What They Say:
Every lifetime is composed of millions of memories… but what happens if those memories don’t all connect? When Yuki Hase notices that Kaori Fujimiya seems to be alone and friendless at his school, he immediately wants to reach out to her. Much to his surprise, though, his overtures are turned down, and he’s completely stunned when he finds out why: it seems that ever since she was in a tragic accident, Kaori has been losing part of her memory every Monday, including all her recollection of everyone who’s become her friend.
It’s not that she doesn’t want friends, but that she can’t remember having any. That’s not enough of an obstacle for Yuki, however, and he becomes determined to make friends with Kaori every week. Because while most memories fade, there are some that, if you believe strongly enough and never give up, might just be able to last forever.
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this series is fairly straightforward as we get only the original Japanese language track in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is essentially an all dialogue piece, so it’s not a mix that really has to stretch and work itself all that much, which isn’t a knock against it. What it does with its mix works well when it comes to placement and the occasional need for some depth when there are multiple characters around. But it doesn’t really extend much beyond that, as even incidental sounds are minor in general and only the opening and closing sequences really stand out strongly. The score for the series is solid though as it blends into the background without dominating or drowning things out, making for a solid complement to the material itself. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78;1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, giving it more than enough room to work with. Animated by Brain’s Base, the show has a soft by intention design about it but not one that goes so far that it looks dreamlike. Working with more earth tones than anything else here, the transfer brings out the general warmth of the show to draw you into it, but without it coming across as too much. There’s a lot of great detail in the facial expressions throughout the series, and the light touch blushes are captured beautifully here with it. Backgrounds are well detailed and come to life very well without any problems such as noise or breaking up in any way. Character animation is fairly straightforward with a smooth look about it, since it’s not a high motion show for the most part, and the end result is a very appealing and solid transfer that captures the show well.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with the two discs inside held against the interior walls. The cover design for this is one that takes advantage of the blue of the case to draw out the artwork itself, coming across with some extra pop to it in general. With the two main characters standing back to back in their early winter outfits, the background is done up in all sorts of pastels with the bridge being a part of it. There’s a soft look to it with a beautiful illustration overall that just has some real attraction to it with the use of color, which again is framed very well by the blue of the case. The back cover is a bit more traditional with a circle in the center, rough around the edges, that has the premise in a small font in white against the blue-green, which isn’t too easy to read. Around it we get some good character artwork that’s blended and a few shots from the show. The episode and disc count is clearly listed as are the extras, which is welcome when they get their own colorful push. The bottom portion is laid out as it usually is with the production credits and a clean and very easy to read technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is one that certainly plays to the theme and style of the show, while also going for the overall look of it. The main menus are laid out the same with the navigation done along the right in a slight circle where we get the episodes by number and title, but it has an illustration style about it that you might get in a notebook, combined with some good blues and greens that gives it some pop and color. The left side is given over to the character artwork, which uses the manga style for it that really gives it some great detail and a very warm feeling when it comes up. They set the mood for the show perfectly. Similarly, when you use the pop-up menu during playback, it has a very in-theme feeling about it that adds to the moment. The menu design as a whole works well with quick loading submenus where needed and very responsive overall.
The extras for this release are minimal overall, but there’s a nice extras nudge or two here. While we get the clean opening and closing sequences, we also get the inclusion of the original Japanese promo spots. I always enjoy seeing the way shows are promote, and getting them in cleaner form than we see them online sometimes definitely helps too. The really fun extras here though is Kaori’s Journal, which breaks down several days from her journal over the course of the series and has the text show up in the journal on the right while shaded clips from the show itself from that day plays out as it’s narrated by Kaori. it’s a really nice way of bringing the journal to life and giving fans an opportunity to revisit scenes through a slightly different light.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Matcha Hazuki, which ended a year after the anime series aired, One Week Friends is a twelve episode series animated by Brain’s Base. The show arrived in the spring of 2014 and garnered a lot of attention with its familiar concept but solid execution, making for a series that proved to be more heartfelt than many expected. Though the show doesn’t end with any truly solid conclusion in the way that some might like, or like the manga from what I hear, what we get is a good message piece that’s as heartfelt as everything else. As important as memories are, the making of them is even more important, particularly when you’re young.
The series puts us in the high school frame of mind as we’re introduced to second year student Yuki Hase, a pretty good young man by all accounts with no real quirks or problems. He’s good friends with Shogo Kiryu in his class, who is the epitome of laid back indifference, but balances it with very good grades and plenty of conventional wisdom applied sparingly. The two have a good relationship that you can see as they balance each other out. For Yuki, the catalyst for change here comes in the form of another classmate, Kaori Fujimiya. She’s almost always alone, the other kids don’t have much to say to her and there’s an aloofness about her that’s compounded by her good grades that has her painted as being simply different. For someone like Yuki who just likes people and gets along easily with them, he doesn’t like it. But he’s also attracted to her, so there’s a double edged intent there on getting closer to her.
When he discovers that she has a key to the roof, a place that’s ordinarily closed, he searches her out there to share a lunch with her. But this is where the truth of the matter comes out. While it’s not something she readily wants to admit, she does reveal that she has a condition that causes her memories of friends to reset every Sunday night. She doesn’t lose memory of parents or those that are around the fringes, or what she learns in general, but things done with friends are hazy. And because of the problem, it’s obvious she can’t keep friends because of the difficulty of her condition for those that try. Of course, there are those that early on when it happened back in sixth grade believe she’s faking. That it stemmed from a car accident, whose details are revealed later in a rather formulaic and expected way, doesn’t help either .Thankfully, those reasons don’t become a crutch, at least within the anime adaptation, as the focus is kept on the characters here.
With Kaori reluctant, Yuki presses on to try and be her friend and she gradually agrees to it, including taking his suggestion of keeping a journal of the things they do together. That slowly gives her the chance to read through it before returning to school, where they act as though they don’t know each other outside of the rooftop meetings, and she reconnects with him by reading the feelings enthused from the journal entries. Each new week adds more and more, and while you’re sure she must skim at some point, the truth is clear. She’s gaining a friend and slowly changing because of it. Watching this journey, with its ups and downs, is surprisingly engaging when you consider the general gimmick of it all. A weekly reset is something that can be easily abused with how it unfolds, making it brutally painful for all involved. And we do get brutal scenes here, but they’re tempered and spread out over so many months, and amid so many positive interactions, that it has a different kind of pang of hurt to it.
While the focus is primarily on Kaori and Yuki, and deservedly so with some great execution, it also knows how to expand the cast in small ways without overdoing it. With Shogo a regular participant early on, he mostly plays confidant and mild advice giver for Yuki, before he gets drawn in a bit more and involved with them all. Shogo comes across well here and is a likable enough character across the board, but I feared when Saki entered the show. She’s like a low-rent version of Kaori in a way, very forgetful in general but not to the same extent. She wants to be friends with Saki in a big way, but with her almost sleepy style and forgetful aspect, she comes across as off-putting. And for Yuki, who is struggling to be Kaori’s friend, it bugs him to see someone become a quick friend with her in an odd way. Naturally, Saki provides a potential for Shogo, and the two flirt in that direction a bit along the way, but outside of a blunt bit of silliness from Saki, it doesn’t go too far. Thankfully.
One Week Friends is something that works on a touch of formula overall as it has the reset angle playing, but it doesn’t play it from episode to episode. The way it works the show over at least six months of time is definitely well done, starting in the spring season, dealing with the troubles of summer break and being away from each other with its memory lapses, and then dealing with things slowly getting more serious. In particular, there’s some really nicely done scenes with Kaori’s mother, who is naturally protective, but also quite hopeful that her daughter may have found friends, or more, and encourages it in her own way. Her mother is actually one of the better anime moms out there because she doesn’t overact or go in silly directions, but instead reveals important information honestly, in context, and offers up her encouragement in pretty decent ways. And with a bit of humor as well.
As the series progresses, we do get our bits of strife and some moments where both Kaori and Yuki fall apart in small ways. Her situation is not an easy one to deal with for either of them, and you can paint criticism on Yuki for doing it because of ulterior motives of wanting to be more than friends. But there’s this element to it that works in painting it right, because he treats her so carefully because he does want to help her. When things get more complicated when an old friend of hers from before the accident returns to town, it takes on a slightly darker tone as it adds more context from the past, and it does touch upon familiar areas and cliches, but it also avoids going so far with them that it becomes a problem. Instead, it takes what’s there and adds to the overall narrative while ensuring that the main focus is still very much on Yuki and Kaori. There’s an interesting supporting cast that’s’ built up here and they get some decent time, some more than others, while avoiding overplaying its hand with those brought in later in the game.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with One Week Friends going into it, though there was a lot of very positive buzz from people I trust about it. It’s a show that I think might have frustrated me a bit if I had viewed it on a weekly basis because of the gimmick inherent in it and wanting to see how they resolve it. Marathoning it here over the course of a day, I got a very good sense of closure and completion with it that didn’t feel drawn out, but rather just right. There’s a great little story of friendship here that is very, very slowly blossoming into something more potentially, but there are no easy answers. It’s not a quick fix, a sudden snap and someone is back to normal, but rather a gradual journey with lots of bumps along the way to contend with. It’s beautifully animated, well paced and well acted, leaving me with an engaging work that will stick with me for some time.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Kaori’s Journal, Clean Opening and Closing, Japanese Promo Spots
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.