In the aftermath of Chihiro throwing her diary pages away, Renji visits all of the places where they share memories together. She of course isn’t at any of them, and even when Renji tries to visit her at home, no one answers the door. The ringing of the church bell that afternoon alerts Renji to the fact that it’s already been over 13 hours since he separated from Chihiro. In other words, she should have forgotten everything about the two of them by now. Renji then pays a visit to the church, and Yuu reports that Chihiro has returned to being how she was before she met Renji. When Renji asks, Yuu confirms that it’s really over, and he suggests that even if a miracle occurs and Chihiro recovers, her written notes wouldn’t return. Yuu doesn’t believe that there are miracles though – only inevitabilities and coincidences. Still, he’s not saying that Renji should forget and cites that shouldering the painful weight is only one way to live.
At home, Renji’s mother worries about him and reminds him about the future aspirations handout. Renji feels that he can’t do it since he can’t even think about tomorrow, and when his mother hears him say that he doesn’t want tomorrow to come, she suggests that tomorrow could be a better day than today. This reminds Renji of how Chihiro had said the same thing, and he runs out of the house in frustration. He happens to run into Kuze, and the two head to the beach to talk. Renji ends up asking Kuze how he can realize his dream, so Kuze replies that you first have to have a dream, and you can’t forget your desire. When Renji wonders about an impossible desire, Kuze explains that he’d have to wait for a miracle. Hearing this, Renji repeats what Yuu had said about there not being miracles in this world, but Kuze already knows the line. Kuze feels that at times, the result of an action becomes inevitable, overlaps with coincidence, and a dream can unexpectedly be realized. He doesn’t know if that can be called a miracle or not, but the one thing he’s sure of is that without a desire, nothing can happen.
Despite this talk with Kuze, Renji isn’t feeling much better by the next day. He’s surprised to find Chihiro sitting at the train station, but as soon as she asks him if she’s met him before, he runs away. Renji ends up on the school rooftop remembering everything, unable to forget about Chihiro. After a great wind blows past him, he notices a paper airplane flying across the sky, and he immediately realizes what it is. Following it all the way until it comes down, Renji makes a diving catch and finds that it’s the page of the diary with the photo booth sticker. On it, Chihiro had recorded her thoughts before breaking up with him, including how painful it was for her as she was writing this. The truth was that she wanted to stay with him forever and didn’t want to forget because she didn’t want to return to days of nothingness. She had even thought of him as her knight and prince, and she loved him. When he finishes reading all of this, Renji decides that there is something he can do, even though it’s probably futile, and that something is to collect all the pages that he can find.
Renji eventually returns to the train station, all bruised and scraped up from his efforts to get the pages back. He knows that he hasn’t collected enough yet, but he vows to get them all. To his surprise, Chihiro comments on how long 13 hours is, and though she has to forget about him, she can’t. She then rushes into his arms, and when Renji vows not to let her forget no matter what happens, Chihiro’s mental bonds are broken. In the aftermath, Renji decides that his first choice for the future aspirations handout is to be a novelist, and he starts writing a story about his original meeting with Chihiro – the encounter that lasted for less than 45 seconds. As for the others, Kei’s foot has healed, and she messages to tell Hiro and Miyako about it. The couple, who are living happily together, message her back telling her not to push herself too much with club activities. Kei then thanks Kyousuke for letting her learn to walk on her own feet, and Kyousuke manages to get the shot of her that he wanted.
The three couples eventually find themselves all looking up at the sky. Renji feels that it was thanks to Chihiro that he was able to find his dream. Hiro feels that he finally found the color he was looking for, and Miyako feels that she found a way of life with Hiro even though she hasn’t found her dream yet. Kyousuke feels that he understands now what kind of picture he wants to take, and Kei feels that she wants to continue running. And finally, Chihiro feels that she’s satisfied because her final dream was realized. Renji, however, tells her that this isn’t the end – it has only just begun because they walk together.
ED: 「悠久の翼 07mix」 (Yuukyuu no Tsubasa 07mix) by 中島裕美子 (Nakajima Yumiko)
So Chihiro miraculously can’t forget Renji. That’s it. He didn’t even need to collect all the pages. It was a very touching scene though, don’t get me wrong. I was just hoping for something more than what we got. After watching the episode a couple more times as I wrote up the summary, I started to appreciate it more. I’m still not entirely happy that it took a miracle of sorts to finish the Chihiro and Renji story (was hoping for a different kind of twist) and that this happened so quickly, but after listening to what Kuze said a few times, it feels a bit more acceptable.
The epilogue did a great job wrapping things up though since we get to see each of the characters happy and moving forward with their lives now. No big surprises there, but I especially liked how they came full circle with Renji’s story – it made me watch the beginning of the first episode all over again. I’m still not entirely clear on Yuuko and Yuu, and the mysteries pertaining to their two characters, but they’re admittedly minor enough to the story that it didn’t affect my enjoyment. I’m also ashamed to admit that it took me until this episode to realize that the first letter of each episode title spells out the word euphoric field, with the coda title dream finishing it out.
Final Thoughts: ef drew me in with its production quality (mostly the music), but early on, I wasn’t too keen on the story or the way it was being told with that split format. I thought the series had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t until episode seven’s masterpiece that I really started liking it. And now that I’ve seen the whole thing, I applaud SHAFT for doing such a good job, though I hesistate to call it the best of its type. Regardless, I’m looking forward to any future visual novel adaptations that SHAFT might do.