Ah back again, proving I have way too much free time on my hands right now. Well, we’re almost at the end of First Reactions for this season, so hopefully then I can catch up on some other stuff I’ve been meaning to watch. But for now, my thoughts on the first two episodes of Brain’s Base’s One Week Friends.
Now, I usually like to give some background on the show I’m talking about, whether it’s based on the production history, what kind of response it’s getting from the anime community, or, most often, how it relates to the production studio and their other work. But this time, I cannot not do that, for I have ventured to the page of Wikipedia, I have uncovered the history of Brain’s Base’s work, and with the exceptions of Spice and Wolf II and Baccano!, I saw each title and could only ask myself, “What the heck’s that?” It’s odd because I know I’ve heard the name of this studio before, but have no idea why; I guess you could say I’ve forgotten my past experience with the studio. But fresh starts can be good too, so with that in mind, let’s see if Brain’s Base can become a memorable friend to me, or will just be forgotten by next week.
If there’s one thing that will be said about One Week Friends by everyone who watches it, it will be that it’s the 50 First Dates of anime. And though I like to try to be original, it really is the 50 First Dates of anime. The premise is, for some reason, at the end of every week Kaori Fujimiya loses all memories of her friends. Academics and Family life are not affected (and being a high school student in an anime without giant robots, she really doesn’t have that more else going on in her life), but any time spent with friends is completely wiped from her memory. To avoid forgetting about friends, she has decided to avoid making any, which has earned her a reputation as being antisocial. It’s unclear how long she’s had to suffer through this, but now Yuki Hase is determined to help her.
Yuki is Kaori’s classmate, and has a crush on her. One monday he manages to summon up the courage to ask to be friends with her, and the two spend lunch together on the school rooftop for the whole week. After a few days, Kaori explains to him why they can’t be friends, and when the next Monday comes around he believes her. But instead of accepting it, he decides that he’ll make friends with her again every week, until she remembers him.
Though the writers aren’t just going for a groundhog day style repeat here. So far there’s one interesting side effect of the memory wide that has some importance to the plot. That is, the memories are just wiped, not replaced. So though Kaori doesn’t remember her lunches with Yuki, she does notice that she can’t remember lunch at all. So when Yuki meets her on the rooftop the next week for lunch, saying that he’d like to join her again, she’s able to put the pieces together and realize that they were friends. It’s an interesting new twist on an old idea, and it adds quite a bit to the show. I just hope there are some more clever ideas like that later on.
The characters aren’t especially interesting, but they also have potential to grow. The main appeal is in the relationship though. One thing I’ve always found anime to be good at is bittersweetness, and One Week Friends is filled with it. Both Yuki and Kaori are constantly optimistic about things, almost intentionally not thinking about what will happen on Sunday. They both seem to just want to enjoy their friendship as much as they can, but as the days go by they (mostly Kaori) can’t avoid thinking about how it will all be lost. There are some very short moments when it’s just charming and feels uplifting, but most of the time any bit of happiness the characters feel and we, the audience, empathise with is accompanied by the sad fact that it will be forgotten. The happier a moment is, the sadder it also is. And if it weren’t for the optimism from the two leads (as painful as that is too), the show would be really hard to watch. It could have been straightforward, focusing on the angst the situation puts them both through, but instead that’s minimized, which actually makes it is darker I think.
Other than that, Yuki’s pretty dense, Kaori’s smart, and they’re both very sweet. The only other character so far is Shogo Kiryu, Yuki’s best friend. He comes off as cold, but is really just painfully honest. His only screen time so far has been giving Yuki what would be decent advice if it weren’t for Kaori’s special circumstances. He may or may not actually be important.
Other than that, there’s really not much to say. The animation is minimal; not quite Seki-kun levels, but characters are very simply designed and rendered. Pastel color, no shading, and gradients in hair and clothes as a cheap way to create depth. Though I think the style works for the mood, the character models and especially their faces could have benefited from more attention.
It’s a simple show played well. I’m not sure how Brain’s Base is going to get a full 12 episodes out of it, or if they’ll be able to avoid the powerful and depressing angst ridden overtones, but I’m looking forward to seeing them try. I’ll be keeping up with this one.
Don’t Lose Your Way