Then for some reason (and I really can't remember now), I was swotting for an entrance exam that required some ability in Japanese. This was when I stayed up all night to memorise the Hiragana and Katakana script. I used this book, Remembering the Hiragana : A Complete Course on How to Teach Yourself the Japanese Syllabary in 3 Hours by James Heisig.
(p.s. there is a PDF copy lying around but you need to trawl the web for it).
There was a Katakana version too. Maybe the effort paid off in the end but since then, there are loads of (IMHO) better books out there. I think the Heisig series paved the way well as you can see how easy it is to remember each script with a pictorial idea paired with the strokes.
I've seen a couple of other books out there similar to the Heisig series, such as Dr. Moku's Learn Japanese in One Day, made easy with iPhone and iPad apps. You can check out the youtube here, too.
I used the Katakana series for revision when I started living in Japan again.
here: for SGD 15.70 or 14.13 if you're a member. The layout of the book is like this: