This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series One-Week Family. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to child actors, nepotism, gossip, child labor, child neglect, and death, as it appears in the manga.
Ren Fujimaru is an up-and-coming actor. He's desperate for his next great role so he isn't forever pigeonholed in his previous big job, but the next role works directly alongside a child actor, and Ren hates children. Ren wants to nail this job, and he's willing to do anything to do it. His manager suggests living with the child actor and his manager for a week to grow more comfortable with each other. Ren isn't excited about the opportunity, but again, if this is what it takes to kill the gig, he will do it.
Not long after agreeing, he is introduced to his costar, Yuu Kusaka. Yuu is the child of the current CEO, and it's clear by his quiet and composed demeanor, which Ren would usually be thankful for, that he has been trained for this industry. But Ren is more disturbed than anything, especially as Yuu opens up and reveals how much he craves attention and interaction. While this relationship was set up for Ren's benefit, Ren quickly changes the purpose of this setup to make Yuu's life a bit more enjoyable overall.
All the while Ren is working with Yuu and getting to know him, he is growing closer and closer to Yuu's manager Kei Haruo, which makes all of this effort worth it on its own. As it turns out, Kei is Ren's whole reason and purpose for acting. When Ren was a child, he saw Kei receiving an award as a prolific child actor, and from that moment on, Ren desperately wanted to be an actor and join Kei in his success. But Kei left just as Ren was getting a foothold in the industry. Now that Ren has this opportunity, he wants to find out all he can about his acting idol Kei and tear down the wall he's put up around himself.
The art in this is so cute and clean. Yuu, in particular, is such a precious bean. I love him so much. Ren and Kei are, of course, attractive, but of the two, Kei is the most interesting. He is shown to be very clean-cut and put-together but cold and distant, portrayed very well in his design and overall expressiveness. Throughout the volume, we see him gradually open up and change, that perfection falling away to a more relaxed and vulnerable person. His evolution perfectly aligns with Yuu's, who, with a similar upbringing, is also cold. It is so precious to see Kei live out the free life he missed out on in his childhood alongside Yuu. It's refreshing and does the heart some good.
This is such a wholesome romance overall. Ren is so fun and expressive from the get-go without being overly obnoxious. He's so down to earth and cool, and I love that while he wants to know why Kei left the industry, he doesn't come at it from an angle of frustration or betrayal but curiosity and worry, which I appreciate. It kept the vibe sweet and wholesome while also introducing the major mystery of the romance. This is worth mentioning as I've read many BL manga and manhwa where the person who idolizes someone else becomes enraged or feels betrayed because the object of their admiration suddenly disappeared from the industry. These intense emotions are usually construed as lust or romance, but I would argue that Ren's concern is more romantic than a much more aggressive reaction. Ren is so chill, and he is a major green flag. I love him.
While the art is fun and the romance is gentle, fluffy, and gradual, this really shines in the relationship with Yuu. I love that, while the romance is important, the focus is more on Yuu, which, in turn, emphasizes Kei and why he left the industry since his childhood mimics Yuu's. It really takes the time to build Kei's character through the lens of his and Ren's relationship with Yuu, which I love so much. Kei wanted to be Yuu's manager because he hoped to give him a better childhood than he had, but he couldn't since he didn't have any experience from his childhood. On the other hand, Ren does and shows them both a fun and relaxed world neither of them has experienced. It truly rends the heart.
My favorite part, though, has to be the big reveal that while Kei's success inspired Ren to join the industry, Ren's success made Kei want to quit. Kei felt like Ren was so much better than he was, and Kei's self-worth was rooted in his success as a child actor. It didn't help that the public often talked about how he wasn't as good of an actor as he aged and how most child actors fail anyway. This rooted major insecurities and fears in Kei, and rather than face what he felt was the inevitable failure, he decided to leave the industry. That's such a powerful moment that mirrors Ren's introduction to Kei but results in such different reactions. The very first time we see Kei, it's on TV, while Ren is enamored by what he sees. Meanwhile, the first time we see child Ren on TV, Kei is watching, absolutely disheartened and almost enraged from being dethroned. It's amazing that these two, with such differing feelings toward each other, come together, share their experiences, and eventually fall in love. It's amazing.
I really like this. I wouldn't say it's a favorite, but it's so sweet, wholesome, and well-crafted I would recommend it to anyone. If you're looking for a heated whirlwind of a romance, you'll probably be disappointed, but if you want something to sate your sweet tooth with a family vibe, look no further. It's sure to warm even the most frozen of hearts.
Have you read One-Week Family? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!