Both ef ~a tale of memories~ and ef ~a tale of melodies~ have at least one ending video for each female lead, several different variants of the opening video, and occasional interchanges between the op and ed. In other words, they’re almost unique per episode, so I won’t talk about every single variant.
ef ~a tale of memories.~ op 1 – Euphoric Field
And now, everything I’ve talked about comes together in what’s easily one of my top 5 openings of all time. The pastel colors, the jarring body movements, lyrical synchronization, text everywhere—all of the marks I’ve been attributing to Oonuma. That’s not to say Shinbo hasn’t worked his influence into this (aside from the influence he’s had on all SHAFT works)—the girls being bound up in chains is trademark, classic Shinbo. Whether he suggested it be put in, or Oonuma was just influenced by Shinbo’s work and wanted to do it, is something I can’t say.
This opening also has the first use of Oonuma’s favorite technique. While he likes to play around with credit text, in this video, there’s a wealth of text from some other source. Often, the text that Oonuma uses in his videos is the lyrics to the accompanying song, but in this case, it’s excerpts from a novel that one of the characters in the story is writing. The text, the imagery, and the song itself are all directly connected to the heart of the show, which is what makes all of them that much more special. I feel as though Oonuma takes opening and ending themes more seriously than most directors, in that he tries to bring out some meaning and connectivity to the rest of the show in them.
But the real money here is Oonuma’s love of changing the video over the course of a series:
ef ~a tale of memories.~ ep 12 op – Euphoric Field (Japanese ver.)
In the last episode of ef, the opening theme is performed in Japanese instead of English, and a few key changes occur. Whereas in the original, the three heroines are seen falling, exploding into feathers, and being bound in chains, this time their respective lovers catch them as they fall, and each one bursts out of their chains. These images are extremely powerful after having seen Euphoric Field throughout the series, and it was all I could do to keep from crying the first time I saw it (I still tear up and get chills every time.)
I won’t be tackling all of the ending themes, since they don’t really introduce any new techniques, but I’ll at least show you one that reinforces some of the points I’ve made.
ef ~a tale of memories.~ ed 2 – Kizamu Kisetsu
Once again, soft colors, a silhouetted character with no outlines, and a whole lot of running. The third and fourth eds are also great if you’re interested in checking them out. Like the op, they seem to bear some marks of Shinbo’s influence, such as the spinning clock-thing at the start of the third and the pinwheels in the fourth.
Now we’ll move on to ef melodies.
(Continued on page 3)