Finally, a sequel to memories that deals with the other half of the ef cast!
The episode is separated in to two halves neatly; the first half about Himura and the second one about Mizuki.
In the first half, we’re brought back quite some years to the time of Himura and Shuichi’s high school days, when they’re both classmates. Himura’s involved with Hirono Nagi in the Arts Club as well, and she’s er… quite liberal. Amamiya Yuko also makes her appearance as well as Himura’s junior and quite shockingly we find out that she’s Himura’s younger sister as well and that she has some “grudge” on him.
Second half brings us back to present time and Mizuki is the lead here. Staying over at her aunt’s place, she gets to know that a famous violinist, Shuichi Kuze is their next-door neighbour and gets them to introduce him to her despite cousin Renji’s protests. Mizuki spends the day over at his place and even tries out Kuze’s “extensive” cosplay collection too. It’s hinted that Kuze is facing a slump in his playing as well as suffering from some sort of chronic heart disease, but meeting Mizuki seems to awaken something inside him.
So far, I can say melodies is proving to be a more engaging watch than memories initially was. I guess it’s attributed to the fact that we’re dealing with a sequel here, so viewers are quite familiar with the characters already. In fact, for me, in many ways back in memories, the main cast of melodies was quite enigmatic so at times, I did feel a lot more interested about their stories and melodies is pretty much the ultimate extension of that curiosity since we’re getting a whole series dedicated upon them.
Mizuki was pretty under-utilized in memories, but she finally gets her spotlight here. As revealed, she’s Renji’s cousin and they’re actually quite close with each other and this relationship is revealed and explored here. Mizuki’s personality is quite cheery and friendly yet not too overbearing so I’m immediately liking her a lot. There is also the fact that she is connected to Yuko as well in her past too, and I’m personally more interested in that.
The really new characters so far include Hirono Nagi and Amamiya Akira, both of them who seem to play a huge part in Himura’s past. Nagi’s relation with memories’ Hirono is still unknown, but it remains without doubt they are connected since both have a talent for art. Nagi also bears a resemblance towards Kei as well, yet her attitude is much more daring as she doesn’t even mind drawing in the nude and being seen by Himura. Having Itou Shizuka as her seiyuu also gives her that extra “oomph” to it much. As for Amamiya Akira, he is apparently Yuko’s brother too, as revealed in the melodies pre-airing special (ugh, damn crossplay) and he seems to be the advisor of the arts club, based on his conversation with Himura.
So far so good. Ahhh~~ melodies is definitely making me want to spoil myself by playing the games with all the mysteries being unveiled around. SHAFT’s signature style is also much more refined this time and seems less “shocking” than back in memories too when everyone was calling it “ef – a tale of Photoshop Filters”. Then again, I might’ve gotten much used for it this time round, since memories made us realize at its end on how symbolic those effects were used throughout the series.
Once you get used to it, you can actually derive a LOT of subtext than what is presented on the surface, especially on the character’s feelings and their hidden thoughts as well, thus giving the discerning viewers a much more empathetic view of the characters. I actually find it very much well done this time around and it gives a real depth to each of the characters.
Musically speaking, it’s even more influential now to be in line with the title of “a tale of melodies”. There is liberal usage of violin title pieces for foreshadowing(?) in the second half with Mizuki and Kuze. This probably mirrors how the “memories” part was the main thread in Chihiro and Renji’s story. I can’t say I understand much of the terms for now but it does add another level of emotional subtext to the show.
The soundtrack is pretty much the same as memories as well. No need to change what’s working, eh. The OP, ebullient future by ELISA is still sung in English again and it’s similar in feel to euphoric field as well. The animation text is mostly in German this time… competent German understanding quite required there it seems. No ED played this time though.
Right, enough rambles for now. Another week more for the next episode….