Sometimes persevering with a show pays off. Although I can’t say that I had a “golden time” watching Collection One of this Animatsu licenced series, the concluding twelve episodes were much more to my taste. Episodes 13-24 continue to chronicle the tumultuous relationship between Koko Kaga (an affluent stalker with robotic dance moves) and her new boyfriend Banri Tada (an amnesiac who is literally haunted by long term memory loss.) Refreshingly the script avoids using a potential love triangle to stir up drama. The onus instead falls on the young couple dealing with the strains caused by Banri’s mental illness and the small matter of a phantom who wishes for them to break up. Quick someone call the Ghostbusters… the original ones (no one wants to see the new team.)
Watching this second instalment of Golden Time reminded me a little of Clannad. Both shows have sweet romance, wacky comedy and supernatural elements. Clannad’s paranormal ventures are however superior to the annoying spook found in Golden Time. Said gloomy poltergeist is a representation of Banri’s lost memories. Unable to let go of old flame Linda Hayashida, the apparition does its level best to sink the Banri x Koko ship – be it by tampering with the weather or momentarily possessing Mr Tada. The spectral cock blocking thankfully ceases for a while, during a story arc were Koko gets involved in a traffic accident. Wracked by guilt, after dozing off behind the wheel of a car, she retreats to the sanctuary of her bedroom and refuses to interact with anyone. Can Banri cheer up his temperamental partner? You’ll have to watch to find out.
Golden Time’s final act deals with the return of Banri’s missing memories, which come in the wake of a trip back to his old stomping grounds. Meeting up with his folks and attending a high school reunion causes Banri to gradually remember his lost past, although the recovery comes at a price. As more memories return Banri begins to forget events that occurred after the accident responsible for his amnesia. In effect the past is erasing the present day version of Banri and his dreams of a future with Koko. The scenes that follow can be hard to watch. Banri struggles to recognise the friends we have seen him make over the course of the series and the pain of it all is too much for Koko to bear. Worst of all he attended two years of law school for nothing. I don’t fancy his chances of passing exams after a term’s worth of lessons disappear from his scrambled mind.
My rating for Golden Time (Collection Two) is four stars. As mentioned above I found the second half of Yuyuko Takemiya’s light novel adaptation to be stronger than the first, hence the slightly better score. Koko is less of a brat in these episodes, which immediately makes this DVD set more watchable in my eyes. Another plus in its favour are the funnier gags, which serve as a nice counterbalance to the script’s moodier moments. The supporting cast’s knack for pouting and Banri’s frenzied reactions would have been intolerable without the levity provided by irritable neighbour Nana, Koko’s backbreaking exorcist routine and one of the most hilarious (yet cringe worthy) sex scenes I have ever witnessed. Kudos to the Japanese voice cast for delivering both japes and emotional dialogue with aplomb.
Despite my lukewarm reaction to collection one, Golden Time eventually won me over. I was impressed by how it avoided the tropes one usually associates with rom-coms. A show about a couple in a steady relationship is different, as was the lack of a full-blown love triangle. I kept expecting Linda to use the turmoil in Banri’s life to rekindle his lost passion for her, but instead she remained nothing more than a trustworthy confidant. Not all of Golden Time’s unique ideas worked though. The narrative would have been better without the ghostly sub-plot. At one point I predicted the series would conclude with Banri fist fighting his ethereal doppelganger for ownership of his body. Thankfully things didn’t quite pan out like that. Leave the ghost eradication to Peter, Ray, Winston and Egon… not the new team (like I said before, no one wants to see them.)