Golden Time – 06

Golden Time - 06 -5 Golden Time - 06 -13 Golden Time - 06 -29

Slipping back into one-word synopsis time again, the only one that suffices here is “intense”.

The term “flawed gem” was created for shows like Golden Time.  For me this show definitely has some significant flaws, but it’s undeniably a gem – it connects with me in a way very few anime do.  Part of me can’t help but wonder how good this story could have been in the hands of one of J.C. Staff’s top dogs like Nagai Tatsuyuki or Kasai Kenichi, because many of the issues seem to stem from a general awkwardness that sometimes invades the pacing and presentation – which is perhaps surprising given that Kon Chiaki, while hardly a standout, is quite experienced and generally competent.  But it is what it is, and what it is remains one of the best anime of the season.

This episode was intense even by Golden Time (I didn’t realize it was the name of the izakaya) standards, both in terms of the amount of content crammed into it and the power of the emotions in play.  GT is a series that deals in big emotions, there’s no question about it, and even if it reaches for some storybook elements that border on fantastical it’s the core authenticity of those emotions and the characters who display them that makes it resonate with me.  I like stories about basically good people with flaws who just want to be happy and spend much of their time screwing it up, because that’s what life is for most of us.

I find myself slipping into a dangerous place with this series in terms of shipping, which is an area of fandom I try to avoid but not always successfully.  I feel as if I have a pretty good handle on where the story is going with all four of the main principals, and I think they’re all excellent characters, but the intensity of my rooting interest for Linda is getting to the point where I worry it’s going to rob me of my impartiality.  Sometimes we find fictional characters who just resonate on the same frequency as we do, and Linda is one for me – it’s the design, the seiyuu, the circumstances – I feel as if I totally understand her.  So when I see warning lights flashing when Kouko tells Banri she loves him (and believe me, I do) I wonder if that’s the shipper in me seeing them.

This is, simply, quite a mess.  There are loads of interesting symbolic moments in this ep, starting with Banri’s name being missing from the graduation T-shirts – and his reaction, and Linda’s reaction to his reaction.  Linda seems to have had a classic big-sister relationship with the old Banri – clearly she was a better student, and she seems to have taken it on herself to look after him.  My sense of Banri is that he’s found a certain “fuck it” freedom in his current situation and it’s made him generally more willing to be impulsive and embrace the unknown whereas in high school he was a bit timid, but I give him credit for having put it to Linda to make a decision about how she felt about him.

There are some big questions unanswered about what happened on that bridge.  What would Linda’a answer have been (all signs point to “yes”)?  Last week strongly hinted that she was responsible for Banri’s accident but her reaction this week seems to point towards her simply being too late in arrival to give him her answer.  The symbolism is hot and heavy here – Banri and Kouko’s meeting (with a different result) likewise happens on a bridge, and we have her running into him on a two-wheeled transport.  Then there’s the shoes – the ¥20000 sneakers Linda supposedly “fell in love with at first sight and bought on impulse”.  My gut is telling me she bought those sneakers for Banri (“Cinderella”) in the first place (men’s sneakers, and presumably way too big for her) and simply hadn’t had the guts to tell him so – maybe she’d even done so back in high school, and brought them with her to Tokyo.  But the end result is Banri running away in Linda’s shoes and being caught by Kouko, on that bridge over the old outer Imperial moat next to Sotobori-dori.

It would be easy to blame Linda for not being more open with Banri (and maybe it’s my shipping goggles that keep me from doing so) but I understand where she’s coming from here.  Fact is Linda clearly saw Banri as fragile even before his accident – an accident which she either symbolically or literally feels is her fault.  Now he’s, as she says “a bomb” – and she’s terrified of being the one to detonate it and cause his house of cards to collapse when he’s seemingly living a fairly happy life.  Yet she does indeed love him, that’s clear.  I could see this going a couple of ways, and the most obvious would be that Takemiya-sensei is telling us that Linda belongs to the ghost Banri, while the real Banri now belongs with Kouko.  But I could also see a scenario where both Banri and Kouko realize that they’re substituting the other for someone else that they truly love, and one way or another have to move on based on that realization.

As for Kouko, I have no doubt that she loves Banri – though I wonder if she loves him romantically.  Rarely have we seen the friendzone quandary portrayed so realistically and in such a dignified way in anime.  Banri is clearly sick of being stuck in it (further evidence that his soul remembers much that his brain currently does not) and again, he risks everything and lays himself bare to Kouko.  It was a hard and painful moment when he broke off their friendship – this series is good at those, and I liked the conceit of the Awa-Odori “Yes/No” fans – but it leads to troubling questions.  Is Kouko merely so afraid of losing Banri as a friend – at the moment still her only friend – that she convinces herself she loves him romantically to avoid that catastrophic alternative?

I have serious reservations about whether Kouko is ready to enter into any kind of serious relationship, never kind one with someone in Banri’s situation.  Kouko is a mess, as witness her behavior towards Chinami and later Yana.  She can’t move on until she sorts out her feelings for Yana properly, and that’s obviously nowhere close to happening.  For the first time this week I felt both that Yana was out of line in his behavior towards Kouko (at the party) and that he may, in fact, have some suppressed romantic feelings for her himself.  That messy tangle complicates everything that happens in Golden Time, and it certainly makes it hard to take Yana’s confession to Chinami in any way seriously.  Everyone in this cast just has so damn much past they’re carrying around with them that it makes the present a colossal mess – but so much so that it’s easy to forget we’re only six episodes into a two-cour series, and much time remains to try and make sense of this emotional whirlpool.

Golden Time - 06 -10 Golden Time - 06 -11 Golden Time - 06 -12
Golden Time - 06 -14 Golden Time - 06 -15 Golden Time - 06 -16
Golden Time - 06 -17 Golden Time - 06 -18 Golden Time - 06 -19
Golden Time - 06 -20 Golden Time - 06 -21 Golden Time - 06 -22
Golden Time - 06 -23 Golden Time - 06 -24 Golden Time - 06 -25
Golden Time - 06 -26 Golden Time - 06 -27 Golden Time - 06 -28
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32 comments

  1. R

    I just watched the last episode a few hours ago. Then this episode came and gave me all the answers, plus a twist. I don't think Kouko is really in love with Banri — she's simply afraid of losing him — in my view — and in her words, feeling worthless again. I can see Banri's pain for being friendzoned, but when Banri left Kouko, my heart dropped to the floor. I really like how Linda's story is unfolded — she, too, is suffering. Poor Kouko and Linda… :-(. A couple episodes back, I suspected that Mitsuo has feelings for Kouko that he's unaware of — I mean he acted so immature in front of Kouko.

    I really like Golden Time — I like how the relationships are intertwined like a spider's web — and, most importantly, I so feel for the four main characters that I don't care about the flaws of the show anymore.

  2. F

    Everyone has so much past they carry around with then, eh? Good summary. ^^

    That being said, I want a crepe when I come and visit one of these days…. Jus sayin.

  3. s

    A caution for everyone praising Banri for heroically escaping the friend zone: results may vary. There's no guarantee that the person who rejected you will suddenly do a 360 because you terminating the friendship. So don't expect them to go chasing after you on a bike. ^_^

  4. R

    That's for sure, but it's better to put an end to these kind of situations, it only ends in suffering otherwise. ^^

  5. R

    amusing, while Nagi no asukara was a lot more subdued than usual this, it was golden time's turn to be a lot more emotional than usual. (i tend to see both as polar opposites of each other).

    i am surprised at how fast kouko said that she loved banri. i was wishing to see more insights on why she actually for her. or was it just an impulse on her part, as she was scared at the thought of losing her only friend?

    a few things also made me wonder. linda says that if she was only on time for their supposed metup, she would have given her answer. does that mean that she didn't make it before the accident? then who was it in the scooter who actually bumped banri on the bridge? why do i have the feeling that it might have been kouko riding that scooter all along? that scene with her bumping him with the bike looks similar as to how the flashback of the accident is shown.

    arrrgggh!!! too many qwuestions. now i am genuinely interested.

  6. k

    nice. (~^_^)~

  7. i

    Maybe with such big emotions involved they should have had a guest writer in Mari Okada for this week, eh?

    This was I think the first episode of GT I watched properly, no texting in between, no sudoku on the side; no I watched it focus. I think this episode is either the end of Vol 1 or Vol 2 because it feels like a mini finale that is common with LN adaptations. It feels like GT's approach is to take its time setting things up quietly before going with a bang (though I preferred this one to the metal of fake NANA). And what a bang it was. Banri just exploded in a way that most people cannot, sick of the status quo he tried to shift the equilibrium unafraid of if he might end up somewhere worse. Ballsy.

    I agree that having Kenichi Kasai or Nagai Tatsuyuki in charge would have been better for GT that Chiaki Kon. Above anything else those two are specialists in touching dramas and romances while the same cannot be said of the merely competent Kon.

    I honestly thought from the first 3-4 episodes that the OP had spoiled the show but I think the points you raised now are pretty arguments for why that is not so. I still think that Banri and Koko will end up together in proper unlike a sort of fake relationship they might have in the coming episodes but I more doubtful of that ending.

    But I think the most interesting and simply amazing thing GT did this week was that it made Toradora almost look cliche by comparison with how GT deals with the friendzone/romance. Stories of helping other people fall in love and falling in love with them are quite common (though more in western media than anime) and Toradora was simply the best version of that story that anime offered. GT though feels like a completely different beast and for the first time I think Takemiya isn't just using her fame to milk out a slice of life romance but actually making something that could potentially surpass what put her on the map. Isn't it so anime that one great episode can change things so quickly?

  8. R

    This leaves off around 3/4 of the way through volume 2 but man that pacing has been a bit fast.

  9. s

    true that; nagai tatsuyuki is one of the best directors out right now in anime; he could even make something like railgun have some depth to it,,,which he did so nicely with railgun S

  10. M

    Surpassing Toradora is one thing but turning Enzo into a shipper is the truly amazing thing GT did this week.

  11. I have plenty of history here – True Tears, Bokura ga Ita, Sand Chronicles… I can ship with the best of them, but I try to avoid getting too caught up in it whenever possible. It usually leads to impaired judgement and ugliness.

  12. F

    At least you sometimes see through the puzzle and guess eho the "winner" will be. I have the worst luck in the world when it comes to this. Lol

  13. I just bet against whoever I'm rooting for and I get it right almost every time. Mashifony and TT are about the only exceptions.

  14. R

    …and I hope that Chihayafuru will be another exception…teehee.

  15. S

    The relationship between Banri and Linda is just so heart-wrenching to watch…

  16. R

    Yes it is can't help but feel for Linda and always suppressing her emotions.

  17. Z

    This post is endorsed by IE11.

  18. LOL, I noticed that Zani. This Inori chick is A-OK!

  19. t

    I think you put it quite right – intense. after ep like that..it's true.
    not high-paced. but intense.
    that is what make golden time what it is. and it's lovely and very very intriguing. but yeah, flawed.

    finally, finally, Linda has come out of her shell. so far we barely got to see her carrying special emotions, and I don't expect her to cry or something, but I did wanted to see internal conflict within her, and so far we haven't seen that.
    but this time she couldn't take it anymore.
    I guess that what it is when Banri faced her with the demons of the past. it's really hard for them both.
    but one should wonder…how's that she managed to act so..normal until now?
    did she shut herself down that much until now?is it because she feel responsible for the accident? what I mean is…I want to know her line of thought in that matter.
    most (but not all) of the accident(before and after) course of events are quite clear, but the characters' thoughts are still fuzzy, especially Linda.
    while I do kinda feel sorry for her, this is what I was waiting to see in this series.

    but that's not all of it. we also had Kouko. getting herself distant from Banri she realized that she can't be without him. I don't buy the "I love you Banri" so easily. I still don't see her loving him in romantic way. if you ask me, it's quite analogy to the way Linda was to old-Banri. of course it's quite different 'cause Banri really loved Linda (time is quite the difference here), but I meant the way he simply couldn't manage on his own without her, so it's like that for Kouko (and I think she understand that quite well).
    yet Banri can manage on his own now. partly. we saw him being saved by Linda sometimes at the beginning. but he sure feels different.
    I loved the analogy with "Bnari's being running away with Linda's shoes" which probably meant for him. it expresses the many internal analogies in GT. and pull out more complex. I love it.

    that brings me to the point that again, it feels so genuine. those characters are in college, they aren't keeping things in the stomach for a long time (as different from many high-school romcom anime), mostly they simply getting down to the point. we see it this ep when Banri faced Linda and when Kouko "confess" to Banri.
    that's the beauty of the show. however, as Enzo said at the beginning. GT is flawed. it came to me, that pace isn't the problem. but the characters line of thoughts and development. again things happening inside the characters, but we can't grasp and digest it. and it's kinda crucial when things are getting much more complex.
    yet of course I do enjoy very much of golden time.

  20. S

    "..GT is flawed. it came to me, that pace isn't the problem. but the characters line of thoughts and development. again things happening inside the characters, but we can't grasp and digest it. and it's kinda crucial when things are getting much more complex.."

    I can assure you that it is a pacing/adaptation issue so it's not GT at fault but JC Staff who chose this execution for whatever reasons. If you like the anime and don't mind reading LN or manga than do yourself a favor and read them. Preferably after the anime has ended, that way you can still enjoy it without being spoilt or dissatisfied with the way they chose to adapt it.

    I guess I like linda also too much even though it's pretty obvious that Banri will end up with Koukou. And I like that couple to so no man overboard.. Still after the wonderful introduction of Linda in the first episode I'm (slightly) dissapointed after watching episode 6, because the anime-only public is missing out on an interesting point in the current relationship of Banri and Linda. Why JC Staff decided to leave it out I dont really understand, because it's pretty important in the view of the character realtionships.
    After Banri found the picture of him and Linda and he tries to piece things together with the few things he remembers (confession) he comes to the following decision: He prefers keeping the status quo of their current carefree sempai/kouhai relationship instead of facing Linda and getting the answers that he wants, because he doesn't want/fears of loosing the time he can spend with her as the new (amnesiac) Banri without being burdened by the past hanging over their heads/time together.

  21. R

    This episode skipped a bunch in regard to inner thoughts and also with the way the events are unfolding.

  22. s

    ooohhh Linda…why couldnt you have been the main female lead; nothing against koko (hou-chan is in the house after all) because at the end of the day, she's a fine specimen indeed and we all need a yandere to spice up our lives from time to time but…come on…Linda is tooooooooo superior; a woman of class and grace. To me the answer of who is the best is as clear as air; If i was Banri, asking me who id choose is like asking me a multiple choice question with only one choice of answer.

  23. M

    Banri really earned a lot of manly points for breaking the friendzone with Kouko although he also looses a few due to his reaction with Linda afterwards.However,the later is something I really can't blame him for.In fact,it actually fleshes out his character more which IMO,is very welcomed.

    I honestly didn't expect Kouko to confess to him so soon,even if it was out of desperation.Although I completely agree that she's not yet ready for a romantic relationship,the show went into an interesting territory here.Starting a relationship out of need,where both partners complement each other and improve their relationship the more they realize that is definitely something to look forward to.

    Now I'm even more hyped for this show.

  24. J

    What a lot to digest for this week's batch of Thursday anime. Wow. I think one of the best moments in this episode was Banri taking Kouko to task for being friendzoned. That's something you don't see everyday, and I like how he's challenging the notion that once you're in that zone, you have to accept it. Of course, it's interesting you point out that this confession by Kouko was too quick. Just a whole lot of emotion, with the story hitting home about how everyone's carrying a burden. The rubicon's been crossed. The real stuff is about to begin.

  25. f

    quite different from how it shakes out in LN. The pacing has definitely felt rushed and i felt some of the key scenes were abbreviated, but not poorly executed. My sense is that there's something bigger at large that needs to be fleshed out (perhaps the love rhombus/ pentagon) looming up ahead. (Seriously, you could make a love map right now it would look busy as it is)
    My attraction to GT i guess, is that all the characters right now are likeable enough and direct enough to make this interesting despite the awkward interactions. This certainly doesn't follow the traditional anime romance arc I'm accustomed to watching.

  26. R

    Yup quite different indeed missing all those inner thoughts. Also was expecting the Kouko chasing Banri scene to actually be more dramatic. Next week should be volume 3 onwards.

  27. m

    I get where this series was coming from. Really I do. But this Tada Banri character is just such a manipulative and unlikable cunt.

    I mean his treatment of the female leads is nothing short of blackmail!

    With Linda he removed all responsibility and one sidedly decided to pose his declaration of love as threat: love me or forget about our years of friendship, and continuing that friendship. And there is good reason to believe that he hurt himself because he thought he didn't get the answer he wanted.

    Heck, he was probably going to hurt himself again if it weren't for Kouko's declaration of love on the bridge.

    His treatment of Kouko is only slightly less bad in that he's knowingly posing that question at a time where his friendship is all the friendship she has.

    The only thing that seemingly worse than Banri's behavior is that the series seems to be vindicating his threatening the people he supposedly loves. Threats are no basis for a healthy relationship. This stuff looks like I'll hate it as much as I do Diabolic Lovers.

  28. R

    Can see where you're coming from as well but a bunch of shit has been omitted as well in the series adaptation.

  29. m

    i agree that banri is somewhar overboard in handling his relationship with kouko. did he really have to call off their friendship? in the first place, he confessed in the worst possible timing. he could not possibly expect kouko to turn 360 degrees and love him back. if then, it would mean that she was just frivolous in her feelings for mitsuo, which i dont think she is.

    of course kouko isnt free of blame. over-emphasising their friend status was kinda insensitive. it made things difficult for banri.

    the romantic chemistry is just a mess, and i largely attribute this to the way-too-fast pacing. i was expecting, given this is college romance, a more natural and realistic relationship. but too many things are thrown here and there, for me to feel any realism

  30. m

    the only character for me here is.linda. imo, who wouldn't ship her. she tries to deal with their relationship maturely, tender and subtle, giving banri space (he did mention that he feels imprisoned in his relationships). i feel linda just did not want to give him pressure, was their any meaning pursuing a relationship without a memory, and thus no meaning. it's surely painful for linda not being able to admit it, yet also frustrating for banri that he doesnt get answers, to not quite know himself. i really ship them as a couple, though i wouldnt have minded if the series went without either

  31. m

    was there any meaning*

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