Category Archives: ef

Weirdness for Weirdness’ Sake?

Happy 10/31

Yea it’s a post on ef. I can’t help it–this is the kind of anime that gets my mind going.

But what is there to say? Lacking the tools of someone who studied film seriously I can only say that much like Soul Taker, for once the direction speaks to the message of the story.

Imagine a pop-up 3d book with moving parts; or better yet, a simple illustrated book. The words of a book still carries the story in its entirity, but the visuals and the interactive parts of the book help tell it. The ef anime is basically a pop-up 3d version of a normal anime.

Allow me to run with this illustration for some significant lengths.

Last time I looked at a pop-up book, I was shopping for presents to give to kids at a community service function. Freeing my engineer instincts I would examine the book carefully to see how each piece worked–how it folds into the book closed, how each pull or push tab connects with a corresponding piece as a part of the panorama. On the other hand when it’s presented to the lucky (or not so lucky) child, they tend to look at it as-is–“wow this cool” or “bleh I don’t want that kiddy book.”

It’s something that you either get or you don’t get, I guess. Looking at an elaborate illustration can give someone the same effect (Escher anyone?), but having seen the same kind of illustrated stuff for many years, a 3d, pup-up version of the same illustrated stuff might just tug and push your sensibilities into curious mode, like how ef did for me. Of course, that’s where the illustration ends. The ef anime is like any other anime, but by heavy-handedly highlighting all the techniques it eliminates a lot of the directional magic that we are accustomed to because they’re no longer subtle, yet the heavy style creates another kind of subtlety. It’s the kind of subtlety that makes Soul Taker so good. That said, it’s a little early to say if ef has successfully done it.

Lately shows like Touka Gettan, Pani Poni Dash, and even Suzumiya Haruhi (and the list goes on) has gone above and beyond the call to differentiate themselves from the crowd through these kind of tricks. Clever or not I don’t know; and they get different mileages out of the different tricks they employ. And to be honest, I don’t know what we can draw as conclusions besides that more and more shows are getting more sophisticated. And that is likely a good thing….for people who appreciate sophistication in anime.

The Melancholy of Kyousuke Tsutsumi or the Difference Between Normal and Ordinary

Lately I read a book that told the story of ordinary people doing radical things. They are not unlike you and I, with exception of their earnest belief that they are here to change the world in their ordinary capacity.

The fact that you and your neighboring commuter are traveling to work does not separate him or her from any other person commuting to work in the car or seat also next to you. What is different is beyond the ordinary–traveling to work–from the normal–that someone can tell all about you just by your commute. After all, if you’re reading this blog odds are you’re some crazy ass anime fanboy nut compared to the average person within a 50 meter radius of you. It’s not something you can easily discern usually. Yet,the cling to normalcy is a complex of an entire identity. A normal person is just that, normal. An ordinary person, however, doesn’t have to be.

Granted the distinction between ordinary and normal is nonsensical semantically, but it does serve to highlight the difference between something commonly seen versus the institution of conformity.

Ponder the following scenarios:

  • In Suzumiya Haruhi no Uuutsu, a girl who is fascinated with modern fairy tales of aliens, time travelers and ESPers, actually finds them hidden in plain sight, conforming to not just normal behaviors but stereotypes of aliens, time travelers and ESPers. Craziness ensues when male lead enters into the picture as a stereotypical, jaded audience of these modern fairy tales.
  • In ef – a tale of memories, the high school film club presses onward to produce a quality production, aiming to win a prize at a film competition. The main cameraman is seen as a person with some skill in the shots he take, perhaps impressionist, perhaps postmodern, but nonetheless draw fans and set the cameraman’s films apart from the common crop. However, rather than to be characterized through such distinctive streaks, the film club wanted to produce a popular hit with a film that conforms (realist?) to people’s sense of what is ordinary but yet captures the spark the star cameraman gives to his subjects. They are aiming for the grand prize, not one set for special but different films.
  • In Honey & Clover, an art prodigy escapes into secondary education to blossom under the care of her uncle in a university. She befriends a group of ordinary youth in a similar place in life looking for direction, for love, and for themselves.
  • In Kimikiss Pure Rouge, a 16 year old boy finds romance along with his wingman, a 17 year old girl, with another boy. Oh, the boy’s good male friend also finds his sister’s new friend somewhat cute? There be karaoke and giggles.
  • In Kamichu, an ordinary middle schooler is a Shinto deity in the flesh.

It’s ordinary, yet somewhat extraordinary. It feels attainable, its lure just within our grasp. For me it’s irresistible (at least when it’s done right).

There’s a thin line between what’s ordinarily extraordinary and what is just normal. I’m not sure where the line is, but you can tell when it stops being ordinary either by being just plain out there, or being just … a normal anime.

Capturing the tension that exists in the abnormal ordinary is a key element of a compelling storytelling style. Perhaps the biggest problem for the ef anime right now is that it is too odd to be ordinary, even if it is rooted so.

Caught Up In a Whirlwind of Massive Strings or Tenmon Is Love

I don’t get why some people think ef anime episode 2 “ending” doesn’t work–to me it works very well.

She shoots, she scores!

If not too well.

I ended up going to the official website and rip the music on there. Digging into the flash file on the HP, you can find two mp3s of juicy Tenmon goodness. And as you would expect I’ve been listening to them repeatedly. The theme song on the website is different than the episode 2 version, so you should switch it up!

The sad part is that this will have to tide me over until February of 2008, as that’s when the OST is slated to street. :(

Thankfully we have a little more to work with; the theme song single is out next week, along with the CD singles of the first few endings. The ef anime will have different ending songs every episode, a bit like School Days. But it looks like each ED will get a single, instead of one CD with a bunch of the ending themes on them.

The OP single will have just one song on it–the English version, the Japanese version, the TV edit, and the instrumental (WANT NOW).

It’s always to see enjoyable composers get their deserving spotlight. If you’re weak against this kind of pop music like I am then this season is full of treats, with people like Elements Garden also doing some nice pieces… In the case of ef, think of Kumo no Mukou or Byousouku 5cm, and multiply it by a few factors of awesome as Tenmon is composing for a TV show–better budget and simply, hopefully, more scores and more diverse pieces.

Need. New. Pants.

Last but not least: Remember Eminence? Here’s a recording of their rendition of Beyond the Clouds, from the Tenmon soundtrack of the same at their Melbourne show this year.