Almost everything in One Week Friends is neat, but the comedy is an issue in volume 1.
Title: One Week Friends (Isshuukan Friends)
Genre: 4-panel, Comedy, Romance
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Serialized in: Gangan Joker
Creator: Matcha Hazuki
Translation: Amanda Haley
Release Date: December 19, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.
One Week Friends is a tale of two personas. One persona uses 4 panels to showcase its comedy. The other is a heartrending tale involving two young kids having to overcome a difficult challenge. As of this moment, I wish it was more about the two finding a way to be together rather than the comedic element that dominated volume 1.
This is Matcha Hazuki’s second serialized manga — One Week Friends was serialized in Gangan Joker in 2012. She’s gone on to do a few other manga (at this moment unlicensed), which is good. Amanda Haley’s translating this one, with Bianca Pistillo lettering, and I wish I knew who designed the manga. The title design on the cover of volume 1 totally stands out. You might have known about this title if you watched or heard about the anime, which aired in 2014.
Yuuki Hase can’t help but fall for the class’ coldest student, Kaori Fujimiya, and wants to be her friend. He finds an opportunity to talk to her, but she immediately rejects that. Undeterred, Yuuki finally gets Kaori to open up a bit, and just when he thought things were going well, she hits him with a bombshell: her memories reset once a week. As in, she can’t remember anyone who tries to be her friend. This sets up a tale involving two sincere kids who have to find a way to be friends, while working through inevitable disappointment.
There are a few things that stand out for One Week Friends. The art is pretty adorable. Hazuki’s set up a situation where the two characters are pure, and yet, not in an annoying manner. Then when the moments get serious, where Yuuki and Kaori share their feelings, it’s great to stare at. By no means is every scene drawn well, but when it is its really nice to see.
The story is one that stands out too. It’s obviously not complex, but it sure makes you feel bitter as you learn Kaori can’t make friends because she forgets them every week. It makes you wonder how she’s had to deal with that over the years, and the people’s she’s lost because of it. Then you see Yuuki’s determination, that no matter what he wants to help solve her problem. There’s a great chance it won’t be all sunshine and roses, but I want to see these two succeed. That’s an accomplishment you want out of a romance manga.
The problem is that is a romance-comedy manga. Now, having comedy in a romance work isn’t a problem. For One Week Friends, the comedy dominates this volume, and about 90% of it is bad comedy. There was one joke that was funny (and dark) involving Kaori not having a cell phone (why would she need one), and that worked. Others, not so much. It’s using four panels to tell its jokes, but most of the setups aren’t particularly funny. It even brings in Yuuki’s friend, Shougo Kiryuu, to help with that, as his personality is the opposite to how innocent the two main leads are. In theory that should work. It doesn’t.
What makes this is a problem is that the story is more interesting with either more drama or background on the characters. When the characters had to react emotionally, whether it was to student pressure or just from the aftermath of Kaori losing her memory, those were good. Then it gets into four-panel mode and you get all of the mundane stuff. The mundane stuff then tries to turn into a joke, and it’s not all that funny.
One Week Friends is finished in Japan at seven volumes. That means eventually, the jokes will either get better in the next volume or worse. If so, the character relationships will have to get stronger to make this a super enjoyable manga to read. For now, it’s just sweet.