Golden Time – 03

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Well, that episode did everything but say the actual words, “the plot thickens”.

To call this episode of Golden Time eventful would be a bit of an understatement, considering the intense bombardment of plot we received.  My sweet little romcom/coming-of-age story sprouted wings and turned into an action series – of a sort.  In the end of course – as is usually the case when shows like this take turns like this – it was all more or less a pretense to put the cast in positions where their character would reveal itself, and to contrive a context where some expositional bombs could be dropped.

Truth be told this was my least favorite episode of the first three, largely because it felt the most conventional (I don’t intend to use that word as a cudgel and it isn’t inherently bad, but in this instance I think it fits) but also because I thought the events themselves played out in a bit of a herky-jerky fashion.  There were some strong moments and some that felt a little awkward and contrived, whereas the first two eps has a naturalness that I thought was pretty much uninterrupted.

The bombshell that gets dropped late in the episode is the main takeaway, but I was less surprised by that than the turn of events that got us there.  I had absolutely no expectation that cafe au lait girl would turn out to be a cult – I just thought the story would be Banri and Kouko getting to know each other on a weekend trip.  It was a good twist, and not wholly unrealistic – these sorts of nutjob religions exist in Japan just as in most countries, and the sort of deception they used to lure the kids to their compound is a common tactic of these groups.  All of a sudden this series got genuinely creepy for a while – something I never would have expected to be saying about it, and one of the best achievements of the episode.

From a plot perspective this was clearly designed to give Banri a chance to show his true stripes, after he’d been something of an avatar character (albeit a good one) for two episodes.  In the first place he doesn’t panic when the truth becomes apparent – that falls to 2-D-kun Satou, also lured into taking the trip.  Banri keeps his wits about him and thinks first about helping the others escape, especially Kouko as he feels responsible for her being there.  He seizes on Satou’s outburst as an opportunity to manipulate the cultists into letting the others escape by professing his fascination with the cult’s message, using a far-fetched story about an accident and amnesia to do so.  This works swimmingly – right up until the moment Kouko turns around and comes back in, refusing to leave Banri behind in the lion’s den.

I didn’t find Banri and Kouko’s escape and flight into the woods to be especially well-staged, but it was a means to an end – now that each of them has shown the other what they’re made of, they needed the chance to reveal more of themselves to the other.  And this is indeed pretty interesting, especially when Banri confirms that the far-fetched story about amnesia is actually true.  This explains the dream sequences, and in fact Banri has no memories of his time before the accident.  The sense I get is that he’s changed from the experience in more ways than one, and now possesses a kind of “screw it” mentality that causes him to act where others might hesitate.  Kouko, meanwhile, tries her best to make Banri understand why she’s so obsessed with Mitsuo – why he “completes” her, in her own words – but for me it still sounds more like an unhealthy obsession than anything else.  The best moment in their conversation is when Kouko asks Banri is he would take his old life back, given the choice – and the answer he gives is both interesting and likely to be very important to understanding the rest of his character arc.

The other strange – and alarmingly coincidental – element of the episode is that Linda shows up in the woods where Kouko and Banri have fled (incidentally, when you’re trying to hide from cultists primal screams may not be the best idea).  What’s she doing out there – and why does Banri call her “Barbara”?  Linda is a strange presence in Golden Time so far, a highly magnetic character who shows up in short and seemingly random bursts and commands the screen utterly whenever she does.  There are strong suggestions that she has a connection to Banri’s prior life (possibly even being the one on the scooter that seems likely to have caused his injuries) – in fact, it seems she’s come close to revealing that to him a couple of times, though I’d still call it an unsubstantiated speculation.  It occurred to me that she might be following him just as Kouko is following Mitsuo, perhaps to keep an eye on him – but it seems as if she was at the college before he was.  In any event there’s clearly much more to Linda than what we’ve seen so far, and I suspect some of that is going to be revealed as soon as next week.

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16 comments

  1. t

    well I can understand why it was your least favorite episode. I wondered about that episode too, it had kinda different feeling from the previous two, but I do like the way things are going on.

    the cult thing was half-surprise for me. well when you push the necklace-symbol in front of me and shout "look look" in the very beginning..it's a bit..lose the effect, but it wasn't suppose to have a huge impact. the only purpose of that stuff was about Banari, the entire episode was made for him. his past, thoughts, desires and the way he acts and thinks (like when he sacrificed himself for the greater good, well mostly to Kouko but nevermind).
    so yes, finally we got more about Banri, it was interesting. especially his way of thinking when Kouko asked him if he would like his memories back.

    the way Kouko is following after Mitsuo is still weird. but there's still must be something behind it. but I don't think she follows him in order to keep an eye on him (in contrast to Linda)..obviously she(=Kouko) wants him to love her too (in a bizarre way..yeah)

    Linda is still a big mystery, though it's clearer now that she had something to do with Banri. probably his prior's life.

    I must say – despite many different situations in that episode, they manage to move between each situation almost smoothly. atmosphere was suitable to each situation and it was very good. it's not that easy to execute that stuff in that way. as I said once – JC has advantage and experience in that sort of anime, and we saw it on this very good episode (yeah, it was good episode, though different from previous ones).

  2. M

    Looks like it's gonna take a while before Koko will even start to let go of her obsession of Mitsuo.For now,my attention is mainly directed at Banri & his relationship with Linda and that Barbara he mentioned.Looks like it'll take priority too,at least in the next episode.I do wonder,however,what's gonna be Koko's importance(if any) in all that because while I see Banri being able to help her have other interests besides just Mitsuo,I don't see her being able to do much for him with the way she is right now.

  3. c

    I got the impression that "Barbara" was just a joke about him forgetting her name. Which… suddenly doesn't feel quite as funny in the amnesia context, but the point to me was that all he remembered about her was that she was using some Western name, and he guessed Barbara rather than Linda. This parallels Kouko routinely forgetting his name in episode 2.

    So I think you're reading too much into it.

  4. I'm not reading too much into it – merely pointing it out. It could be nothing more than a joke, or it could be something more.

  5. F

    Very interesting. For me I thought it the most interesting ep thus far, but interesting not because it stands on its own (it doesn't imo), but because of the light it shed on the previous eps.

    I enjoyed it, and it really served to rope me in even further. :-)

  6. T

    I didn't find the whole Linda showing up as that much of a contrived plot point. When they showed the actual student center as the cult drove past it I had a feeling it would come in to play. Linda being there with her club for their club trip isn't that big a deal to me because coincidences are good for getting characters into trouble not out and I believe them running into her is much more the former than the latter.

  7. i

    Its weird that this episode convinced me to keep following Golden Time. Its not like I didn't like it but I felt it just felt somewhat boring or empty. It might have been contrived but some plot movement is still movement and to be honest the cult made me laugh, the exposition wasn't too bad and it finally sets up some interesting ideas for the series on Tada's side.

    My ultimate gripe with Golden Time is that Toradora had more impact and wackiness, while also being better animated and finishing a nice little arc in only its first two episodes. GT just hasn't done that so I'll hope that it comes later on. This Koko is not Loco, Oh no.

  8. R

    One of the good thing about Golden Time is that I don't have to see characters wearing their school uniforms 24/7 — especially the female characters, waiting for the wind to blow up their mini-skirts showing their panties, then hearing them criticizing everyone around a hentai. As for this episode, I do find the occasion that Banri and Kouko came to share their stories a bit convenient, and I'm not convinced by Kouko's reasons for being obsessive with Mitsuo — it only made me feel how unconfident and lost she is. However, I'm interested in Barni's story — and that's for sure more to tell — and I'm interested in seeing how Kouko grows out of her current behaviour and beliefs and becomes a complete person herself. Linda absolutely piques my interest, and I want to know more about her.

  9. J

    I'm pretty confident Linda was part of Banri-san's past. I wouldn't put much stock into Linda being at college before Tada Banri. IIRC, the accident occured after he graduated? Probably means he spent a while rehabbing, which would have kept him out of school for that year.

  10. Which would make his going to the same school she's already attending a big coincidence, wouldn't it?

  11. J

    Amazing how useful a contrived coincidence is in story telling.

  12. C

    Something like Danganronpa?

  13. J

    Light years better than Danganronpa…

  14. C

    School >>> Amnesia >>> Forget friends >>> Forget that it has been 2 years at school

  15. K

    Again, I thoroughly enjoyed GT. The shows I enjoy almost always focuses on a cast of great characters, and so far, Banri, Koko, and Linda have been excellent. They're all charming and a great pleasure to watch. If Barbara is not an actual person, then it's interesting how Banri keeps forgetting Linda's name the same way Koko used to forget his.

    This is a rare series for me where I enjoy watching both female leads equally. The seemingly obvious pairing seems to be Banri x Koko, but I'm just as interested to see how the Banri x Linda relationship plays out.

    This my favourite series of the season by far. Nothing else this season comes close to the amount of satisfaction and entertainment I get from watching Golden Time.

  16. H

    I'm spoiled on Linda so I hope they say what the deal is with her soon.

    These were some pretty bad cultists. I mean, letting everyone go home, getting drunk, not keeping an eye on their marks? Psh, amateurs. But the storyline was nicely believable.

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