Isshuukan Friends. – Episode 1: Beginning of a Friendship [First Impression]
“I’d like for us to be friends!” – Yuuki Hase
Chris’ First Impression:
And so begins the tale of Kaori Fujimiya and Yuuki Hase…
A seemingly cold and withdrawn girl, Fujimiya has no friends. Hase is interested in becoming friends with Fujimiya. However, Fujimiya loses all memories concerning her friends every week. That’s it. That’s the premise of Isshuukan Friends. and that’s how episode 1 pans out – an introduction to our two protagonists and an explanation of the trial placed before them. It’s simple and it’s undemanding, but it’s a refreshing dip in the comedic drama pool that captivated me with it’s deliciously soft artwork, clean animation and enjoyable characters.
Speaking of the characters, they’re not exactly ‘ingenious’ – this much is obviously from the get go. Fujimiya is a pseudo-Kuu-dere and Hase is your typical slightly shy, slightly silly, but ultimately likable male protagonist (who sucks at math (I mean seriously, an 8? I’ve never seen a score that bad in anime…). They’re not going to blow you away with their uniqueness, but the dynamic created when the two interact is an enjoyable blend of the sweet and comical, delivered in the voices of Yoshitaka Yamaya as Hase (a relatively unknown voice actor, but an undeniably good Hase all the same) and Sora Amamiya as Fujimiya (‘Liliana’ in Log Horizon and ‘Honoka Mitsui’ in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei). Yoshimasa Hosoya (‘Wataya Arata’ in Chihayafuru) is also here as Hase’s (supposed) best friend Shougo Kiryuu, a seemingly reliable and straightforward character who, I presume, shall act as Hase’s driving force when dealing with matters concerning Fujimiya, Shougo prompting the many brave acts performed by out male protagonist in this first episode. Put simply, the characters are all interesting in their own way, but they work best when placed together, this being the case especially for the otherwise dull Fujimiya who simply needs a friend to evoke cute acts of kindness and comedy.
We’ve yet to find out what causes Fujimiya’s particular brand of hyper-selective amnesia, and I’m hoping it’s not just some mystical illness that’ll never go away. I say this because the show can only really go one of two ways from here: one is that Hase and Fujimiya fight to find some semblance of a cure…or, we’re going to be seeing slice-of-life antics every week, a reality that may prove banal after a couple episodes of watching Hase and Fujimiya return to sqaure one… Here’s to hoping for the former, eh? In the end, it doesn’t matter either way – done well, slice-of-life can be enjoyable. And who knows? Maybe Hase and Fujimiya will find a way around the Monday morning curse? But, if they don’t, I know it’ll put a lot of people off completing this show, so we’ll have to wait and see.
On Fujimiya and Hase themselves, I like the organic nature of their relationship. Yes, Hase did say that the reason he wants to be friends with Fujimiya is because of “her face”, and yes, it was alluded to that Hase may in fact have feelings for Fujimiya, but, ultimately, they just want to be friends. And that’s nice. That’s refreshing. Their relationship is one not based on romantic interest, and so we don’t have to wait for twelve episodes before once of them hints to the other that they may or may not be in love with them – like I said, they just want to be friends! Sure, romance may rear it’s head somewhere down the line and, if it’s grows as organically as their friendship did, I wouldn’t mind. However, the way I see it, Isshuukan Friends. is going to be more about Hase trying to help Fujimiya make friends and smile because, firstly, when Fujimiya smiles the world is pure again, and, secondly, because there’s something unadulterated about the two of them, whether that be because of their character designs or the overall friendly nature of their conduct…oh! And for those people who don’t like fan-service…there wasn’t any. It was great.
Looking to the future, I see many good things ahead. The ‘crepe discussion’ is almost certainly foreboding for later antics and so too is the brief mentioning of karaoke. Overall, it was a good first episode: we were introduced to the characters, the plot was laid out, and my heart was broken when Fujimiya looked upon Hase with those dulled, unresponsive eyes. Another thing to be thankful for was the fact that the episode didn’t swerve into the realm of the maudlin, swamping the viewer in an uncomfortable breakdown as Fujimiya realizes she’s going to forget Hase and their week together. She simply accepted it, a clear sign that she’s grown used to the reality presented to her. It was a subtle way of alluding to the larger problem at hand, whilst also presenting the viewer with the short-term issue facing Hase.
Possibility of Watching: Definitely
Possibility of Blogging: Highly Probable
Sidekick’s First Impression
This was a cute first episode. It’s not a concept entirely new to me, but for what it was I mildly enjoyed it. I do think the characters need a little more depth to be interesting, but they’re totally tolerable so far since the series is aiming for cute romance fluff and not much else, which is alright by me. I am amused by the fact that the guy actually ASKS the girl to be friends with him though. I’m pretty sure making friends is a much more…natural process? But eh. This is anime.
The character designs are hyper cute and are super easy on the eyes, along with the rest of the animation. The animation itself doesn’t need to achieve much with such a series, but it works fine for what it is. The music was serviceable as well, although I do really enjoy the ED :-)
My only concern is that it’ll become a one-trick pony. This whole ‘reset’ concept is generally interesting and generates some good drama, but it can easily fall prey to repetitive storytelling, and the fact that the source material is a 4-koma series doesn’t give me a lot of confidence. Still, I have hope that Brains Base won’t screw this up too much.
Possibility of Watching: Moderate (3-episode rule applies.)
Possibility of Blogging: Chris will probably be blogging this, I think.