While Christianity is a tiny minority in Japan, Christmas is still celebrated, albeit as a commercial holiday rather than any religious reasons. In fact, it is considered one of the most romantic holidays of the year, a day for lovers. And thus, ef~A Tale of Memories, a story of all kinds of romance, begins on this day. There are three key moments which happen in this first episode during Christmas Eve. These moments are not big or eventful, but for the characters they involve, they are far more than what might otherwise be called a fated meeting of lovers.
The first moment is when Kyousuke is with his girlfriend and he catches a glimpse of Kei running home. It is only a moment but he captures her on film, and there is something about her which fascinates him. It is not a romantic feeling but an artistic one. As an aspiring film maker, there was something about her which appealed to his artistic sense. The second moment is when Miyako and Hirano meet by chance and she decides to “borrow” his bicycle to chase after a thief. It is a coincidental meeting, but at the same time, it was an eventful change in each of their otherwise static lives. At first glance, they are both regular teenagers; however, they both carry a burden easy to overlook. The third moment occurs in a church, although neither character is religious. Renji asks Himura for advice on his future and is told to simply do what he loves. It is a clichéd answer, but it is because of Himura’s words that Renji’s view begins to change.
What can be said about many of these characters is that they are lost, searching for something. Renji is searching for what he wants to do with his life. Kyousuke is searching for something to bring life to his films. Hirono is searching for a color to his colorless life. Miyako is searching for a place to belong. However, in these key moments, these characters feel something. They do not know what it is but there is something that is drawing them, calling on their feeling of being lost. These meetings spark something, and they feel that if they follow the spark, they will find the answers they seek.
In the same way, Christ came into this world to seek and to save those who are lost. He did not make a grand entrance; he was born in a measly manger. When he called his disciples, he did not give them detailed explanations of what was to come; he merely said “follow me.” Be it the disciples back then or us of today, the calling is small and subtle. We do not understand how it works, but we are drawn to it. There is something about Christ’s love that satisfies our soul although it is intangible and difficult, even impossible, to explain concretely. Without Christ, we are lost sheep searching for something. Such feelings are vague and undefined. People try to fill up the gap with worldly things, but nothing of this world can truly fill it permanently. However, as Christmas approaches, let us remember that Christ came for our sakes: to cleanse our sins and to give us what our souls are searching for, even if we do not realize what that may be ourselves. No matter how small the interest in Christ may be, if we follow it to the end, we will find something far more fulfilling than anything the material world could give.