Dem feels, though…
Final episodes can be quite challenging. However, if there’s one rule to follow, it’s staying true to the essence of the series. When a finale aligns with the overall spirit of the show, viewers are generally forgiving if certain expectations aren’t met precisely. In the case of “Isshuukan Friends,” the finale perfectly resonates with the series’ essence.
The Difficulty of Adaptations
Adapting an ongoing manga into an anime finale poses even greater challenges. The dilemma lies in deciding whether to create an original ending, skip parts of the story to find a logical conclusion, or leave it open-ended while considering the possibility of a sequel. Sales figures will soon reveal whether a second season could be produced for “One Week Friends,” as the series has a lot more story to tell.
Previously, we discussed Yuuki’s sudden hesitation in pursuing Kaori. It seems that Yuuki is worn-out and unsure if he has the patience and determination necessary for a real relationship with Kaori. However, it is likely that he will realize he is making a mistake, that he does possess the qualities needed, and that Kaori is worth it.
In my opinion, the episode executed this development quite well. There was a palpable melancholic air in the first half, as Yuuki’s exhaustion and hesitation were almost tangible. After seven months of navigating the challenges of their relationship, last week’s events served as a reminder of the commitment required. It’s understandable that a 16-year-old in his first romantic relationship would experience some hesitation and distance himself. This turning point was inevitable, and the revelation of the root cause of Kaori’s condition only accelerated it.
A Curious Mix of Emotions
“Isshuukan Friends” is a unique blend of emotional colors, perfectly complemented by its watercolor palette. It manages to be cute and heartwarming while maintaining an underlying sense of sadness. Despite addressing serious issues, it avoids descending into tragedy. The emotional outbursts we witness in the series are more akin to typical adolescent heartaches. Yuuki seems to desire a reduction in intensity and pressure, while Kaori takes the initiative by seeking advice from Shougo, a positive step for her. However, his response turns out to be somewhat awkward.
Shougo, on the other hand, is grappling with his own issues. Saki’s avoidance has left a noticeable impact on him. While both characters may be upset about Yuuki and Kaori, they are equally aware of the awkwardness between them. It also becomes clear that Shougo has harbored feelings for Saki for quite some time. Saki, despite her airhead demeanor, displays a self-awareness beyond what one might expect. However, the highlight of the scene, in my opinion, is Shougo’s explanation for his lack of apologies. His statement, “When I’m wrong, I apologize. It’s just that I’m hardly ever wrong, so I hardly ever have anything to apologize for,” perfectly encapsulates his character.
A Watershed Moment
As the important Japanese holiday, New Year’s, approaches, it becomes evident that it will mark a pivotal moment for the main couple. Both Yuuki and Kaori lie about taking family trips to avoid participating in group activities with their friends. However, they end up at their regular meeting spot by the river on New Year’s Eve, hoping, yet not expecting, to encounter each other. In less skilled hands, this scenario could appear sappy and contrived, but “Isshuukan Friends” skillfully creates a romantic and fated atmosphere. The true realization dawns upon Yuuki—he simply wants to see Kaori and be with her. He finally understands that it’s worth it, a feeling he had known all along. He just needed some time and distance to rest, reflect, and reach this conclusion. When he hears Kaori calling his name on the bridge, there are no mixed emotions—in that moment, he is simply grateful she was there.
This encounter marks the ideal ending for the series and provides closure to their relationship. They finally manage to overcome their curse and eat together at the crepe shop. They visit a shrine where Kaori used to pray during her elementary school days. Finally, Kaori lets out her pent-up emotions, articulating the pain she endures and expressing her desires regarding her friendship with Yuuki. While it may not be the consummation seen in conventional romance series, the meaning behind her words, “I want to be closer friends,” is earnestly clear.
This isn’t a fairy tale ending; we witness yet another Monday where Yuuki tells Kaori, “I’d like us to be friends.” However, this time, she reciprocates, leaving no doubt about their unwavering commitment. The series concludes with a shot of Yuuki writing in his diary, serving as a reminder that this act brings him closer to Kaori—a reminder that she isn’t all that different from everyone else. Adolescence is a period of mystery, one where individuals—including ourselves—are constantly trying to understand who we truly are and find happiness. Opening our hearts to others and exposing ourselves to potential hurt is never easy, but it is an essential part of self-discovery and finding fulfillment.
Overall, “Isshuukan Friends” has delivered exactly what was expected from it based on the manga’s early chapters. The combination of Hazuki Maccha’s skillful storytelling, Brains Base’s meticulous animation, and director Iwasaki Tarou’s careful guidance has resulted in a truly lovely series. The watercolor aesthetic, earnestness, and emotional authenticity make it stand out. Hazuki’s youth likely contributes to the series’ perspective, bridging the gap between an “old soul” sensibility and youthful idealism. The deliberate and natural pacing, absence of overwhelming background music, and minimal theatrics are all commendable elements of the show. If Omori Takahiro does indeed leave Brains Base, Iwasaki-sensei could step up as the lead director.
I sincerely hope “Isshuukan Friends” performs well on Blu-ray and DVD. Not only would this potentially pave the way for a second season, but it also serves as encouragement to create more shows of this caliber. It is rare to find anime that depict real and complex relationships, where teenagers engage in meaningful conversations. Even rarer are shows that treat both