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And we’re back, for the first of my second reactions this season. I haven’t been keeping exact numbers, but going by how much easier my Crunchyroll tabs have become to manage, I’ve dropped a lot of shows so far. What’s left: Soul Eater Not!, Brynhildr in the Darkness, Black Bullet and One Week Friends, that latter of which is today’s topic here on The Anime Harvest.

In terms of story, One Week Friends has been surprisingly progressive, moving forward and building on momentum, rather than laying back and just repeating weekly cycles during which Yuki and Kaori slowly get closer. Kaori has started to have memories stick, new characters have come into play, and we’ve tentatively into the backstory behind her memory issues. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced this is all for the best. Certainly a slow story where nothing really happens until maybe the final episode would be dull, but expending so much of the plot by the halfway point is also proving to be a problem. At this point Kaori seems to retain memories almost perfectly, completely circumventing the scenario, and leaving the second half with 3 options; start struggling to drag the scenario out, change course and focus on her lost memories from when she was younger (which seems to be the path it’s taking), or just become another slice-of-life show. I think the second option is by far the best, but moving the goalpost just like that is a little disorienting. It would have worked better if they held the history of until a season 2, giving a clear divide in the story. And it’s not like the original scenario up until now couldn’t fit an entire season.

Episode 4 is where the pacing really missteps, moving too far forward, too fast. The episode itself was actually fairly good, but its climax would have been better placed as a season finally, and its execution was clumsy and would have been better if it were spread over two episodes. It just needed more time to get to that point. I liked the idea of it, but wish it had been done better, and later.

As for the animation, I’ve come to enjoy it more. Not that it doesn’t still look a little cheap, but that hasn’t ever taken away from the joy of the show. It’s a simple but unique show, and a simple but unique artstyle compliments that. And the opening and ending are both have higher animation quality, showcasing just how good the style can look.

And finally, characters. Yuki hasn’t really changed at all, although he is apparently a furry. And Kaori has developed exactly as you would expect, getting more comfortable with people, and opening up to them more. The focus has been more on the side characters, two of them.

First is Shogo, who I believe I only gave a brief mention in my First Reaction, not sure whether he’d be important or not. Well, he’s important. Though it’s hard to see exactly how he’s developed, there are some subtle hints in his dialog. He’s not as brutally honest in the latest episodes, and more helpfully honest. He’s still a straight talker, but he’s more empathetic, phrasing his thoughts in ways that encourage others. Again referencing episode 4, he has a conversation with Kaori where he purposely leaves out some information because it’s best for her to remember it on her own. He’s by far my favourite character so far.

And on the other end of the spectrum we have Saki, a new friend to the group, and someone I’d like to toss into a volcano. I can’t say she’s bland of undeveloped, in fact, she has the most distinct character growth so far. But she also has a personality that infects some scenes and one entire episode with slice-of-life blandness. I can’t say any of it enough to bring down the show (after all, it is in part a slice-of-life anyway), but I just don’t care for her. Others may have different tastes.

All in all, the first 6 episodes of One Week Friends have been more than I expected, which has proved a little tough to handle. It’s certainly still charming, engaging and worth watching, and I’m curious to see were it goes if it doesn’t trip over its own feet.

Don’t Lose Your Way