A Tale of Tension

A Tale of Tension (ef: A Tale of Memories Analysis)

Tension pulls us to the edge of our seats with a claw clamped around our hearts. Then, after a fist-clenching scene, the tension diffuses in a release. Tension without release becomes grating and tiresome, and an attempt to release tension that never existed just comes across as awkward. ef: A Tale of Memories builds tension in both traditional and experimental ways, and releases that tension with smart comedic or emotional timing. Let’s investigate two tense scenes from A Tale of Memories and figure out the different ways tension can work.


Tension requires time to allow for build-up and at least two opposing forces to provide that build-up (although the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, as we’ll see). The time spent creating tension ought to be proportional to the intensity of the release that follows; the attributes/weight of the opposing forces ought to determine the type of release that follows. We’ll keep these ideals in mind throughout the essay and look at how stepping outside the lines might detract from a scene. Still, we won’t forget about cinematic form.Read More »