Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Anime Review: One Week Friends

Several years ago I would have jumped on this show as soon as it started, now however I've grown cynical. Not of heartwarming stories, thank goodness, but of the ability of people to tell a heartwarming story without it becoming overly sugary or veering unexpectedly dark to make other parts seem lighter. Or just writing complicated, nuanced characters, so in short, I waited until I saw people giving this show good reviews week after week before I took the plunge and did not let the cute visuals tempt me into doing so earlier!

One Week Friends (Isshuukan Friends)

Ever since the school year started Hase has had a not-quite-crush on classmate Kaori and he wants to do this properly, he wants to become her friend first which might be a challenge since she has none. After a bit of trying she starts to open up and explains to him why that is, for years she's forgotten everything about her friends at the end of every week and it's simply not worth the effort to become friends with people week after week. Hase is surprised but undeterred and is determined to help her find a way to work with this condition, even if it means starting every Monday with a "Please be my friend!"

As I had already gathered, OWF has a very strong start and a rather solid first half altogether (and very lovely, soft art that reminds me a bit of watercolors). It takes an almost sci-fi premise of Kaori losing her memories each week and manages to make it un-fantastical and matter of fact as you could imagine, Hase suggest everything the viewer could think of to help (such as a diary and leaving notes around) and every theory the viewer could have was also speculated on by one member of the cast or another. Better yet, in the early episodes we do see some changes in Kaori, her memories don't start to come back but they don't fade as much and it's a wonderful triumph that in it's own way proves the various theories and it's just heartwarming to see her form this circle of friends who don't mind that this is a critical part of their friendship.

The second half of the show however it much less strong and far less satisfying. A new character is introduced (someone from Kaori's past of course) which shakes up things a bit and then the story suddenly refuses to move forward. This is clearly a new arc to the story so some things should both keep changing and start changing and the story needs to work towards some conclusion or the other and it doesn't do any of this. In fact, it seemed like things regressed a bit as the story started focusing on Hase even more than it already had. And Hase begins to seem possessive, as the story starts he's excited to introduce Kaori to more of his friends to expand her circle but he becomes jealous of her other relationships (which is natural to a degree) and when he works out a few things that are going on he never even tells her which feels at odds with the tone of the story. I do wonder if the manga suddenly became more popular and the manga-ka was asked to write more or if this second half was completely original, taking elements from a longer arc but adapting it to fit the runtime. Or it could be that the original author had one good idea and is trying to spin it too long, regardless I'm disappointed with the second half of the show and I can't really say I recommend it for that reason.

OWF, with it's very lovely visuals, can be found streaming on crunchyroll.

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