As a little girl I watched quite a few romantic comedies because I really like to laugh and see attractive people hook up. In fact those were the only movies I did watch and didn't know there were other movies. For the longest time I genuinely thought that that was just how all movies played out. I was not a bright girl,not that that has changed much. I'll admit due to my dwindling attention span I really don't watch that many movies anymore. Instead I've turned slightly to more romance slice of life shows,one I actually managed to finish lately.
Golden Time is a series of Light Novels by Yuyuko Takemiya turned anime that aired last fall. She is probably better known for Toradora!, a series that I have attempted to get into multiple times and failed. I'll probably try again later but that has nothing to do with Golden Time. Instead this was a show that I had no trouble getting into it just had a hard time staying in there. It is a wonderful show but some elements are just acting like a errant rabbit in the punch bowl. Ruining everyone's good time and possibly giving some people tularemia.
The plot is split into four short arcs that all focus on the main relationship between Koko Kaga and Tada Banri. This is the main factor that makes this show really work. The two leads have amazing chemistry and their relationship feels natural. The show follows them from their first meeting as they evolve from friends to lovers back to friends then finally back to lovers. It helps that on their own they are interesting characters. Koko is a childish spoiled rich girl trying to find her own identity after having her delusional life long dream shattered. It makes her a mess of neuroses that is compelling to watch. For the most part the first half of the show is mostly about her but slowly becomes more focused on Banri which is a double edged sword.
On one hand Banri is great character,a very outgoing guy who is very quick witted. His ability to turn a situation is marvelous and is a great lead to follow. However as the show focuses more on him and his problems he brings with him the real sticking point that drags down the show but more on that shortly. Like Koko he is trying to find himself in a way though to an extent he already has. He has lost his old personality due to an accident that wiped his memories before that time. Fortunately we do meet him about a year after the accident so he's trying to live his life and doesn't bemoan the loss of memory. Though it does start becoming a major plot point after the second arc as we get more into his head. It really doesn’t get tiresome as it's really just part of him and not his defining characteristic.
With the amnesia we have a terrible attempt at symbolism in the form of Ghost Banri. At first it seems like a metaphor for his past memories being there and he just can't see them. That actually wouldn't be that bad but it doesn't stop there. The show treats him like a supernatural entity that can mess with reality. A major plot point of the second arc is him ultimately pushing his past away through rejection of his childhood friend,Linda. At this point the Ghost decides he is going to start messing with Banri with bad luck. How he has this “power” is never explained nor is he himself really explained. That's the problem the show has absolutely no other real supernatural elements,it's a straight up well written romcom.
If he'd been there in the first few episodes it might have been okay. However I am just cruising along enjoying a great show then this guy just shows up out of no where. Look at Vision of Escalowne,yes it started in a fantasy world but the mecha elements were introduced as we were learning about the world. Therefore when the mechs do show up,its not as jarring because we as the viewer are still learning about the world. Here we are firmly established in modern Japan and by the time Ghosty here has shown up the setting is too well established.
Every time he shows up,it just brings to the attention how out of place he is and how silly he is. He even manages to screw up the finale as apparently Linda can see him and talks to him whilst Banri and apparently every other past Banri all hang out. Also don't think I do not get the symbolism of the scene nor Ghost Banri as a whole. It is just really poorly explained concept that seems unsure if the ghost is supernatural or symbolic and he just sort of stays in narrative limbo. Okay let's move on to something else before I take up another paragraph on this stupid concept.
The rest of the core cast is fairly well developed for the screen time the have and provided many little comedy moments. Koko's childhood friend,Mitsuo, goes through a minor arc as he too struggles with who he is and what he wants to do. Identity and purpose is a major theme of the story and quite a few characters are setting out to establish one. This is helped that the characters are in college, a classic time where people tend to do some soul searching. Some of the characters has a good idea of what they want to do,while others like Koko are trying their hardest to find that purpose. Special mention to 2-D Kun for just being a great comedic straight man and bitter single guy. He starts out as a minor character but really comes into his own by the show's second half.
The story like I said has four arcs that each play with a facet of the Koko/Banri paring. We start out as they get to know each other,moving on to a shake up with Banri's past that ends the first half on a solem/hopeful note. The second half delves into both of them deciding to really confront their pasts and change with the final arc giving them the final shake up as Banri's memories return and push his new ones out. The arcs do add a different facet to the central relationship and and each new hardship makes me want to see them succeed even more.
The story as a whole flows along at a good pace and despite my aforementioned ghostly grievances is very well written. It does tend to use you typical romantic comedy tropes albeit sparingly and they never really get in the way. A few late game concepts are established in a way that proves that the author does know what she is doing. Near the end there are just some scenes that are overflowing with such raw emotion that it gives you the chills. Even the minor relationships such as Linda/Mitsuo and Koko's friendship with Oka progress in a natural way.
This was honestly one of the few shows I have followed through the last two seasons outside of D-Frag,Megane-bu and Diabolik Lovers. Sorry Kill la Kill fans,I'll get around to that show...eventually. It really is a good show but that Ghost does hold it back from being great. Hell it managed to derail half this review due to it's stupidity. If your in the mood for some romance/comedy then you could do much worse plus you get a couple of nice opening songs.
Till next time:Stay Positive