Isshuukan Friends Ep. 1: Remembering you weekly

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This is a tale about Kaori, a girl who has had an accident, and as a result, she loses her memories of her friends every Monday. Since then, she has given up on making friends at school. This is also a tale about Yuki, guy who won’t give up on Kaori even if she always fails to remember their friendship. Right off the bat, the anime’s premise is very reminiscent of 50 First Dates, but I’m not too interested in talking about the film. Still, I will mention one quick thing: like the movie, there is an upside to our heroine’s condition. There’s a reason why the early stage of most relationships is considered by many to be the honeymoon phase. She can forever relive the exciting, edge-of-your-seat part of the relationship where the possibilities are limitless. You may know next to nothing about the other person, but at the same time, there’s nothing you would rather do than to spend all day finding out as much as you can about them.

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Right from the very start, you’ll notice that the scenes in this anime are often blurry or full of bloom. The edges are usually washed out and ill-defined, and this might not just be a stylistic choice. Surely, if the story’s premise involves the volatility of short-term memory, the blurry, bloom-y backgrounds would serve as an apt metaphor for the impermanence of our memories. Our heroine is pretty much confined to living in the moment. After all, she always loses her memories within a week’s time. When you try to translate this condition visually, it’s like a person who lacks peripheral vision. What she sees before her is what she remembers. Everything off to the side of her vision, on the other hand, are things destined to be forgotten. Or even worse, they have already been forgotten.

This sort of repetitive short-term memory loss is also known as anterograde amnesia, and it has been explored in other works. Most notably, in Memento, the protagonist tries to cope with his condition by obsessively leaving himself notes all over the place. He even tattoos the most crucial bits of information on his own body. We quickly find, however, that notes aren’t necessarily a perfect solution to the problem. When you’re dealing with a tricky situation along with untrustworthy people, notes can become misleading because they can lack context. Having said that, the tone at the onset of Isshuukan Friends hardly suggests that we’re strapping ourselves in for a mind-bending psychological thriller. As such, I doubt very much that our heroine Kaori will have to deal with the unreliability of her own note-taking. So perhaps this is where the narrative can develop as the relationship between Kaori and Yuki “deepens.” She may lose her memories of him every Monday, but she can take notes, draw a picture, or do whatever it is that she needs to do in order to make the process a little easier each time their relationship resets.

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And perhaps this is why the OP looks the way that it does. Usually, shoujo series adopt a watercolor or color pencil aesthetic simply because it’s cute and/or feminine. For Isshuukan Friends, however, the stylistic choice — much like the blurry backgrounds — can be a little more meaningful. Technically, Kaori can still hold onto her memories of her friends and the time she spends with them; she’ll just have to work harder at it than most us usually bother to do. Instead of having a crystal-clear picture of some special occasion in her head, Kaori will perhaps have to immediately commit the short-lived memory to paper, canvas or whatever it is that she has at her disposal. Then when Monday inevitably rolls around, her art can stand in for the memories that she’s lost. Of course, this process is hardly perfect, but then again, memories themselves are hardly perfect either.

Kaori’s reluctance to form friendships at this early point in the narrative combined with Yuki’s persistence raises an interesting question: who’s more vulnerable in this relationship? At first glance, we might naturally think that the guy has more to lose in this exchange. Every Monday, she’ll forget all about him and the time they’ve spent together, so it makes no difference to her if their friendship is lost. How can you grieve for something you never knew existed? Yuki is left to pick up the pieces by himself. Not only that, he’ll only have himself as motivation to keep pressing on in his quest to renew their friendship. On the other hand, what is it like to be in Kaori’s shoes? What is it like to continually see disappointment in people’s faces because you can’t seem to remember who they are and why you’re so important to them? Yuki might suffer as the “one who is forgotten,” but in that same spirit, Kaori is suffering too as the “one who forgets others.” Kaori would feel not only confusion but guilt as well.

Time adds another dimension to the drama. Kaori’s anxiety must undoubtedly creep up on her as every Monday draws near. She knows the memory loss is coming, and there’s nothing she can do about it. Few things in life feel worse than complete helplessness. This is why the following scene is so emotionally powerful:

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Kaori slumps to her bed shortly after glancing at her calendar. We already know what she’s thinking. The golden hue of the window doesn’t suggest the warmth of the sun at all. Instead, it tells us that the sun is setting, and soon, her young friendship with Yuki will set too. The scene concludes without a single word being uttered. Later in the week, the scene has become remarkably colder (inconsistencies in the scene aside):

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By this point in time, she has already revealed her condition to Yuki. But we see the room one last time in this episode. This time, it comes in the ED, which itself is a departure from the OP. Here, we not only see the room from a different angle, but the sun is even rising as the beams of light slowly sweep across the floor and the walls:

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The story can even pattern itself after its own episodic, weekly format. Every week, we’ll watch an episode, we’ll get to know Kaori and Yuki all over again, sympathize with them and their situation, then as the week progresses, our memories of the show fade until the next episode comes out.

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11 thoughts on “Isshuukan Friends Ep. 1: Remembering you weekly

  1. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    Extremely interesting thanks to the visual cues and direction. Already leagues ahead of something like “Memento”

    “The story can even pattern itself after its own episodic, weekly format.”
    Sort of meta in that sense. I hope (and am sure) they’ll do this.

    Thing is, as nice as the honeymoon phase is, it’s not the kind of love that realistically lasts on its own. Certainly she might always feel that way, but he won’t. As sweet as 50 First Dates ended it was very unrealistic for the sake of the romance story. Few can stay in such a relationship without succumbing to frustration and longing for more, and that frustration will inevitably lead them away or paint a different picture of them in the mind of their disabled lover, thus forcing them apart.
    _Of course, the frustration won’t only be on him, but will continue to be on her too. I can’t imagine much worse pains than not being able to remember your time with your loved one, and always fearing the next “dawn” when you’ll have your slate wiped clean again.
    How can you maintain a relationship with such a perpetual fear?

    It’s really interesting and makes for good drama, I agree and look forward to it. However, ultimately it’s a doomed romance. A tragedy.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Already leagues ahead of something like “Memento”

      What?

      Thing is, as nice as the honeymoon phase is, it’s not the kind of love that realistically lasts on its own.

      Well, I said it’s an upside. Not that this is what we should all aspire for.

      However, ultimately it’s a doomed romance. A tragedy.

      Assuming she won’t recover from her condition.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        She forgets everything but her family, so they’ve already built the corny fix in from the get go.

        Reply
      2. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

        “What?”
        What what? haha I don’t get the confusion. All I said was it’s way better than Memento already.

        I mean, while Memento did have a very interesting premise and certain aspects, including the notes, the acting, ect. were very well done for what they were, it was a mess of inconsistency, most damning of all being the actual state of the protagonist’s disability. One minute he forgets everything after a day, the next scene he’s scrambling for a piece of paper because OH NO he’s about to forget what just happened in the next minute because the woman said he would and now OOPS he forgot.
        It was also ridiculous how the entire mystery was built off of the protagonist’s utter lack of foresight, and that’s not to do with the disability itself. He simply never writes the whole picture down, only snippets, which is retarded when he KNOWS he will forget everything and so takes time out to write down notes.
        He’d make for a shitty secretary is all I’m saying. haha!

        “Well, I said it’s an upside. Not that this is what we should all aspire for.”
        Hahaha! Very true, sorry if I implied that, mate. I was just saying that as much of an upside it is, it comes with one hell of a steep downside.

        “Assuming she won’t recover from her condition.”
        To be honest I’ve only ever seen 50 Dates and a short story involving this concept in romance before and both times she never recovered, so that’s why I don’t think it’ll happen again here. Though Anon said “She forgets everything but her family, so they’ve already built the corny fix in from the get go.” so it’s not like it can’t have a happy ending of some sort.

        Reply
        1. elior1

          if she was write notes i think it was more painful for her becouse she will undarstend how much things she forgot and missed so for me at least the reset memory is actully less hard

        2. E Minor Post author

          It was also ridiculous how the entire mystery was built off of the protagonist’s utter lack of foresight

          Well the dangers of hubris is one of the movie’s many themes. And besides, the measure of a good story doesn’t hinge largely in its consistency or complete logical soundness. Memento is suspenseful, dramatic, structurally innovative when it came out, etc.

  2. elior1

    @e minor even if she was write down what happend to her before her memory reset it will be more painful to her to see she forgot about such dear things

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, if that’s the attitude you choose to have, you may as well not have friends then.

      Reply
  3. Ax_v

    50 First Dates was what I thought of, when I read the show’s description, too. There are many questions like, “Why is it only on Mondays?” or “When did this start happening?” that I hope will be answered as the series goes on. I also thought it was funny that she said, “My family is an exception though.” That better not be their way of resolving that issue. But again, it IS the first episode, so It’s explained. Because all I’ll be thinking about is “Why this?” and “Why that?”

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I think the Monday thing isn’t all that important. It’s just an arbitrary thing for the sake of storytelling. I could be wrong, but I don’t expect the question of “Why is it only on Mondays?” to be answered.

      As for the family thing, I agree it would be tacky as hell if that’s how they resolve it.

      Reply

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