The story focuses on Kyosuke Tsutsumi, who has a passion for filming, and constantly carries a digital video recorder around with him. He becomes fascinated with a girl named Kei Shindou who he wishes to cast in a film that he’s making.
The second chapter in ef (out of a total of four) picks up several months after the first one, where the first protagonist Hiro eventually decided to go out with the high spirited Miyako instead of his close friend, Kei. This leaves Kei wounded, and still fixated on Hiro. That’s when Kyosuke, Hiro’s joyful friend enters the scene, with a desire to film Kei. However, Kei’s heart is still very much closed off from everyone, and is finding it difficult to let go of her past.
The heroine of this chapter, Shindou Kei, didn’t interest me as much as Miyako. At the beginning, she was a rather bitter girl, only focusing on how she lost her beloved onii-chan to the vivacious Miyako, who seemingly came out of nowhere to steal his heart while Kei had been pining after him for years. The early bird catches the worm, and all that. She spends the majority of the chapter pining after him, even while someone else says that they love her. She was stuck in a stalemate until Kyosuke came and pulled her out of it. She was miserable, and she didn’t even have the safety of her basketball club to lose herself in, as her knee got injured. Basically, she was after losing everything and lacked the courage to push herself through things. Her helplessness was most evidently shown after she woke up one morning, and began writing an e-mail to her sister Chihiro, as she had nothing better to do. Her morning routine was interrupted, as it usually consisted of her waking Hiro up, then playing some basketball. As block-headed as she was, things began changing when Hiro’s friend, Kyosuke, began to take an interest an her, as he wanted to use her for a movie he was making.
Over time, Kyosuke and Kei become more attached to each other. This is shown best through the use of Kyosuke’s camera. At first, Kei only wanted to be near him when he was filming her, as she didn’t want to get too close to him under the guise of anything else except being the star of his movie. Towards the end of the chapter, both Kei and Kyosuke forget the camera, and are able to talk and lay their emotions bare without any footage being taken. But, there’s always one thing lying between their relationship. Kei’s persistent feelings for Hiro, and her being unable to get over them. She understands that their relationship isn’t going to go anywhere. She understands that, painfully well. He only views her as a sister, and he also has Miyako now. But she can’t help wanting him still. It’s a particularly heartbreaking moment when her, Ryosuke, and Hiro are all on the beach, and Hiro tells her to come by his place every so often as an older brother like him needs his little sister. While he’s saying that, Kei is blushing crazily, with a stupefied look on her face. We see the whole thing through Ryosuke’s eyes, so we can only imagine what sort of expression was on his face.
The main message for this chapter was probably regrets, and ties to the past. Although Kyosuke loved filming and making movies, flashbacks with his mother show that her final words made a huge impact on him. She used to be an actress, although she was never anything major. She played a few bit parts, until she married Kyosuke’s father. Before she died, she told Kyosuke that, and that he should ‘follow his dreams, and what’s important to him’. As Kyosuke got older, he still managed to be tied to a more recent past, like his film club. He constantly thought about the club he left behind, along with the head of the club, who he used to go out with. As the chapter progresses, he’s finally able to leave the club, his old girlfriend, and filming behind, saying that he wants to watch Kei as a person, and just as a subject for his movie. Kei has been tied to the past over her love with Hiro, basketball, and her beloved sister Chihiro being involved in some sort of accident. She is able to come to terms with all of that, going to the hospital at the end of the chapter for a check-up on her knee, where it turns out that her knee is perfectly fine. She still e-mails Chihiro, and although she still loves Hiro, Kyosuke knows and understands that.
The most intriguing character throughout this story was, annoyingly enough, the character who is deliberately set up to be mysterious, the enigmatic Amamiya Yuuko. While in the first story she seems like a lady who people just happen to know~ a popular town inhabitant who people would usually smile and wave at, despite being rather odd. In this arc, she’s definitley hinted at being something otherworldly. I first started to think this when Kyosuke brought Kei to the ruins of the buildings damaged in the earthquake- she appeared far too suddenly and simply said, “you shouldn’t be here”, almost as if she had some sort of personal connection with the ruins herself. It was a deserted place which Kyosuke said people never visited, so why did she suddenly appear there? It definitley wasn’t a coincidence, going by all the other times she showed up. When asked about her job, she playfully stated that she healed people’s hearts, wherever she was needed. There is definitely some truth in that statement, as all throughout this arc, and the previous one, she has been pushing the couples forward, telling them to be more honest.I wonder why she’s so pushy when it comes to other people’s love, and happiness. Could it be that she lost the chance at love herself?
She said that she stays at the church to wait for someone- and that she has had but one love in her life, who she said was her first, and last love. Going by her sporadic appearances, tendency to wear the same clothes all the time, and awkward talks about her past, I say that I could be on the mark when I say that Yuuko doesn’t actually… exist. Well, of course she ‘exists’ if she’s interacting with people in the story, but whenever she came across Mizuki in this chapter, it strongly suggested that she couldn’t be seen by her. Especially as Mizuki charges straight past her, and says that there’s a ‘nostalgic fragrance’. When Kei went to the church in search of Yuuko’s help towards the end of the chapter, she was in the middle of a conversation with her when Mizuki suddenly ran in. Mysteriously, Yuuko vanished, leaving the rather naive Kei wondering did the church have a back door.
Overall rating of this part; 6.5/10. It was beautifully directed, and Kei’s pain was definitley palpable. However, this part failed to reel my attention in, unlike the first part which focused on the surly Hiro-Hiro and sparkling Miya-Miya. I heard that the story only gets better from here on out, so I’m looking forward to meeting all the characters, and seeing the situations they will have to go to make their love triumph. And of course, finding out what the odd Yuuko has to do with the greater scheme of things.