Golden Time – 10

Golden Time - 10 -7 Golden Time - 10 -13 Golden Time - 10 -16

I’ll give Golden Time credit for this much – I still can’t wrap my around what’s really going on here.

This is a very strange series, full of genuinely powerful moments as well as awkward and stilted ones.  In a way I think GT and White Album 2 form bookends as the two best romance series of the season by a wide margin.  With the latter there’s never really been much mystery about what was going on, and the tension comes from knowing it.  Here – at least for me – the show has me completely in the dark.  I don’t know WTF Takemiya and Kon are going for here, and until this episode I wasn’t sure they did either.

That’s pretty much changed this week, though, because I think this ep was an overt statement that Golden Time is fully aware of the strange dichotomy as it exists around the main characters.  Banri says it himself – it’s like his time with Linda is reality, and his time with Kouko a dream (though I would use the word fantasy, myself).  Watch the way the scenes are shot, paced, and even the BGM – everything with Linda is warm and soft and tender, and with Kouko it’s harsh and bright and loud.  As well, there’s almost no comedy where Linda is involved, and the scenes with Kouko often tend towards the farcical (and with her oversized personality dragging them there, that’s no surprise).

I can’t find a better word than the one Linda uses to describe the two of them together – “natural”.  You can agree or disagree about the romantic element (I have my leanings, but the jury is still out), but they just go together like butter and toast.  With Kouko, it’s different – there’s an edge of panic in the air, which might naturally enough be taken as a sign of romantic tension if you’re inclined to think that way.  There’s obviously no way Kouko and Banri could have the same kind of rapport he and Linda do – that is, unless you truly believe this Banri is a different person than the old one, in which case he’s actually known her for less time than he’s known Kouko (thus removing one excuse for why he and Linda seem so much better-suited).

I’m not entirely happy with the way GT is choosing to portray that whole question, and I haven’t been for a while.  I would really prefer if they stop dancing around the whole Ghost Banri question and settle it one way or the other – I don’t like the idea that Ghost Banri exists as a separate entity to begin with, but if that’s the direction we’re going let’s acknowledge it and play ball already.  Instead, we get the incredibly cliched development of Banri falling and hitting his head – not 30 seconds into the episode, yet – and losing his recently regained memories (or not, if you believe Ghost Banri really exists).  So we’re back where we started, not knowing whether this is a symbolic device or a dose of magical realism, and that allows the series to kick some of the major questions down the curb for a while instead of addressing them.

As always I prefer the notion that this is an identity crisis rather than a supernatural one, because I think there’s plenty of pathos in the story if it follows that route.  While we’ve seen the anime cold done to death, I liked the way the first half of the episode played out, starting with the intervention of Nana (the “Nana” jokes were thick in the air this week).  She calls Linda (Nana) naturally enough, but not before showing she does have a softer side by taking Banri to the hospital (with a 39.2 fever). Again, Linda and Banri could hardly seem more natural together – but what kind of love is this?  Linda’s true feelings remain a mystery, but Banri – whatever combination of Banris he is at this point – seems fully reconciled to the fact that he wants to be with Linda.  Linda, being Linda, calls Kouko – and with her arrival (with the rest of the peanut gallery minus Oka in tow) things immediately get funnier and stranger.  And Banri gets confused, as Kouko’s presence seems to momentarily at least distract him from the emotions he retained from his encounter with GB at the end of the last episode.

I think it’s enough of a story if Banri is just confused about what he wants – torn between the love of his youth and the new girl.  I don’t need anything more than that, but need it or not we’re getting it with the whole Ghost Banri question.  Whether Ghost Banri is real or not I think the ultimate direction of GT is going to boil down to the answer to a very simple question – are new and old Banri the same person or not?  I actually don’t think it matters if it’s the physical form vs. the ghost, the pre-amnesia vs. post-amnesia Banri, or just a young person confused about who he is and what he wants – the question is fundamentally the same.   And until Banri answers it definitively he’s going to remain confused, no matter whether he follows through on Kouko’s invitation for a nooky-trip to the beach (a lot cheaper than Paris, as first times go).

Of course it isn’t only Banri that’s going to have a say about how all this plays out, even if his identity question is the central variable in the series.  It’s still impossible to say just how real Kouko’s professed love for him is, given her insecurities (indeed, one could argue that her beach invitation at the end is an attempt to use the lure of sex to hang onto Banri when she’s afraid of losing him).  For all her protestations it’s clear she was genuinely freaked out that Linda was taking care of Banri first.  She remains a dizzying uzumaki of relationship dysfunction, and for all her reassuring solidity Linda is no slouch herself.  She still hasn’t tipped her hand one way or the other about her true feelings for Banri, and given that she still believes she’s dealing with someone with no memories of their adolescence together, her deference to Kouko could easily be a simple case of not wanting to disrupt Banri’s life any further than she feels she already has.  Trying to discern Kouko’s true feelings is like trying to pick out a single voice at a party full of noisy people, and trying to discern Linda’s is like trying to hear someone whispering from the other side of the room.

Golden Time - 10 -9 Golden Time - 10 -10 Golden Time - 10 -11
Golden Time - 10 -12 Golden Time - 10 -14 Golden Time - 10 -15
Golden Time - 10 -17 Golden Time - 10 -18 Golden Time - 10 -19
Golden Time - 10 -20 Golden Time - 10 -21 Golden Time - 10 -22
Golden Time - 10 -23 Golden Time - 10 -24 Golden Time - 10 -25
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7 comments

  1. t

    so, we had the "sick visit" event (as Keima would like to say).
    Banri got some love points with both Kouko and Linda (you can even count Nana if you'd like to LOL).

    but besides the complex we still have with our trio, we continue to see, as you've said, the identity crisis of Banri. it's becoming more intense.
    I agree it's confusing – when is it the real and when is it the ghost? (besides the part it entered his body)..but being quite clear and decisive about it, namely draw the line between the ghost and real Banri, would ruin the whole issue we have here in terms of character development (not to mention the trio complex). ever since we discovered about his past life and his accident, it was implied that Banri is conflicted. we can't throw it just like that. I do hope he'll regain his power after being sick, and we'll see the usual Banri, but I still want him to be partly indecisive, it's important for the trio.
    I think of the ghost a "separate subconscious", raising from time to time, making Banri being blurry about himself. and here comes that great analogy he made between dream(Kouko) and reality (Linda).

    Kouko. what's with her this time?when she entered dramatically with the flowers, reminded me of ep 1 when she throw it on Mitsuo. I was like "oh no, she and her moods again".
    but Banri isn't Mitsuo, and Kouko knows it. she knows Banri is delicate and honest, he isn't the kind to betray or abandon her like that. moreover, in contrast to her "relationship" with Mitsuo, she is like..need him. and at end of the ep we also got a change in her behavior. at first I was thinking she is jealous, which might be true, but it's not the pure jealousy we had with Chinami back there. not only she respect Linda, but she sees her as a more perfect GF. and it's true, she is a bit jealous, but more than that, she wants to fulfiil the love with Banri in the best way, but it's not going on so well, and Linda seems a better choice (especially if we consider the fact she is the prime suspect for stealing the photo!)

    speaking about "sick visit" event and love point. Kouko won the jackpot in the end (I guess at least we can expect "beach episode" in addition/instead of paris-ep). but more than the love points, we got some nice development in their relationship, unlike with Linda, when we didn't get to see a real development, both are conflicted, yet together they stand try to stand strong for each other. so back to the analogy of dream and reality. maybe with Linda it's all real(allow me to add: as we know), but with Kouko we also see the features that are essential in relationship. remember, every relationship is in a different way and unique, but here and there, there are some elements.

  2. R

    and this is where the old adage "jokes are always half meant" is smack on. kouko tries to hide it as a jest, but she is really hurting inside as she realizes and witnesses the closeness between linda and banri.

    this ep also clearly shows that her feelings for banri is starting to become more genuine outside of her own romantic fantasies. she even acknowledges her own shortcomings in the relationship, which causes her insecurities. and her dialog "even if it isnt in paris, i just want to go with you to the beach" also shows her views moving from the fantasies to reality.

  3. U

    Oh man, I just like all these characters so much. Linda is a great person, but I really like Kouko too. The way this anime treats the two characters is really interesting as well. Enzo already mentioned it in his posts, but there a distinct change in tone whenever Kouko enters the scene or Banri is alone with Linda. There's also how Linda never seems to show up in any of the episode previews. Even in the ep9 preview when ep9 was almost entirely about Linda and Banri's past.

    I was glad to see Kouko trying hard to change herself. When I saw the roses I had a genuine scare, but it was nice to see Kouko was able realize Banri wouldn't be cheating and Linda wouldn't try anything inappropriate. I still can't say for sure what kind of feelings are really between Banri and Kouko, but I could feel some genuine emotion between them. It's a nice change to the sugar-rush like OMG I LUB U, I LUB U TOO that usually goes on between them. x.x Or it could be my shipper preference tinting what I see, but oh well.

    To be honest, I was rather relieved when Ghost Banri was a fake out. I was worried that Ghost Banri would do something like go confess to Linda and cause a whole lot of angst and drama. Then there would be issues like Ghost vs Current fighting for control or a whole lot of mess, in the end everyone would be hurt asdfasdf. I like these characters a lot so such a lose-lose situation would be painful to watch.

  4. I'm not convinced yet the Natsuyuki route has been closed and GB is a fakeout.

    Linda truly is an incredibly nice person, but if anything, she's too nice. Her reluctance to hurt anyone is causing a stagnation in the relationship dynamic and it was her hesitation in the first place – whether you believe she simply didn't want to hurt Banri with a "no" or not – that led to the initial crisis.

    I don't think Linda's essential goodness is fake in any way – I think she's a genuinely wonderful soul. But there are times in one's life where they have to be selfish, and times where they have to be blunt and honest. And Linda needs to start being a little of both.

  5. q

    I've heard that what Banri has is some kind of personality disorder stemming from his amnesia, but for the life of me I can't remember what it's called. v ___ v;;

    I agree that Linda is too 'perfect'. I said it on RC, but I think that her attitude is going to hurt Banri some way in the end. It seems like she wants to start over with Banri V.2, but has this lingering thing for his old self. I really think that she needs to clear this all up and set a status quo for the two of them.

    (Plus Banri V.1, if he gets another shot at possession again, is going to go for the confession and this'll just end badly. :<) (I also swear that this isn't coming from a shipping perspective. I've been thinking about this for the last 2/3 episodes with all the flashbacks and stuff.)

  6. C

    I think I'm one of the few who likes Banri x Kouko together. But if going to what I feel about the series I think my best guess is Banri would end up with Linda, and Kouko would go to Paris to be her own person. I think her insecurity stems from not having a concept of her own self-worth and with her personality pretty much dependent on the person that she loves.

  7. M

    I've become a Linda shipper after the last couple of episodes but little by little,I'm starting to appreciate Kouko too as she's shown to be self-aware and is trying to change for the better.Geh,I knew I should've applied my WA2 logic here and not ship for anyone as both girls are likeable – Kouko's just needs more time for that.

    It's interesting comparing Kouko's situation to Setsuna's:

    – Kouko's trying to do the right thing and assuming she keeps going on like that(because with how unpredictable this show is you never know),whether she'll get heartbroken or not in the future will depend solely on Banri(and maybe Linda?).

    – Setsuna is just as responsible as Haruki for whatever's gonna happen.However,despite also being insecure like Kouko,she takes "playing with fire" to a whole new level.

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