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Well, since you've hit that emotional place,

. It may help to ease the symptoms of recovering from the emotional bomb and prolong the feelings you're experiencing.

I got this already on my player :tomatoface:

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I got this already on my player :tomatoface:

I've got ALL of the Clannad albums on my mp3 player, as well as from Kanon. And if Air is much the same, I'll have all those, too. Eventually I'll be able to listen to them all casually. Eventually. :razz:

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Guess who's baa~ck!

In an ideal world, the following post would contain a review of the VN and the anime adaptation of Key's Air. However, this isn't an ideal world. I found out recently that, surprisingly enough, Air has never been fully translated! A small group is working on it right now, but it's moving very, very slowly; it probably won't see the light of day for quite a while. Since I can't read Japanese, and I refuse to watch the anime until after I read the VN, Air will have to be put on hold.

Instead, I come today with a review of Minori's visual novel Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two and its anime adaptation, Ef: A Tale of Memories (season 1) and Ef: A Tale of Melodies (season 2).

WARNING: While my previous reviews have avoided all spoilers, I'm going to be mentioning some in this review to make a few points regarding the differences between the VN and the anime.

Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two

The story of Ef is actually a central tale that involves the telling of several other stories in sequence, all relating back in some way to the central tale. Each story can stand on its own, but together they form a more powerful narrative, as the characters aren't isolated to a single story. Each tale is a romance story, but they are more strongly associated with various difficulties that the characters must deal with. The romance itself is, in fact, more of a backdrop, a setting for the story, in at least three of the tales. These are character-driven stories; not much in the way of action happens, aside from the eroge sequences in the visual novel (these can be turned off, at least in the fan-translated version).

In addition to the strong character-development focus of the stories, Ef differs from the run-of-the-mill visual novel in two other ways. The first is that it is a linear storyline, rather than the branching storyline typical to the genre. There a few choices to be made, but only one correct answer for each. Any wrong choice leads to a bad end, rather than just a variation in the story. So it's not like you're choosing between different romance options, which is what you normally see. The second difference is in the presentation; Ef attempts to bring a more cinematic feel to the story. Rather than have static backgrounds with the characters speaking from a front-and-center, straight-on perspective separate from the background, much of the story is presented with off-center camera angles and characters standing within the background picture. The mouths of the characters are also made to move when that character is speaking. This gives the VN as a whole a much more authentic feeling and can make scenes more or less intimate as needed. Prior to this VN, I had not seen this style of presentation in a visual novel; I enjoyed it greatly. The production value is very high. There are even a few fully animated title sequences scattered throughout the VN.

The tones and feelings of each story in Ef differ greatly from one another. The first full tale presented is a fairly typical, straightforward love story. It's heartwarming and doesn't stray too much from convention. Compare that to two of the other stories. One is very bittersweet, setting a depressing tone of inevitability by starting late in the story and telling everything up until then in flashbacks, using it to build anticipation in the reader regarding how it ends up that way before finally showing you the conclusion. Another of the stories begins very innocently, starts delving into more serious issues involving death soon to be arriving, and then surprises you with a very traumatic experience - both for the characters AND the reader - as they try to deal with what the future will inevitably bring.

These stories have the characters dealing with some very heavy issues, and it changes them. Ef's power comes from that. It is likely that one or more of the issues or themes will resonate with you on some level; the stories can leave you inspired, depressed, or anywhere in between. Regarding the viaul novel version, it's because the stories make the themes their focus and hit them hard with a precision that exudes excellent storytelling. The pacing is almost always right where it needs to be. The main characters are given enough time for you to become attached to them, and the secondary characters do a very good job of accentuating the strengths and weaknesses of the main characters. None of the issues presented to the characters feel forced, and so there's little to cause a reader to be pulled out of the experience.

My own emotional state fluctuated wildly while reading the stories, from pleasant to feeling happy for the victory of another to depressed to horrified to anguish and finally sad, crying closure. All-in-all, the visual novel Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two is one of the best-written and most engaging stories I have read recent years. There is the potential for the story to have a long-term impact on the reader, but even if it doesn't, it is still likely to bring forth a wide range of strong emotions.

The anime adaptation of Ef is 24-episodes split evenly among two seasons. It follows the same plot as the visual novel, but it makes minor and major changes to the story throughout. These changes are what can make and break the anime compared to the visual novel original.

The first thing to note about the anime version is that it had to compensate for the lack of action in the stories. Most of the time the characters are simply talking to each other. To keep things interesting, the anime decides to take a more artistically liberal approach to the visuals. Individual cuts can be quite short, color schemes can change a dozen times in a single scene, camera angles can come in from any angle, and symbolic imagery is used often. This style of presentation makes some sequences more powerful while weakening others. The sections where the emotional connection to the characters relies on a realistic perspective used in the VN can be completely thrown off by the presentation in the anime.

The anime, throughout the stories, chooses to focus on some different themes than the visual novel, and as a result, some details are completely changed. I do not know why they did this; the VN, being linear as it is, wouldn't have required any significant changes to adapt it to an anime presentation. However, I suspect they did it so they could play with the presentation style, as well as make it work within the 24 episodes they had. One of format changes involved telling the first three stories concurrently in the first season, rather than in sequence, and then telling the remaining stories concurrently in the second season. This had its benefits and problems, but the biggest problem ended up being one of focus; it was hard to connect fully with any of the individual characters and stories because it would keep switching between them. Another casualty of the concurrent storytelling is that one of the stories is almost gutted completely. It barely gets any attention at all, which I feel is a shame.

The anime does do a good job with setting up certain themes and playing them out. One of the later themes is essentially 'having hope and looking forward', one not played as strongly in the VN, and the changes made to the story do enhance it quite a bit. Having certain characters show up where they didn't in the VN was also used to pretty good effect in tying together two of the stories.

However, the anime version has three glaring problems. One is pacing. This is partly because of how the presentation was done in an artistic manner, but also because of how the stories were told together at once. Many important sequences were skimmed over, drastically reducing the impact of the rest of the story. Other parts were dragged on for just a little bit too long, which probably caused many of the skimming problems. <SPOILERS>Yuuko's story suffered the most from this. Entire, significant parts of her character development were left out near the end of the anime; her getting pregnant was the biggest. Her dark, twisted personality due to the abuse she endured is another. In fact, the entirety of her life after her escape from her brother was covered in just a single episode, including her death. That, combined with her drastically reduced presence in the first season, made the emotional impact her death had so much smaller. On a personal level, I cried a lot after her death in the VN. In the anime, it just couldn't bring forth more than a mellow sadness.</SPOILERS>

The other problem is that many of the changes that were made caused it to become more of a typical romance tale that is lacking in depth. In that respect it is a decent story, but it fails to live up to the standard that the original visual novel set. <SPOILERS>Yuuko and Yuu's story, again, suffers the most from this. For instance, Yuu and Yuuko's running away from Amamiya, and Yuu's confrontation of him, play out in a generic manner, and as a result, all three characters don't receive the depth they did in the VN. Amamiya became the stereotypical external enemy pointing out Yuu's insecurities for him in the anime, while the VN had the much stronger theme of Yuu himself being the known internal enemy and having to finally acknowledge and conquer it on his own to help the one he loves.</SPOILERS>

Finally, while there are parts that the anime does well in tying the individual stories together, it also has many more where it simply fails to truly make them feel as if they're a part of the larger whole. That feels forced in toward the end, and some of the changes the anime made undo much of the cohesiveness of the original. Bringing it all together feels more like an afterthought to the anime rather than a significant goal.

To conclude, Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two is an extremely well thought out, emotionally engaging and thought provoking visual novel with an anime adaptation that works moderately well at times but manages to squander its potential and fall on its face far too often. The visual novel is a must-read for anyone interested in the visual novel format or enjoys romance and/or character-driven stories in general. The anime can be watched as a stand-alone romance tale, in which it is a good story brought down a bit by its execution. It is also worth watching if you're wanting the full Ef experience, but be prepared to be disappointed in how it plays out certain sequences if you've read the VN already.

Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two Ratings

Visual Novel: A+

Anime: B if unfamiliar with the visual novel, C if familiar with the visual novel

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So...

I needed a break from the feels induced by all these visual novels and anime I've been watching. They're great, but too much over a short period of time can incapacitate. I needed something mindless yet interesting. Something that I could just sit down and enjoy for what it is at face value.

I realized that I have never really fully ventured into the world of a certain genre. I'd certainly watched anime that had characters that embodied the genre, and definitely shows that used it to some degree but put plenty of focus on other plot/mystery/etc stuff. But an anime where this single value was the main and essentially only focus? Never.

I had never ventured into pure moe-blob anime. It was time to rectify this. For science.

I had heard rumors of it being such a dividing topic. I had seen people go absolutely nuts for it and people express a desire to take a shotgun to its head. So in the interest of science, I sat down to watch the oft-used example of moe-blob at the very high end of the concentration scale: K-ON!. It's shown up every time moe has been discussed and is popular, so it was time to see what the genre, and this particular anime, is cracked up to be.

...

... Oh god...

The show doesn't have a plot. It doesn't have a real conflict. The characters, after a few episodes, still have no real depth. It's even creepy sometimes - what the hell is wrong with their hands? They're like little pegs! Everything's just playing up some klutzy action or cute reaction to something. There's nothing here that should be interesting!

SO WHY CAN'T I STOP WATCHING?!

Halfway through the very first episode I'd gotten a stupid smile plastered onto my face that Just. Won't. Come. OFF. I've made it through five episodes so far and the damn show is so goddamn adorable for some reason I can't seem to explain that unlike every other anime, I can't watch more than one episode every few hours. It's too much. I can power through 24 episodes of the most heart-wrenching anime in a single sitting, but this... this is too much in every single episode thus far, and I'm only six episodes in! I can't understand it! Why can't I stop grinning like an idiot?!

"Is that moe? Is that what moe is?!"

HEADDESK1.gif

What have I done to myself?!

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I giggle like a little japanese girl every time I watch that show.

Next you'll be watching Yuru Yuri.

Then Hidamari Sketch.

Then you'll be watching Clannad again for all the wrong reasons.

And then you'll have your own personal waifu.

That's how it went for me at least. No big deal.

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confession: I've enjoyed idolmaster a lot more than k-on for moeblob

(I've even been playing the PSP game :oops:)

Edited by Gollgagh

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You know, idolmaster really does have a much more colorful style than K-ON! anyways.

I actually enjoyed Nichijou moe more than K-ON! moe for that reason.

Which reminds me I still need to watch Idolmaster. I would have by now if I didn't find the show through a picture of a certain trap...

edit: wait, that's not the show I was thinking of. forget what I said.

Still need to watch it.

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Ah, by the way, is anyone getting any value out of my reviews as of late? Is it worth continuing? Is there anything in those you'd want me to improve/expand on? Should I change anything about how I do future ones?

Just wondering if I should continue on and such. I enjoy writing them, but I don't know if anyone even bothers to read them, let alone find them useful.

----------

Next you'll be watching Yuru Yuri.

Then Hidamari Sketch.

Both are already on my ever-growing list of anime in my backlog.

Way too many in my backlog... Not to mention an even larger backlog of visual novels to get to...

Then you'll be watching Clannad again for all the wrong reasons.

NEVER. Clannad will always be watched properly in my presence.

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I kind of like them. Most shows you've reviewed so far I've already watched, but I didn't really know much about Air until you reviewed that so I'm probably going to check it out at some point.

Also:

NEVER. Clannad will always be watched properly in my presence.

That's what YOU think.

Edited by urdailywater

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but I didn't really know much about Air until you reviewed that

But I never did. I wanted to, but then I found out that the VN doesn't have a complete English translation yet, so I'm putting both the VN and the anime adaptation on hold. I read through and watched Ef instead, which was the latest of my reviews. Maybe you're getting the two confused?

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Oh lawl, I meant Angel Beats. They both start with A so maybe that's what confused me? Or maybe because I just read a post that referenced it a few times.

But yeah, Angel Beats.

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AKB0048 is pretty damned good. Combining moe idols, awesome mecha battles, singing, dancing, cyborgs, gynoids, and a variety of other things that should work together into a single anime where they actually end up working really well. It's also directed by the people behind Macross F and written by Kawamori (the mastermind behind the entire Macross franchise and Aquarion EVOL).

Speaking of Aquarion EVOL, since it's pretty much set as the best anime of 2012, if you haven't watched it you should go do so. Like now. Right now.

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Speaking of Aquarion EVOL, since it's pretty much set as the best anime of 2012, if you haven't watched it you should go do so. Like now. Right now.

Should I have watched the first Aquarion for this?

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Should I have watched the first Aquarion for this?

It's not really necessary - most people didn't. The original Aquarion is supposedly not that great. Fortunately, everything you need to know about it is covered in some form over the course of Aquarion EVOL so you'll never find yourself lost for not having seen the original.

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Wait this Aquarion EVOL is good? I watched like the first episode of the first Aquarion and it drove me nuts from how generic it was, and how creepy it was for the mechs to combine (Pilots should not be making those noises when their mechs combine.) Turned me off this show.

If you can give me a good reason to watch this new one I would be more than happy to check it out.

Also watching Trigun, on episode 11 now, good stuff.

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Wait this Aquarion EVOL is good? I watched like the first episode of the first Aquarion and it drove me nuts from how generic it was, and how creepy it was for the mechs to combine (Pilots should not be making those noises when their mechs combine.) Turned me off this show.

If you can give me a good reason to watch this new one I would be more than happy to check it out.

Rather than give one, I will instead link you to twenty.

But if you were turned off a show because of innuendo, this is probably not going to be the anime for you...

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Thanks for the link, I'll still check the anime out. I think the problem is for me is that aquarion seems been really funny to me on paper, but then actually watching/hearing it they seem to go a tad to far to just creepy. I'll check out AKB0048 too cause I'm a sucker for anything like Macross frontier.

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and there was no way Guilty Crown could ever live up to the hype that was generated by claims of being on par with Code Geass

You know, there were a few things in Guilty Crown that I was kind of let down with, but overall I really enjoyed it. I thought their use of the opening and closing theme songs throughout the show was very fitting and symbolic. The words to the second op. theme (The Everlasting Guilty Crown) are pretty meaningful to me, and I've got a few of them in my signature.

I loved the concept of "voids," and how each person's void represented their identity or soul in some way. And holy cow, there were some deep topics dealt with (deep for me at least) - like (SPOILER ALERT) what should Shu do in a situation like the one where he has someone asking him to end his life so he won't be a burden on his brother anymore. Moments like that provoked a lot of deep thought for me.

I'm almost at the end of Bleach right now (ep. 357) - I've been skipping the "filler seasons." AWESOME. And I'm trying to watch Code Geass as well. Loving both of those shows right now.

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I finished Rockman.EXE Axess finally (fansubs were completed for the last 11 episodes). Pretty awesome. Started on Stream (since the first ep has subs too).

All I have to say about the first episode of Stream is... what the fuck, Wily?

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