One Week Friends is a 12 episode anime series about a high school girl (Kaori) who’s memory of her friends is reset every Monday. As such, she has very few friends. Our protagonist, Yuki Hase, clearly has a crush on her and seeing that she has no friends decides he is going to be her friend. To do so, he goes out of his way to spend time with her at lunch. The series proceeds through this plot element through most of a school year. In many ways, it bares a striking resemblance to 50 First Dates. Only, unlike 50 First Dates – our characters grow, the memory loss is a fake mental health issue (as opposed to a fake physical issue caused by head trauma), and there is no overt sexual overtones. In that regard, it’s a lot better than 50 First Dates which always walked the line between creepy and cute, generally falling over to the creepy side.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the anime series One Week Friends
In the beginning, Yuki is obsessive about being “special friends” with Kaori. The music, the innocence of their relationship, and the animation make it cute at first. But, as the early episodes of the series progress, Yuki’s youthful (albeit innocent and non-sexually driven) lust for Kaori gets weirder and more obsessive. He gets seemingly angered when Kaori gets more friends (and creepily following her around when she first hangs out with Saki). He gets annoyed that he doesn’t get to spend more time with her than her other friends. He is solely focused on trying to get that “special friendship.” He focuses on what he gets out of the relationship like an immature teenager. But then something important happens…he matures.
As he starts to understand her mental condition better and gets closer to her, he realizes that for him to have any truly loving relationship with Kaori that he needs to put her feelings in front of his own. His desire to be her “special friend” stop mattering as much by the end as his desire to see her truly happy and no longer suffer from her mental issues caused by that traumatic accident. Starting at episode 9, we really see Yuki grow in a way Adam Sandler’s character in 50 First Dates never does. In 50 First Dates, it’s always about getting that date, getting her to like him. His obsession with her is what guides his actions and it’s always seemingly centered upon him. Even at the end – their relationship is Sandler’s character centric – going as far as to have their entire family living on a boat in the Arctic because he wanted to study walruses, as opposed to staying where things were more familiar for his amnesiatic wife (by the end). His needs come first, hers second. But, I digress.
Toward the last episodes of the series, Yuki’s focus is less on having a closer relationship with Kaori, but on a desire to ensure she is happier and has healthy relationships with their classmates. He begins to empathize with her and desire for her to have a better life, a more full life with complete memories – even if they do not involve him solely. He wants to understand what happened to her better so he can help her; not for personal gain as he began but to ensure she is happier in life – even if this means he has to play a smaller role in it. Charles at Beneath the Tangles said it better than I, when he wrote:
Up until now, Hase has been surprisingly self-absorbed. While Kaori deals with the pain of starting over, week in and week out, Hase has been stressing about whether he can get her to become closer to him so that they can have a “special” relationship. It took a confrontation between Kaori and her elementary school friends for Hase to snap out of his selfish shell. His dialogue shifts in episode 11 – it’s hardly about his feelings toward Kaori (he only discusses these feelings in the episode when someone else brings them up) and all about her needs.
Hase is now empathizing with Kaori. Before, she was almost a project he was working on – can I turn this girl not only into someone that can become friendly, but someone who will love me? Now, Hase is considering her emotions and her hurt, and he’s trying to find a way to prevent her from suffering more pain.
In a sense, he’s moved from being “in love” to actually “loving” her.
This shift in Yuki’s relationship and attitude is gradual and natural as the series progresses. We see it in small steps, not leaps and, frankly, it works. It reminds us of the way we all gradually change as we mature, especially as teenagers. It was a short series, but I enjoyed it.
Not sure how to rate this, as I do not usually do numerical “ratings” here. That said, I’d recommend the series to others who enjoy cute romantic series and for those who liked 50 First Dates to see a version where the characters adapt, grow, and change.
Uhm…7 out of 10.
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