Banri Tada has no memories and a college acceptance letter. On his first day of law school, he gets lost with Mitsuo, Banri’s classmate, and they quickly become friends. As they are about to enter their orientation, Mistsuo’s childhood friend/stalker, Koko, walks into the frame and smacks Mitsuo in the face with a bouquet of roses. Banri becomes infatuated. As Banri and Koko become closer, his memories start to come back and he begins to lose the person that he has started to become.
Banri Tada is a man torn by space and time. On one hand, we have a selfless, caring, excited, and spontaneous guy who makes life around him better for everyone. On the other, we have a confused, scared, and tortured man who rejects his past life in fear of losing the one he has now. The show rises and falls with Banri and his mood. For being a tame character, he has such a gravity to him that you can’t help but get pulled into his emotions.
So this is where I would put my review for Mitsuo if the writers could fathom any aspect of his character that isn’t tied to a spoiler — and I won’t stand for ruining this show with those. He’s a very good boy with a solid heart. That is all I can say at this time.
Koko Kaga shows up as everyone’s nightmare. She is that person that can’t accept that you never dated and never will date. She not only establishes herself as someone with a codependent personality between her infatuation with Mitsuo, but also in her relationship with Banri that develops later. This is the point where Sarah (Lotad Gang Member) starts getting annoyed at me. Why, you might ask? Because Koko was my favorite character.
There is a lot to admire about Koko. She cares so deeply for the one she loves. I love that she has a life plan set out for her relationships. I love that she is always thinking of a way to be the best partner she can be. I love that she grows over the course of the show to be more than her codependency complex. Koko is the most blatant example of being toxic in a relationship and she isn’t perfect at the end by any means, but through her own growth, she becomes someone who can stand on her own and live by the decisions that she makes.
Nana Hayashida (Linda) is the forgotten love. Linda has known Banri for what seems like her entire life. Their families were close and she took care of him while he was a sad little cry baby in school. Linda is a protective person who finds it hard to share herself with others. She comes across as a mother figure in many parts of her life. She is not the president of the Festival Club, but she takes care of all the members. She is not dating Banri, but she is always watching out for him and ensuring he is okay. And she is always watching out for her brother and his emotions. She is a fantastic example of a character who really wants nothing from others except for them but to be happy, safe, and cared for.
Sato Takaya (2D-kun) is a sleeper character in Golden Time. Welcome to your typical weeb trope: 2D girls > 3D girls. You know, the ‘dark room with anime girl figurines all over’ type. The “nearly gets recruited into a cult” sort of person. But, the Sato glues these groups together. He is the guy who brings the car. He is the guy who makes people apologize. The spotlight never needs to be on Sato, but he is important to the story and not to be forgotten.
I hope once you watch the show that you realize that there are a solid amount of recurring characters that add to the whole show. Like Sato, they aren’t given a spotlight but without them, the character score easily drops a point. The development of the main character is about so much more than just themselves and their partner, it’s also about how they interact with those around them. Golden Time gets that.
Let me tell you a story. There I was, sitting at my desk the morning after finishing Golden Time. I’m not feeling the best. I’m pretty emotional. Koko stole my heart and I am hopelessly running after her in my mind to get it back. The thing is, the meeting I am in is about the countless projects going on at work, so it’s serious stuff. Out of nowhere, I start sweating out of my eyes. Tears start streaming down my face and before I know it, I am one hand over my microphone and one hand covering my mouth to stifle the sobs because the ending of this anime was so beautiful and I can’t be muted. Golden Time had me laughing at the ridiculousness, questioning my sense of self, crying over relationships, and smiling over all of it. How much better does it have to be if it has me crying mid-work day and gushing about it that night to my friends?
Some of the ideas of the show would just be spoilers and I refuse to spoil this show for you because I care that deeply about it. Take my word for it: there’s some really good stuff in here. Anyway, here’s what I can talk about without spoilers:
It’s pretty well known that lots of people try to reinvent themselves when they go to college. Antisocial state champ soccer player with hot Dutch girlfriend? College hits and boom, he suddenly turns into an extroverted anime lover with a blog and not a lover to his name. But I digress. Banri takes that reinventing to another level by literally forgetting who he is, but the time in which this happens isn’t lost on me. We see most, if not all, of our characters take who they are and really get the most out of who they are becoming in this transformative year. It is possible that this year was picked intentionally and Banri’s memory loss is a bit of a metaphor for people who run away from their former selves — something he was accused of. But it is also possible that this was purely coincidence and college is just a more appropriate place for interesting relationships. I will let you decide.
If you lost your memory, what would people tell you about themselves? What would they tell you about yourself? My friend Katy and I sat on my couch and talked about this for at least an hour over a couple glasses of wine. Banri worries about this too. It’s only natural that people will want to create a personality for themselves and be their own person. So do you want people to tell you who you were before? I can’t say that the show really brings these ideas to the forefront, but it was interesting enough to mention and I enjoyed thinking about it. Perhaps you will as well.
At one point in the show, I saw the easy way out. The show could have taken the path right there, ended the show, and moved on with their lives. I am glad that they did not do this, because the true ending was far better. But when they set up the show to seem like it ends, I got confused. The final arc was one of the best, but the setup was not solid enough to tell the viewer that the show was not over. Golden Time starts like a pissed off bull in an Apple store and is all gas no brakes until you are suddenly pulled into a romance show you never expected. The writers lead the viewer from a comedy-filled beginning, to a solid relationship show, to a heartbreaking drama, then back to what seems like a solid finish. The switch-up comes and they throw even more emotions at you, just when you think you got out scot-free. I think some could see that as a welcome turn of events, but I felt a little misled while watching. Pleasantly surprised but misdirected.
There is something to be said about animation that fits the story. The beginning of Golden Time is very hectic and colorful, mirroring the emotion that Banri feels as a new student. The animation continues to follow Banri’s mood throughout the show. Not only does it fit the mood, but there are some extreme displays of creativity. There is a crazy party scene where Barni is roped into being a drink server at what seems like a birthday party thrown for a dominatrix and subject matter aside, I was mouth open the whole time. The colors were so fun, the low lights fit the ambiance, and it was clear that the animators did their…*ahem*… research. That sets a high bar, so there were some times at the festivals that detail lacked the “life” that we see in some more intimate scenes. But beyond that, the animation is fun and the characters really come to life. Koko, especially, got a lot of special attention with her outfits and hair.
Judging worlds that take place in a seemingly “normal life” is a challenge. At one point, I thought about giving Golden Time a one of three. Then I thought about how we had places with meaning like Banri’s apartment, the Festival Club’s home room, the college, and the bridge where Tada fell in his hometown. So, we had our important locations. Later, I found myself telling the Lotag Gang all about the cult house, the crazy scandalous party, and the beach. Golden Time not only had solid recurring locations and fun one-off locations, but also plenty of small, meaningless locations for special moments to happen. Each character had a home that was visited, we knew all kinds of places in the college where our characters randomly sat to talk, we saw all kinds of roads while our characters walked. I never felt like anything was recycled or meaningless or lazy. I think this is the best example of a “normal world” in any anime so far. Hell, we even went to Paris! So for all you people on Tiktok asking who was in Paris, now you know.
I learned the most interesting thing about Golden Time: all the string instruments that were used were actually made from heart strings that they ripped out of the bodies of their emotionally-destroyed viewers. I would venture to say that the music was what really pushed the dialog and the relationships over the emotional edge. The excited/sad introduction never made any sense until I was in the final arc and I was at the edge of my seat crying out with my emotional energy for Banri to remember. The orchestra was amazing. The guitar pieces were moving. The percussion in the funny moments was perfectly timed. You get the point. Stop reading and just watch the damn show already.
|Category||Pointed Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||5||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||6||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||4||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||3||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||3||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||3||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||3||3|
Golden Time quickly became one of my favorites. I lost a lot of sleep over watching this show and being unable to settle down afterwards. If tear jerkers and emotional roller coasters are in your wheelhouse, you should be watching Golden Time. I know this landed in the top five all time anime for me and I plan on buying the Blu-ray set so I can rewatch it whenever I want.