One Week Friends – 12 (Fin)

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Yuuki’s present awkwardness with Kaori, and Saki’s avoidance of Kiryu, are both the fault of the guy, and it’s up to them to turn things around. Interestingly, it seems Kaori herself is the catalyst for all of it, by doing what we suggested Yuuki to do, and that is to not let one’s strenuous efforts to retain every past memory interfere with the making of new memories, which is how friendships strengthen and grow.

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She also asks Kiryu what’s up with Yuuki, and while he tells her grudgingly, he knows its something Yuuki may never admit to her: he’s afraid of being with her, lest she one day lost her memories. The tender earnestness of their exchange provides Kaori with much-needed piece of the puzzle (and the knowledge Yuuki doesn’t hate her), it also inspires Kiryu to sort out his own self-made problem.

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The conciliatory scene between Kiryu and Saki isn’t long, but it’s extremely sweet. Kiryu capitalizes on the fact their group is up on the rooftop cleaning to confront Saki, and on her inability to run too far away from him, owing to her modest height. Saki merely misinterpreted his reaction to her proposal, something he apologizes for. He agrees to keep letting her rely on him since she’s so intent on it, though he won’t “baby” her the way her girlfriends do. What goes unsaid is that he doesn’t mind being her rock, because he likes her, but it’s implied in their agreement.

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With that couple’s problem efficiently resolved, it’s back to Yuuki and Kaori, whom everyone, even Kujo, notices a change in their behavior, like they’re forcing themselves. They seriously needed to work things out, so I was heartened when the news came both of them would be going on winter breaks with their families, because that felt like a dead giveaway they’d end up crossing paths.

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Sure enough, both their family trips are cancelled (or those plans never existed in the first place…?) Yet despite this, Yuuki and Kaori walk to the same bridge in what they think are futile hopes of seeing the other there. Their mutual shock and elation at finding each other there is lovely to behold. Though many opportunities arise to part ways, they end up spending the whole day together, because the truth is, neither wants to part ways.

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First, thank God, at long last, they FINALLY HIT UP THE CRÊPE PLACE! I’m in full agreement with Kaori that it’s “like a dream” watching them sitting there, enjoying the crêpes, together. Had the episode not done this, there’d be a far lower score at the bottom of this review, believe it. The dull grey of their surroundings is pushed to the edges of the frame by their warm colors; they look less in a gloomy fog and more in a kind of fluffy heaven.

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Yuuki walks her home, but they come across a shrine and decide to pray to it. Then Kaori starts to cry out of frustration, not knowing what to do in light of Yuuki’s wishy-washy behavior. While she doesn’t know what to do, she knows what she wants, and tells him: she wants to talk to him more, spend more time with him, and become ever closer friends. You know, what Yuuki wants. His wrongheaded attempts to keep her from crying caused her to cry.

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To Yuuki’s credit, he snaps out of his funk, hits himself in the face and insults himself for being such a dolt, and apologizes to Kaori, and goes further to say he wants the same things she does, and lastly, giving her a genuine, unforced smile, borne out of the progress they just made. From now on, they’ll worry less about losing the past or being burned in the future, but focus on making as many new memories together, in the present, as they can. They’re no longer just one-week friends.

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Final Cumulative Score: 8.33
MAL Score: 8.05

Stray Observations:

  • This was a thoroughly beautiful-looking episode, really making the cold overcast winter sky a major character all its own in terms of setting the mood and reinforcing that this was the end, or winter, of the show.
  • Like we said, as Kaori and Yuuki drew closer, they became a warm island, making the monochromatic starkness less ominous.
  • That’s not to say the whole episode was colorless save the characters. Kaori’s talk with Kiryu has a gorgeous palette and composition reminding us of a de Chirico painting, which also inspired the creator of Ico. An appropriate aesthetic, considering how isolated and lost Kaori was feeling.
  • Good on both Kiryu and Yuuki for getting over themselves, admitting they’re at fault, apologizing, and working to make things right. Like I said, the balls were in their courts.
  • I’ll admit I *gulped* when Kaori crossed the street, trailing behind Yuuki.
  • It’s notable that this episode didn’t contain any classic or overt “confessions”, but nor were they necessary, since couples are now on the same wavelength.

One Week Friends – 11

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We’ve known for a while now that Kaori’s memory loss dates back to when she suffered an accident, even if the injuries she sustained weren’t necessarily the cause of it, but rather something psychological. Now we find out more about the events that led to her getting in that accident, from the mouth of the guy who blames himself for everything that’s happened to her: Kujou Hajime.

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Yuuki is understandably curious about what happened at the crepe place—a confrontation that might not have happened hat Yuuki skipped cleaning duty and been on time, mind you. Hajime surprises him by gathering two other former friends of Kaori, sitting down, and laying it all out. What happened was as simple as it was heartbreaking.

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It boils down to the fact that, like Yuuki, Hajime always considered himself more than “just friends” with Kaori, even though they weren’t strictly dating. This led to other girls in the class thinking they had a shot at him. When Hajime invited Kaori to meet him alone in a park before he moved away, he inadvertently set her up. Her friends turned on her, and the shock of that led to a moment of poor judgement, leading to the accident.

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Stepping back and looking at things, the accident was just that—an accident—but Hajime couldn’t help playing with cause-and-effect scenarios in his head. But even if he had done what he couldn’t: confess to Kaori and go out with her, those girls were still going to be jealous, and might well have said those terrible things anyway. Also, it was elementary school…not exactly a bastion of rational or mature thought.

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Kaori, for her part, seems willing and able to turn the page on those dark days, because they were the past and she’s a different person in a different place with new friends, and history doesn’t always repeat itself. The one who is weary is Yuuki, who sees too mny similarities in his situation with Kaori to be optimistic, notably the way Kaori refers to him as “her special friend,” exactly what Hajime thought he was.

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Even knowing the mistakes Hajime made, Yuuki is still terrified of repeating them, since he’s letting his heart rather than his head drive his actions. And he may be right: continuing on the path he’s on may result in Kaori losing her memories of him, and losing her completely. For my part, it pains me to see him so caught up on what could be that he’s blind to what he has, here and now. Avoiding her isn’t the answer, that’s for sure.

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Saki, of all people, has been the one person totally upfront about what she has, and made an attempt to take it. But doing so has put her and Shogo in an awkward situation where she thinks she made him angry and is scared to talk to him, and he’s seemingly too scared to set things straight. Like Yuuki, he may benefit from switching his brain off a bit.

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One Week Friends – 10

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I went there recently in Nisekoi, and Golden Time before it…down to rock bottom: the lowest possible point for our protagonist in dealings with his love interest. The question going into this week was, will things start to look up this week, or would One Week Friends still have deeper depths for Yuuki to plumb?

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Well, things aren’t great, but they could certainly be worse. Kaori’s memories have reset, but she still has her diary, it informs her that Yuuki is her friend, and she seems willing to continue along that path with him. But Yuuki’s frustration is both palpable and understandable. All of his work, ruined by a random transfer student. I can imagine him protesting through the fourth wall: “Who’s writing this stuff?”

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Having Hajime around could be a source of constant strife for Yuuki, as its possible anything he happens to say to Kaori, regardless of motive, could reset her all over again, and there’s only so much a guy can take (the realization Kaori doesn’t know what the 18 grams of sugar means causes him to break down on the staircase). It’s an untenable limbo.

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Something has to give, and that something oddly turns out to be Hajime’s ignorance of Kaori’s condition. He’s as skeptical as Yuuki was, but now he at least knows how his words could have been a bit harsh under the circumstances. One couldn’t really blame him for believing she had simply discarded him, but now he knows the truth, or at least the truth Yuuki is aware of.

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When Hajime hears about how Yuuki and Kaori maintain their friendship, the pain from Kaori’s perceived betrayal likely fuels his opinion on the matter: it doesn’t sound like a real friendship to him at all. Kaori is merely writing in a diary, after all, and the facts in a diary can be changed by the author. It’s true, a diary is no substitute for memory, but the latter can be just as open to interpretation.

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Hajime tries to re-germinate a kernel that Yuuki had previously tabled; the possibility Kaori is making this all up. He’s aware of that possibility, but he feels he wouldn’t be worthy of being her friend if he didn’t trust her, and he’s decided to keep trusting her, even if she’s making him jump through more hoops than most normal friends would. The last thing he wants to be is someone like Hajime.

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Stray Observations:

  • After Yuuki’s first, somewhat hostile chat with Hajime by the drink machines, when Hajime leaves, we half-expected Shogo to say “I kinda like that guy!” half just to mess with him, half because he means it.
  • Further complicating matters for Yuuki: Hajime is much more on par with Kaori in the academics department. They also used to study poetry together. Aw, jeez…
  • Big development in Shogo+Saki: unable to marry Kaori (she doesn’t live in any of the twenty U.S. states that allow same-sex marriage), Saki comes right out and adorably proposes to Shogo, not jokingly at all. Shogo, caught off guard, quickly retreats, but Yuuki sees how red his face got. That’s one damn fine supporting romance there. So economical, yet hits hard!
  • I’m convinced the show is just trolling us now with the Crêpe Dates. How many times now has Yuuki tried and failed to take Kaori out for crêpes? Will it ever happen without a hitch? IT HAD BETTER.

One Week Friends – 09

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Following this show’s convention of naming episodes, I thought “Last Day” this episode’s title referred to was the last day of summer vacation, a day I remember always feeling longer than the ones that preceded it, and with good reason: I made a concerted effort to savor every last minute of it.

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For academic underachievers like Yuuki and Saki, it’s a day to cram a summer’s worth of homework into one day, and for Kaori and Kiryu to politely keep them company. Much of the episode is limited to Kaori’s room, and time indeed slows to a placid crawl. But the “Last Day” in the title wasn’t just about the end of summer, but about the end of all the progress Yuuki had made with Kaori.

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The threat of this happening stayed in my mind throughout the last few episodes, but was pushed further and further back, replaced by hope and optimism. The last day of vacation and the start of the next semester couldn’t have gone any better, and things stay good right up until Kujou Hajime arrives and causes Kaori to faint. And just like that, Yuuki is crushed…as am I.

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I was even, like Yuuki probably was, entertaining the possibility Kaori was getting over her psychological issues with friendship (knowing she’d suffered no brain damage in the accident); that, like her monologue about math and the journey being as fulfilling as the solution, the solution to her problems was something that would come just by continuing to be friends with her, and nothing more.

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But the revelation that Kaori had a friend like Yuuki before Yuuki, made a promise, and broke it, earning his ire, throws the neat, tidy order of that arrangement into chaos. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if Kaori’s diary fails to rekindle the feelings she once held for him; all bets are off, thanks to the wild card Hajime; whom I’m sure we’ll learn more about, but for now, I’m going to go cower in the nearest dark corner and sob!

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Stray Observations:

  • On the brighter side, we delve a little deeper into the relationship between Kiryu and Saki; basically, Kiryu has always protected and helped her because it makes him happy. And now she’s starting to notice and remember him. They’re exceedingly cute together.
  • When Yuuki trips and falls on Kaori in classic anime rom-com fashion, he meets a very non-classic fate: Kaori isn’t upset in the slightest, and when her mom barges in, she’s excited rather than mad.
  • To have Yuuki and Kaori walk to school together and give them adjacent desks in the back of the classroom, suggesting boundless potential…talk about softening us up with elation before bringing the hammer down.
  • The bleak lighting and lack of color in that nurse’s office was pitch-perfect. Really nice contrast to the heady halcyon summer days.

One Week Friends – 08

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This week the still newly-forged quartet of friends go on their first summer trip to the beach together. Kaori first suggests it, but things don’t bode well for Yuuki when she indicates it would be “too embarrassing” just to go with him, necessitating the invitation of Shogo and Saki.

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Throughout the trip, everyone has a certain degree of fun, but it’s also tinged with the feeling Shogo and Saki are in the way. When a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors backfires on Yuuki, Saki is with him while Kaori goes with Shogo, but neither Saki nor Shogo can get much out of them, but they’re pretty sure they like each other as more than just friends, but just can’t articulate it; least of all to one another.

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Even when Shogo asks Yuuki flat out if he should “push a bit harder” towards trying to articulate it—someone has to make the first move—but even when Yuuki and Kaori are left alone on a truly gorgeous sunset on the beach, sudden incidental contact spooks him, and while Kaori goes on about all the things she likes and loves, she keeps things general.

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The things holding them back from saying what they need to say to each other, even in the most appropriate times and places to do so, are fairly clear: sheer romantic inexperience, combined with the fear of damaging their present relationship. But one gets the feeling this status quo won’t be enough for them forever. At some point they’ll have to take greater risks.

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One Week Friends – 07

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After the often manic romantic anarchy of Nisekoi, it’s comforting to get back to basics: one guy, one girl. Plus, one supposedly faulty memory, and one surprisingly devoted best friend. Yuuki doesn’t have to worry about other girls, just Kaori…though Kaori is enough, to see how he sometimes struggles, which is where Shogo comes in.

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As Kaori’s friends grow, Yuuki starts to long for the days when he had more alone time with her. But as her new friends say, she’s very “pure”, in the literal sense of the term, they’re right: in her present state, friends of any kind are still a very new thing, so it’s that much more difficult to distinguish different kinds of friends, or the possibility of something more than a friend. In a way, she’s already there, but wouldn’t be able to define it if asked.

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Yuuki isn’t necessarily the best person for this, because he’s in love with her. That’s where the primary conflict comes in: what is Yuuki to her? She says she likes him, but she also likes Saki, Shogo, and Math. Yuuki can’t very well ask if she likes him that way, because she’s probably still figuringout what one “like” is; juggling an entirely different kind of “like” could be intimidating and even lead to regression.

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Okay, so things aren’t as simple here compared to Nisekoi; the romance may only be between two, but there’s still a lot of work for Yuuki to do elaborate on his feelings for Kaori. Sure, he fears losing what he has, but ultimately he won’t be content until he’s knows for sure that Kaori has the same feelings he has for her. It’s likely, she does, but doesn’t understand them yet. She certainly seems to be remembering him better.

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One Week Friends – 06

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On the one hand, I wouldn’t have minded a study group episode with just Kaori and Yuuki being awkward, but because she invited Saki and Shogo too, it was much more productive. It also showed that everyone makes friends and treats friendships differently. Shogo may seem cold and scary at first, but the fact he’s hanging out is proof that they’re already friends, without any forced small talk being needed.

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The sight of Kaori with a group of friends also delights her mother, and formally meeting Hase, the friend Kaori is always talking about, compels her to arrange a later meeting with him alone. Yuuki is nervous at first, but Shogo lays out the possibilities: she either wants to talk about Kaori’s memory, or tell him to stay away.

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We never thought the latter was going to be a possibility, but Kaori’s mom does express surprise Hase is still her friend after so long. If Shogo puts little work into making and having friends, Kaori’s “situation” demands that her potential friends work extremely hard for her friendship. We learn from her mom that while the car accident gave her a concussion, there was no brain damage that would have caused such specific memory loss.

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Yuuki may be bad at math (like me!) but he’s no fool: he knew this was a possibility. But the fact that he now knows her issue with remembering friends is at least partially psychological doesn’t change anything. If what he’s gone through is what it takes to be her friend; if he has to re-introduce himself to her again and again and again, so be it.

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By agreeing to those terms without complaint or wavering, he stands to gain more and more of Kaori’s trust. And as she starts to remember how happy having friends was and is, who knows; her “friendnesia” may start to recede, or disappear entirely. Until then, Yuuki will continue to be her friend on whatever terms she deems necessary. He’s a loyal dude.

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One Week Friends – 05

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Kaori’s rule restricting contact everywhere but the school roof never seemed fair to me, and the fact that Yuuki went along with it didn’t make it any fairer. She says it’s “her decision” to pretend she and Yuuki don’t know each other, but pretending you don”t know someone when you do is rude any way you look at it.

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Of course, one way you could see Yuuki’s tolerance of this rule is that he simply likes being her only friend. This is backed up both when he got irritated when she talked about nothing but Kiryu (leading to their first fight) and when he gets jealous when a new girl, Yamagishu Saki, breaks all the rules and coaxes a new friendship out of Kaori with her floaty, lazy charm.

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When Saki arranges an after-school friday date with Kaori, Yuuki again exhibits his possessiveness, essentially stalking them with Kiryu around so it appears less creepy than even Kiryu himself agrees is quite creepy already. I know Yuuki means well, and under these specific circumstances he can’t very well barge in on the date, but it’s behavior I hope he doesn’t repeat in the future.

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Saki turns out to be a good thing for Yuuki, as she handles the “Monday transition” totally differently than he’s been doing. She’s persistent and is able to get Kaori to remember details about their date. She’s even able to put Kaori so much at ease, she starts talking out loud to Saki and others in class; huge progress. Kaori even spots Yuuki, and recognizing him, gives him a look, perhaps cognizant he was her first one-week friend, and a big reason why she now has two.

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One Week Friends – 04

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With Kaori heavily relying on a Chekhov’s gun of a diary to remember Yuuki each week, it was only a matter of time before it went off, i.e. got lost. Losing important things is as much a part of life as having friends, and when you rely on one for the other, you’re living dangerously.

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Kaori loses the diary after her first fight with Yuuki, which is entirely his fault. He’s pissed that Kaori’s friendship with Shogo is publically recognized by the class before his. He doesn’t like how Shogo seems to be talking to her behind his back. And he really doesn’t like it when Kaori talks at length about how great Shogo is. Shogo+Shogo+Shogo=a fight, fueled by Yuuki’ selfishness.

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His punishment is swift, due to Kaori not only losing the diary but also the sign on the wall reminding her Hase is her friend. The next week, she doesn’t remember him, and acts just as cold as when they first met. But Shogo assures Yuuki what Yuuki already knows: she didn’t throw the diary out intentionally, over one little spat. Yuuki’s initial appeal to Kaori doesn’t go well, so he skips school to look for the diary.

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During this time, Kaori gets the feeling she’s forgetting something) really important to her. Urged on by Shogo, she seems to remember enough to end up at the riverbank where she lost the diary, where she finds Yuuki covered in mud and hand cuts, and finally finds it with her there. By then, she already knew what the important thing was that she forgot: Hase-kun.

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I really liked this episode, which felt less like forced drama and more an unfolding of what was a very likely scenario—losing the diary—combined with that time-honored friendship milestone of the First Fight. The ending in particular was very touching. I will say it’s probably in Kaori’s best interest to keep a back-up diary, or possibly a private blog. And it would seem Yuuki can rest easy: if Kaori liked Shogo or even considered him a close friend, she’d have forgotten him…right?

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One Week Friends – 03

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After a month, Kaori’s diary seems to be working, insofar as it’s allowed her to quickly learn about Yuuki and re-befriend him. She even slaves over the stove to make twenty-one different kinds of tamagoyaki, urging Yuuki to tell her which is best so she knows to make it that way moving forward. While it’s a very sweet gesture, it’s also a little strange, and it occurs to Yuuki that Kaori might benefit from other friends besides just him.

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This is somewhat ironic, considering that besides Kaori, I can’t recall Yuuki hanging out with anyone other than Shogo, the person he decides to bring up to the roof. It seems at first like a decision he’ll come to regret: he immediately asks Kaori if she has Multiple-Personality Disorder, is put off by the fuzzy, lovey-dovey atmosphere Yuuki and Kaori create, and then tells Yuuki he’s being too trusting, warning him that Kaori could just be putting on an act. What’s interesting is that Kaori doesn’t instantly deny that charge; she just stays quiet.

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While he could’ve been less harsh about it, I welcomed Shogo’s fresh insights on the situation. And armed with the truth about Kaori—that act or not, she has trouble interacting with people—he even helps her out by going in the classroom where two girls are gossiping about her, shutting down said gossipers, and retrieving Kaori’s all-important “Memory Note.” That act motivates Kaori to speak up to the girls why the notebook matters so much.

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So it seems that introducing her to Shogo wasn’t so bad after all. Even better, her decision to really nail down Yuuki’s egg preference (18g of sugar) results in her recalling the memory of cooking for him and getting a pang of emotion from writing “18” on the chalkboard. Progress is slow, but steady so far, which is why I’m weary of Yuuki’s little voice-over at the end of the episode about him feeling optimistic “at that time,” indicating that unfortunately won’t always be so.

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One Week Friends – 02

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As she had warned, Kaori’s memories of Yuuki have reset, leaving him at square one. But it isn’t as hard as I thought it would be to reonnect with her. The main reason for this is that she doesn’t remember eating lunch all last week, which means she was eating with a friend she had made. So ironically, the very phenomenon preventing her from remembering friends helped her remember Yuuki, lending credence to his story.

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Everything Yuuki and Kaori do in this second week is very similar to what the did the previous week: they chat with each other and have fun doing things, learning about each other in the process. With Kaori’s memory sure to reset next week, wiping it all out, Yuuki figures out a way to help her, while keeping score at a volleyball game: all she needs to do is keep a diary. She hints that she might have done this before, but is enthusiastic nonetheless, and starts jotting down as much as she can.

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It’s notable that Yuuki gets even closer to Kaori this week, taking her out on a date, meaning his jogging of her memory made this week more productive, friendship-wise, than the first go-around. This all seems neat and tidy untill the third week begins. Kaori reads the diary and tries to pretend as if she remembers it—that Yuuki’s plan worked—but it didn’t, as her tears betray. Yuuki blames himself for selfishly forcing matters with his enthusiasm.

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But when he apologizes, Kaori decides to write that down as well, providing more information on Yuuki for her future self; specifically that he’s in her words, and kind and wonderful person. But all of this raises the question of whether she kept a diary before, and if so, why she stopped. I can probably surmise that the more she writes, the longer it takes to read and process it all, until there isn’t adequate time to do so before her memory resets again.

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One Week Friends – 01

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This episode chronicles the sour beginning, sweet middle, and bitter end of a friendship, before starting back at the beginning. It’s almost like a time loop, only it affects just one person: Fujimiya Kaori. The premise of this show is that all of Kaori’s memories of friends made within a week are lost at the start of the next week. Needless to say, this is a heartbreaking scenario.

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The show doesn’t come right out about this (though its title serves as a sizable hint), as we approach her from the same perspective as her classmate Hase Yuuki, who likes her and wants to befriend her. She repeatedly rejects her, but he persists, without getting too stalk-y about it, and she gradually lowers the armor it’s later revealed she’d built up, layer by layer, after untold weeks of making and losing friends.

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You get the feeling the kind, honest, talkative, lively girl Yuuki comes to know in the week this episode covers is the true Kaori, or at least the Kaori that would exist if she didn’t have this peculiar memory problem. I’ve been here before: Golden Time dealt with similar themes of ephemeral happiness and making the most of the time you have. But where Banri never knew when the other shoe was going to fall, Kaori knows exactly when, and that it will keep happening, like clockwork.

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It’s no surprise then that she avoids contact with peers, leading to a reputation of coldness, which is only logical with the limited information said peers possess. Not willing to simply give up on Kaori, Yuuki resolves to make friends with her all over again every week, if that’s what it takes. Obviously, he’s not going to try the same thing every time—we’d be nearing Endless Eight territory—so I’m interested to see how he’ll mix things up. Who knows, maybe he’ll end up “lifting the curse”…or maybe he’ll just fail over and over, and may not even be the first to try what he’s trying.

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In any case, I’m fascinated, and it certainly helps that it’s great-looking show (because Brain’s Base). Kaori’s soft, gentle voice, provided by Amamiya Sora, sounds a bit like a younger Nazuka Kaori, one of my favorite seiyus. I also appreciated the show’s dexterity, taking a subtle dig at itself by having Shogo point out how corny Yuuki sounded, then building an atmosphere of dread around Kaori as the week’s end approached with equal savvy. It’s quality, and I am a man who appreciates quality…despite the fact I drive a Daewoo Lanos.

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