Title: Golden Time
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Summary: Tada Banri is a newly admitted student at a private law school in Tokyo. Due to the after-effects of an accidental fall from a bridge shortly after high school graduation, he lost all his memories from before then. At the time of the accident, Banri’s soul had escaped from his body, and the Spirit of Tada Banri came into being, carrying his memories from before graduation.
Review: I’m not surprised that Golden Time has had a lot of mixed reviews. Romance anime tend to always be a bit iffy when it comes to multiple choices in girls. I’m here to actually defend Golden Time a little because I feel like the anime had a lot of strong points which made it stand out from the rest.I can’t say it was the perfect romance, far from it in fact, but I don’t think people should simply disregard it completely. The anime opens up with some rather strong statements and made a name for itself and only slowly dwindled toward the end when things started to get a little heavy. Overall it gave me some of the best moments of comedy, drama, and romance. Best of all, it didn’t take place in a high school setting.
The art really played a role in my enjoyment for this anime. The character design was one of the high points of the series. For one, I’m glad that Golden Time took place in college because you actually got to see everyone in different outfits. They didn’t sit in the same uniforms day after day, in fact one of them even changes their hair color. It was nice to see the change of pace and various environments because it kept the anime from growing stale. They did a good job creating some pretty memorable characters because of their crazy facial expressions and fluid body movement. I absolutely loved the number of .gifs that originated from Golden Time because they were all fun to watch. The quick little scenes of funny faces and interactions made the anime for me. Although the animation really kept me entertained, it was ultimately the story that brought this anime into fruition, for better and worse.
I’m sure that most of the comments about Golden Time were about the storyline. I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews because people didn’t like how the anime ‘dragged on’ or how the characters were ‘unrealistic’. I wanted to give a different view point and a much more general one that can be spanned across nearly all anime. It was the reason I actually enjoyed Golden Time and kept watching it week after week. I want to first start with the bad points and then counter them with some of the good. The biggest complaint I have has to do with the ending. I found it rather hard to swallow how everything ultimately turned out because it was a bit far fetched (even more so than a boy getting struck by amnesia). Banri wasn’t the worst main character though he did have a few moments that I started to question. He started off as a rather believable character and slowly started to slip into a strange state where you weren’t really against him, but you weren’t really rooting for him either. The series kept a rather awkward middle ground where I started to lose my connection with the characters. The actions some of the characters took (mostly Oka) seemed a bit odd and even a little forced. It was as though the creators were trying to type cast the characters well after they were established causing a sudden change in personality. This sudden and unexpected shift made the series drag on to an unpleasant area. Without trying to spoil the ending I can’t say I agreed with how everything turned out. It had nothing to do with rooting for another girl, or even disappointment with Banri’s ultimate choice. It was actually the lack of choice that made me so irritated. It was at though the anime decided to scrap the whole plot and tie everything up in a nice little bow in the final half of the last episode. Despite making the audience sit through struggle after struggle they series decided to take the easy way out with the ending. Now that I’ve laid out all of the things I disliked about the series I’m going to start to try and bring out what the series did well.
The first thing I want to mention was the fact that Golden Time took place in college. That might not seem like a big deal to most, but it was a very refreshing change of pace. It also opened a lot doors to what the characters were actually able to do. Whether it was getting a job, driving to the beach, or dancing in a nightclub wearing nothing but a thong, the series did a good job breaking away from the norm. I’m glad that they utilized the setting they created because it made a big stance for anime geared toward a slightly older generation. The next thing I liked were the character interactions. Now you may be wondering what I mean because I just complained about some of the characters earlier. Well the reason I enjoyed the series so much is because I decided to look at the situations in the characters’ eyes. I feel like this was a big problem most people had with the anime because what some don’t realize is that they got the whole picture. They knew exactly who liked who and what each character meant by their words. After stepping back and thinking about the events I began to understand why certain characters acted the way they did and why others misinterpreted. Let’s take a quick example of something that took place at the very start of the anime. Banri by happenstance was introduced to Koko and as he started hanging out with her more and more he felt something. Now most romance anime would take an entire series to build up to the confession, Golden Time did something a little unique and actually had Banri confess rather early on. More importantly he was also rejected quite early on. It was a very unexpected turn of events that completely shifted what I saw in romance anime, and I was so happy for it. The series turned into a journey about their relationship rather than their initial attraction. I find anime like this to be far more entertaining because it shows the struggles and hardships of being in a relationship rather than the courage you need to build up to tell someone you like them. Some might find this immature jumping to date someone you’ve in a way just met, but to me this was actually very mature. I don’t think that people need to learn how to tell someone they like them, but rather how to be with them and interact with them as more than just a crush. The series even dove into another topic with its support characters that many series tend to shy away from. Golden Time showed the consequences of rejecting someone or not being up front of your feelings. What many people don’t realize is that love doesn’t have to be a one shot deal. In fact, a lot of the time people will start to lose interest in someone who doesn’t show interest back. Although some might have been disappointed that the fairy tale of love wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, I found it to be very enjoyable and again very realistic. Because surprisingly enough just because you say you like someone doesn’t mean you have to wait for them forever and give up every other opportunity that passes by. The last thing I wanted to mention was the character Koko and her role in the whole series because to me she was the one who matured the most. At the very start of the anime you see her as having a very clingy personality, depending on others to satisfy her insecurities. You may even argue this was the reason she decided to date Banri in the first place. However, as the series moved on I started to feel like she learned to be independent. Koko started to forge her own personality rather than fitting it to the person she was most interested in. It was this type of character development that made me switch back and forth between the two love interests because I couldn’t decided which one I liked more. The last thing I wanted to touch on was the comedy of Golden Time and why I considered it to be one of the few true romcoms. Koko and Banri were tied together to be the main couple, but instead of clouding their lives in drama the series made them the perfect comedy duo. It was one of the few romance comedies that actually kept the comedy going. Golden Time still managed to squeeze in a joke or two in order to keep itself from become a waterfall of tears or a wall of annoyance depending on which side of the fence you were on. This effort to keep the comedy in romance comedy was something I appreciated to the very end.
Touching up on the soundtrack a little bit I want to first start by saying that I nearly always skipped the openings and endings. I did find the second opening “The World’s End” quite a bit better because it gave the feeling of intensity before everything came to an end. It wasn’t that the OST was bad, but nothing about it really gave me any more than the typical romance songs. I did enjoy the upbeat and comedic piano that played in the background from time to time because it really made the comedy hit home. Some of the more jazzier songs like “On a Refreshing Morning” were actually kind of fun to listen to. Although the series had some good tracks, none of them were really memorable during the actually episodes. Unless you plan on listening to the OST by itself I’m sure most people will overlook the background music because it didn’t seem to have that strong of a presence.
Final statements: I think that if you take a step back and really analyze the characters you’ll realize that a lot of them acted appropriately. I’m glad that Golden Time took the risk to be something different and formulate unique characters and plot. I’m hoping other series take this as a foundation and fine tune a few of the mistakes. The few outliers and the ending that left a bit to be desired are what really dragged this anime down. For the dips in entertainment and awkward moments of story development I can only give this series a preferred watch. However, I strongly encourage more of these types of anime because I feel like they break into a new environment in the right way and can end up creating something magnificent.