[Ascaloth] ef ~a tale of melodies~, Episode 6

Approximately one year ago, one moment in particular stood out as one of the most intense moments of the year 2007 in anime. That particular scene started out as an innocuous event of a girl leaving a message for a boy who stood her up for a date, and leaving several more as she becomes increasingly mad at the wayward brat. But slowly and gradually, she started to panic, and ended up leaving a total of 99 messages on the boy’s cellphone. Frustrated by the lack of response, she eventually gave up in tears, believing that she has once again disappeared from someone’s life. For what seems like such a trivial event put in words, portrayed merely by words crawling across a screen accompanied by only a voice, the mental trainwreck of Miyamura Miyako in the 7th episode of ef ~a tale of memories~ was an intensely melodramatic moment that left a deep impression on nearly all who had the pleasure (or is it pain?) of experiencing it. One year onwards, and SHAFT has returned to the same technique in ef ~a tale of melodies~, this time being the province of the young Yuuko of the past; to great effect as it may, for it has become the talking point of the respectable number of fans that the ef franchise has gathered at this point.

ef ~a tale of melodies~, Episode 6.

Still no clue as to what this thing could possibly be? Could it be the broken watch we saw Yuuko looking at earlier?

It seems as if Yuuko is not all that she seems, and in fact, the cheerful facade that she puts on in front of Yuu may just be that; a facade. In fact, the way Kuze mentioned that other people see her sounds quite….familiar. Perhaps a good number of us would have known that one guy or girl who’s always sitting by himself or herself, someone nobody dares to approach because there’s no idea what would happen?

Also of interest is how they’re reusing themes through this episode; apparently, Yuuko was the first person in the series to come up with the mask metaphor. Kuze only adapted it for his own situation later on, although this seems to bode an omen about Yuuko, however slight the link…

When a child extends her hand, she does so in the knowledge that the adult she gives her hand to can be trusted. However, what happens when that trust is broken…?

"Yuunagi"…a most eloquent way of putting it. It’s funny how, in a sense, the stagnant relationship between the young Yuu and young Nagi almost exactly mirrors what happened between Hiro and Kei, years afterwards. Perhaps, they both just assumed that things would go on the way they always have, much like how their younger counterparts eventually did.

I’m really starting to wonder what tune Kuze is playing there; it’s a pretty nice one as far as melodies go. On the other hand, I’m also wondering whether he plays anything else other than that.

I’ve always wanted to wipe away your tears.

Now, I can finally do that.

The bad omens just come thundering one after another, pun fully intended. While we’re at that, I have to mention how melodies is feeling subtly different from that of memories; for the latter, the Shinbou-style WTFness was pretty much overt, in an in-your-face manner that turned away a good majority of curious anime watchers, leaving a select minority which quickly built up an acquired taste to every demented special effect that the legendary director could cook up. By contrast, the Shinbou-WTFness in this series seems almost understated compared to its predecessor; although he shows his roots as a disciple of Shinbou, it almost seems as if Oonuma is asserting his own style more here than he previously did. The result is still very much SHAFT, but it seems to be a more palatable SHAFT, able to appeal to a wider demographic although it does disappoint some of the most ardent fans of the Shinbou style.

Is it a good or bad thing that when Yuuko was in the first half of her speech, I was reminded of Itoshiki-sensei’s rant about people’s habit of dropping bombshells in an unassuming manner?  In any case, this episode is not something you watch in order to feel good; it almost seems here that she’s dropping all these bombshells on Yuu in an unassuming tone as a kind of psychological punishment. Almost as if she’s been waiting to commit what I could only call psychological violence against the guy she likes (or perhaps, she used to like).

And caught flat-footed by the utter horror of what he had to hear from Yuuko, Yuu stutters to summon up the idea of something worth hoping for, of the idea that a horrific past can be forgotten for a brighter future…

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. This moment was probably the origin of the cynical attitude we see in the present-day adult Yuu.

The moment that all the fans of ef are talking about right now, where Yuuko pretty much goes stream-of-consciousness, just like Miyako one year ago. If I were to be honest, the performance of Yuuko’s seiyuu lacked the pure rawness of the effort that Miyako’s seiyuu gave one year ago, but the contrast in the significance of their respective subject matter was just so wide. It’s hard to think of how horrendous Yuuko’s experiences must have been.

Whatever the case, this still looks to be on course for being one of the most intense scenes of 2008, just like how Miyako’s scene was for 2007. Somehow, it feels somewhat unfortunate that Yuuko’s effort didn’t quite sound as visceral as Miyako did, but maybe the relative lack of impact may simply be down to familiarity. After all, Miyako’s scene was the first of its kind I’ve ever seen; frankly, it’s a tall order for anything to top that. In it’s own right though, Yuuko’s scene can stand with anything out there that others have to offer.

And the episode ends with Yuu….

….forced to reflect on how he was 10 years too late to confess to Yuuko. Not many anime out there get anywhere near the true horrors which abuse entails, and the tragedy is just something that makes the stomach churn. I have to admit, despite what I said earlier about Yuuko’s seiyuu, I still felt a little sick in my stomach when I watched the scene, and that sickness stayed with me for a while afterwards.

On the other hand, I can’t help feeling that this is not all that we’ll see about Yuuko; somehow I can’t help but think that there’s something she’s still hiding, and that whatever it was, it’s keeping me from fully empathizing with her situation. In fact, the way she practically beat Yuu over the head with her tragedy….I dunno, it’s tragic to be sure, but I ended up feeling almost as if she’s been biding her time to beat him over the head with the consequences of a decision he made in his childhood, when he could hardly be held responsible for an outcome he could not have foreseen at his age. And one has to wonder, why take that course of action, even if what she’s experienced is enough to warp her mindset entirely? It’s cruel to her, but it’s cruel to him as well in a way. And I’m not sure whether I can stand behind that; whatever is it, I guess we’ll have to wait for the next episode to see further how it’s how about.

Ascaloth, out.

10 Responses to “[Ascaloth] ef ~a tale of melodies~, Episode 6”

  • “I have to admit, despite what I said earlier about Yuuko’s seiyuu, I still felt a little sick in my stomach when I watched the scene, and that sickness stayed with me for a while afterwards.”

    Dunno if I took all the no character/no song omen lightly, or if I am just so vulnerable to this kind of scene, but this one left me SHIVERING for the whole night. Miyako’s scene was very strong and touched me pretty hard, like a fist, but this one, though not so touching at the start, completely wrapped me with this cold sensation. I only slept when it was already morning, for that the mind was to tired to fear.

  • Regarding the comparison between Miyako’s scene and this one, Miyako’s seiyuu certainly done a better job. Maybe it’s because Yuuko just mumbling random words here and there (and some of them are not even relevant to what have happened). But still, the pain that Yuuko have gone through is even worse than Miyako’s. Yuuko was ‘physically’ abused, and it left a big impact on her life, and it left me shivering for the whole night as well.. Can you imagine the same thing that have happened to Yuuko, happening to you?

    I know that there are more to Yuuko than what we’ve seen so far. After all, we’re just halfway through the series. Looking forward to how things gonna turn out. ^_^

  • I thought that Yuuko’s deadpan delivery of her pains was effective in itself — Yuuko’s always been one to play off all of her pains and say them as nothing, and to inflict too much emotion in her voice would have been out of character for her.

  • Wow, you’re of the same opinion I am on seiyuu work when comparing this confession scene to miyako’s phone call. There’s a pretty obvious reason why Miyako’s scene had more raw emotions though. It’s due to the nature of the characters and the way they presented the circumstances.

    Miyako’s past was literally given a flashback with imagery.Then it went on to depicting her present situation with the cellphone style messages to show how deeply her past scarred her, and how afraid of it she still is. Combined, it was used to unravel her mind to show how fragile of a person she is at heart. In other words, they separated her past and present situation with two distinct scenes, and used one to complement the other.

    Yuuko’s confession on the other hand is a retelling of the past in the present (ie. they mixed past with present). This scene, like Miyako’s cellphone message scene, was a way to unravel Yuuko’s mind to reveal her ‘true character’. Unlike Miyako who was revealed to be a fearful and fragile character at heart, Yuuko was shown to be broken and seemingly bitter at heart. Hence, the difference in the voice acting is due to their state of being at the time of the scenes. One was afraid of becoming broken, whereas the other was already seemingly broken to begin with at the time of the scene. Miyako was crying for help from Hirono, whereas Yuuko was just redirecting her bitterness and blame towards Yuu.

    The difference in the voice acting is due to the different messages the characters were trying to get across. Miyako’s voice acting was meant to portray her desperation and anxiety regarding her fear of disappearing, where as Yuuko’s voice acting was meant to portray how badly she’s been hurt/broken, and how bitter she is as opposed to how fearful she is. Seeing as the goal of the scenes were to unveil the hidden sides of the respective characters though, which they both did perfectly, both voice actors did well in bringing out the hidden side of their characters. On another note, I think it’s easier to portray desperation than insanity/bitterness. Well, I still think Miyako did a better job at grabbing sympathy from the audience, seeing as people who hated her came to love her. Her situation also struck closer to home because I’m pretty sure there are far more people who have dysfunctional families out there than abusive ones. On another note, I just favored Miyako more because frankly, her seiyuu work for some reason reminded me of Tamura Yukari, who I’m a fan of for some wierd reason. That, and I like Miyako’s mannerism, and speech patterns more than Yuuko. All in all, I guess it’s just because I like Miyako more than Yuuko? This rant seems to be longer than I intended (I don’t write often). Delete it if you feel that it’s a waste of space and time to read. I’m pretty sure it’s tl;dr for most people anyways.

  • beautifully said, Rawr.

  • Yuuko is already dead, so her voice is dead. Miyako was crazy in a good way, Yuuko seems mad. I think we may find that her description of the past was incomplete, but it was certainly harrowing, as niTiln conveyed so well. But I guess I must like crazy, because she has suddenly become the most fascinating character here, among a panoply of fascinating characters. I may admire the Miyako scene a bit more, but that may be because it was the first to go so far.

    I like your phrase “more palatable Shaft.” I’d probably prefer “more palatable Shinbo,” since the only shows that are “Shaft” in this sense involve Shinbo. I’ll have toi look at more of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to get the differences between Oonuma and Shinbo clearer in my mind.

  • i tend to like yuuko confession a bit more than miyako’s, just because yuuko situation is much more serious than miya, about the seiyu i think that mayako is a emotional character to star with, in the telephone scene she just exploded while yuuko has being phisicaly abuse since along time and later scaleated to sexual abuse as tipical of victims of this kind of abuse, yuuko just shut down as a defence mechanims to endure what was happening to her, the scary part is that most of the victims of prolonge abuse is that they become used to it, when there is no escape on horizon, hence the seiyu dead tone for yuuko voice was the right one, which came to me as a tone of resignation more than a emotional one, sorry it just that this ep sit to close to home to me and i couldn’t stop crying afterwards,………..god the irony, belive me sexual abuse is not that east to spot like it’s painted by the media, most of the time this people act much like a normal child, person would, and the only way to discover it is to catch the subtleness of it which is very dificult and Resentment towars people afterwards is very common specialy the ones that they love the most, are close to, or become close to, i am sorry i will end my rant here thank you for the wonderfull sumary like allways.

  • LoL Ascaloth! Is it just me? Or you just used a line from true tears? Either way, this episode was f’ed up :(

  • Mind-blowing… but my simple mind is utterly confused. Lol.

  • I have a feeling what’s wrapped in the cloth is a knife.

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