[Synopsis]: Yuuki Hase (Yamaya, Yoshitaka), noticing that his unsociable classmate Fujimiya Kaori (Amamiya, Sora) has no friends and is always alone, approaches her and asks if she would like to be friends with him. After some persistence on Yuuki’s part, Kaori reveals to him that she cannot make friends because she forgets all of her memories concerning her friends each week on Monday. Regardless of Kaori’s plight, Yuuki endeavors each week to help her and get closer to her.
There is a relatively small cast of character in Isshuukan Friends and it mostly consists of other students at the school with the exception of their teacher and Kaori’s mother. Kaori herself I found to be one of the best parts of the show as she embodied something I found quite compelling. Most characters in her position, one of forgetting one’s own memories or of suffering from amnesia, at some point give way to despair or shut down but Kaori exhibited rather impeccable resilience to this; she approached each new week with a good attitude and a propensity for understanding the situation. I think this displays great strength of character and along with her other qualities made her my favorite character from the show. Behind her cold facade she is very kind and genuine and desperately desires friends despite her condition.
The other main character, Hase Yuuki, was likable enough. His determination and persistence when concerning Kaori was admirable and in this way he was quite kind and caring. At times he was selfish, even frustratingly so, however he had the ability to see this in himself and often rectified his actions and so I found him forgivable.
The other characters of note were Kiryuu Shougo (Hosoya, Yoshimasa) and Yamagishi Saki (Ookubo, Rumi) who are both slowly incorporated into Kaori’s tentative group of friends. Shougo is pragmatic and a little abrasive in how he speaks his mind however he is Yuuki’s best friend and is a reliable person. He often provides a practical standpoint by which Yuuki can judge things between himself and Kaori. Saki is a fun character who often forgets things and in this way can be juxtaposed to Kaori herself to a lesser degree which helps Kaori relate to her initially.
I think that the art-style was my favorite element of the show outside of perhaps Kaori’s characterization. The character designs are nice and simple and lend themselves well to each respective characters personality. Something I took special note of when watching, and I may be alone in this feeling, was that the light color palette, the hazy-white periphery of the shots and the excessive use of whites in the backgrounds often made the scenes loosely resemble the classic ‘memory/flashback’ technique used in many anime. I think it is a beautiful idea that a show that concerns itself so heavily with memories would frame its scenes like this.
While this sentiment and the intent of the technique is arguable, the ultimate effect of these things is enjoyable and and the overall relaxed style lends itself very well to the calm nature of the slice of life genre. I believe that the art in this show is one of it’s strongest features.
Something I would like to commend Isshuukan Friends for was the manner in which it approached its subject. The story element of forgotten memories is by no means unique to this show and has a good deal of history elsewhere however I myself have not seen any show tackle the concept quite like how it was done here. Shows like Golden Time and Ef: A Tale of Memories which also deal with amnesia and the loss of memories tend to take the route of the melodramatic or the depressing at times – which worked well for them. Isshuukan Friends however, true to its slice of life style, is fairly lighthearted and never quite delves into the potential despair of the concept as the other shows do. I thought this was a brave way to go about things and worked very well for the show in that it provided Kaori with a strong sense of courage and perseverance. The show does not outright ovoid drama however it does not commit itself to the more negative aspects of the story element and opts to become more comfortable and endearing than anything else.
I also thought it was a good decision for the show not to overly investigate the precise implications of Kaori’s memory loss. It does not scrutinize the concept and therein allows it to breathe within the show – doing what it needs to do without begging unnecessary or damaging questions. As a viewer you come to learn the reasons for her situation to a moderate degree however it does not investigate its premise aggressively with needless questions such as ‘when does Kaori lose her memories on Monday’ or ‘Why doesn’t she do X, Y, Z to prevent this total reset from happening”. I am happy with the way in which the concept was presented and thought it rather intelligently simple.
One final note for perspective viewers – the weeks have more cohesion between them than one might think based on the first episode and so I would comfort those who are afraid of the potential ‘every episode is a new week with first interactions’ style. It is not done in this way and is conscious of its own history in a linear way.
The music fit the show and was simple and relaxed in accordance with the other aesthetics however I myself did not find any of the songs particularly memorable or gripping. Like many shows, the music did what it needed to do however occasionally it would chime in more notably given the intermittent, dramatic moment. Sweet and simple like everything else.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
I thought Isshuukan Friends presented a refreshing approach to a storied subject and had an incredibly pleasurable art-style to go alongside it. I think it is best characterized by the genre of slice of life because of its tone over that of romance or comedy however there are a few of those elements sprinkled in as well.
I gave the show a 7 because I found myself genuinely enjoying it in on several different levels and the added feeling of refreshment in the way the show explored its concepts was an added bonus. What stops me from rating it higher I think is purely by product of the genre it represents – It was mellow and relaxed and so in that way pleasurable but not as gripping or as exciting as other shows. Someone who truly becomes enthralled in the slice of life setting may very well give this show a higher score based on their own enjoyment but I myself will leave it at: it was enjoyable and didn’t need to be anything more than it was.
I would recommend Isshuukan Friends to any fans of the slice of life genre as I have discussed above. I found the comedy, while somewhat present, to be rather light and so I feel there are better alternatives to fans of that genre than this show however the romance was present enough for me to recommend it to people interested in it pretty confidentially. I will warn that the show aims to discuss the more simple elements of friendship rather than the more intimate ones such as outright love and so whatever romance transpires comes secondary within the intent of the show I feel.