[Ascaloth] ef ~a tale of melodies~, Episode 11

The tragedy of the past is over and done with, but the seeds have been sown for the stories yet to be. Out of the remaining embers that was the tragic romance of Himura Yuu and Amamiya Yuuko, the connections that will lead to a new generation of romance and heartache have been formed, and under the watchful eyes of the star-crossed lovers, these new stories have each achieved the resolution that the ill-fated lovers never did. Yet, though some of the stories may have run their course, there remains one left which has yet to reach its conclusion, and as the true melody sings of the romances that have reached their fulfilment, it sings too for the one left which has yet to do so.

ef ~a tale of melodies~, Episode 11.

Having spent the past few episodes’ worth of his appearance time within the series having a belated emo streak sealed like a hermit within his empty apartment, Kuze finally comes to terms with his true feelings, and takes the first step to banish the Heralds within his mind, to rid himself of his masks once and for all. And perhaps, to many who have long since grown tired of his emo-ing, after long enough.

As with most of SHAFT’s Shinbou-WTF scenes, a great deal of subtext can be read into this particular sequence; personally, it almost seems like a confrontation between Hope (as personified by Mizuki) and Despair (as personified by Kuze). Which brings an interesting thought to mind; what is Oonuma trying to say by making German the language of Despair, while reverting back to his native Japanese for the language of Hope? Racial chauvinism, perhaps? Or is there something more I’m missing?

Nothing will last forever; that is why they are so precious, and that is why they deserve to be treasured. It’s most interesting how "treasuring that which is impermanent" is such a common (if not universal, although I can’t go as far as saying exactly that) theme of humanity. Could it be that it is our recognition that we only have a limited time to enjoy whatever we might have in life, is what makes us uniquely human in the first place?

And with the curse of despair Kuze placed upon himself broken by the inextinguishable optimism and zest for life of Mizuki, their conflicted feelings for each other are finally reconciled, allowing them both the freedom to pursue their love for each other, even despite the impending tragedy that will befall them soon.

Unfortunately, Fate feels no urge to make any concessions to tragic couples, as Yuu and Yuuko so many years ago proved, and as is again proven here. Justice would dictate that they would have the time to make up for what they’ve lost, but Fate is not Justice, and feels no pity whatsoever.

Even with the resolution of the conflicted feelings between them, the fact that Kuze is slowly but surely walking away from the land of the living remains to haunt the newly established couple still. Can the Kuze-Mizuki pairing escape the fate that befell the Yuu-Yuuko pairing before them?

And after so long, so many episodes, the ef story finally returns to the mystery of the modern-day Yuuko, who has been such a mysterious and yet such an influential presence on the protagonists of the melodies series. Though Yuuko could not have possibly lived through the fate that befell her from out of nowhere so many years ago, there is no doubt that the people in Japan have definitely seen her with their own eyes. So another question is brought up; if it is a given that these guys did see Yuuko, then who is this Yuuko?

And as if to definitively underline the connection between memories and melodies, Oonuma chooses to insert a variation of the former series’ Euphoric Field OP halfway into the episode, as if he’s somehow afraid that the connection isn’t obvious enough already. Sorrow-kun of The Nihon Review said that melodies smacked of too much effort on the part of Oonuma, and for my part, that sounds like a pretty apt observation of how the entire sequel series has been throughout.

Despite all of that though, I do still have to admit that hearing Euphoric Field once again was a pretty nostalgic experience. I did enjoy it somewhat.

For a man who was afraid of losing, what does it take to bet everything he has left on the first, and probably last great gamble of his life? Somehow, I can’t help but think that the reason that Kuze has always avoided endeavours that he has a chance of failing at, and especially the one gamble that would end or save his life, because he has never had anything he wanted badly enough to go all in for. With the arrival of Mizuki, that has changed, of course.

The keys to the sister cities, the twin charms that link one heart to another.

And as Kuze embarks on the last great journey to either oblivion, or a last chance at happiness, the last pairing of the ef universe come together in spirit to make a songstress-violinist duo, dedicating the true melody of life and love to the couples that have come before them. So much of this episode was composed of so much singing that several have compared it to a Macross episode, but still, this was quite a beautiful song in its entirety.

A well-wishing song for those that came before them, and for the future of their own. Even though it was a beautiful-looking and sounding endgame for the Kuze-Mizuki storyline, that hardly mitigates the fact that throughout the course of the series, it was by far the inferior story of the inferior series within the ef storyline, at least from my POV. Of course, there’s probably plenty of disagreement from others about this, but at least from how the way I looked at it, I have to make what is probably again an unjust critique of Oonuma’s second effort, but still, the way I would describe melodies was that it showcased the man as a real-life Sorcerer’s Apprentice; a talented, but ultimately inexperienced apprentice wizard who could not keep under control the wild magic of the demented sorcerer Shinbou. It remained good, but it could have been better had not Oonuma tried too hard and overstepped himself. In any case, there is one last episode to go, so let’s wait to see how everything eventually ends.

Ascaloth in Tasmania, out.

3 Responses to “[Ascaloth] ef ~a tale of melodies~, Episode 11”

  • From the screenshots, ef characters bear some resemblance to characters from FSN but again, its probably just me.

    Btw, how’s Tasmania so far? (:

  • I don’t know. When “Euphoric Field” began in the middle of this episode, I found the moment profoundly moving. It clicked with me — particularly with the changes to the opening animation from that show: instead of bursting into feathers, or text, or whatever, each of the girls finds completion with a love, and turns from a silhouette to a full image.

    Maybe it was just nostalgia, but the director broke through my resistance with that.

  • >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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