I was also somewhat dreading this series because the THEM review shot this down to their lowest rating for the final four episodes due to a drastic change in the series….And I can pretty much understand why.

But let’s rewind a bit because the final four episodes are more about Hirose. Let’s tackle the Hayami angle, shall we?

Like the plot says, she’s treated like garbage by the entire village. She’s regularly called a monster, a roach, and a lot of other vile insults. She’s constantly the target of terrible bullying like ruining her lunch or pouring toilet water on her head, and she’s regularly beaten by her fellow classmates. In addition, she lives in two cable cars up in the mountains alone. It’s so bad that I’m really left wondering why she doesn’t just leave….That’s never answered, by the way.

The reason for the bullying and the reason why she thinks she deserves all of it is because her family had a lot of power in the village and they caused a lot of pain and suffering for many of the villagers. Eventually, the village got sick of it, torched their house and drove her family out of the village, leaving her as the sole survivor. Why she stayed and didn’t leave with her family is never explained. I didn’t really understand if her parents were dead or ran out of town. They never make it clear.

Then Hirose comes into the picture and stirs up the village by standing up for her every now and then. And when I say that, I mean he stands up for her when boys are bullying her. When girls are, he never pipes up, which is annoying.

This plotline is solved rather suddenly. The kids suddenly stop abusing her and even become good friends with her just because Hinata told them to stop. The other villagers take a lot longer to stop, but it was so jarring that they went from turning their heads when she’s being beaten and bullied to going shopping with her in mere days.

This whole thing is somewhat stupid. She can’t control what family she was born into. She did nothing whatsoever to cause any heartache. Are the villagers really so stupid and cruel that they’d abuse a young girl just because she’s related to the family that was so terrible? They don’t see it at all hypocritical that they’re being no better if not worse than her family was by treating her like that? It’s a wonder anyone in this show grew up partially normally with parents who all have that mindset.

Hinata’s plotline is that she’s scared to death of her grandfather who is the village elder. I won’t spoil much of her plotline because it’s the best plotline in the series, in my opinion, but let’s just say her grandfather is really messed up.

Hirose’s plotline is where things really start unraveling. The THEM reviewer said that episode seven was the perfect ending to the series and that they would easily give the show a moderate rating if was left at episode seven, which finishes up Hinata’s storyline, but leaves a chunk of Hayami’s and all of Hirose’s in the balance.

To its credit, episode seven does seem like a series finale. It had credits over actual scenes and included a vocal song, a big reveal, a big inspiring moment, a bunch of tie-ups, it’s almost like that was the series finale, but they realized they still had to do four episodes by contract or something.

Episode eight was criticized by the same reviewer as being a big chunk of randomness. Otoha, who had been seen throughout the anime as a spirit that only Hirose could see, was suddenly a magical girl and everything around them was going nuts due to something in the spirit world. In order to gather magical energy, Hirose had to take charge of the situation and try to literally smack everyone back into reality. In the end, this is revealed to be an illusion that Otoha made for Hirose to see a book world that Hinata had made up when she was a child. Due to the connection between Otoha and Hinata, she thought that would be a good way to say farewell.

I wasn’t bothered by that episode. It was a final tribute to Hinata’s book that Otoha wanted to share with Hirose. Despite the randomness, it was kinda sweet.

Then we get to episode nine, which solidifies a relationship between Hirose and Hayami. That episode was also pretty sweet and cute, so I have no real problems yet.

Then we get to…….episode ten. Let’s backtrack – remember how I said Hirose was blind? Otoha grants him sight in the start of the series. No one questions why he suddenly has sight, but there it is.

In episode ten, since the Village Elder doesn’t want Hirose with Hayami, he reveals to Hirose that the Kohinata family, Hayami’s family, is the reason that Hirose’s mom killed herself.

The Kohinatas had set up an arranged marriage between his mother and a member of their family, but she met someone else, ran off, eloped and soon had Hirose. However, the Kohinata family soon found her and started pressuring her daily to divorce her husband and marry into their family. Details on what exactly ‘pressure’ means is beyond me. She couldn’t take the pressure anymore and jumped in front of a train one day when she was out with Hirose.

It is never, ever adequately explained, but I guess the emotional and mental trauma from that event caused him to go blind?

After Hirose learns of this, things seemingly go back to normal, but it’s soon obvious that Hirose can’t separate Hayami from her family. He begins having nightmares and hallucinations of Hayami dragging his mother in front of the train. This causes a few spontaneous emotional outbursts toward Hayami, which is unlike his gentle and quiet nature.

He drives Hayami away, and she becomes so angered that she starts beating a dam that was made to stop the water during the current rainstorm. Two of the harsher bullies from her school walk up, and she eggs them on saying that she’s going to destroy the town just like their parents said she would. The two bullies beat the crap out of her, and she continues to egg them on until one of them tries to strangle/drown her in the water.

She’s saved but walks away from the scene before she can get any medical attention.

She runs into Hirose, who doesn’t even ask her if she’s okay when she’s obviously been beaten to a pulp. He tries to apologize for what happened and says that he doesn’t blame her, but she prods and says that she is responsible. He snaps and starts beating the crap out of her while blaming her for his mother’s death. He stops his frenzy when he realizes that she’s unconscious and he faints as well.

This is where I fell off the wagon.

Hirose yelling at Hayami and having nightmares would be partly understandable. It has to be confusing to find out that your girlfriend is related to the people who drove your mother to suicide, so that might drive up bad memories and maybe a nightmare or two, but she had nothing to do with it! Just like she had nothing to do with anything else that she’s taking abuse for. In addition, it’s not like her family actually killed her or anything. They just pressured her to marry into their family.

Hirose’s a gigantic hypocrite. He was on everyone’s asses for blaming Hayami for the pain and suffering caused in the village when she was just a child who had nothing to do with it, yet here he is doing exactly that.

This entire show is built around the premise that Hayami is and must be a martyr. She must pay for her family’s sins and take all of the flak from the villagers despite being innocent for everything. It ridiculous.

Hayami wakes up and, despite being badly hurt, she is not in any life-threatening danger. Hirose, however, has yet to wake up. When he does wake up, he tells them that he’s gone blind again.

But hold on! We have a plot twist!

It turns out that Hirose had never regained his sight to begin with, and that he had fooled himself into thinking that he had. This is proven by mistaking details in a photo that he’s supposedly seen and showing drawings and writing he made that are scribbles.

So, yeah…..Hirose’s insane. He eventually gets so bad that he believes Hayami is his mother and that he’s a small child again.

After a big climax in which Hirose saves Hayami’s life from the villagers (They were going to kill her because she was going to leave…Yeah, that makes sense), he says he’ll protect his mother, Hayami.

Hirose’s uncle.decides that it would be best to move him back to the old apartment that he and his mother used to live in back in Tokyo. Hirose’s father is never seen, by the way, which is incredibly weird. He’s all you have left now, he’s blind, yet you can’t even visit him? Jerk. His uncle suggests that Hayami go with Hirose to act as his mother until he gets better.

Hayami and Hirose move, and they go through a few months with Hayami working as a paper-girl (those still exist?) and Hirose just hanging out because he’s so mentally ill.

One day, as they’re out shopping, Hayami tells Hirose that he has to believe that his mother loved him and didn’t abandon him like he thought. She had actually sacrificed her life for him after he tried to catch his ball that bounced across the railroad tracks.

To push the fact even further, I hope you’re sitting down for this, Hayami kills herself by throwing herself in front of a train just like his mother did. And just as she does that, his blindness is cured and he’s mentally sound.

No, I’m not kidding. In essence, to help someone get over a traumatizing event, just traumatize them again with something else. It’ll even clear up their physical disabilities!

He gets over his blindness AND gets over his crazy-ness by watching his girlfriend kill herself in the same way that his mother did? Just….just….wha–it….

Wouldn’t that just make him crazier?? Also…..hey, wait a second… If Hayami knew that, why did she let Hirose believe that her family drove his mother to suicide? Ugh, nevermind.

I’m not a doctor, but I believe I could find it plausible that someone could lose their sight after watching something particularly terrible and traumatic. At the very least, in an anime. I can even believe that he tricked himself into thinking that he had his sight back when he really didn’t, even if that does raise a multitude of questions (Like, how was he walking around town just fine? Why didn’t his friends think it was weird that Hirose was acting like he could see if he clearly couldn’t? If he never got his sight back, was Otoha just screwing with him? Just how?!) But him being cured of his supposed blindness AND mental illness by watching Hayami kill herself?

Oh and that’s not all. The end credits show everybody about 6-7 years in the future where Hinata is now the village elder (Where are her parents exactly?) and a baby is there too. (No, it’s not Hirose’s kid. It’s actually Hamaji’s, but it’s a long story. Dunno why they had that weird plotpoint in there. Hamaji was a really minor character…)

Hirose, full with sight and mental soundness, and his uncle have built a windmill where Hirose met Hayami because she loved pinwheels and windmills. All’s fine and dandy until a little girl runs up to Hirose while being chased by a boar. She looks, shockingly, like Otoha and is even named Otoha. She was reincarnated as a little girl and said that she pulled a lot of strings in the spirit world to pull ‘it’ off for him. When she runs off, he sees, yes, you guessed it, Hayami.

She was brought back to life thanks to Otoha. Because that won’t shock the living hell out of everyone in the village, will it? Then again, seeing as how his blindness being cured by Otoha wasn’t real, she could be an illusion for all we know too.

They could’ve completely avoided this if Hayami hadn’t been stupid enough to do that. The train sounds and alarm were enough to shock Hirose back to reality. She could’ve just pretended to kill herself, and that probably would’ve worked to get him back to normal. Gah!

I could’ve said “give this show a higher rating if you stop at episode seven” like the THEM review, but I can’t do that because episode seven would just leave you hanging on both Hirose and Hayami’s stories, so I’m kinda stuck.

The tone changes are also jarring. We can go from goofy and playful to sad and depressing to dark in mere minutes.

Hirose is a welcome change from your average harem main guy (even if we do have the mandatory beach episode where every girl is all over him and making him uncomfortable.) but he’s such a pushover when it comes to the girls. He’ll let them all push him around and he won’t say a thing about it. And like I said, if females are the ones doing the bullying to Hayami, he won’t say a word. He just watches with a frown.

It’s really difficult to like any of the other main or side characters beyond Hirose and Hayami because, despite how they seem all cheery and happy, there’s this constant nagging in your head that these supposedly nice kids treat Hayami like complete garbage and don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. How can you like any of these characters when you know that they’re like that?

Art and Animation:
The art in this series was fairly good, but the girls are designed oddly. They have normal sized heads, but insanely thin stick bodies. It makes you wonder how their necks support their heads.

Music: The music is wonderful and fairly unique. The OP is good and the ED has become one of my personal favorites.

Voice Acting: Japanese – The voices and acting are all wonderful. Hirose in particular has a very fitting voice. It’s very kind and gentle, much like what I would picture for Yuki from Fruits Basket.

Bottomline:
I enjoyed this anime for a while, but the ending really does kill it. Like…beat it with a shovel and set it on fire killed it. The main characters, by that I mean the main three, are usually likable, but I must reiterate that it’s really hard to like any of the side characters considering how they act around Hayami. The story, at least up until episodes seven and eight are great, if not somewhat frustrating at times, but the ending three episodes were so bad, it’s almost impressive.

It’s a ball of wtf wrapped in huh? and dipped in are you kidding me? It’s not a complete waste. The story between Hinata and Hayami, while being somewhat stupid at points, is nice. Hinata’s story is actually very interesting, and there are some heartwarming moments to be found there. If you’re a big fan of visual novel dramas and want something different than your usual fare, go right ahead and be very wary of the ending, but for anyone else, I’d say skip it.

Additional Information and Notes: H2O Footprints in the Sand was based on an eroge visual novel of the same name by Makura. The anime adaptation was produced by Zexcs and was directed by Hideki Tachibana.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2008

Recommended Audience: There is some predictable blindness fanservice in episode one (Whoops I can’t see, I’m gonna fall down a lot while girls fall with their butts on my face. I still don’t get how that would ever happen, logically. How would you have to fall in order to achieve that kind of position?) and mild fanservice throughout. There’s also some heavy themes and ‘scary’ moments. I’d say…..13+

Five Centimeters Per Second Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: Takaki and Akari seemed to have no one else in the world but each other when they were children, and the affection that they had quickly developed into romance. However, Akari ends up moving away, and she and Takaki decide to have one more meeting before he too ends up moving so far away that visiting would be near impossible. Love is a strong bond that is hard to sever, and sometimes you can’t ever let go of it.

Breakdown: Five centimeters per second is a movie that chronicles the life of Tohno Takaki throughout about 15 years of his life with focus being mostly on his lost childhood love, Akari.

This movie/three episode OVA has received much critical acclaim over the years, and it’s been touted as being one of the greatest anime movies ever. It certainly is a gorgeous movie, probably the best visual experience I’ve ever had with any animated feature, but let’s explore if it really lives up to its reputation story and character-wise.

Episode 1The first episode focuses on a 13 year old Takaki. He became friends with a girl named Akari when they were young kids. They spent almost all of their time together and even got picked on for how close they were. The two slowly started falling in love with each other until the day came when Akari had to move away. Takaki and Akari exchanged letters, but it still saddened them both to be so far apart.

When Takaki got the news that he would be moving practically across the country, he decided to meet with Akari while he was still close enough to visit. After being stuck on a train ride for many hours due to weather related delays, he finally sees Akari waiting for him in the train station warming up by the fire. After a lengthy conversation, they kiss underneath a cherry tree. They take shelter in a nearby abandoned shack to sleep until the trains start running again.

Morning comes and it’s time for them to say goodbye. Neither can bring themselves to say much beyond ‘goodbye’ and ‘take care of yourself.’ With promises to write each other, they finally depart.

This is my favorite of the three episodes. It’s bittersweet, but holds promise for the future.

Episode 2 The second episode is about five years in the future when Takaki is 17 or 18 years old about to enter college. He has befriended a girl named Kanae who has fallen in love with him since the first time she saw him, but she could never tell him. Takaki always seemed off in his own world and was constantly seen emailing someone on his cellphone. He never noticed Kanae’s feelings in the slightest. It’s later revealed that he is constantly writing out emails to Akari, but never sends them for some reason.

It’s not exactly clear when they broke off contact with each other or why. It’s possible that contacting someone that you know you may never see again may be too painful when you’re in love, but that still seems a little cruel on both ends. You may never get together romantically, but you don’t value the friendship you had enough to be able to send a quick email, text or letter?

Kanae’s an avid surfer, but has lost her spark in surfing. She can’t find the right wave to get back up on her feet and for some reason she hasn’t surfed for six months.

After she finally rides a wave again, she gives herself an ultimatum – either tell Takaki how she feels now or she’ll never tell him. After riding home from school together, she tries over and over to tell him, but she can’t. As she sees the new rocket launch into space, she decides not to tell him. She realizes that he was never really seeing her the way she saw him and left her love unrequited. He later moves back to Tokyo to go to college.

This is the saddest of the three episodes because, despite not really getting to know her much beyond she surfs and loves Takaki, I was kinda rooting for him to move on and for them to get together. It would’ve been bittersweet under the circumstances, but they could’ve made a nice couple. Plus, it would’ve been more realistic. Which brings us to emo-central, episode three.

Episode 3
The third and final episode of the movie shows Takaki at, guessing from the magazine article he read, age 27-28. He’s basically become a mopey workaholic who is still hungup on his old love of Akari. Speaking as a person who knows the feeling of being hungup on an old love, DUDE, GET OVER IT. Deep, true love is great. But you have wasted 15 years of your life being hungup on a girl you loved when you were 13. Think about her every now and then with nostalgia, but let it go, man. There’s a difference between being lovesick and being sick in the head.

To give him some credit, he does eventually start dating a girl named Lisa (?) from his work, but they break up for some reason and it’s shown that, despite numerous attempts to contact him and saying she still loves him, Takaki shows that he never much cared for her at all. It seems like he’s not even putting effort into their relationship because of his love of Akari.

He crosses paths with Akari over the train tracks, but neither turn around until the train has blocked their view of each other. By the time the train leaves, Akari is gone. It’s later shown that Akari has gotten engaged and hasn’t much thought of Takaki until she dug up an old letter from him in her stuff as she was moving. It’s almost as if that’s healthy or something.

He comes to the realization that he’s become obsessed with his lost love (wow, took him 15 years to realize that. That’s actually sad.) and that he’s lost all of the passion in his life and personality as a result. He eventually quits his job and decides to move on with hopes that he’ll cross paths with her someday…despite the fact that she’ll be married then.

I appreciate the actual ending being a healthy and realistic development, but the final episode as a whole is just sad in the wrong way. Him still being hung up on Akari in the second episode is understandable. He was still a teenager and she was very important to him. But when you’re nearly 30 and still so distracted by a teenage love that your love life and life as a whole are a complete mess because of it, that’s when my sympathy starts to wear out and my worrying for his mental state begins.

Takaki’s also not very interesting as a main character. His one character trait is that he’s hungup on Akari to the point where it’s both legitimately sad and a bit….sad. Maybe I don’t have the most romantic heart in the world, but I still feel more uncomfortable vibes from the finale than I do any feeling of hope or resolution.

He as a character is very somber and boring. He doesn’t smile much, and when he does it’s in a very melancholy manner, even when he’s with Akari. I will admit that it was cool of him to not really be bothered by the terrible delays he suffered on the train ride and still retained hope that Akari was waiting for him. That was sweet.

Everyone else is perfectly fine as a character, and I really liked Kanae. I hope things ended up well for her.

Art: The art and animation are breathtaking. I’d watch this movie all the way through again just for the visuals. Especially the scenery. That scene where the rocket takes off is amazing. It’s like it cracks the sky in half.

Voice Acting: English – The voice work here is pretty good. No one really has to emote much except for Kanae and she does pretty good. Everyone else is pretty much just melancholy.

Music: The music is great and I really enjoyed the ending theme.

Bottomline: The ending on its own can be simultaneously annoying and warm. However, I can’t emphasize enough that it is a beautiful movie with an artistic and philosophical atmosphere. It’s also extremely relaxing. If the premise of the ending doesn’t bother you, then feel free to bump this one up a point.

Additional Information and Notes: Five Centimeters Per Second was directed, produced and written by Makoto Shinkai, who has also directed Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days and the video game Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two.

It was animated by CoMix Wave Films, animators of the same films listed above and many other Shinkai features.

An English dub was licensed by the now defunct (though possibly returning?) ADV films, but is now licensed by Crunchyroll in the US.

It later spawned a novel version and a two-volume manga both of which were written by Makoto Shinkai with the manga being illustrated by Seike Yukiko.

Runtime: 63 Minutes

Year: 2007

Recommended Audience: There is no questionable material in this, but I doubt younger kids would enjoy it. It’s fairly philosophical and depressing. It also deals with subject matter I’m pretty sure younger audiences wouldn’t be able to relate to. For that sake, I’d give it a 13+

Ef: A Tale of Melodies Review

Plot: An extension to the series, Ef: A Tale of Memories, Melodies is a look into the lives of 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.

Rating: 9/10

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 she 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 close 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.

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 JUST IN CASE.

Chihiro: Chihiro has gone to Australia with Renji, his family and Yuu. In fact, a lot of Melodies takes place in Australia. Chihiro is still in love with Renji and eventually gives 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, 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. Also, it seems that Chihiro’s memory, while still continuously getting lost, is 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: 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 bitch 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 – they were being kept apart by their family and Yuu. Every time that they’d see each other, they’d burst out crying while Kei would blame herself for what happened to Chihiro, 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. As a result, their family separated them and they 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. That’s not very surprising, to be honest. He was dull in Memories, he’s duller in Melodies. About 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 of 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 – 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‘, which isn’t entirely surprising considering its namesake. The opener sounds a lot like the opener to Memories, but I like it a little more. 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.

Melodies 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.

The series was directed by Shin Onuma who is also the directing force behind C3, Bakemonogatari, Princess Tutu, Pani Poni Dash! and Silent Mobius.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2008

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+

Ef: A Tale of Memories Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: The first and main half of the story follows a boy named Renji who happens upon a girl named Chihiro at an abandoned train station. Chihiro was in a terrible accident when she was a young child, which left her with only one eye and a severely damaged memory.

Every day when she wakes up, she believes herself to be a young child and can only retain her memories throughout the day for 13 hours before they’re erased again. In order to combat this, Chihiro started a series of diaries chronicling every detail of her day. She reads the diaries to help her keep her memories permanent, if only in the confines of those pages. But will these diaries allow her to retain her relationship to Renji?

The second half is about a love…square between Chihiro’s older sister, Kei, a filmmaker, Kyousuke, a lonely girl, Miyako, and a closet Manga author/artist, Hiro.

Breakdown: This is one of the best anime I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. Almost everything about it is wonderful and beautiful, and Renji and Chihiro would definitely make it on my top ten list of anime couples.

Their relationship is so pure and tragically beautiful and just a joy to watch. I won’t spoil their story, because I love it so much, but trust me, it’s amazing. Almost made me cry several times.

……Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to that other part of this series, The love square. It’s mostly a love triangle, but Kyousuke’s in there too. (Warning—I will be spoiling a lot of the love square plotline through this review. Reader discretion is advised)

Kyousuke likes Kei because she’s pretty (seriously, no other reason) Miyako likes Hiro because of an ‘adventure’ they had on Christmas night. Kei likes Hirono because they were childhood friends. And Hiro’s dense as Diamondhead’s…….head.

To be completely honest, watching the love square is a huge chore compared to watching Renji and Chihiro’s relationship. Every time Renji and Chihiro are on screen, they captivate my attention. I smile, I feel like crying, I watch with intensity. Every time they switch back to the others I feel bored or angry.

Kei is overly possessive and majorly jealous. She even goes so far as to tell Miyako that she’s going to ‘erase her from Hiro’s heart and mind’ to ‘make room for’ Kei. It’s not like Miyako had done anything with him or to Kei either. He just hangs out with her and sometimes she goes to his house. Doesn’t help that Kei’s English dubbed voice sounds horribly bitchy.

That’s not the only terrible aspect about her. She’s the cause of Chihiro’s accident.

When they were kids, Hiro, Kei and Chihiro used to always play together. However, Hiro seemed to always pay a little more attention to Chihiro than Kei. One day Kei got pretty jealous that Hiro had a play date with Chihiro, so she told him Chihiro can’t make it and then she suggested they to go to the beach together. Chihiro arrived and was disappointed to not find Hirono at the house, but found a note saying that they went to the beach. Chihiro went off to meet Kei and Hiro, much to Kei’s dismay, and as she was standing in a nearby road she got hit by a car.

So, obviously, the right thing for Kei to do in this situation would be to practically completely forget about her, letting her live her life in limbo just sitting at a train stop day after day as she learns no lessons of the dangers of jealousy to viciously and jealously pursue Hiro on a day to day basis. We’re supposed to be cheering for this character? (Note: I now know that this is properly addressed and explained in Melodies. However, this is the view left on this matter having just seen this series alone. Taken at face value, this opinion still stands.)

Miyako’s not much better. She’s spunky and quirky, but also seems very moody. It doesn’t help that she seems to take nothing seriously and, in serious discussion, she acts condescending.

Later, we’re shown that she has a ‘sad backstory’. Basically, her parents went through a bad divorce and were ‘gone from each others hearts.’ This led to them forgetting about her too (?) and being erased from their hearts. Then they abandoned her (?) Thus she freaks out when Kei threatens that she’ll erase her from Hiro’s heart.

However, despite this being reasoning behind her newfound affection for Hiro as a new friend/boyfriend, she gets incredibly creepy in the same episode we find out about the parent thing. Almost seven minutes are dedicated entirely to her leaving voicemails on Hiro’s phone nagging him about where he is because he won’t pick up. It gets insanely creepy after a while. I understand that she’s upset that she may actually be losing Hirono, but jeez. I’ve seen horror movies less creepy.

Kei erases all of the messages she leaves on Hiro’s phone. Granted she leaves 99 (!!!!) Messages, but she doesn’t even listen to one to get freaked out and justify it. She just erases them the instant she sees who sent them. Nice. Granted, seeing 99 messages from the same person on the same day in and within itself may be creepy enough to justify that. Still just a rude thing to do.

Kyousuke’s pretty boring. He doesn’t have much of a role here. The only thing he cares about is filming things. His initial focus on Kei also seemed kinda stalker-y. Again, he only liked her because he saw her when he was filming one day and thought she looked pretty. If anything, his role in the love square seems purely to give Kei someone to pair with when things don’t work out with Hiro.

Then we have Hiro. He’s a closet published manga artist who has two girls vying for his heart and can’t see it. He’s also terribly boring. He’s like eating dried oatmeal made of paper mache and distilled water.

The end of the love shape has Miyako and Hiro sleeping together after admitting their feelings for each other. Kei arrives to wake Hiro up for school and spots the two of them naked in bed. She destroys the room with her crutch (she injured her knee in basketball a few episodes earlier) and runs away. Hiro tries to go after her, but Miyako stops him saying he has to choose because he promised he’d love only her and see only her for the rest of his life. Basically she gives him an ultimatum that she’ll leave if he goes to comfort Kei. He leaves anyway stating he’ll be back soon.

This is where I pretty much say “Ya know what? Maybe they’re both completely wrong for him.” Kei’s wrong for him because, well, Hiro’s never shown any romantic feelings towards her and she’s an obsessive bitch who will go so far as to erase messages from his friend and emotionally assassinate another girl simply because she’s close friends with him.

Miyako’s wrong for him because she slept with him to ensure he’d stay with her forever and wouldn’t accept that he can have other relationships (non-romantic) besides loving her. This is not true love. This is bitterness, obsession, dependency, and being enamored by a guy simply because he paid attention to you.

In the end, Kei admits that her dream with him was just a dream and that they should both move on from it, but remain friends. He also states he’s going to quit high school to focus more on his manga career. After that, he calls Miyako who states she is planning on moving away from the town because she doesn’t want to be reminded of the pain. Hiro begs and pleads for her not to go stating he’ll do everything for her and take care of her and tries to state that he loves her. Miyako agrees to trust him before the phone cuts out since her phone card ran out of minutes. Hiro shows up saying he loves her and they kiss, ending their story.

So, remember kids, quit school and shack up with your needy obsessive girlfriend. What could possibly go wrong? Granted, I prefer him going with Miyako over Kei, but I still think neither of them should’ve gone with him. Keisuke ends up with nothing, by the way, even if they do kinda hint that Kei and Kyousuke kinda like each other after that.

END OF SPOILERS

Even though the love square pissed me off quite a bit, the ending to their situation could’ve been much worse, so I won’t take off much points for that. However, I really don’t think that storyline was necessary, and I can’t ignore the fact that watching it is a big chore, especially in contrast to the Renji and Chihiro storyline.

Art: The art and animation are amazing and very creative. I’d recommend a watch simply to see the great visuals.

Voice acting: English: The dub is really great. A lot of the voices fit very well and many of the actors were superb in their roles. That being said, I should mention that it is a serious pet peeve of mine to hear Japan suffixes like -chan, -kun Oneesan etc. in English dub anime. I know I should technically be praising the dubbers for this since they’re trying to make a truly faithful dubbed version, but it really annoys me and it just sounds awkward in English.

Music: The music is also amazing. I love the opening and a lot of the BG music is great. It’s definitely a soundtrack I’d pick up.

Bottomline: The love square takes quite a bit of tolerance. It was trying my last nerve as the characters are hardly likable in that story. However, the main story and couple is so enjoyable that it really makes up for it. If need be, skip the square and just watch the parts with Renji and Chihiro. You won’t be disappointed.

Addition Information and Notes: Ef: A Tale of Memories was based on adult visual novel games called Ef: The First Tale and Ef: The Latter Tale. The games are combined with several different stories taken from various characters’ perspectives and their own specific stories that are separated into chapters.

This series takes chapter 1 from The First Tale and Chapter 3 from The Latter Tale. One could also argue that Chapter 2 from The First Tale is included but eh. 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, so you can be certain there’s plenty of eye candy.

The series was directed by Shin Onuma who is also the directing force behind C3, Bakemonogatari, Princess Tutu, Pani Poni Dash! and Silent Mobius.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2007

Recommended Audience: There’s no real questionable material until we get to the later parts of the anime where sex is implied and some of the females are nude from the waist up. Also, some of the plotline can be pretty heavy for younger audiences. I’d give it a 14+

30DAC – Day 4: Favorite Female Anime Character Ever

Damn, this one didn’t get the same treatment as Day 3. This was actually pretty difficult to determine. I was going to go with Yuzuyu from Aishiteruze Baby, but then I realized that, though she is a great kid, part of me knows that she’s really ranking high in favorite females because she’s just so adurrabull.

I finally decided upon Sana from Kodocha.

Karaoke lullaby.

Sana’s not flawless. She definitely makes mistakes and always feels compelled to right them. What I admire about her is that she somehow manages to put on a smile through even the toughest of ordeals and tries not to dump her problems on others. However, when things get particularly bad, she’s not too proud to seek out and accept help that is offered. When a problem is affecting others, she does her damnedest to fix it no matter what. She also has a talent for bringing out the best in people with the most shining example being the transformation of Akito. Of course, there some instances where her ability to fix problems gets a bit farfetched, but it can be overlooked.

And she’s Robin Sena.

Not only is she kind-hearted, sincere and just someone you’d love to know in real life, but she’s also one of the funniest and most hyper-random people I’ve ever seen in anime rivaling even Excel from Excel Saga. The comedic antics of her, and many other characters of course, are what keep the tone of the show even because it can get pretty heavy sometimes, but it never seems forced.

Sana is a very well-rounded character with a great heart and superb sense of humor, and she really deserves this spot.

I just shamelessly added this one because it’s awesome.

Honorable Mentions: Ed from Cowboy Bebop, Kagura from Fruits Basket, Sango from Inuyasha.