Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Golden Time - Not Golden, But Still Good

No, this is not my review series. This is just where I wrap up my thoughts on a series I just finished watching for the first time from start to finish on TV or online. My opinion may change from time to time, but it's just to provide closure anyway...

UPDATE 4/22/14: I lied. This really is the start of my text review series. So count this as my first "official" review.
Golden Time finished today in Japan. The show, based on the series of light novels by the author of Toradora (note to self: try to watch that sometime) and directed by Chiaki Kon by JC Staff, airing for two cours starting in October. The anime was pretty hit or miss, but I enjoyed it overall.

The story revolves around college student Banri Tada. He lost his memories one night after confessing his feelings for Linda, his high school classmate, being knocked off a bridge and having to spend a year at the hospital as a result. The story starts as Banri heads to law school for the first time. There he gets acquainted with Mitsuo Yanagisawa, who he immediately befriends. Unfortunately for Mistuo, his childhood friend Koko Kaga has chosen to attend the same university as the two, despite having been set to go to a private college. She immediately makes her mark as an obsessive self-proclaimed love interest even Lola Bunny from The Looney Tunes Show would call loco. When looking to join clubs, the two guys, plus classmate Chinami Oka, have a trial at the film club. But the tea club is being held at the exact same place. By the way, love the tea club girls. Best characters on the show. Anyway, the drunks capture Banri, and he gets acquainted with another guy they manged to capture, Takaya Sato, a.k.a. 2D. Later, another student invites Banri, a lonely Koko, and 2D to come to her club meeting. Turns out, it's a freakin' cult. Banri and Koko barely escape, and the two exchange tidbits of themselves: Koko discusses her crush on Mitsuo and how she handles it, while Banri discusses his amnesia. Eventually Linda, who came to the same university unaware of the fact that the guy who confessed to her also applied to the same school. Later still, Mitsuo decides to talk with Chinami, causing Koko to head on into full on bitch mode and go apeshit on the poor girl, the final straw that pushes Mitsuo to tell her off and break it off with her. Koko takes it rather hard at first, but she soon accepts it and joins Linda's festival club with Banri. Okay, this is getting a little long. Just Google a plot synopsis, because if I just continued, this would take forever.

When the first episode aired, many people I knew were ready to write it off, claiming Koko to be too unlikable and Banri to be too boring. But it turned out better than most people thought it would be by the end. The characters are serviceable, and manage decent relationships. What I also enjoy is that it tends to avoid a lot of the usual romcom cliches. Now, I don't have much experience with the genre, but any American with at least a fraction of a brain like myself are aware of the inevitable tropes. Thankfully, Golden Time tends to not most of them. No forced misunderstandings, the love triangles are downplayed immensly, no shitty pop songs-well, except for the second opening. Oh sweet cocksucking Christ, the second opening. And of all things, I actually kinda liked the Ghost Banri thing as well, as it did act as a decent storytelling element, though his appearance at the end, which I'll cover later, didn't really work for me.

That said, the series does have a fair bit of flaws. First of all, the storyline is all over the place. One moment the characters are discussing their pasts, the next they're at a nightclub, then they go to the beach, and then Banri dresses like a woman. I'm not kidding; that actually fucking happens. Also, sometimes there's several moments that come off as really corny, especially whenever Banri and Koko affirm their love.

I think my biggest problem with the series, however, was its handling of its moral. Don't get me wrong, it's a great moral with a great setup. When Banri's memories start coming back at random, at the same time risking the new Banri, he's forced to find ways to prepare for his complete change. Koko even breaks up with him, and he finds ways to make sure none of his friends forget him, even if he forgets them (except Linda, of course). This lead to our moral, one about how while some memories will be lost, the best thing to do is to move on and make new ones. Even if you lose friends, you can find new ones without having to completely forget about the old ones. That's absolutely brilliant! That would really be a great note to leave off on. It's a bittersweet note that proves that life goes on, and while the past shouldn't be forgotten, the future is just as important. Unfortunately, there's one little problem: remember how I said I liked Ghost Banri as a viewpoint? He also worked as a hallucination of Banri's, foreshadowing his returning memories. Well, as it turns out, he's goddamn real. And Banri never really moves forward, he just sticks to his old friends! He gets a cheap "get back the girl" ending, Linda never really cares about her own confessed love for Banri, and everything gets a reset button. What the fuck!? That's not giving us a good moral, that's just a moral committing suicide! That's right, the moral fucking kills itself!
Okay, all in all, despite a bad ending that fucked up its own message and a host of other problems, Golden Time falls in to the "good" pile. It's not a great show by any means, but aside from the finale, I never felt like I was really wasting my time on it. My score would probably be a Thumbs Up.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, this was my exact thoughts about the ending. Everything felt so rushed and it just felt like the entire moral of the story and all the build up didn't really matter in the end when it just went right back to start.