Golden Time is, in the most ironic of fashions, a romance/comedy series with a fundamental identity crisis. As a well-versed connoisseur of the romance/shoujo sphere of anime over the years, I've seen the full range of what the genre has to offer -- and unfortunately, most times you roll the dice on a show, you come up short. Thus, when Golden Time opened its first episode showing just how awkward and cringey it could be, I actually ended up going into things with a fair amount of hope. Unlike a title such as Bokura ga Ita, which starts you off with the warm and fuzzy and proceeds to spend 26 episodes slowly making you hate the characters, Golden Time slams you with all that dislike upfront, which actually creates the framework for significant character growth and development that the series attempts heavily to capitalize on.
Make no mistake, the show comes on very strong very quickly. The viewer is spared mere minutes before meeting Kaga Kouko, a rich, spoiled brat who takes "overly attached girlfriend" well into the "I desperately need a restraining order" territory -- especially when she failed to make that first step into being "girlfriend." She's chasing after a fellow rich boy, her highschool crush named Yana, who in his attempts to escape her encounters ours protagonist, Tada Banri. They stumble shortly thereafter upon Linda, Banri's childhood friend, all parsed together under the standard "we're freshmen in college" setting. As with every shoujo, the default love triangles get carved out quickly, and a few archetypal supporting characters get thrown in the mix like the girl who only likes pretty people and the NEET (hilariously nicknamed "2D-kun".) The batter, all whipped together, forms the stock-and-barrel shoujo cake, and has all the grounds for being a bad and stereotypical mess.
Fortunately, Golden Time lived up to my expectations in that is not quite as shallow as it first portrays itself to be. It takes a few episodes to get going, but it soon establishes a story with an interesting dramatic premise that, while peppered with cliches, is executed well at times. Unfortunately, the show seems to vacillate back and forth between wanting to be a slapstick slice-of-life comedy for the first two-thirds (which it is NOT successful at) and a serious romance drama (which it is MILDLY successful at.) This creates some awkward pacing that the series struggles to balance, and though it eventually transitions to mostly-drama toward the end, it takes too long to get there and relies on too many melodramatic drops to offset all the comedic filler to keep the story on track. The over-the-top comedy scenes are all incredibly boring and formulaic, and seem to serve little purpose other than to create dramatic interaction between characters that's always thrust into cringey shows of public display. What keeps things interesting is that the supporting cast of characters are actually surprisingly well done, and the writing does understand that it has an interesting cast to work with.
Yet, what really drags the show down from "good" to "mediocre" is the fact that our main male protagonist is basically the Shinji Ikari of shoujo, down to the show literally giving him lines of "I can't stop running away!" and "I don't want to die!" during some of the dramatic parts. If that wasn't bad enough, the writer blatantly acknowledges as much, with an entire comedic break episode devoted later on to spelling out how everyone around Banri views him as a whiney brat who oozes desperation. As much as the annoying "perfect, cool, talented, and handsome guy who's kind of an asshole" trope gets used for overused for shoujo leads, I'd honestly have taken that here over a Shinji clone. Let's face it, bitch-boys are not good main characters in a romance, and while Banri doesn't ruin the show per se, he certainly doesn't win it any points.
Not really much to add here: the show is a shoujo with a mild budget and a 24-episode run. The characters have quite a number of different outfits and looks, and a lot of detail is given to Kouko and Linda as the female leads all things considered. Still, there's really not much to see - Golden Time looks quite average and does a decent job hiding its static backgrounds and reused scenes. It's functional, and that's all it needs to be.
Golden Time's soundtrack is potent mix of class and trash, at times offering up some beautiful piano solos during dramatic monologues and at others tossing in pieces that sound like awkwardly-recorded one-offs from a high school band. In general, though, I really liked the piano pieces, and the voice acting covered all the bases at all the right times. I would have appreciated a bit more consistency, but there's nothing too much to complain about.
As I spelled out above, Tada Banri is an abjectly awful main character. His story, unfortunately, makes it difficult to comment on without spoiling the hell out of the show, so I must refrain from saying too much. Kouko, however, evolves much as should be expected with how poorly her character is portrayed to start, shedding the bratty teenager (for the most part) as the show progresses once life and reality start slapping her in the face. Hers is an obvious-but-endearing growth, and functions well given how her writing steers away from melodrama (the opposite of Banri.) Linda is also done quite well, but spoilers prevent really saying much about her role in things -- in general I really liked her character in the beginning, but she seems quite underdeveloped by the time the show comes to a close.
What should instead be mentioned here, though, is just how unused the potential of the supporting cast was. Chinami was one of the better shoujo secondary support characters I've seen in a very long time, and it would have been much better had the show devoted more time to her arc in the show's circle of friends. She has strong interactions and good scenes at assorted times throughout the 24-episode run, but her story only has the surface scratched once or twice which puts a sour taste in the viewer's mouth given how much time is wasted on comedic filler. She easily could have had an episode or two devoted to her, especially with the juxtaposition of the "social butterfly" angle to her that seems to leave her remarkably unhappy. Similar comments could be made about Yana, who really steals the stage as the far more respectful protagonist that Banri could have been. He serves to foil Kouko's growth, but he's also clearly painted to have issues of struggling to deal with establishing himself against his family's name, and wanting to find a positive female relationship while constantly struggling with fending off the superficial and shallow ones. Several times hints are dropped that we, the intrepid viewers, might get to explore his tale a bit more, but Banri-bitch-tears steal most of his thunder whenever the opportunity seems like it might arise.
The parents in the show, too, are entirely underused. Kouko's father had a ton of potential, but ultimately gets relegated to random-comedic-relief-character #25. Same with Banri's mother, who could have been woven into the tapestry of the story with seamless ease, but instead barely even makes it into the show outside of a few interesting scenes that just seem to flop and fizzle shortly thereafter.
To state my point bluntly: despite the show being fundamentally about Tada Banri, everyone else but him are what keep the show moving forward in an entertaining fashion.
For fans of romance and shoujo, Golden Time is worth a watch, I suppose. While it's certainly no Clannad, it's also not some bungling pile of crap that wastes hours of your time. Keep your expectations tempered, and it will be an enjoyable once-through. The nature of the show really makes it difficult to dig into the story outside of a very superficial assessment, but note there's actual substance there beyond fluff and gimmick.
***This is a spoiler free review***
Golden Time is an anime that really put me on a rollercoaster ride. There were moments where I legitimately thought it was the best drama I had seen in awhile when other times it had me wanting to drop the show entirely.
I will say that the story for Golden Time is fresh, has twists and turns, and had very serious and emotional scenes. I will also say that there are a lot of "cheap" tricks the show uses to make certain events happen for convenient reasons. A quick rundown of the opening is that we follow new college student Tada Banri as he meets new friends Mitsuo, Chinami, Linda, and Kouko. The opening act of the anime had me extremely interested with the possibilities the show could span into. Banri automatically finds someone he likes, he becomes really close friends with Mitsuo, and there was many hints at future foreshadowing events. One thing I would like to point out is that the show did an incredible job at creating "real" feeling scenes that I will remember for the foreseeable future. The friendship between Banri and Mitsuo felt "real" and the events that occur between this cast felt very "real". Also later on in the show when s#!t gets real, I genuinely felt emotionally torn at what I was watching.
Now I cannot comment on what I thought felt "cheap" about the show since it would ruin a major plot point but just know that while the show really pulls some things out of its a$$ in order to make sense of certain events, for the most part it ties the story together well enough in the end.
I do not like rating certain arcs by themselves but the beginning of the show far outshines the ending act.
It was....basic but still looked pretty good. The animation studio used some really basic colors and there was a sense of dullness BUT they did an amazing job with facial expressions which really helped out in the emotional scenes. Character models looked pretty good (Kouko was so kawaii :D).
Voice actors=amazing level
Voice actors did a really awesome job while the music was good but not great. Openings and endings were not memorable.
Extremely tight nit cast that provided so many different scenes. One minute you are laughing at a funny scene while four minutes later you are flipping your chair into the air cursing out Kouko for being Kouko. Every character was important which is very important since a lot of anime try to stick generic stand in's for purpose made situations. Each character had a job and performed that job spectacularly. Now I won't lie and say that I loved each one of them. There were many and MANY moments when I really wanted to jumped into the show and beat the living fu#@ out of some of them but in the end I really did enjoy what each one brought to the table.
I really, really, really got involved with this anime. Some of the moments in this anime were the best I had experienced in a long time while others really made me want to leave it for awhile. It will grab your full and undivided attention with its witty cast and believable performances; just be prepared to really get frustrated.
Thanks for reading my review! If you liked my writing style, would like to see some other reviews, or just want to talk, please stop by my page!
I finished watching Golden Time last night. And my reaction at the end was: meh. I don't know. I don't even know if I can write a review, because I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly what didn't convince me.
Anyway, it's worth watching. But just barely. I have no issues with the animation or the music. I do object to the plot and the characters, though. Which are what make or break an anime. While I was thinking what I should write in this review, I was trying to separate my judgement on the story and the characters from my reaction to them. Not easy. So, objectively, the story is ok. There are no major inconsistencies and you get an ending. And as for the characters, after 24 episodes you do get to care about them. Both major and minor ones. You never mistake one character for another, so that is a plus from the animation and drawing point of view, but also regarding the ability of the anime's creators to give each character a distinctive personality. The setting is college, not high school, so that's different. The protagonists are part of the festival club, where they practice Japanese folk dances which were really fun to watch and listen to. It should be a love triangle, but just by watching the opening and ending you have a pretty good idea as to which girl the protagonist ends up with in the end. No surprise there.
And this is the END OF THE SPOILER FREE PART of the review. Because to say what really annoyed me about this anime, I have to mention some details and plot developments that someone who still hasn't seen the anime may not want to know. Ok, so the first episodes introduce the characters. You have Tada Banri, laidback, predictable and reliable. And when his first day in college he befriends co-student Mitsuo, he finds himself caught in the middle of the stormy and crazy relationship between Mitsuo and his girlfriend Kouko, whom Banri also becomes friends with. At a certain point, Kouko gives up on Mitsuo and falls for Banri. And she kind of develops into a better person, or at least she seems to be a bit more able to restrain herself and her clinging stalker tendencies. All seems well, until you start to understand a little bit more about Banri's amnesia. After giving the matter some consideration, I agree with the other reviews that say that the amnesia was just an awkward and unnecessary plot device. While I was watching the episodes, I just kept thinking why the hell should there be two separate Banris, the pre and post-accident one, why must one necessarily exclude the other. I mean, the way that it's presented in the anime it's not even amnesia, more like schizophrenia. I really felt there was something lacking there. As the episodes progress, you see Banri struggling with himself, but I couldn't understand why he wasn't even a little bit curious about his former self, I couldn't grasp what exactly it was that he refused to accept when he didn't even consider making the effort to know about the life he was leading before the accident and the kind of person he was and the people he must have cared for and loved. Doesn't make sense. Regarding the characters, Kouko is undeniably the one you remember after the end of the anime. Even though I was rooting for Linda. And Banri is a kind of wishy-washy lead character. I mean, Kouko is deliberately presented as irritating because of all her flaws, so irritating that in the end it's endearing. Banri is just plain annoying in an absolutely negative way because of the lack of depth in the development of his character. Maybe what really ticked me off was the fact that, all considered, it wasn't even a love triangle as Banri is never presented as 1 person who is in love with 2 girls, but always as 2 different guys in love with 2 different girls; and these 2 guys just happen to share at times the same body. I mean, the conflict isn't about the girls, but the possession of the body. Can't help feeling that it's stupid. At the end, in the last episode, there is a sort of "reunion" of the two Banris, but to me it just felt like a half-hearted attempt to get rid of the pre-accident Banri in a quick way so that the post-accident Banri could get back together with Kouko. It didn't persuade me at all. And I'm definetely not going to re-watch it.
The Storyline wasn’t really unique, everything was little things taken from other Anime to make one Anime with all the elements. But even though I just said that… I really enjoyed this storyline and the whole Anime in a whole. One thing that really impressed me was the way they showed the amnesia problem with Banri, instead of seeing it from others point of views we saw it from his and the way its shown is amazing and I never thought of amnesia like that before.
The Animation and Sound was pretty good and fitted with the Anime very well, although I am little annoyed that the opening song and cover artwork etc. shows Kouko more even though in my opinion out of the three main characters, I felt that Banri was the one it should have centred more around.
The Characters we’re all pretty unique and different but some did really annoy me at times, but it normally happens like this in most romance Anime. The main guy Banri, is who I felt sorry for the most, having to start his life from fresh and having people know more about the past you than yourself must be hard and how copes with all that happens during this Anime, I give him a golden star! (get it!?). The main two girls are whom I feel sorry for next… but I felt sorrier for Linda than Kouko. Kouko just annoyed me most of the time, although I do love her with Banri.
Overall I really did enjoy this Romance Anime, but some things were just so much like other Romance Anime that I have seen. I love how it showed things I am used to in a different light.
I don't know why, but I finished watching this series. It's not that I wouldn't recommend it, but some things about it really bothered me. It's also that I realized that the episodes I enjoyed most were those that did not focus on the actual plot. By the way, I haven't read and don't play on reading the manga.
Golden Time is about Tada Banri, a really average guy that suffers from memory loss. He's in college and meets a girl, make friends and things happen.
The characters that he meets, college situations and relationship problems were very interesting. Character development was good, no one was perfect but everyone had something likeable to them (except Tada Banri). But everytime I was enjoying the series, the memory issue interrupted everything and it dragged the series down. Maybe I'm missing the point?
The whole thing about Tada Banri's memory felt unnecessary and badly written. While most of the anime setting is believable, his problems made no sense at all and were mostly used as a bad excuse for things to go wrong. Because of that, some great episodes were interrupted and some themes left unresolved.
Now, the big reason why I DON'T like this series is the ending.
The whole thing about Kaga breaking up with Banri because it was too much for HER and saying they would get back together IF he remembered her pissed me off. At this moment I thought they'd talk about how it would be right if she stayed with him because that would be actual true love, to stay with and support him when he needs her by his side instead of "oh you got issues, deal with it alone k call me when its over". He would've recovered his memory way sooner if she was there being a good girlfriend. Is that really what you want people to find romantic? That instead of supporting your partner, you should run away and let him deal with his problems alone? That's not love at all. I wasn't convinced anymore that she even liked him, so it wasn't romantic when they ended up together.
The metaphoric-but-real ring scene at the bridge also didn't make any sense. Having that scene there or not would make no difference at all.
Overall, I know a lot of people that would enjoy the series, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone. You should ignore a lot of things that don't make sense and focus on the characters. If you can watch it without hating the main character and if you actually care about the amnesia thing then you will probably enjoy it.
If you're looking for true love and romantic gestures though, you might be disappointed.