The last instalment of ef - a tale of melodies looked set to bring us an all-round relatively cheerful and happy episode, yet still managed to turn it around into pain and death by the end of it, with Yuuko coming to an untimely demise at the hands of a passing car. I suppose you could argue that this series has tried to portray her lasting (nay, ghostly) legacy as a good thing by way of the people she's helped via her random appearances, but I'm not sure that's much comfort when you're dead.
Anyway, in a sense the first half of episode eleven gives us a very similar state of affairs, only in microcosm. With the meat of the Yuu and Yuuko story out of the way, our attention naturally turns back to Kuze and Mizuki, with the latter's letter of challenge and reappearance seeming to finally snap Kuze out of his vicious circle of self-loathing and depression. Finally admitting his feelings (and again, let's ignore how creepy this whole Kuze/Mizuki relationship is in some ways), he meets Mizuki up on the rooftop of the school, and after finally accepting her love... his heart all but gives out. Once again, sadness is snatched from the jaws of happiness.
With Kuze's health reaching something of a "last gunfight" state, he finally chooses to have the operation that he's apparantly been refusing up until now - An operation with a low rate of success, but even if it does work it will only grant Kuze a maximum of three years more on his life. Will the operation succeed? This episode teases us with his near-death and return to life, but we'll have to wait for the climatic episode to find out.
That aforementioned "creepy" aspect of Kuze and Mizuki's relationship means that I haven't enjoyed this side of ef - a tale of melodies' story anything like as much, which is a shame really, as it's had its moments. As far as this episode goes, again in delights in taking some almost Evangelion-esque glimpses into Kuze's psyche (with animation to match), but on the other side of the coin Mizuki's almost impossible positivity in the first half of the episode actually brought to mind Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei's Kafuka Fuura, which I'm sure wasn't the intended reaction. The second half of this episode also seemed to struggle a bit to really bring out the emotions which should have arisen from Kuze's decision and the imminent danger of his death - Rather surprising considering how powerfully other key emotional moments have been handled in this series. Perhaps it's just my dislike of Kuze and the slightly ridiculous air Mizuki gives off to my mind, but this episode didn't entirely work for me - Much like its predecessor, a tale of memories, it also seems to be a tale of two stories... One I have an immense interest in, and another that struggles to hold my attention.