I’m afraid that this entry won’t have any screencaps to guide the way, or to enhance the overall quality as I deleted the entire thing several hours ago. I think the reason for my swift uninstall/complete deletion was because just as I was about to hit the end, a video apparently started playing. All was well, right? Well, wrong. I could hear Yuuko and Yuu tearfully saying their farewells to each other, but I couldn’t see it. Seriously, the screen went black. And this went on for roughly five or six minutes while I awkwardly tried to search for the ending video. Welp! I’ll still probably check out the anime, though. Seeing that SHAFT is behind the affair, ef is in very safe hands. I don’t think that I want to properly watch the anime for another few months, though. Don’t think that I could stomach reliving the series so soon. If I ever even get around to finishing it because honestly, the series just isn’t worth another complete look it.
Overall, I’ll give it a 7/10. This sort of story isn’t something that would usually appeal to me (silly school hijinks with a bit of bawww factor thrown in), but the prospect of having over a thousand gorgeous CGs did appeal to me. I read on wikipedia earlier this year that what minori wanted to do with the graphics was recreate movie like scenes. And that’s certainly evident in the camera angles, lighting, and close ups. Out of everything that was presented to us, the graphics definitley came out on top, and if you’re someone who really digs scenery porn in your VNs, then you’ll most likely love this. The wonderful, scenic opening was also animated by none other than creative genius that is Makoto Shinkai, who is famous for animating such works as Voices of a Distant Star, and the highly recommended She and Her Cat. The backgrounds in this are reminiscent of his work too, with lush backgrounds, and multicoloured sunsets.
I honestly went in expecting a mediocre harem story, with a bit of supernatural and gorgeous graphics. I was surprised to find out that each protagonist in his respective route had the one designated girl who he was meant to fall in love it. It was a lovely set up, really. Instead of being the guy and wooing the girl of your choice in a rather typical fashion, we got (mostly) touching stories of couples. From the more unexpected ways they met (Miyako getting her purse snatched on Christmas eve, also getting run over by a motorcycle, forcing the unwilling Hiro to go to karaoke with her all night), to the more conventional (Mizuki moving to another country and falling in love with her cousin’s neighbour), to the more innocent (Yuuko and Yuu meeting at an orphanage, amidst sorrow and destruction), everyone had their story which they were willing to share.
We don’t truly delve into the story until we get to the latter tale, which is more dramatic and painful to read through. Chihiro’s plight particularly struck me, and the hardships her and Renji had to, and would eventually endure. Yuuko and Yuu’s relationship is obviously the highlight of the series, and their story is the glue that keeps the beautiful, yet shaky foundation from falling apart. Without their story, this would have been far less interesting to read through. While there were couples who caught my interest, when the couples were bad, the story really was at its lowest peak. Kyosuke and Kei, and Mizuki and Kuze. I really struggled to read through both of those chapters, as I felt that there were unlikable characters all round. But, they were going up against other more intriging characters, so it’s obvious that they’d lose. But, if perhaps those two chapters were executed just a bit better, they could have pulled this series up from an ‘alright, nothing too special’ grade to something which would probably be worth playing.
The music was another aspect which deserves a nod of respect. Composed by Tenmon, it was a violin driven soundtrack, which fitted in seamlessly during whatever scene. The violin tracks are especially apt, considering that one of the protagonists, Kuze, was a famed violinist. Tracks such as ‘A Moon Filled Sky’ defined my ef experience, and will always make me think of Yuuko calmly guiding people in Otawa’s church.