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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
ef - a fairy tale of the two.
Renji, Chihiro and the rest of their little clique are all dead.
This explains a lot. It explains why they (Renji, Chihiro, Renji's mother, the playboy and the priest) all seem to know one another, but never interact with the other half of the cast. It explains why Hiro and Chihiro, formerly inseparable, now never speak of one another. It explains why they only hang out in ruined train stations, windswept beaches, deserted streets and other places where there are no other humans. It explains why Kei and Chihiro live apart. It explains how several days can pass for Renji in the space of one Christmas night for Hiro.

It does not explain why Kei is still receiving texts from Chihiro on her cellphone, but if you've expanded your definition of normality to include ghosts, it doesn't seem unreasonable that these ghosts also have a phone plan. They died in the earthquake that pulverized the town, and they don't (or Chihiro doesn't) know it.
  • Poor Mizuki, hit by a bus between seasons...
  • Seemingly jossed. Renji and Chihiro live in Otowa, Australia. Hirono and his group live in Otowa, Japan. Kei finally paid a visit to Chihiro in melodies.
    • Not jossed. Now we know where Moe characters go when they die — Australia!
    • Whoa... Fremen-tan!

Yuu's relationship with Chihiro is an attempt at Wife Husbandry.
  • Yuu seems to only be able to be attracted to girls who "need" him.
  • Yuu mentions that Chihiro is similar to Yuuko.
  • Yuu is clearly trying to forget about Yuuko.
  • Therefore, it's likely that Yuu hoped he would be able to fall in love with (and probably eventually marry) Chihiro once she got older, allowing him to finally get over Yuuko.
    • Yuu's attempts to dissuade Renji are probably as much an expression of jealous possessiveness as they are an expression of lack of faith in their relationship's potential.
    • This also creates another parallel between Yuu and Amamiya's character's, which the writers are so fond of highlighting (note also that the warnings Yuu gave to dissuade Renji from pursuing Chihiro were similar to Amamiya's initial attempts to dissuade Yuu from pursuing Yuuko.)

ef happens in the same universe as 50 First Dates.
  • Note how the basic structuring of Renji and Chihiro's story is similar to that of the film. For all we know, Henry and Lucy could have accidentally landed on the shores of either Otowa sometime after the events of the film!
  • Another thing: The film was first released in 2004, and the first half of the visual novel was released in 2006. Therefore, it is plausible to think that the staff at minori watched the film and thought, "Hey! We can do better than that!"

Eden of the EastWMG/Anime & MangaElfen Lied

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