For such a humble little show, I’ve been surprised at how One Week Friends has kept me at baited breath all season long. I’ve been anticipating that the bottom would fall out, that we would have some big climax, though I wasn’t sure if it would feel contrived or if there would be genuine drama involved. Episodes 10 and 11 have proven the latter to be true, as the series won’t emphasize “Will Hase keep trying when Kaori completely forgets everything?” so much. Instead, there’s something deeper being explored – and it’s focused on Hase as much as on Kaori.
My biggest complaint about One Week Friends has been in regards to how selfish Hase has acted (though it’s also what I’ve related to most). But when painful drama for Kaori shakes out in the course of episodes 9 and 10, Hase does almost a complete 180, finally moving the focus off of his own frustrations and his crush on Kaori toward really trying to care for her as a friend would. A transformation is taking place, one I solely hoped to see in the show, but wasn’t sure would come to fruition.
Up until now, Hase has been surprisingly self-absorbed. While Kaori deals with the pain of starting over, week in and week out, Hase has been stressing about whether he can get her to become closer to him so that they can have a “special” relationship. It took a confrontation between Kaori and her elementary school friends for Hase to snap out of his selfish shell. His dialogue shifts in episode 11 – it’s hardly about his feelings toward Kaori (he only discusses these feelings in the episode when someone else brings them up) and all about her needs.
Hase is now empathizing with Kaori. Before, she was almost a project he was working on – can I turn this girl not only into someone that can become friendly, but someone who will love me? Now, Hase is considering her emotions and her hurt, and he’s trying to find a way to prevent her from suffering more pain.
In a sense, he’s moved from being “in love” to actually “loving” her.*
I’m so glad that the series is exploring this theme in the final episodes. It’s so very applicable to our lives, where most of us get so wrapped up in ourselves and our own wants, desires, and even morals that we fail to see how we could respond to others in love and grace. Imagine if we would replaced our prideful, selfish, or lazy actions with sacrificial, loving ones – how many lives could we help transform for the better?
And all the while, as we react out of love, something interesting would happen with us – we’d find ourselves growing into more loving, kinder individuals. And as I suspect will happen with Hase, we’d reap this unexpected benefit all because we’d do what is ultimately best – loving others more than we love ourselves.
*Of course, now Hase is overcompensating and likely to be the cause of pain toward Kaori, though I imagine that’ll be smoothed over. It wouldn’t have been so easy if Hase hurt Kaori through the reveal that he was only befriending her so that she would like him!