Kaori Fujimiya’s memory processes, or lack thereof, are intriguing, as she only forgets one important piece. However, missing that specific piece – her emotional ties to another person – effectively blocks the incoming tide of memories.
The second episode of One Week Friends makes it a point to visually display how Kaori “remembers” her classmate Yuuki Hase, in spite of the fact that any memories she makes with friends – presumably anyone she becomes emotionally attached to aside from her immediate family – reset at the end of each week. As Yuuki prods her a bit further, Kaori admits that her memories with him remain lost. She cannot recall any of their time spent together.
What she had been telling Yuuki was a construct of the memories that she had written down in a notebook, per his suggestion. The image above is a false memory, as Kaori cannot remember anything in relation to Yuuki. One Week Friends gives us the closest visual alternative to how Kaori parses the information given to her by the words in her diary. In her own words, all of her memories with people she cares about, or wants to spend time with, will disappear come Monday morning. Having read the diary, Kaori is provided necessary information about what happened, but it still doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t actually remember it. Even in the images that she can think up with her mind, without an actual memory, Yuuki himself remains a blank.
Reading about something that happened to you, even in you own words, or looking at a photograph is completely different from recalling an event from memory. For example, there is a picture of both my brother and me when we were younger. My brother is a baby, and my mother is giving him a bath in a washbasin while I sit at the kitchen table eating a cookie. I’ve seen it so many times, that I’ve recorded that image in my mind. If I wanted to, I suppose I could lie and say that this is my first memory. I’m informed enough by the photograph that I could say exactly what happened and it would sound believable. However, this doesn’t change the fact that I cannot remember it.
My first memory is of waiting in traffic in a hot car with my mother, father, and grandmother. All I can remember is a flash of sitting next to my mother while being hot and irritated. The memory is more visceral and emotional than it is detailed. From the information provided, I can fill in other details. My brother was there too, but I cannot remember him being there. We were driving to see my great-grandparents in Rockville Center, N.Y. We were in my father’s car, an old beige Honda Civic. These details come from being fed related facts from my parents. When I told them that this was my first memory, they were the ones to tell me that we were on our way to visiting my great-grandparents. I had been told previously that they lived in Rockville Center. I know that my dad owned a beige Civic because I can remember the car he owned when I was younger, just not in that specific memory.
Kaori’s memories shown in One Week Friends are similar to the first personal example I mentioned: the photograph of me and my brother. The first time we see Kaori attempting to remember Yuuki, she is simply trying to remember what she did during lunch period the previous week and isn’t aware of Yuuki as a person at all. Her mind is directed towards lunch period thanks to the bento box that she is cleaning out in the sink. Kaori realizes that she cannot recall any activities during this time, and then she asks her mother about it.
The look of relief on Kaori’s face pictured above is caused by Yuuki telling her about their friendship the previous week, which accounts for her missing memories from that time period. Knowing that she is unable to recollect anything from time spent with people she connects with emotionally, it is her memory loss that allows her to believe Yuuki so easily. This is taken a step further in the following week, where she lies to Yuuki about being able to remember him in order to spare his feelings.
One Week Friends spends a lot of time lingering on small details, specifically objects that tie Kaori and Yuuki together, like her pink bento box. Often, shots within the series focus on hands instead of faces to convey a character’s emotional state to the audience. In the image above, Kaori’s hands tremble against her memory diary in frustration at her inability to remember Yuuki, even with the aid of her own notes. It’s as if the series itself wants us, along with Kaori, to earnestly remember these specifics: her magenta-checkered furoshiki, Yuuki’s egg salad bread, her pale pink bento box, the flyer for Momi’s crepes.
These small fragments are all pieces of the larger puzzle of Kaori’s relationship with Yuuki, a puzzle that Kaori will hopefully be able to recall on her own one day. Personally, if I remember a date, specifics come to mind in relation to that date. From there, bits and pieces associated with various specifics are filled in. This works in reverse, where I can remember specific events, other events in relation to the original event, and then trace the date back once given the information. Small facets help to fill out the larger picture. With each component, the clearer the picture becomes. Sometimes it only takes a small, seemingly insignificant detail to set off a memory domino effect in my mind. At a certain point, I can fill in blanks by looking up information or asking others. Kaori seemingly did not have this luxury until Yuuki willingly offered to help her, and even with Yuuki and the diary, she can still only speak to her personal memories from an outsider perspective.
Hope for Kaori comes not in the new found ability to coldly narrate her own story, but in the fact that she did not want to hurt Yuuki. Although she cannot yet remember him, her genuine desire to protect his emotional state already speaks volumes of where her story could go.