Isshuukan Friends Review

This is review number two hundred and seventy nine. This anime is part of the Spring 2014 lineup. Ah, f*ck. How’s everyone doing? I’m fine. Thank you. I’m back doing reviews after a short halt and I hope I can fare much better in 2014 than my disastrous Fall 2013 endeavor. That’s in the past. It’s time to shrug it off and move on. The anime I’ll be reviewing is an anime called Isshuukan Friends or One Week Friends. It’s a twelve episode anime about a boy meeting a girl who refuses to be friends with him. It’s a really cute show. Let’s read on.

Story

Isshuukan Friends is about this boy named Yuuki Hase who wanted to befriend this really cold girl in his class. Kaori Fujimiya is a really snobbish person often avoiding people on purpose. Seeing her alone by herself caught Yuuki’s attention though and he decided to introduce himself to her. “I want us to be friends” he exclaimed to Fujimiya. The girl immediately refused without second thought. It turns out Fujimiya has a secret that prevents her from having friends. It’s something that is just devastating to both her and the people she becomes friends with. Yuuki just saw a lonely girl who wants to make some friends hiding in a façade of a cold snobbish girl so he took the rest of the week to try and be friends with her. He did it again the week after.

Taking the Pants Off

Oh gawd, so how’s everybody? TPAB was gone for like…a month? It’s not intentional, I can tell you that. You see, when you’re part of the work force, your main enemy is this thing called “bills”. Sadly, I was forced to choose between slaying my bills or budgeting food to last for a month and food won. Food won. My internet was disconnected for more than three weeks until I got everything good and ready as it was last week. I was raring to write this review until this typhoon called “Glenda” visited the Philippines and basically turned my last week into my own personal hell. The power was cut in our province for five days. It was a miserable five days for anyone living in the city that is used to noise pollution and the comfort of a buzzing light bulb. Some were so desperate to stay connected that they packed the malls just so they can achieve a sense of calmness surrounded by big generator runned power. As for me, I couldn’t leave. I am home alone and thieves take the opportunity to steal stuff during black outs. I just stayed in my house for five miserable days. You do not want to be in a place of absolute peace and quiet. The silence is deafening. That sh*t is actually real. Silence can give you a panic attack and feels like its screaming in your head. I withstood that for five days. I heard my own thoughts. My cats were as lifeless as me as they watch me baking in the heat at 1 AM lying in the concrete pavement just to feel like I’m doing something. It was horrible but thank god that’s over now. It’s now back to tackling TPAB stuff and forget about everything else. I actually failed at covering all of Fall 2013 so, there you go, I’m actually human. Nothing to do now but to start digging into my Spring 2014 review poll. I was actually ready to watch No Game No Life since it got a hundred votes in the poll last month. That’s the best the polls have gathered so far so it has to be good. One month later and the poll have two thousand votes and four hundred of it is for this anime called “Isshuukan Friend”. Someone spammed the polls. You can actually vote more than once in the polls. I rigged it that way because I want people to push their favorite forward. Someone actually did and thank gawd almighty it’s not an Ecchi anime. Nah, this one is a slice of life with a lighthearted romantic story to tell. It’s certainly an interesting way to start this huge lineup.

I think the first episode is a great indicator of whether this anime is for you or not. The fluffy vibe of the show is a little bit nostalgic to me because it reminded me of Usagi Drop and the rather childish notion of the characters reminded me a little bit of Kimi to Boku minus all the sausage fest. Seeing Fujimiya act all cold and seeing Hase push his way closer to the girl has a pretty endearing quality to it that I am just fond of. They have a good chemistry together and the lighthearted approach of the show comes through nicely making their journey to being friends all the more interesting to watch. Fujimiya’s secret isn’t all that surprising. I think after the first ten minutes, you already have a good grasp of what the anime is about. It’s a really simple show. The premise is just about the boy befriending the girl and the rest of the series is about them slowly becoming friends together. It’s a rather straight forward show. I was intrigued though because simple is both good and bad. Simple is good because the show focuses on just one thing. In this case, it’s fixated on presenting a story about a blossoming friendship between a boy and a girl. It doesn’t fool around and it gets straight to the point. It delivers on what it sets out to do. It’s a bad thing though because you have twelve episodes to fill. The plot feels a bit simplistic to be able to stretch out such a simple premise. Even with the girl’s secret, I’m not really sure the show will fly far. I was drawn in by the lighthearted feel of the show but I mostly stayed because I wanted to see how the whole thing pans out. Will it go romantic? Or will it abandon this simplistic plot towards the second half?

Well, it doesn’t. I don’t know why I’m being so negative. The entire series is about a warm and fluffy experience of friendship and maybe something beyond that. This anime has three plot points. They are really closely related to one another but you can still tell one from the other. It’s also easier to dissect the show this way. The first plot point is about Hase and Fujimiya’s friendship. It features all the wonderful experience of meeting with a new person. The show focuses on a lot of their first times. The first time they meet, the first time they eat lunch together and even their first fight. All of the things two people with a mutual connection experiences is something the show was able to nicely present. This is just wrapped in an atmosphere of lightheartedness. Everything about this show is fluff often highlighting the child-like innocence of the characters. This is a big factor in what makes Isshukan Friends unique because even though most of the scenarios are serious and admittedly mature, the show handles it like how a child would. A few smiles and a few gestures of friendships can smooth anything over. The first few episodes are really mostly about Fujimiya and Hase trying to keep their friendship going. Even though they have this “secret” to tackle, the two tries their best to work it all out. They try to be mindful of each other, they try to make each other happy and they even go as far as to make sure the other person is comfortable around them. They push the awkwardness aside and try to really become good friends. The show also features the hardship their friendship endures but it’s nothing the two of them can’t handle. Soon, you’re watching to people that just really go well together.

1week-18

A huge part of their relationship is also driven by “love”. It’s never really mentioned but the two really like each other. Their relationship often comes off as more of a lovey vibe than friends but, again, the lighthearted approach of the show translates all that into something else. The whole thing comes off as nothing more than puppy love which is cute and cuddly when you see them together being all close and happy. It feels like it needs a bit of a nudge to really get interesting but the show keeps on reminding you that its lighthearted so the best you’ll get is a warm display of mutual affection you can easily misconstrued as two people who has the hots for each other. Maybe that’s just me watching the show wrong though. The situations and the progression of the story feels like it should head more to a romantic route than the fluffy innocent road it’s treading. Don’t get me wrong, I love the puppy dog angle because it just looks cute and innocent but I often wish it could me more than that. Maybe the original source actually got the ball rolling or maybe the whole thing will turn serious later on. In this anime though, it’s all puppy love. To be fair, you don’t get a lot of puppy love romances in anime these days. It’s all about wish fulfillment so the situation happening in Isshuukan Friends is a rare thing to come by. Most shows often just take it up an unbelievable notch that you can’t enjoy it. Puppy love is something I haven’t seen in a while and I’ve tread through two years’ worth of an anime cycle. The innocence is also pretty fun to watch because you’re seeing two gather completely into each other without any hidden notion or whatever. They are just fond of being around each other’s company, period. It’s just a close bond I admittedly feel alien to because, let’s face it, innocence is not something TPAB possesses. Oh no, innocence gets obliterated when you admit to enjoy watching shounen ai and ecchi shows at the same time. Gawd, I’m a mess.

The second plot point is the typical slice of life fluff. The cast grows from a pair into a foursome. The interesting thing here is that this group of friend acts likes any foursome in any slice of life show but there are guys in it. The show eventually tones down the first plot point and introduces this one halfway through. Aside from the two main characters, we get Hase’s friend and another female classmate to join the mix. Once they were introduced, the show just goes full slice of life. We see the group have fun together and bond. They’d go to the beach, study together and just generally have a good time. It does tie in with the first plot point though about Fujimiya wanting to make friends but things really slowed down at this point. A good slice of life can get boring and this one share characteristic as well. I personally just found the whole thing pretty rudimentary. I watched the show to find out how the simple premise will unfold and it turns out that the anime eventually turned slice of life. It focused on something else while it slowly walked around the main focus of the show. The group does have a nice chemistry together. Fujimiya just looks awesome smiling and having fun with her friends after denying herself of this joy for a long time. Hase looks cute seeing at Fujimiya’s happy face. Hase’s friend is this cool stoic guy who looks out for his friend’s well-being while also pretty content on seeing this friend fall for the girl that he likes. There is also this ditzy girl who just screams cute at every opportunity to round up the group. They have good chemistry and even though I personally didn’t like it, I also found myself drawn in to the group dynamic the show presented. It’s too damn hard to hate especially with the way the characters just give off this air of innocence. It’s strangely comforting. Also, the slice of life angle does actually connect to the story because it does affect the effectiveness of the third plot point.

The last plot point is about Fujimiya’s secret. After the first episode, you basically have an idea what it is but I’m not going to spoil it. The show does explore a whole lot about the secret and the thing that causes it. Fujimiya is never the same because of this secret and you can really see just how burdened the girl is. The show does a really good job handling this secret because it constantly keeps on casting doubt to poor Fujimiya. Is she faking? The moment I heard that, I immediately feel like this whole lighthearted angle is just a disguise for the whole anime to turn sour. It has a lot of dimensions to it. It’s a stupidly simple condition but it feels like a crippling one when you see Fujimiya being bothered it. Then again, Fujimiya isn’t really all that convincing herself. She’s a quiet girl who hides behind others and it feels like she’s partly to blame for this little secret she’s being burdened with. As the show progresses, we discover the cause of her secret, the various people in her life affected by it and the rest of the characters trying their best to help the poor girl out. In this case as well, I feel like the light hearted notion of the show just feels all too damn suspicious. Maybe I’m just focusing on it a lot because the whole innocence bothers me but this plot point seems counter intuitive to the rest of the show. It’s way too shady and weird against all the fluff and light hearted things fluttering around it. I dunno. Watch the show and just explain to me how I’m just reading too much into it.

The third plot point is interesting though because of Hase. This persistent guy, who is willing to do his best to befriend a girl with such a troubling secret, is what makes this plot point fun to watch. With her case, it just feels a bit helpless but you often want to root for Hase when he’s out there doing his damn best. The show also seems to favor his success and you just want to see the guy happy. It’s all the more interesting though when you see this persistent guy fail. With her secret, it’s really not that surprising that he’ll fail. The idea that he worked so hard only to go back to square one just feels so damn bitter that you often can’t take it. He went through so much only to wound up back at the start. The lighthearted appeal of the anime often feels like stinging needles when you see Hase reach a low point. Especially after forming the foursome, knowing he got so far and yet started back at the beginning is pretty heart wrenching. It’s not fair and I actually love the fact that it’s not fair. It’s a needed kind of bitterness and tension this show greatly needed and it makes the experience all the more worthwhile. Again though, the show is greatly on his favor so the bitterness doesn’t last and it goes back to being fluff in a hurry. Still though, the fact that he can fail one more time and start over makes me want to see more of this anime. I just want to see more of that bitterness cut through all this sugary innocence. You can’t imagine the drama this show can deliver and I love the fact it can do it without getting complicated. It sticks through its simple premise but it delivers a wide range of experience for the audience. It’s pretty interesting.

There is a small cast of characters but all of them bring something interesting to the show. Hase is the typical persistent guy. He is also a pretty simple guy with his intentions often being obvious. He goes through a lot of trouble to befriend this girl simply because he likes her. He’s a really cute guy. He gets jealous when she gets close to others and he is on cloud nine when it’s just the two of them together. It’s puppy love through and through. I also love the way he just constantly worry over Fujimiya. He always put her in front of everything and it’s pretty cute to see the lengths this guy would go to just to see this girl happy. It’s also his persistence that eventually helped him discover more about Fujimiya’s secret and the devastating repercussions it had on everything he is working hard for. Seeing him happy with Fujimiya makes you want to feel happy as well though and I hate the fact this anime is giving me weird feelings of innocence. As for Fujimiya, her cold façade was interesting and seeing her break away from that is pretty fun to watch. As the show progresses, she just grows more into an open and happy person. At first, she doesn’t talk to anyone in class and she refuses to greet people immediately giving them the cold shoulders. She grows out of it though. The first time you see her smile is the first time you realize that you want to see her forever happy. She is also a pretty fun girl to be with. She’s accommodating and really caring that she often does big leaps to help her friendship with Hase to move forward. She’s a pretty shady character though. The third plot point reveals that she’s screwed up in a sense but there is more to her than her heavy secret and it’s really bugging me. She doesn’t really do anything bad but I think most of her problems persist because she actually wants them to. It’s complicated so just focus on her cute fluffy side.

There are two other important characters. There is Shougo Kiryu, the cold but caring friend of Hase. I love this character because he acts like he doesn’t care but he actually genuinely have concern for his friends. He is also pretty blunt. Every time he speaks, he adds more depth to the story. He makes it more mature. He makes the whole thing more serious and I love how he is able to do that by himself. He’s a straightforward guy and Hase comes to him for advice a lot. He knows how to calm his friend down and he often gives sound advice when Hase doesn’t know what to do with his relationship with Fujimiya. He has this “I don’t care, stop bothering” façade on though that makes him all the more lovable because he know deep down he can’t resist a friend in need. The other character is this clumsy yet cute girl named Saki Yamagishi. This girl is a scene stealer. Her cute voice with her small stature and her forgetful attitude makes her a huge moe mascot for this show. She doesn’t really have anything big to offer except to act cute but she does it so good that you’ll hate yourself for liking it. Her easy going attitude is also pretty intriguing as you’ll never know what this girl will do next. In terms of the lighthearted slice of life angle of the show, this girl brings in the comic relief that rounds up the show. Seriously, once you see her, you’ll love her and you’ll vow to always love her.

I hope there is another season of this anime. There is just so much I want to see happen in this show and I want to see how far the friendship between the two will go. It has a really positive light so I hope I get to see it happen. As I said, Isshuukan Friends is rare innocence you don’t get to see a lot of and I definitely want to see more of this one. I also said before that Brain’s Base is a pretty consistent studio. Aside from Brother’s Conflict, I have not seen a bad show from this studio. They’re steady on the rise. They also delivered something wonderful with Isshuukan Friends. More importantly, I noticed how well done the romance was. I can see this studio bringing back the romance wave that JC Staff is desperately trying to reclaim. If they can make puppy love this infectious then I’m sure this studio has a lot more in store and I can’t wait for the next thing they’ll give us. Tarou Iwasaki is an interesting director. This is his first full show he directed but he dipped his toes on a lot of shows. His experience comes through because I know most first time directors suck. By the way he spins Isshuukan Friends, you can tell he know what he is doing. He did one time directorial stuff for big shows like FMA and xxxholic so I’m pretty interested on the next thing he’ll direct. I dunno, it just feels like he’s interesting to watch out for. Anyways, I sincerely hope we get a second season of this wonderful show because I know it’ll be a satisfying experience as well.

Sight and Sound

Matcha Hazuki definitely created two innocent individuals to fall in love with each other and the character design is a good proof of it. It’s all fluff and cuteness like you wouldn’t believe. The first thing that really captures your attention is the childish approach of the character design. The characters are dainty and petite giving off a really safe vibe like they’re clueless children. After that, you’ll definitely be drawn to the eyes of the characters. They’re all round and big that accentuates their innocence. It’s accompanied with a little blush around the lower corner of their eyes that makes it all the more appealing to stare at. Even if the characters frown or make an angry face, their innocence still exudes ever so slightly. Any attempt of the story to go serious or mature is immediately halted by the fact that the characters are absolutely cute and innocent. This is actually a wonderful plus for the anime because, along with the light color palette, it makes the lighthearted element ten times more effective. There aren’t a lot of characters so they easily standout despite the lack of detailed elements on the design. I like Fujimiya’s hairstyle but it’s really not enough to make them interesting. Aside from their height and gender appropriate outfit, nothing really standout among the designs. It doesn’t really matter though because their personality is the one thing that’ll draw you to them.

The animation is pretty decent. It’s a slow show focusing more on the story so there’s really not a lot to animate. The facial expressions are pretty outstanding. From stoic ones to really expressive ones, you can really feel the impact of the show on how the characters react. Those innocent eyes going wide eyed, those blush under the eyes getting bigger and a distinct smile or frown to express their emotion is outstanding to watch. Every sad moment of Fujimiya is personal because of how the facial expressions add a lot to the narrative of the anime. Of course, every moment where Hase is smiling ear to ear also feels huge because the animation did this show justice. The one thing that really stands out though is the background design and the calming color palette of the show. It’s reminiscent of Usagi Drop and Wandering Son. Both show also employed the same light palette and calming approach to the background. It’s a strong way to emphasize the lightheartedness of the shows. With the soft colors and the use of white colors to fill some spaces, it really makes the show fluffy and innocence. This, in turn, makes it all the more easier to enjoy the show.

The anime’s OP is “Niji no Kakera ” by Natsumi Kon. It’s a really cute song detailing the friendship or the bond the two main characters has. It’s a really endearing song and a bit uplifting with its positive lyrics. Natsumi’s voice is also pretty nice giving a nice comforting personality to the song. You can tell this is an Ai Kawashima song though with the whole positive vibe of it all. I’m a bit bummed she didn’t personally sung the song but that’s alright. Natsumi did a great job performing it. The anime’s OP sequence is a water-colored motif of a dream like sequence imagined by Fujimiya. It’s a flashy OP with all the dream like elements and the playful animation in it. It ends with Fujimiya and Hase side by side and then Fujimiya’s diary closing. It’s a really lovely OP sequence. The anime’s ED is “Kanade” by Kaori Fujimiya (CV: Sora Amamiya). This is a love song made rally personal by Fujimiya’s voice. Sora has a really nice voice. I easily fell in love with this song. It’s about two people riding the train and the other person is struggling to say good bye. It’s also a bit cryptic to me. I love how the song feels fluffy at first and then just turns gloomy for some reason. It’s not surprising to see hints in the anime’s song. Did you see Attack on Titans second ED where it was spoiled that the Titans are separated in one area of the wall while Eren and the rest of the cast is in the other? I have this nagging feeling something is up with this anime but I’m too lazy to dig up the original source. Anyways, I’m just putting out there. This anime bothers me a bit but I still find its cuteness pretty charming. The ED sequence features the two main characters in a short montage that ends with the two of them meeting on the rooftop. It’s cute.

Overall Score

7/10 “It’s light and innocent as it focuses on a warm hearted story of two people becoming friends.”

The lighthearted nature of the show is something you’ll immediately love and the way the story makes full use of it is something that makes the experience that much better. The innocence of the story is also something to note. As I said, it’s a rare thing to enjoy such a cute and innocent puppy love and you won’t regret trying this show out. If you’re a fan of slice of life then you’ll love this show. If you like simple romances then this show has something for you. If you enjoyed the simple approach of Usagi Drop then you’ll easily be drawn to this one. It’s a simple show with a lot to offer. I recommend it.

2 thoughts on “Isshuukan Friends Review

  1. *shots fired* welcome back! i kinda agree with your score. truth be told i was expecting a deeper, more intimate relationship between the two but you get what you watch and as everything didn’t go as predicted it was a nice uhm roller coaster ride. Always like a good long read keep up the good work

Thoughts~

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