Without a doubt the best show of Fall 2007. This is probably going to be my favourite show by SHAFT for a long while, closely followed by Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.
ef started rather humbly and pretty unimpressively too, after the initial hype for it that I was exposed to. Hearing SHAFT was doing the animation wasn’t too much of a reassurance as well, since SHAFT’s works are rather hit-or-miss for me, even if they have some impressive animation techniques. In fact, for the first 3-4 episodes, I won’t deny I gave it the moniker ef ~a tale of Photoshop filters~.
The turning point of ef for me was probably the start of Chihiro’s novel writing endeavors, and her fantasy writing was very obviously a metaphor of her own feelings towards her life, ruled by the 13-hour prison. The series managed to present Chihiro’s conditions in an extremely emphatic way that very much showed the sufferings and life of Chihiro and her 13-hour prison, which undeniably got me hooked to the show for real.
ef’s climax for me was Chihiro’s tearing of her diary pages from the time she met Renji until the day she tried to break up with him. That was really a pinnacle of SHAFT’s artistic style for me, and the execution was no less than impressive. The emotional impact was impressive as well, as it was literally a “suicide” of sorts by Chihiro, by destroying the very happiest moments of her life up till then.
While the real star of the show for me was Chihiro, the other arc of Miyako, Kei and Hirono also provided much drama while Chihiro was having some of the happiest times of her life. Miyako’s persistancy was initially a bit scary, I admit, but after the heart-wrenching unveiling of her own past, my feelings soon turned in the sympathy for her. Well, all in all, I’m glad it didn’t escalate to a school-days-esque development. I guess that fear has been instilled in us all for this genre of shows.
Another thing I would like to give credit to is SHAFT’s artistic style, while initially I disliked, but I soon loved it as it has been a real star by it’s own, as it managed to convey itself very well and also added to to overall fantasy-styled setting of ef, giving it a more fantastic feel. Kudos to SHAFT for executing it’s style in such a way. This just really shows me that SHAFT’s potential is still very much unexplored fully.
Overall, best show of Fall 2007, in terms of artistic quality and story telling. It’s a must-watch, I tell you.