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[DVD] Anime Review: One Week Friends (2014)

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So boy meets girl and he kind of falls in love with the girl. The girl becomes involved in an accident, suffers from mma5582amnesia, and the guy tries to befriend her every day in the hopes of recovering her memories. Sounds familiar?

Welcome to the anime version of Hollywood’s 50 first Dates (Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler). ONE WEEK FRIENDS revolve around high-school student Yuki Hase (Yoshitaka Yamaya) who notices that his classmate, Kaori Fujimiya (Sora Amamiya), is always alone and appears to have no friends. After approaching Kaori and slowly gaining her trust, Kaori reveals that she loses memories of her friends every Monday. Despite learning this, Yuki endeavors to befriend her every week — yes, from scratch — in the hopes of recovering her memories.

Produced by Brain’s Base and directed by Tarou Iwasaki (Mikagura School Suite, Ryoko’s Case File), One Week Friends is an eloquent story about amnesia, trust, and the power of friendship. With the spotlight on Kaori’s memory loss and her interaction with other people, One Week Friends can be a mundane series at times. However, the story carries itself well as we are emotionally intrigued by Kaori’s amnesia, and Yuki’s persistence to befriend Kaori that makes One Week Friends an easy viewing series.

screenshot_3_31772Despite Kaori’s odd case of amnesia, One Week Friends nail all aspects of an adolescent drama that will trigger plenty of emotions and memories.

Starting anew every week, Hase’s journey to recover Kaori’s memories is a difficult journey more than he bargained for. With challenges thrown at every possible turn such as Kaori possibly having a crush on his best friend Shogo, and the introduction of Kaori’s former crush Hajime, life isn’t making it easy for Hase. Twist after twist, these obstacles not only spice up the story for viewers but it also shows the audience the unstable and dramatic nature of Kaori’s situation and the impact it has on her relationship with Hase.

From the backseat, One Week Friends can be a bit hesitant when playing out these twists on the foreground. With so much potential and cards to choose from, the series could have had pushed the dramatic moments even further by manipulating Kaori’s situation.

The unexpected introduction of the love triangle between Hase, Kaori and Hajime was the perfect 180° climax for the series. To our great disappointment, the twist ended up lackluster and the audience somehow found themselves back to the beginning of the story. 

screenshot_1_31770However, it is these underplayed moments that move the story of One Week Friends from inertia. With the spotlight shifted onto the characters, the audience is genuinely immersed in the interaction between these characters as they are based on average people that we know in real life.

Hase is the happy-go-lucky guy who is persistent in what he wants; Shogo gives the impression that he thinks everything is bothersome yet he acts as a mediator for his friends; and Saki is an adorable mess whom we have a soft heart for. 

And then of course, we have the main protagonist of the series, Kaori Fujimiya, who is a rare gem with plenty of charm. Due to her amnesia situation, it forces Kaori to ostracise herself from others so no-one could get hurt from her memory loss. Thanks to Hase breaking down the walls, we soon see multi-personalities to Kaori that we have never seen before. 

One Week Friends is a mastermind at creating these moments that fuel heartwarming feels behind every relationship explored in the series. No doubt that the story is good at playing with the viewers’ emotions as we feel plenty of empathy for Kaori, Hase, Shogo and Saki.

When it comes to super short series like One Week Friends that has no sequel or spinoff, you’d expect the series to end in a positive nature. Unfortunately, to many avid viewers’ disappointment, the bittersweet ending has left the audience hanging loose — what does the future hold for Kaori and Hase?

When it comes to anime, it is rare for fans to favour series with average art direction and character design. Character designer Eri Yamazaki provides One Week Friends with a minimalist approach that makes the series one-in-a-million. 

screenshot_2_31771Many may regard the style as bland but it works well for a simple story like One Week Friends, allowing the audience to focus on the actual story than what is aesthetically shown on the surface. But the art direction is not loose. Every now and then,  One Week Friends offer many beautiful backdrops that replicates authentic Japanese settings of the real world. From the alleyways of suburban houses to the flowing rivers within the town, it feels very close to home for those whom have experienced Japan. 

Overall: One Week Friends is a minimalist series that reminds us that anime doesn’t have to be flourished with action, colour, and crazy plot-lines. If you’re in the mood for a short series, One Week Friends is the perfect series to accompany your mainstream viewing collection. One Week Friends can certainly confirm one thing: no matter what happens to you, a true friend will always be there to support you.

Rating: 8/10

ONE WEEK FRIENDS (Series Collection) is now out on DVD. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here]

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