One Week Friends started out with an interesting premise of friendship transcending short term memory loss problems, but as of episode 4, it’s beginning to feel more like a gimmick and less like an actual obstacle. It’s unfortunate because the first episode set something great up, but the subsequent episodes are building on that initial framework while at the same time turning Fujimiya’s disability into a conditional nuisance and convenient story telling device.
The character development is excellent, with each of the first four episodes exploring Hase and Fujimiya’s responses to the process of friendship, even covering disagreements and misunderstandings in the latest episode. Their interactions are sweet and at times endearingly awkward, with small steps being taken by each. Fujimiya has taken to keeping a diary she uses to remind herself of the previous week’s adventures and seems to be developing a more intuitive trust of Hase. After Hase introduces his friend Kiryu to Fujimiya and a week rolls by, trouble starts when Fujimiya can remember Kiryu but not Hase. Hase doesn’t like this, but also doesn’t let it get to him until rumors begin to circulate about Kiryu’s friendship with Fujimiya. Needless to say, Hase is hurt by this and the pair has their first fight as Hase’s jealousy causes him to stick his foot in his mouth. The characters’ interactions are earnest and believable, and there is emotional progress even in the stoic, dismissive Kiryu.
What is beginning to erode the warm, fuzzy feeling for me, however, is the increasing dismissal and use of Fujimiya’s disability as a gimmick. When Kiryu finds out about Fujimiya’s memory issues, he downplays it and in the space of a few lines, reduces it to a very specific set of conditions he suspects about what memories are lost: that she blacks out friends because of trauma relating to friends when she was younger. This is supported in the anime itself as she fails to remember Hase but remembers Kiryu, even though the show had already established that Fujimiya loses her memory of the whole week when she resets. Her disability is also used as a tool for redirecting the story from an argument about Hase’s jealousy and the ramifications thereof (which would gain points in my opinion) to a scattershot search for her missing diary that results in their making up. The mending bridges is fine, but Hase’s belief that they’ve addressed their problems seems naïve – he found her diary and made sure she didn’t throw it away but they didn’t actually talk about anything substantial, so the tension remains. Now, if this was a deliberate move and the unresolved issues are meant to be played out in future episodes then perhaps I’m being impatient. As it stands, however, I worry that the dismissal and use of her memory problems will continue to be convenient, selective excuses for instigating scenarios that distract from the real problems the characters face and thus cheapen the story.