Friends are what many consider to be one of the most important parts of life. They are there to have fun with you when you’re in a good mood and there to build you up again when you’re feeling down, but what if you don’t know anything about your friends anymore? What will cheer you up? What will get you to have fun? Ladies and Gentlemen! Today’s topic deals with exactly this scenario! Today’s topic shall be Isshuukan Friends!
Isshuukan Friends follows Hase Yuuki, a rather average middle school student, that really doesn’t have anything special about himself. After seeing one girl in his class, Fujimiya Kaori, being constantly alone, he makes the decision to try to be friends with her. He follows her around and tries to approach her several times, but keeps getting rejected until one time she explains to him, that her memories of all friends she made vanish after only one week. From there on Hase tries every week again and again to be friends with Fujimiya Kaori.
The main concept behind Isshuukan Friends certainly is something worth getting hyped for! It may not be the most original of settings and certainly is something that has been done in a very similar way, but it had the potential to be something really moving and the first episodes definitely reached that goal! From the Soundtrack to the introduction of the characters, to the way the setting itself got introduced, everything felt really well crafted and honestly got me really emotional during the last few minutes of both episodes and while a lot of things were still left undeveloped and unexplained, they did have enough time to get that right within the following episodes. Something they unfortunately did not do. From a certain point on, the story started getting really repetitive. The episodes were built exactly the same way again and again, leading to them becoming predictable and in the end even straight up boring and sometimes even annoying. The show didn’t even seem to try to build upon the already existing potential it had, but instead seemed to be thinking the setting itself was enough to keep it’s viewers engaged. It comes to a point where every bit of Drama that is created feels incredibly forced and artificial, making it really hard to care for anything that is currently happening! That said however, I do not hate the show for that. It had enough moments that I thought to be incredibly cute and what kept me hoping the show would move on to a point where the Drama would actually work in it’s favor, but it was not enough to get me to forget how bored I was during some parts of the episodes. The show does break away from this repetitive episodic concept later on in the series, but at a point, where it is already too late to just forget that boredom existed and where it moves towards really is not the best they could have chosen either. The Drama is still just as badly executed for the most part and while the repetitive structure of the middle part is gone, so are most of the incredibly cute scenes that I thought made the show worth continuing to watch. There are of course still points, where the show is enjoyable and the Drama is actually somewhat well done, mostly because they don’t have one thing it did before almost every time….both main characters on the screen….
It’s two main characters were probably the worst part about Isshuukan Friends. While at first, like the rest of the show, looking like something that had the potential to be outstanding, it quickly crystallized that they were way too static to really go anywhere.
We have our main character Hase. A middle school student that really is nothing out of the ordinary. He is your typical slice of life protagonist at the beginning, slowly working towards a goal (being friends with his classmate Fujimiya Kaori) and that’s completely fine for the first few episodes, as the potential for more character depth and development to be added is there for the rest of the show, but as soon as we get to know a little more of the character, the show seems to stop caring about the character in itself. He gets no more attention, meaning no more additional depth or development. His character is completely static for the whole latter half of the series, which is made even worse by the fact that what he seems to be stuck at is incredibly frustrating to watch. He gets jealous really easily, making him the center of almost every bit of Drama. Something I really wouldn’t mind, if the show didn’t use it every 5 minutes to create new Drama, that only feels just as forced as the previous one. This jealousy he shows also makes him the most annoying and unlikeable character of the series. It is really hard to care for him, which makes it even harder to care for the Drama that keeps getting built up around him, suddenly making the show a lot less enjoyable.
Our other main character Fujimiya Kaori isn’t even close as frustrating to watch as Hase, but still has her own fair deal of flaws. For a character that gets her memories reset every week it is actually quite surprising how much the character of Fujimiya develops. However the development and depth are this time not the problem I have with the character, but the way she is used. Just as her counterpart Hase, she often enough gets used solely for the purpose of creating Drama, which is something main characters really shouldn’t be used for. Still, she is a likeable enough character in itself and can be really cute from time to time, but the show fails again and again to really use that in the right way and except for the rather lighthearted episodes, this is one of the many factors that made the show rather disappointing to me.
Of course not everything about the characters was terrible, in fact I completely fell in love with the side characters. Both Kiryuu and Saki, who both get a lot more important as the show progresses. Kiryuu is the seemingly coldhearted but actually really helpful best friend and is easily the best written character of the show! He’s a lot of fun to watch whenever he is on screen and he made the show a whole lot entertaining just by purely being there and not even having that big of a role. The other side character is Saki. She gets introduced later on in the series and probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen….(well maybe not ever but I swear to god she comes close!). She is the cute airhead character that, ironically, keeps forgetting everything. Her interactions with mostly Kiryuu and Fujimiya made for some of the most entertaining scenes in the Anime, mostly because of how cute she is.
The Art style for Isshuukan Friends is rather simple. The backgrounds aren’t to detailed, but they really don’t need to be for this kind of show. The character designs are cute and a perfect fit for Isshuukan Friends. They transmit the emotions they are supposed to transmit perfectly fine. They really aren’t very detailed, but as with the backgrounds they really don’t need to be. The Animation itself is decent, but much like the rest of the Art is nothing special. It gets it’s job done while not looking jarring and not a lot more than that.
(If the link doesn’t work properly, what I mean is the song at 37 minuts and 37 seconds!)
The Soundtrack for Isshuukan Friends was composed by debutant Irone Toda. Even though not having worked on any other Anime before, he did a pretty good job for this particular OST. It’s very calm and nothing too special, but complements the scenes it’s used in very well. Especially the rather dramatic bits of the OST, mostly used in the second half of the series, stood out to me as particularly memorable. It is a type of Soundtrack that you can even listen to when outside of the anime. It is nice and calming and works really well as a background for working on something. Back to the original topic though. The Opening for Isshuukan Friends was ok. It was a rather typical one, but nothing that really stood out. While the Visuals did look quite nice, I didn’t particularly enjoy the song. The ending however, serves for a great closure after every episode. It’s a really nice song and while the animation is nothing special, the song makes more than up that. It fits the atmosphere of the show really well and makes for a great end to every episode.
In total Isshuukan Friends was a disappointment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a terrible show! While there certainly were a lot of parts that felt incredibly forced, I don’t think the show was unbelievably bad, but just could’ve done a lot more with what it had as it’s original concept and that unfortunately also shows in the enjoyment. While I did certainly enjoy the more relaxing and cute parts of it, it was the really dramatic parts that I sometimes even found to be cringe worthy I did unfortunately enjoy the show a lot less due to the rather high expectations I had. It was extremely frustrating for me to see a show I wanted to succeed so badly, just ended up failing at exactly that I thought was gonna be it’s strongest side, regardless of how relaxing and cute some other parts were.
In the end I would recommend Isshuukan Friends to people who are really interested in it or are looking for something cute just to relax after a hard day but I would not recommend it on it’s own! The forced drama is just overwhelming and doesn’t feel natural at all, with even the characters sometimes acting out of character just to create more of it! Of course it’s not all bad and there certainly was quite a good chunk of it I did really enjoy but it was not enough to make me recommend it to more people than just a few.