I mentioned last episode that ef - a tale of melodies was always going to struggle a little to live up to that pair of episodes that turned the whole series on its head in a schizophrenic explosion of madness and artistry, but I have to admit that at times episode nine of the series almost felt like it was skating close to that same territory.
After Nagi confronts Yuuko upon her return to school, asking her where Yuu is and what she has to do with his disappearance, Yuuko starts to question why she led him into the situation she did, finally admitting to herself that despite her initial desire for revenge and to hurt him, she does indeed love him. It all gets a little harrowing from here, with Yuuko's bout of self-harming following by a scene in which we actually get to see Amamiya dishing out some physical brutality towards her. However, Yuu appears on the scene to save the day (slightly implausibly perhaps), but in the following skirmish Amamiya spies a sketch drawn by Yuu which sends him into a frenzy. Given his treatment of Yuuko, I'm sure many people would have happily told Amamiya to go and die in a fire, and prophetically that's exactly what he does here, in a rather unnecessarily drawn out (but, of course, visually impeccable) scene.
With that major development, covered, it's time to return to Kuze's story, complete with unhinged Evangelion-esque audio and visuals, and arguably some rather Shinji Ikari inspired bemoaning of his life, death and situation by Kuze - I've always stood up for Shinji's right to feel bad about his life given his circumstances, but I have to confess that I've lost any patience I had for Kuze's predicament to the point where I feel no sympathy for the guy at all. Anyway, despite his deteriorating mental state, it seems that Mizuki still hasn't given up on him, and is likely to be an object of salvation for him over the coming episodes. Never mind that though... What's Mizuki's connection to Yuuko? It appears that it's time for the two so-far largely disparate stories to be bound tighter together.
From my early complains of pretension, I've really grown to both accept and like a tale of melodies for what it is, and with that in mind episode nine has proved to be a pretty good one in terms of both major plot developments and keeping up that slightly brutal outlook that has spiced up this series in recent episodes. That isn't to say that I don't have complaints about the show, and indeed this episode - For starters, Amamiya became far too much the generic nutty bloke in his behaviour in this outing (not all crazy people have to laugh manically you know... Just look at me!), and as I've already mentioned I straight-up don't like Kuze, which can render that half of the series a little inaccessible to me at times. Despite that though, I've learned to appreciate the artistic merits of the show (which are now adding value rather than just looking pretty), and the fact that it doesn't shy away from the darker side of life (death, abuse and so on) deserves some kudos in my opinion, especially given the way it's been presented here.