Thursday, May 8, 2014

One Week Friends - Episode 5

Visual direction, pacing, dialogue, story tactics and character interactions align with each other in precise beat-by-beat composure. It’s why this series has been such a treat to watch. But it’s also what makes the series such a tricky task for the creators to helm.
Really, the only other series this season with the same composure is Mushishi. Think of how Mushishi conducts itself and liken it to a professional classical concert of various musicians performing their own act on a stage. The posture, the grace, the elegance. With each new episode, Mushishi transitions to and fro the way one performer finishes his or her piece and the next in line takes the spotlight with ease. The series has mastered a steady rhythm, an elusive air of captivation, that slipping back into its experience is natural regardless of a full week of absence. Ginko finds himself in an entirely new scenario, but we’re not taken out of the experience. It’s still that same brilliant “Mushishi” quality of shrewd consistency. 

Regardless that the upcoming musician plays Chopin when the last had just played Beethoven, if the piece is still beautiful and the tonality of that piece is in line with the previous, the same visceral and thematic experience surges throughout us and we’re kept in place.
And Mushishi is a lasting masterpiece because of that. As the series never stumbles over itself in the course of its performance, it never pulls the viewer right out. Does that make sense?

One Week Friends is in the same vain. It may not be an episodic, but it carries that same homely atmosphere which traps the viewer for the first four episodes. However, if Mushishi is the classical concert where each musician played their piece impeccably, then One Week Friends is the classical concert where one musician screwed up. This 5th episode wasn’t horrible. But it wasn't good either. It was passable and very off-putting because of that.

With Mushishi, you can go home and think “Wow, what a wonderful concert that was. Just a brilliant way to end my night”. With One Week Friends you’re thinking “That was pretty good concert, but you could really tell that fifth piano player was nervous as Hell” Even if it was just one performer and even if they weren’t all that bad, the flow was still severed and your overall judgment of that concert is marred due to that.

To emphasize what this episode did wrong, it’s best to first praise the three positives of the episodes.

One: Pretty obvious and overstated, but yes, the visual direction. This is just one aspect that I can’t see the series fail on.

Two: On a conceptual level, Fujimiya’s evident first steps out of her comfort bubble as well as more light being shed on Hase’s own insecurities and infatuation with Fujimiya are what we all want to see.

Three: Shotaro Sugais a talented series composer whose resume such works like Uchouten Kazoku, Eden of the East and OreGairu. It’s safe to say that the guy knows, inside and out, how to craft good dialogue and characters. Looking at Saki’s character and her character only. She's surprisingly well-grounded for her dim-witted archetype and her general klutziness adds believable depths rather than act as slander because said trait serves as moe-bait.

Ok. Cool.
But now, plop said character into the story. When you begin to evaluate her now, she’s just feels so wrong. The composure is shattered and suddenly every beats plays out of place. You could argue “But Deadlight, she’s the reason you listed the second positive trait. Here presence is what draws Fujimiya out of her bubble and what leads to more insight in regards to Hase”

 I said I liked it on a conceptual level. I never said I liked how their developments were showcased or how they were brought about. I mean, Wouldn’t something more situational worked? The previous episode clearly indicated Fujimiyi slowly taking steps out of her comfort bubble as well as Hase’s insecurties without playing any new cards. It utizlied already mounting tension and stemmed off of fleshed out interpersonal chemistry. Here, Saki just pops out of fucking nowhere and her relationship with Fujimiya escalates too quickly and strikes out as too artificial while Shogo's part in the recent dispute made logical and natural sense. 

We're given enough time to understand his role as Hase's only friend and his development with Fujimiya is actually based off of a very integral motive of the show in which Hase desperately wants to help Fujimiya, no matter what. Saki’s role is not based off of any significant mutual relationship nor does it stem off from the intentions of others. It’s just a phoned in bull-shit “I admire you, senpai. I got bullied a lot as a child. Blah blah blah”. 

Saki is a fucking plot device.
So is she a salvageable character though? The answer is yes. It’s already too late to undo the shoddy initial relationship the series set between her and the rest of the cast, but there definitely still is time to flesh out later developments. I get what the creators are trying to achieve with her and the intentions are genuine unlike garbage such as Guilty Crown. She’s not a poor character, she’s just poorly implemented.


  1. I kind of agree but I really like how they used her to throw off Hase. I guess the main issue isn't really what she brings but more that she could have been thrown into the show at any time without any necessary progression/flow. It still kind of force Fuji to come out of her bubble and use what she learned so far to deal with her.

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