Golden Time – 08

Golden Time - 08 -8 Golden Time - 08 -16 Golden Time - 08 -27

Of all the shows I’m closely following this season, this is the one that has me the most confused and conflicted.

If you’ll indulge me, I find myself fitting everything about this week’s episode of Golden Time into the box called “duality”.  There’s always been a bifurcated nature to this series, some of it by design and some not so much: two Banris, two love interests obviously being the former.  But one thing I’m sure is the latter is the way the show can swing wildly from emotionally devastating brilliance to awkward and stilted (like the really unpleasant and unfunny scene in front of Yana’s apartment) at the drop of a hat.  And as for the last one, I’m not sure which box it falls under – the way Golden Time takes on a completely different personality depending on which characters are on screen.

In short, I find this to be a completely different series when Linda is involved.  It’s more dignified, more weighty, more emotionally sharp – sweeter, kinder, more painful.  Her almost total absence from the OP/ED and the episode previews is fascinating – it really makes me wonder what sort of message Kon-sensei and J.C. Staff are trying to send about her character and where she fits in the story.  I’m frankly confused about what this series is trying to accomplish, though not in an entirely bad way – it’s kind of fun to be confused about a show you care about, but again – I’m not sure how much of this confusion is intentional and how much is awkward direction.

Case in point – is GT going out of its way to make Linda far more likeable than Kouko, and her time with Banri far more meaningful?  Of course Kouko is a very troubled person and that’s being presented intentionally (and quite well).  But her scenes with Banri seem to lack any sort of meaning whatsoever – they’re cartoonish and absurd and their mutual affection is so hackneyed as to be not at all believable (at least to me).  It also seems impossible to ignore the fact that she and Yana are being portrayed as still hopelessly obsessed with each other – indeed, it could be said that Kouko and Banri each represent a rebound relationship for the other.  And we all know how well those work out.

But then there’s Linda.  Setting aside Ghost Banri (henceforth referred to as “GB”) spelling things out, it’s obvious that Banri still has deep and profound feelings for Linda.  As obvious as the fact that he doesn’t for Kouko, and so obvious that GB’s presence seems patently unnecessary to me – one reason I’m still not sold on him as a narrative device.  Every scene between Banri and Kouko projects shallowness – every scene between he and Linda depth.  Everything between them is deeper and more profound – the connection, the concern, the pain.  Step back and ask yourself honestly – is there anything Kouko could do that would hurt Banri the way overhearing Linda say what she did to her girlfriends in high school did?  If the answer is “no” – and it is for me – it makes it hard to take Banri and Kouko seriously as a couple.  And on the subject of that being a “different person” in Banri’s case, I’ll address that in a minute.

What seems obvious to me is Linda’s “Isn’t it obvious” moment – when she told Banri her answer that night after graduation was going to be “no”, she was lying.  You may feel differently but I’ve been down this road with more than a few anime, and my confidence is close to absolute.  She has every reason to lie – Banri is with someone else, believes he’s not the same guy he was then, and Linda feels like she’s already done him enough damage.  But the truth is all over her face – and it’s just another case of Banri and Linda hurting each other without wanting to.  This is clearly a cycle between them, and every scene between them seems to be painful – but it’s the fact that the two of them are so deeply connected that makes it possible for them to hurt each other so much.

And then there’s Kouko, who’s the other main source of the confusion about where this show is going.  Everyone can make their own judgements, obviously, but to me it’s clear she simply isn’t healthy psychologically.  Her mistreatment of Oka is abominable (and entirely unjustified) and she’s 100% obsessed with the guy she’s been stalking since they were elementary-schoolers.  The side-plot with Oka and Yana is a good one, but it gets overwhelmed by the sheer amperage of the main trio.  It’s like a 100-watt light bulb outdoors on a sunny day – in a different setting it would be impossible to miss, but you can barely see it here.

If it weren’t for the OP/ED, and the promo materials, and the previews, I’d be convinced that Kouko and Banri was being set up as the obvious distraction from the main event, and that even if he never ended up with Linda it would be that relationship or its eventual end that would define the series.  But we have all those things to consider, and if indeed Kouko and Banri is the centerpiece Golden Time certainly has a novel way of setting it up.  For me, it feels as if the real issue here is the duality of Banri himself.  Is he right that he’s a different person now, and the symbolic (or literal) presence of GB is the proof of that?  Or is Banri merely fooling himself and in point of fact, he’s still very much the same man he was before?  My instincts tell me it’s the latter, which is why they also tell me that Linda is the relationship that matters for him, not Kouko.  But I think it’s the answer to that riddle that ultimately determines which course the series takes.

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Golden Time - 08 -12 Golden Time - 08 -13 Golden Time - 08 -14
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Golden Time - 08 -19 Golden Time - 08 -20 Golden Time - 08 -21
Golden Time - 08 -22 Golden Time - 08 -23 Golden Time - 08 -24
Golden Time - 08 -25 Golden Time - 08 -26 Golden Time - 08 -28
Golden Time - 08 -29 Golden Time - 08 -30 Golden Time - 08 -31
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15 comments

  1. R

    and chinami just dropped that one important question here. why do banri and kouko still feel too concerned with linda and yana respectively if they are supposed to be exclusively dating each other? from the preview alone, you can tell that this isn't going to be good. looks like we will get to see kouko's actual growth now.

  2. f

    that was the first 'gotcha!' moment for kouko, but that entire sequence was so bizarre: with the noodle suffocation, and kouko's gross mistreatment of chinami. It's not that jokes are very funny, I find myself laughing at the sheer awkwardness more than anything.

    I agree with you that based on the previews, we're going to see a breaking down of sorts on kouko's side. I haven't really gotten a handle on her character thus far, how wildly bipolar she can be with measured reasoning one minute, and outright sociopathic behavior the next. I don't think she's clinically ill like GE suggests, more so she's having an incredibly tough time trying to break bad habits that yana most likely helped fostered (there's story behind that, i'm sure).

  3. t

    first thing first, let's speak about Linda.
    having seen the flashback and the ep, I like the demonstration of Linda's change. we can really feel the difference between a high-school teenage girl and a woman in college. especially since Linda had been through a lot with all Banri's accident.

    if you ask me, I think Linda is uncertain about her feeling to Banri. she wasn't certain in high-school, and she is even more mixed. we all know there is a line between friendship zone and romance zone. sometimes we hope not to be stuck in the middle. and Linda is in the middle of the middle of that line.
    I am sure she lied to the girls in high-school about her feelings to Banri. but does that mean she loved him even then?I guess not, otherwise she wasn't "late" when Banri asked her to come to the bridge. the fact she was late, and the fact she gave that answer nowdays to Banri, makes me think that she is mixed about it.
    added to this the way Banri suddenly "burst" at the end, I guess it confused her even more.

    "Every scene between Banri and Kouko projects shallowness – every scene between he and Linda depth"
    until last week it would make sense. but now, why Kouko over Linda?
    I am not sure. but I guess Banri does see something in Kouko, besides her beauty.
    more than that, I am not sure Banri is so certain himself, especially when he burst out like that at the end (what if it was actually GB possessed him? "something strange in the neighbourhood guess who it is?Ghost-Banri :P)

    yeah, without OP/ED and stuff, it would be much more likely to believe Banri and Linda are meant to be. but now?supposedly the opposite. his current relationship with Linda is the "silent" distraction for his relationship with Kouko. obviously it could also be a Troll, so Banri and Linda meant to be in the end.THO less likely IMO (even though I prefer Banri X Linda).

    I like the way things are rolling for mitsuo and chinami. of course it's not getting much focus, after all it's not the main event. but the fact we see development in this secondary act, is good.

    we didn't see much of Kouko this ep beside her interaction with Chinami. and I am still confused what was going on there S:
    what we actually did see is how Banri acted like Kouko. but it almost ended up in BL.
    please, don't. although I was laughing, I was also like "Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh?" 😛

  4. D

    I can still remember having a relationship very much like the one between Banri and Kouko when I was of a similar age. It is not healthy, but I do not question it's sincerity. Each is grasping desperately. Each trying to define themselves by the other, but for different reasons. It is not going to end well for either.

    I am not convinced Banri and Linda will end up together. Part of me would like to see a more serious take on relationships where neither pans out for exact opposite reasons. But I will not hold my breath there.

    As for the OP/ED, I believe it is going to be the biggest troll of the year, and I am looking forward to it.

  5. i

    GT has been upping its stocks recently. I didn't care for it much at first but I will admit that Linda has presence that few heroines in romcoms do anymore in anime – she's the Hisoka of romance in that sense. I also find GB (God save the Queen) a totally unnecessary component to the story, beyond flashback use, but I think that he will be used at some point as the merging or repulsion of Banri's past with his present; as seen when Banri burst out again in front of Linda.

    On the comedy, I found it funny when Yana and Banri went into gay mode (the fujoshi in me?). Also Oka showed that she has more depth than height so I guess the main cast bar 2-D-kun are all in some way romantically linked. That I think is GT's greatest asset over Toradora, a romantic polygon with the end hazed in mist rather than straightforward. My biggest gripe initially was that I treated GT like any other LN romance – the girl shown most in the Op wins – but Kon and the author knew better. I am as interested in GT as WWA2.

  6. M

    Damn,they're making Linda waaaaayyy too likeable in comparison to Kouko and the way Banri acts around the former in comparison to the later feels so natural.I'm now pretty much a 100% Linda shipper.GT looks as dignified as WA2 whenever she's on screen.

    I ended up accepting and,to a degree,even liking Hikari in Nagi but in Kouko's case,there's way more development to be done so that she can at least stop being annoying.Luckily,it seems that development might start with the next episode.I'm very much looking forward to it.

  7. k

    part of me really wanted to skip scenes involving Koko but it has more screen time due to the story so I really cant do that. another part of me wanted to see hours more of scenes with Linda but its all too short. so I just rewind those again and again. the ending is still far away but please, please let it be Linda…

  8. N

    Nope, I am pretty sure that Banri would be equally hurt if he overheard such words from Kouko. Well, maybe not equally because he is older now but you get what I mean.

    As far as romances go, I'll withold my opinion until the series actually start focusing on Kouko. ATM, it is focused on Banri, Banri's relationship with Linda and MitsuOka, with Kouko probably being left for the last. We know she is a bit psychotic, but why is she like that as well as what exactly goes through her head is still a big mystery.

  9. y

    Kouko is an extreme caricature. The basis for Banri's attraction is fairly simple – her radiance in terms of both physical beauty and assertiveness in love (her devotion to Mitsuo, to the point that she frequently shoots herself in the foot and behaves in obnoxious ways that she wouldn't otherwise), as well as her loneliness (rejection by Mitsuo, despite this devotion).

    It's an absurd love, but that's the point. It just happened, and Banri doesn't know why. But she's just so gorgeous, so clumsy, so vulnerable deep down, and oh, how he yearns to cure her loneliness……

    There's actually a whole sub-genre dedicated to this setup. It has been popularized by the Korean film "My Sassy Girl", but there are many movies and dramas like this. It's a formula that crosses feminism with romantic extremes (as some romantics dream, it's the idea that true love is demonstrated by extremes – how far you'd go to chase someone, and how much abuse either you or your partner can endure in the process), and I have little doubt that Takemiya was inspired by this.

    [Sidenote: Representing Banri's viewpoint, the novelist consistently describes Kouko using various superlatives, which Kon translates to anime using shoujo visual stylings – stars, hearts, sparkles, etc. I found the decision to be strange, but having examined the original text, I can see why she went that route. Takemiya's approach to description resembles what you'd find in YA novels aimed at teenage girls.]

    Ultimately, Golden Time is a mishmash of contradicting influences. Toradora was more or less a shounen romance with some deeper than expected characterization. However, GT is a very diluted work in terms of focus: part bishoujo romance, part shoujo, part traditional college romance, part "My Sassy Girl".

  10. l

    That scene that you called unpleasant and unfunny was for me a hoot. Initially, I was, "What a prank saving move." Then, it was, "Oh.. he's doing a good parody of Kouko's moves." It shows you how ridiculous over-the-top Kouko is. Could it possibly be that you find unpleasant and unfunny that Banri doing those moves felt like a parody of gay guys?

  11. S

    No way can anyone miss the "M-Y- BOYFRIEND pew pew" parody reference. I thought it was hilarious. But the only other reason I find to be upset would be objectification of the girl (cleavage fanservice) but that's not exactly unheard of in Anime.

    On a different note, I thought the episode was great. But I'm worried that they're making it way too clear that Linda is the real love interest here.

    P.S. I dislike the term " X is being portrayed as Y" when used as critique. It's as if the reviewer knows more about X than reality does and dislike what reality (the anime) is showing. E.g "I love this new romantic comedy Shin Sekai Yori, but it was portrayed as a dark surreal drama in this episode"

  12. I just thought it was mean-spirited and unfunny, period.

  13. f

    What I think is that maybe, just maybe, Banri and Kouko won't end up together. I haven't read the source material or the author's other works, so I can't make any predictions, but what I'd really like to get from this story is that even if they're not a couple by the end of the series, they will have been through a lot together and learned (and matured) through their time together. I dunno, but I feel like this whole romantic entanglement thing with Kouko is a setup for something more profound. But in any case, it looks like the main pair is headed for trouble, if the preview is anything to judge by.

    And yeah, I also feel like I'm being stabbed through the heart whenever Linda gets a scene.

  14. S

    I agree with you that Linda lied in the end to protect Banri's current persona. She certainly is portrayed as the more mature one.

    I think that Koko deep down is a good girl. In this episode she asked Banri to go check on Mitsuo and later she called Oka (who she hates) to cheer up Mitsuo. Despite all the venom she now spits on Mitsuo whenever they are together, it's clear that she still deeply cares for him.

    However she needs to learn to be less clingy with Banri, otherwise I have trouble accepting their relationship. Either that, or Takemiya is pulling a fast one on us and Banri x Linda is the True End. I wouldn't mind.

  15. B

    Yeah i really don't know what this series is about, i mean does it even have a main theme? As for my part, i 'm starting to think the idea is predestined couples mostly because of Banri and Linda meeting again even after he lost his memory and she went out of town. Also there was this thing about Kouko talking about past lives, which appeared again this week so it may not be "just a joke". Otherwise i'm lost.

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