Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Golden Time (Gōruden Taimu)

Not to be confused with the Korean medical drama of the same English name, Golden Time is a 24 episode rom-com brought to us from the same studio (J.C. Staff) that gave us Toradora! (here) and Ano Natsu de Matteru (here). Both of those shows you can find reviews of on this blog and I've even provided links to those reviews for you to peruse because I'm just such a great guy.

Golden Time actually just finished up its run on Thursday and I meant to post a review sooner, but work got in the way and I just found myself without the energy to wake up that extra bit earlier to do some reviewing. Hell, I still got some managerial testing to take just to get certified. Stress, stress, stress, etc.

Thank God for anime. That's about all I can say. Some people consume copious amounts of alcohol or drugs and destroy their bodies to cope with stress. I watch Japanese cartoons. Yet I'm the weirdo. Go figure that one. 

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of supernatural romance stuff. I'm not saying I couldn't watch the stuff or couldn't find redeeming qualities in such works, but I prefer my ghosts to actually do scary and badass shit. However, I am beginning to change my mind little by little. After watching Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (here), I started thinking that ghost characters can be used in way a that furthers the story while strengthening the emotional impact.

Of course, Anohana was a drama whore and ignored some basic common sense ideas. I mean, if you see a ghost and others can't then why not ask the ghost if they can confirm their existence by picking up a pen or something. That didn't happen until way late into Anohana and I just can't get over that flaw in storytelling.

H2O: Footprints in the Sand (here) had a ghost, too. That ghost was just kind of a side character, though. Important at the end, sure, but until then she was just a seemingly goofy ghost.

Golden Time is a bit different from either of those in that the ghost is actually the main character. Sort of. The ghost is actually the "past self" of the main character Tada Banri. I'm not talking about reincarnation, either. I'm talking about memory loss.

Confused yet? Well, give me a second.

We start out with Tada Banri making his glorious debut at a private Tokyo law school. While losing his way and becoming overwhelmed by the fervent students there trying to recruit some of the new blood for their school clubs, Banri runs into Yanagisawa Mitsuo and his creepy stalker friend Kaga Koko.

Banri and Koko will fall in love and become a couple according to what is shown on the opening credits, but for the moment Koko is obsessed with following around Mitsuo. Even going so far as to enroll into the same law school as him. I mean, who enrolls at law school for love? Answer: A crazy bitch.

You are going to hate Koko at first. I did. Don't throw in the towel just because you don't like her at first, though. Yeah, she's definitely creepy at first and seems like the type who would go all Fatal Attraction on your ass, but her character does pull a surprising turnaround as the series progresses.

In fact, you'll soon realize that maybe it is Banri who is the most screwed up character. When Banri was eighteen years old he got into an accident and wound up getting his ass thrown off a bridge. Unfortunately, it's never told who tried to run him over. I would have liked for it to be Mitsuo or Linda, but I guess that is just wishful thinking on my part. If there's one thing I hate it is underutilized plot developments. 

As it is, the whole accident just serves as the beginning of the drama that is about to take place. Banri's fall causes him to lose all of his memories prior to his fall. At least that is what he believes. His memories have actually taken the form of a mopey ghost that stands by silently and watches as the new Banri completely forgets about the love he had for Linda.

Gradually the ghost becomes a bit vengeful and things come to a head when the new Banri begins falling in love with Koko the crazy bitch. To be fair, I'd've been pissed, too. I didn't like Ghost Banri at all, but I understood where he was coming from. Linda was a legitimately nice character and I felt like she never received any closure. Not even at the end of the series when all was said and done. Yeah, I guess you could say I was hoping for Linda X Banri instead of Koko X Banri. Of course, I knew how it was going to turn out anyway. Just like with Toradora!. The opening credits never lie.

The reason Banri was standing in the middle of a bridge like an idiot on the night of his accident was because he was waiting for Linda to give a response to his confession of love. She didn't make it in time, though. 

Naturally, Banri got his ass ran over and forgot everything. Let that be a message to women everywhere on why it is important to be on time and a message to men everywhere on why it is important to not stand in the middle of a bridge. 

It isn't until Banri's move to the Tokyo law school that he runs into Linda again... although Linda pretends to never have met him before at first. I guess you can say she was trying to make his transition into his new life easier, but in the long run in seemed to have the reverse effect.

In fact, just about all of the women in Golden Time seemed to want to make Banri as mentally unstable as humanly possible and at one point I wouldn't have been surprised if Banri went on a killing spree Columbine-style.

Had these characters just been honest about their feelings from the get-go then none of this shit would have happened. Of course, that'd make for a rather pointless show, too. So on with the drama. 

Ghost Banri certainly does his part. When he's not trying to reclaim his life by making new Banri forget all about Koko and everything else post-accident he's trying to make new Banri's life as shitty as possible by placing curses on him. Not exactly the definition of being good to yourself, is it? 

During the final few episodes this anime enters a bit of a dark (and sometimes over-dramatic stretch) that made me wonder how everything would be resolved in the final episode. I don't know about you, but I hate when endings are rushed and I certainly thought that there was a strong possibility for that to happen with episode 24. 

And it did happen. 

I'm not saying the final episode is bad, but I thought that the pacing could have benefitted from dividing that material into two separate episodes. Toradora! literally used every second of its final episode to the fullest, but that wasn't the case here. Yes, a lot happened in the final episode of Golden Time, but it didn't quite resolve the storyline as good as it could have done. 

I think my two biggest gripes both concern Linda. The first one being when Linda goes up and hugs Ghost Banri and tells him his long-awaited answer. Yeah, it was an emotional moment, but it was also a moment that made no fucking sense whatsoever. It was never established before that anyone could see Ghost Banri or even touch him. Yes, Ghost Banri did manage to have some communication with Linda while new Banri was asleep earlier in the series, but that's different. Since when could Ghost Banri make physical contact with other characters? Hell, if he could have done that from the beginning then this entire series would have been a bit pointless. Much like Anohana, it just seems like drama for the sake of drama. Tastefully presented and competently animated, but poorly written. Perhaps that scene made more sense in the light novel. I'm sure it did.

My second biggest gripe has to do with Linda's acknowledgement of Mitsuo's feelings at the very end. To be fair, I thought Mitsuo had been given the short end of the stick all series. First he gets stalked by Koko, then he gets dumped by Oka Chinami, and finally the girl he starts liking later on (Linda, in other words) ends up having some unresolved feeling for his best friend Banri. Mitsuo didn't get a break during much of the series. 

Yet I still feel that the scene between Linda and Mitsuo was just a little bit out of place. Yeah, I was pro Linda X Banri, but I like endings that are well-done and fully-fleshed out, too. It doesn't have to turn out the way I want, but it needs to happen at a good pace to fully resolve the story the way it needs to be done. 

To me, those things just felt a bit off within the confines of that particular episode. After all the drama of the last few episodes this final episode just felt too easy. Yeah, it ended the way it should have, but it also copped out a little bit by not taking just a bit more time to get there. 

Still, I really enjoyed this series a lot. I looked forward to watching this anime every Thursday and even with all of my gripes taken into consideration I still say this is a really good anime worth watching at least once. It was good enough for me to binge watch the first twenty episodes in three days, anyway. Waiting four weeks for those final four episode was brutal. 

I suppose that I'll give this show a Catalog of Greatness approval rating despite its flaws because if not for watching Toradora! during the same time period I probably wouldn't have sounded so critical of this anime.


  1. What is rom-com?

    "Some people consume copious amounts of alcohol or drugs and destroy their bodies to cope with stress. I watch Japanese cartoons. Yet I'm the weirdo. Go figure that one."

    I think I heard some guy dressed up in Vulcan gear say kind of the same thing (maybe the movie Trekies). He was talking about what people wear to football games and wondering why he was considered weird and they weren't. And he has a point.

    1. Rom-com is short for romantic comedy. Not quite sure where I picked that term up.

      I like to think I'm well-rounded. I like a lot more than anime. I just like blogging about anime because it's fun for me and it is a topic I feel I am the most knowledgeable in. And I like expanding my knowledge of things I like.

      But yeah, football fans can be just as nerdy as Trekkies. Tailgating isn't that different from a comic con if you think about the social objective and atmosphere trying to be achieved. For the participants the effects are the same. The only thing different is the subject matter.