Golden Time – 04

Golden Time - 04 -6 Golden Time - 04 -15 Golden Time - 04 -30

If there’s a phrase that keeps running through my mind as this week’s anime has played out, it’s “the plot thickens”…

It’s been quite clear right from the beginning that Golden Time was speaking a different language than the legions of teen romance series that anime has offered up over the last few years.  The most obvious reason is that it’s set at college (the real-life setting is Hosei University near Ichigaya Station, 10 minutes walk from my apartment), with all the radical difference that implies – but it goes beyond that.  The personalities in this show are quite different than what we’ve grown accustomed to in anime, and Kokou is the most obvious example.

If I have an issue with this episode and with Golden Time generally, it’s that sometimes things seem to move a little too fast.  That applies to events and emotions, too – the former being a bigger problem last week and the latter this.  I got a little whiplash from Kokou’s transformation – not so much the extreme mood swings, which are hardly unusual in someone clearly unbalanced, but in the way she came to self-awareness too quickly to be believable in my view.  I think what we saw in this ep would have been effective if it had been spread over two episodes instead.

That said, though, I liked this episode an awful lot and I feel the same way about the series itself.  Kokou is proof that you don’t have to like a character (at least all the time) for them to be fascinating.  It’s been an interesting year for young women with real psychological issues in anime, and in Kokou I think we’re seeing a more detailed and balanced – if unsparing – view of the stalker than we’ve seen in a very long time.  For all that pretty girls have a ridiculous amount of teflon as far as anime fans are concerned I’m hard-pressed to believe anyone could have watched the first scene of this episode and not really disliked Kokou (of course, she was abusing another cute girl at the time).  I also can’t imagine anyone could have watched her and chalked that up to a normal crush – this was seriously disturbed, dysfunctional behavior that took Kokou for the first time to the edge of yandere territory.

That scene at the Uni coffee shop was very intense and hard to watch, as Kokou really laid into poor Oka, who’d done nothing whatever to deserve it.  The salient point is that neither – at least based on what we’ve been shown – has Mitsuo.  As far as I can tell he’s done absolutely nothing wrong here – he’s made no promises he’s trying to break, and done nothing to lead Kokou on.  He merely wants to pursue his life in peace and he has every right to do so without he (or anyone he fancies) being hounded or abused by Kokou.  And I thought he handled himself rather well at that moment – he could have completely lost it but he held his cool.  He was firm and unmistakably pissed off, but calm as he led Oka to safety.

The direct offshoot of this scene is the one that follows, in the cafe au lait bowl cafe (it seems Banri and Kokou don’t hold it against it that it was the chosen venue for their cult recruiter).  But in-between there’s a short interlude as Banri and Kokou visit Linda and the Matsuri Club, a rather artful move by Banri to get Kokou’s mind off what had just happened.  This scene is important in its own right, both for the club itself (which I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of) and the spark of memory that Linda’s face triggers in Banri.  But it’s the one at the cafe that really shakes this up.  If Mitsuo has been guilty of anything it’s running away from Kokou rather than forcefully ending it, though in his defense it seems he’s tried several times and she just won’t get the message.  Here again, though, he seems to strike a pretty good balance – he makes his feelings unmistakable and refuses to let Kokou bait him into a fight – when she goes Yuuno Gasai he simply picks up his bag and leaves.

It’s at this point that I think Kokou’s mindset changes a little too quickly.  She’s right in everything she says, of course, and it seems clear that she’s a much better person around Banri than Mitsuo.  But for her to go from years of complete denial straight to laser-accurate self analysis is a stretch.  I’m very curious to see where she goes from here – is this really the dawn of self-realization and the end of her obsession with Mitsuo, or merely a lucid spell?  She’s got real and serious psychological problems and I hope those don’t simply go away – frankly I was just waiting for her to drop the “I want to die” line because (see Kuroki, Tomoko) that’s what people like Kokou say in these situations.  The wrinkle is the appearance of Nana (Satou Satomi) at the cafe, and her invitation to Kokou to her concert gives the younger girl a chance to vent some of the volcanic rage she carries around with her.  It also tips off that Takemiya-sensei is fully aware of the throwback nature of this series, and can’t resist making an out-and-out allusion to those young-adult dramas of the mid-2000’s.

It’s not as though things are any simpler for Banri.  In addition to being caught in the middle as the Mitsuo-Kokou drama plays out he’s developing feelings for Kokou himself, as he reveals to her after they sleep off insanity of the night before in his dorm room.  I don’t think it’s coincidental that he chooses to return home immediately after all this plays out, as it’s clearly brought him to musing about his own strange circumstances and how the people from his old life would he happier if the person he’s become disappeared, and the old Banri returned.  This conflict looks as if it’s going to be symbolically played out with Linda, who all evidence suggests was at the very least a close friend – and probably more – of that old Banri.  College is a process of leaving behind the person we were and growing into someone new, and the way it’s playing out in Golden Time seems to a metaphorical extension of that – with Banri at the center of the drama.

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Golden Time - 04 -16 Golden Time - 04 -17 Golden Time - 04 -18
Golden Time - 04 -19 Golden Time - 04 -20 Golden Time - 04 -21
Golden Time - 04 -22 Golden Time - 04 -23 Golden Time - 04 -24
Golden Time - 04 -25 Golden Time - 04 -26 Golden Time - 04 -27
Golden Time - 04 -28 Golden Time - 04 -29 Golden Time - 04 -31


  1. t

    how kouko dare to scold our beloved Chinami. unacceptable!!!

    anyway. I agree about the rush toward emotion and events. and also characters.
    when Mitsuo protected Chinami with the serious face..when he was able to change like that? I remember him from the first episode as someone who will try to minimize contact with Kouko, especially when she enters that mood. and he even managed to dump her later. he has changed too much and too quickly since episode 1..and we didn't get to see that. I feel cheated.
    moreover, when did he starts to have feeling toward Chinami?if it's because of their on the Film club..then, show it to us!

    poor Kouko (?)..she got dumped. well..more like she is finally aware of it. but I wonder…is she really gonna give up about Mitsuo?

    Banari on the other hand, is much more aware his feelings. he confess to Kouko. well I wonder if he was aware that he simply "get up and follows her whenever she shows up". and apparently he is aware. it was nice to see that. after all. at that age you are much more aware of that stuff.

    but then the discovery of Linda's pictures, right after he..felt down 'cause of Kouko didn't return his feelings.
    they seemed almost like in relationships in those picutres. I bet they were this close to relationship, or even already in a relationship before the accident.
    more than that, I won't be surprise if Kouko was somehow involved with his accident.

  2. i

    Yeah, not exactly subtle and not exactly well paced. Koko might have known all along that this day was coming and thus acted that way right after their court-in-coffee shop but I also think an element of lazy writing is involved.

    Nana… well at least it was funny. The only bits I really liked was Banri's confession, Koko's message (the first time I've liked anything she's done) and the reveal at the end. As far as couples go I say Banri and Koko will end up together for sure. It's just inevitable which means the most important thing now is can the ride to the alter be any fun?

  3. To be fair on the lazy writing angle, it seems that this was a very large chunk of novel material condensed down into this one episode for the anime.

  4. M

    Yes! Two chapters, minus the last five pages, while the previous episodes were one chapter each.

  5. b

    Yeah, this was pretty rushed. To put in perspective, the first 3 episodes each covered 1 chapter of the LN while this covered 2 chapters, just stopping short of that bridge scene in the preview that is the end of volume 1.
    There was a lot more than happened after that cafe exchange with Mitsuo. Kouko went totally crazy in that concert and got drunk so much she was vomiting all over. It was pretty much a breakdown for her there, with Banri in tow to keep her in check. That concert also had some development for Banri as well, as he found Kouko to be a frail girl after all and couldn't help to look after her and like her for the strength she was showing all the time, thus his sudden confession.
    They also skipped most of the trial dance in the Omaken. There were some funny parts there, especially with Kouko's dancing that Banri commented on.

    Despite that, this was still a great episode. It was still enough to deliver the major points well. Plus the cliffhanger is more appropriate than the actual end of the volume.
    Props to Hocchan for her overall performance so far. And it kinda feels weird for Oka's seiyuu to play a college student when she herself is still a highschool student. Seiyuus normally(always) play roles that are younger than them. Just a fun thing I noticed.

  6. J

    I don't feel it's fair to call it poor writing in the case of some fast developments. Perhaps that's just me being more tolerant of pacing issues than the average critic. I don't think it's important whether this was a gradual development of Kokou's self awareness or a sudden development. Sometimes, life hits you on the head with a rather large mallet from hammer space, and all of a sudden it dawns on you. Kokou finds someone in Banri-san who she can confide her feelings in, which apparently is a first in her life. Sometimes it just hits you. But old habits die hard. She may be aware that her conduct is hurting her relationship with Mitsuo, but she still behaves the same way. There's still development to be had.

    Also- Linda and Banri being former High-School friends was a terribly kept secret.

  7. K

    The pacing was a bit fast for my liking, and I agree with how this ep could have been split into 2 eps. The whiplash from Yandere Koko to Self-aware Koko was a bit too abrupt, and the transition would have definitely benefited from having 2 eps instead of 1. I was also surprised last week's cliffhanger was resolved in a flashback, and I thought for a second that I had missed an episode. I'm curious about the choice of pacing, considering this show has 2 cours to work with. Hopefully, it will be put to good use.

    I would have thought this episode would come later, at around ep 8-9, but it certainly makes the rest of the show that much more interesting (have not read the LNs). It's great to see shows that actually advance a relationship, and not mine the same field over and over.

  8. M

    Woah!I really never expected things to progress so fast and while this surely would've been better spread throughout 2 episodes it was still pretty intense.Kouko's fast switching mindset being the main issue aside,I also thought that Banri's confession came out of nowhere.However,after thinking about it some more,I realized I that he just saw a opportunity and decided to go for it.We got a much more down-to-earth romance story here where we shouldn't expect a wishfull pure love that's present in the usual RomCom show that's often so boring to the point that it's sickenning.

  9. R

    You nailed it, Enzo, and seriously, I was thinking of Tomoko when watching this episode, and I couldn't stop my tears… I don't know why but her confrontation with Mitsuo just got me immensely emotional — it's like she's forced to face the illusion or the fake world that she couldn't help but lock herself in — and I did imagine her wishing to die before she said it. Things that she said last week and this week — like she couldn't help it and she lacked confidence — totally set me up to experience that heated and emotional confrontation.

    I didn't like Kouko when the show started, but she has gradually grown on me. I think Kouko's characterization is solid and different from the many female characters out there, but what interests me is that as beautiful as she is, she has issues, on top of being flawed — and we see the many sides of her already knowing that she will keep evolving.

    I do like Barni's confession on one hand. It may come off too soon, but his empathy towards Kouko — and what he wants to do for her — has been growing, and I like that he's honest and not afraid of voicing out his feeling. On the other hand, I actually want to see their friendship to grow more. It's uncommon to see in anime how two people started off as friends and came to know and appreciate each other before becoming romantic partners in such a grounded way. Either way, I like this pairing already. I love that Barni is with Kouko during her most embarrassing moment (that armpit sweat is totally embarrassing to a girl) and her most vulnerable time — he knows both the ugly and beautiful Kouko. Likewise, Kouko knows Barni's past and the challenge that he's facing. I like the text message that Kouko left with Barni. They have a nice foundation of their relationship, and I do want to see more of that.

    As for the pacing issues, I agree with you. Kouko's awakening — for a person who has locked herself up in her mind for so many years — comes too sudden. It feels like the creators are trying to move the story to the next stage that Banri will be trapped between re-discovering his relationship with Linda and pursuing his new-found love with Kouko. At the same time, it seems like that Mitsuo sees Kouko as more than a childhood friend judging from how he treats her despite how annoying she has been. Perhaps when Kouko is "set" to change, he probably may discover who she really is and come to appreciate her more than he thinks. Anyway, it does feel like that this episode is trying to push the plot forward to a more complicated scenario. It does get interesting in my view, and I'm happy that we will be able to learn more about Linda. With that, I'm going let the pacing issues slide and look forward to seeing the changing dynamics.

  10. R

    this is just a thought on my part. it might be that kouko had already been aware that mitsuo does not love even way before the series started. her actions and outbursts up to this point might then be her way of convincing herself that she needs to move on with her life.

    but banri saying that he does like kouko does feel a little too fast. oh well, the emotional roller coaster is about to begin then.

  11. H

    I don't know if this is the last Koko will think of Mitsuo, because it's not uncommon for someone in that position to say they're totally done with someone and then swing back and forth a few times. And Koko's realized things about her relationship with Mitsuo before, and then had the moment at the beginning of this episode. Perhaps the biggest difference from here out will be Banri trying to convince her that she can like him, rather than trying to support her love for Mitsuo while he himself falls more in love with her.

  12. R

    That will be interesting to the story…and more realistic, too.

  13. S

    Brilliant episode I think. For the pacing, I agree with J-Man. There's a lot happening inside the head of somebody rejected and I'm not overly keen on the usual reaction (run away with or without screaming) in anime. Instead, there was a time skip which probably mostly consisted of silence at the café.

    Enzo, don't think you give Kouko enough credit for sending that text, which I believe triggers the return trip home for Banri. "Worrying about rejection may be the same as rejecting yourself" hits pretty deep for a guy who's fleeing from his former self.

    Anyway, I was clearly was the last person to figure out who Linda was, that was quite a bombshell! But it makes perfect sense looking back at it (and reading your earlier reviews)

    I wish there were more series like this for a lot of reasons, but if successors only copied the University setting, than that would be fine with me as well.

  14. S

    Speaking of amnesia, I just finished the book "The man who forgot his wife". It's brilliant, and I keep finding parallels to it in this anime. Go read it!

  15. M

    I felt that they did a good job of showing how Kouko is a totally different, and much more likable, person when she is not fixating on Mitsuo in episode 3. Banri had been working with her to try to get her to tone it down, she realized that she has done a lot over the years to make Mitsuo hate her, she just has trouble with falling back on old habits.

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