One Week Friends (Isshuukan Friends) is a currently-airing anime series that Kotaku's anime critic Richard A. Eisenbeis calls one of the "Five Anime of Spring 2014 You Should Be Watching."
My rule when encountering anime recommendations like that is to try a series for one--and only one--full episode. I did and was immediately hooked.
It's a sweet, romantic tale that is quickly becoming one of my favorite anime series. You can watch it for free on Crunchyroll.
I'm not the only person to find One Week Friends appealing. It's inspired a lot of fan art, the best of which I've rounded up here. Warning: spoilers.
One Week Friends is a high school romance. Yūki Hase, the lead male character, is a typical if somewhat dorky and awkward teenager. He notices that a girl in his class, Kaori Fujimiya, always seems sad. She never talks to anyone and appears to have not a single friend. Karn Wongprasert shows her pain in this digital image.
One Week Friends is so captivating in part because it's so realistic. The characters are flawed people. Hase doesn't know how to approach Fujimiya. He's not suave. He simply walks up to her at the end of class one day, bows politely, and asks if they can be friends. Hase's approach, as shown by Yogi Park, is direct and clumsy. It's also successful.
Where does Fujimiya disappear to at lunchtime? It turns out that she has a key to the roof of the school building. Hase joins her up there for lunch.
Later, Fujimiya reveals her secret about why she doesn't have friends: she has a memory problem. Every week, on Sunday night, she forgets everything about any friends that she has or makes. Her memory resets, thus preventing her for forming any meaningful relationships.
Hase wants to be her friend anyway. If necessary, he'll ask to be her friend every Monday, restarting the relationship every week.
At the beginning, this is their relationship. It pays off. As Forrest illustrates, Fujimiya begins to come alive and find happiness.
Hase has a great idea: Fujimiya should keep a diary so that when her memory resets on Sunday night, she has a written record of the previous week. Candide shows her writing in that diary.
When I watch One Week Friends, I often feel a knot of tension inside when I see Hase making a mistake. One of the great aspects of this show is that its characters act like real people. Hase is kind and helpful, but he's also anxious, insecure, and has a tendency toward jealousy. In many ways, Fujimiya becomes happier than Hase, as shown in this drawing by Meikitefuka28.
Fujimiya begins to blossom. She makes new friends--friends other than Hase. Hase's response is not always ideal. This is in part because he clearly wants to be more than just friends with Fujimiya. But Fujimiya gives no indication of having a romantic interest in Hase.
Hase is in love. He's also an inexperienced teenage boy who doesn't know what he's doing. In situations like this, there's always a great risk. He can try to form a romantic relationship with Fujimiya. But will his attempt spoil the friendship if she rejects him?
Hase is confused and worried. Much of young love consists of anxiety. Fujimiya, however, seems happy--even blissful--as James Wong illustrates superbly.
Should Hase take a chance? Should he try to be not just a friend but a boyfriend? I'd advise against it. But age has made me cautious. I'm not a teenage boy, like Hase.
Here's a simple but elegant line drawing by @kinsanta.
The chibi style is always a fun way to inject playfulness into a series, as Ruda demonstrates here. Giving the main characters furry tails and ears is a cute touch.
Hase loves egg sandwiches. If I understand it correctly (I can't read Japanese and am relying on Google Translate) then a bakery briefly offered sandwiches modeled on those that Hase likes.
Hase and Fujimiya's first outing together takes place in a neighborhood of Tokyo. The backgrounds are taken from actual settings, as one fan diligently photographed.
The title theme song of One Week Friends is "Niji no Kakera" -- "No Rain, No Rainbow." It's a sweet song. Whenever it comes up in my playlist, it makes me think of my wife's smile. Here's a nice guitar cover by YouTube user Sam P.
Hase and Fujimiya aren't the only potential couple among the characters. Patatao sees a future for their friends, Kiryū and Yamagishi.