One Week Friends Series Review

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One Week Friends Overview:

Hase has been interested in Fujimiya for awhile but when he finally finds the courage to ask her to be friends she bluntly rejects him and then runs away. Later, he finds her on the roof and for a week they start to talk and get close before she starts to push him away again. Turns out Fujimiya forgets her friends every single week (total reset). After learning this, Hase becomes more determined than ever to make friends with her, every single week.

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One Week Friends Review:

I often wonder where writers for manga and anime get their information about how amnesia works. While it isn’t totally impossible someone would forget part of their memories each week, nor is it totally impossible that they would just forget what aspect of their life, but to forget just one specific set of memories every single week on the exact same day is probably pushing the notion just a bit for the sake of a cheap plot device.

And it is a cheap plot device. They can go through the same sequences of events over and over, the conflict is built right into the premise, and there’s all sorts of things that can go wrong for the main pair. Everything about this story is designed to make you feel for their plight but the question remains of whether or not it succeeds.

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One Week Friends succeeds at being an interesting take on the troubles of teen friendship. Why do people make friends? What stops them from being friends? How much work does it take to actually become a friend? And at what point are you friends rather than just acquaintances?

It also succeeds relatively well at being an okay slice-of-life drama thing with the gimmick of memory reset just being the device that stops us from getting too gushy as Hase and Fujimiya get closer and closer.

Where it fails to succeed is at making either of these main characters actually likable and as a direct result while there is interest in the premise the actual steps on their journey kind of lacks emotional impact.

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Hase is too nice. He just is. He wants to be Fujimiya’s friend for whatever reason. I know he explains it and he justifies it to his friend (particularly when his friend points out that this particular friendship is more trouble than it actually seems to be worth at the time), but I never buy his attachment to Fujimiya other than he’s the nice guy who can’t leave the puppy out in the rain. The side-effect of not really getting his drive is that some of his actions become questionable.

For instance, when Fujimiya loses her journal (in one of the most contrived ways to ramp up tension in a story I’ve ever seen) and also knocks the sign on her door that tells her to read her journal down, Hase ends up spending days looking for said journal in the long grass by the river where he’s convinced (despite a lack of any evidence) she must have lost the book. There’s optimism, there’s plot convenience, and then there is sloppy writing that we’re supposed to forgive because isn’t it sweet how they made up.

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Conversely, Fujimiya is just kind of dull. At first she’s stand-offish and you get that she goes through the pain of forgetting people each week if they get close to her and her friends act all horrified the next week when she can’t remember them so it is easier to avoid people.That part of her character is totally understandable and is by far the most interesting part of her character.

Once she starts with Hase though she quickly becomes just a nice girl. She’s incredibly passive, allowing the uncertain Hase to drive almost every encounter and step they take as she works toward recovery of memories, and mostly she does not seem all that interesting. Instead, Hase and Fujimiya start doing all the usual high school things as though they are dating but they are just friends. Hase asks her to be friends each week. It’s all very, “What’s the point?”.

Saki and Shougo as support characters fare better but Shougo is pretty laconic so while he does drop a rare gem of a common sense line of thought into the story he is far too often silent and merely watching the action. Saki is irritating in every way as a character but she balances out Shougo and her appearance in the story very much helps make Fujimiya just a little bit more bearable so all and all she’s kind of a necessary introduction to the cast.

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I’m not going to talk about the trauma that caused Fujimiya’s condition or how this story resolves but to be honest there are better shows out there if you just want to watch someone’s heart get stamped on week after week. There are better shows for manipulating the audience with contrived plots, and there are better shows for developing teenage characters. Other than the gimmick itself of memory loss there’s just nothing here that is new or fresh or interesting.

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That doesn’t make this bad. If you ignore the limited possibility that anyone could have such a condition, the story plays out as it needs to and moves along at a slow but steady pace. It isn’t particularly flash but it gets the job done and there are some good scenes that genuinely make you think. So it isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. Your enjoyment will largely come from whether you find Hase’s relentless desire for Fujimiya’s friendship appealing and whether you accept the overall premise that the show lays out before you.

If you’ve seen this one I’d love to know your thoughts.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Amnesia Series Review

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Overview:

A girl wakes up but doesn’t remember anything and for some reason seems to intrinsically trust whichever guy shows up in her life first.

Review:

Originally I reviewed this over on Crunchyroll immediately after watching it. Probably a bad idea (it was pre-blog) and I really didn’t like it very much. That said, I probably didn’t hate it as much as some people did. This review isn’t a rehash of the previous one  on Crunchyroll but rather a reconsideration after time and a rewatch which has more or less brought me to the same conclusion. Amnesia isn’t terrible, but it just isn’t very good.

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Any kind of accurate plot synopsis that tells you more than my overview is going to spoil what few plot points there are in relation to why she keeps waking up without her memory so I’m just going to point out that the plot makes sense in that the ridiculously shallow character archetypes wander through the events and usually respond in a way that makes sense (even if the characters themselves don’t). The problem with the plot is only that it relies very much on the central gimmick of a main character with amnesia and the suspension of disbelief when they reveal why.

If you haven’t already backed out of this review and are still reading I’m now going to turn my attention to the characters.

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My original description of the main character was ‘blank slate heroine’ and I’m sticking by that. She genuinely has nothing, not even memories. So forget the usual blandness of self-insert and just think of a Doll from Darker Than Black without the potential for evolving. And that leads me to wonder who this anime is for. The stereotypical hot guys (personifying various tastes)  dancing around in every other shot would indicate they are trying to appeal to women and yet the main character isn’t someone you can self-insert onto even if you wanted to (and given the personalities of a lot of the guys you would have to wonder why you would want to enter that world – this one is much safer at a distance). She is so hopelessly blank you almost pity her. So while a stronger heroine who could negotiate with the various men in the harem might have provided for an entertaining bit of escapism and a flirt with danger, the heroine here just makes you cringe and want someone to rescue her from her very existence.

Or maybe that was just me but my impression from first viewing to second actually got worse because the first time through I just found her bland and the second time I was genuinely wanting her out of most of those situations.

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The shock deaths that are thrown at you throughout the series are also kind of off-putting (and this is from someone who actually appreciates slasher horror). In amongst this warped romance these deaths feel incredibly out of place and because the heroine is so hopelessly defenceless against them it kind of hurts to watch. This isn’t the amusement of watching a bad horror in action, or even the thrill fo watching a good horror play out while you wait with anticipation for the next shoe to drop. This is just uncomfortable viewing at the best of times. I think it’s because it really feels like the writers at times felt that having the girl fall in love with or be played around with by the possessive guy or the jerk or the whatever wasn’t edgy enough so let’s add a dose of inconsequential death and that will give it some edge.

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My final major criticism with this show is that all of the main characters really are dressed like extras from a circus. It helps distinguish them from one another (because little else does) but you have to wonder how long it would take to put on some of those outfits and given the truly bizarre effect of them, why they would even bother (not a criticism of individuals who have clothes with flair but rather a criticism on ordinary character designs poorly disguised up by overdressing characters).

So if it seems like this is truly dreadful from that then I’m probably not being fair. Amnesia is perfectly watchable with a plot that works during the viewing and fails on the reconsideration. The characters are not good but with the exception of the central protagonist they aren’t so dreadful as to make this an unwatchable ordeal and even my main criticism of the protagonist is that she is an empty shell rather than a terrible character (though some would argue that this is worse).

On a personal level I really disliked the show. I hate the way the heroine is portrayed and romance in general and the ending (while conclusive enough) is not satisfying nor does it seem to justify the journey (though it is logical enough within the context of the show). But I can’t bring myself to actually say I hate Amnesia because mostly I am walking away realising that much like after my first viewing I’m going to forget this very quickly and move on to other anime that leave a more lingering impression. More importantly, I can kind of see that some viewers would enjoy elements of this show even if they aren’t for me.

If you’ve watched Amnesia, I’d love to know your thoughts.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Tuesday’s Top 5: Characters With Convenient Missing Memories

Tuesday's Top 5

Characters with missing memories are an overused plot device, a cliché, and a cheap way to build a big reveal into a story, and it’s a staple in far too many anime.

That said, not every story built around amnesia (or every character with convenient amnesia) is all that bad. Sometimes this well established storyline is delivered well and it is these small miracles that convince other writers to try and duplicate the efforts leading to such an oversaturated field.

However, this probably isn’t a list of the best characters but rather the ones where I actually enjoyed finding out what they had forgotten. As always, it’s entirely subjective and I invite you to give your own suggestions below.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Tuxedo Mask (Sailor Moon), and Tada Banri (Golden Time). I love these characters but they didn’t make the final cut (nor did 07 Ghost, Hitsugi no Chaika and a whole slew of other titles where characters have convenient missing memories).

Character with Missing Memories Number 5: Yashiro Isana from K

As someone accused of murder and with more than one group of people out to kill him, it would probably help is Yashiro Isana remembered who he was or what he’d been doing.

The fact that his amnesia was imposed on him from outside (with the best of intentions) makes him interesting as most anime characters just seem to have missing memories from either shock or blunt force trauma.

The other reason I like Yashiro is that it is only through him having no recollection of events that he is able to ask the questions the audience needs answered. And yes, this definitely falls under the category of cheap plot device, but imagine being dropped into K without a clueless protagonist to ask all those questions. The audience would be even more lost than most of them are when watching the show.

Besides, I find him a genuinely likeable individual as he floats along through his narrative and slowly finds the missing pieces of his memories.


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Character with Missing Memories Number 4: Zwei from Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

Of all the characters on the list, Zwei from Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, is the only one I actually feel sorry for. He was an ordinary tourist who witnessed something he shouldn’t and then got kidnapped, had his memories erased, and was forced to become an assassin.

While eventually his missing memories return, this is (at the time) more a curse than a blessing as it only reinforces that he’s gone too far down the road of an assassin to return to his normal life.

His identity and his future become very muddled for a fairly long time. Zwei is definitely more of the blank slate amnesiac than Yashiro, but despite limited interactions with other characters, he still manages to leave quite an impression. His development when contrasted with equally blank slate character Ein is really interesting to watch.

Character with Missing Memories Number 3: Akira Takizawa from Eden of the East

Akira’s amnesia is entirely self-inflicted, or so we learn as the story progresses. Quite why his former self thought this would help the situation is never really made clear, but his current self is forced to try to learn more about what is going on and what he needs to do now.

Eden of the East is just an interesting story and much like K, the main character having to learn about the rules of the game from the ground up really is the only reason the plot is accessible to the audience without lengthy expositions that seem to serve no purpose.

So, definitely a plot device, but also a fundamental part of Akira’s character. He felt cornered enough to have his own memories erased. It leaves you seeing his character in a very different light. It also casts some shadows over his growing relationship with Saki as you can never tell what is really going on in his head.

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Character with Missing Memories Number 2: Yuuko from Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Right from the title, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, you know that this one is about a character who has missing memories. The fact that the character is a ghost who is rumoured to haunt the school makes it a little bit different but that by itself isn’t enough to really add Yuuko to the list.

While this is a big spoiler, Yuuko’s amnesia is caused by her essentially denying anything bad ever happening to her. She literally throws off any bad memory to a shadow version of herself. And boy does she not want to confront these memories.

I really enjoy watching Yuuko and the way she interacts with the human characters (those who can see her at least) but she isn’t exactly demonstrating a healthy approach to dealing with trauma.

Character with Missing Memories Number 1: Chiyuki from Death Parade

I think I like Chiyuki from Death Parade the most because even though she has lost her memories, it isn’t the crutch for the entire plot. Everyone who visits the bar has missing memories. Chiyuki knows things aren’t right and she puts a lot of things together on her own, but even without direct memories, she is most decidedly a complete character.

She isn’t stumbling around trying to figure out who she is and what’s right and wrong. At times you even forget that there’s anything missing. Which fits in with the theme of the show of trying to determine who people are at their core. When the truth is finally revealed it is more a natural next step rather than a shocking revelation which makes this character feel more like a real person than a plot device.

Finally, it is Chiyuki’s developing relationship with Decim that is just a pure joy to watch in an otherwise fairly dark show, that allowed her to top my list of anime characters with missing memories.

So, which character would you choose to add to the list? I’d love to know.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James