Sorry for the few days delay on writing and posting this review. As mentioned previously, some stuff came up which led to me not finishing the series with the designated timeframe. Here’s hoping that I will be better at meeting these blog deadlines in future. In any case, this week’s Anime review concerns the Japanese series Isshuuken Friends, also known as One Week Friends.
WARNING: Yeah, yeah… spoilers and stuff…
Isshuuken Friends tells the story of a young man named Yuuki Hase, who takes it upon himself to befriend a girl named Kaori Fujimiya in his class that is generally cold and distant to those around her. In a short period of time, his efforts pay off. However, she sadly informs him on the Friday of that same week, that she will lose her memories of him on Monday due to an odd condition that she’s had for several years.
Once the next school week comes around, Yuuki discovers the truth of the matter and decides that he wants to continue being friends with a girl that he spent each lunch hour with on the roof. With little prompting, Kaori is convinced by Yuuki to start keeping a diary of what she experiences, which becomes a treasured artefact. Slowly but surely, Kaori begins to remember.
Over time, we see Kaori also make friends with the absent-minded Saki Yamagishi and Yuuki reluctant friend lethargic genius Shougo Kiriyu, with Yuuki feeling increasingly left out. With the appearance of Hajime Kujou, we have more breadcrumbs as to the root cause of Kaori’s mental condition. In this process, Yuuki and Kaori are forced to address the elephant in the room – what they mean to each other.
First of all, I really adore the art style for this anime. It is soft and it is gorgeous but is no means meant to be photo-realistic. It seems to complement the main themes of the show nicely: youth, friendship and love. Some folks may not like the art, though, in spite of its cuteness.
To the characterization, I cannot help but like the main cast, especially the heroine. Kaori is a complex character that really wants to make connections with people but realises that it will be short-lived. This makes for a rather lonely teenager, one that feels loss intensely. She also finds herself in the predicament where anyone that attaches himself or herself to Kaori may be ridiculed because of her perceived poor personality. However, once she starts opening up, we see a girl throwing herself head first into new experiences such as Karaoke and a day at the beach with her friends. One almost feels voyeuristic whilst watching these sequences.
Yuuki is somewhat complex as well, with some lingering questions as a result of breadcrumbs from the early parts of the series as well as an odd scene after the end credits of episode 12. His own awareness of screwing up on occasion and is also determined to make amends as well, making him such an endearing hero. Does he have all of the answers? No. Nor does he need to.
As for Saki and Shougo, they contribute to the story in a meaningful way by urging Yuuki and Kaori forward. Their own romance is also quite adorable if a little weird at times. We don’t see a lot of other characters get much speaking time, but the dialogue always manages to add to the story in some way without feeling convenient.
To the story itself, there is some debate in the community regarding the pacing of the last five episodes of this anime adaptation. Whilst some deem it rushed, I don’t agree. The story doesn’t lead to Kaori suddenly losing her memory reset issue, but merely understand what caused the problem and result in our two main characters acknowledging their own feelings toward each other. This struck me as the whole purpose of the addition of Hajime into the story, rather than result in her being cured. In my opinion, I would have felt irritated if she had been magically cured because it wouldn’t have made sense.
Conflict? A lot of the conflict is self-created, the odd problem of teenagers not understanding what they are feeling. I could relate in a big way. Also, it shows how lasting pain can be when you are young. This is also another thing that I can relate to. Let’s just face it, kids are new to the wealth of experiences, both negative and positive, that life can throw at them.
So, what do I think of this series? I found it to be a flawed but lovely coming-of-age slice of life story and feel that I could easily rewatch the series again sometime down the track. The series is not for everyone, but I do recommend it to anyone comfortable with a “slow burn”, slice-of-life story about non-dickish teenagers.
Next stop: Itazura na Kiss