Golden Time, the ultimate series for anyone in college that breaks the mold of the romantic comedy genre, and with Valentine's Day and my upcoming Top 5 Romance Anime list, there seemed like no better time to review this series.
Golden Time follows Banri Tada, a new student at a private law school, tries to rebuild his life after an accident that caused him to suffer from a type of amnesia. Banri’s amnesia causes him to forget everything about his life before the day of the accident, including his friends and family; however, his life is forever changed when he meets Kōko Kaga.
The Good: Avoids most clichés, Flawed and realistic characters, Nearly perfect romance storyline, Well timed humored, Excellent performances, Solid animation, Relatable characters and situations, Lovable characters, Perfectly executed romance, Emotional weight, Characters are not archetypal, Often hilarious, Surprising plot developments, Clever beach episode, Perfect pacing,
The Bad: Supernatural elements are jarring, Troubling second half,
Plot: 8.5/10- Unlike virtually every other romantic comedy anime, Golden Time is set in college, not high school, which is actually something that I can relate to. On the other hand, if you are still in high school, or never went to college, maybe some aspects of the series might not as relatable, but the series’ plot does not revolve around the college setting enough to dissuade potential that are not familiar with the setting.
Setting aside, Golden Time is one of my favorite romance anime since Clannad: After Story, and considering that Clannad is an all-time top ten for me, that is saying a lot. While some the situations are a tad on the melodramatic side, most are actually somewhat similar situations to things that I, or people I know, have experienced, therefore they resonate with me.
However, the main appeal of the series is how it makes me genuinely care about the characters as the viewer goes on an emotional roller coaster along with the characters. Of course, whether or not you relate to and connect with the characters will determine whether or not you will enjoy the series as much.
As for the negatives, the main character, Banri Tada suffers from amnesia, and throughout the series his past self with only the memories of before the accident, manifests itself, thus causing confusion and conflict. However, this former Banri is portrayed as an almost ghost type figure when not in control of Banri, who comments on the actions of the post accident Banri. *Possible Spoiler* This "Ghost Banri" is later portrayed to have an almost supernatural power to cause bad luck for Banri, which is very odd considering the realistic nature of the rest of the series. That being said, whether or not "Ghost Banri" is actually a supernatural force is debatable. *End Spoiler* Additionally, the ending, while satisfying for me, can be seen as rushed for some viewer's taste. Also, the series handles a possible “love triangle” very well.
Characterization: 9.5/10- Despite initial first impressions, Golden Time features some of the most realistic, yet strangely likable, characters and character dynamics of any anime that I have seen. Each of the characters has a social problem or past issue, which drives the character’s development.
Banri Tada features some qualities that are uncommon for an anime protagonist. He is actually not completely oblivious nor is he unwilling to tell people, particularly the girl that he thinks he loves, what he thinks. *Minor Episode 4 Spoiler* By episode four or five, Banri confesses to Kōko Kaga, whereas most romcom anime usually end the series with a confession of some sort, and thus leaving the viewer unsatisfied by the end. *End Spoiler* A large portion of the series is actually Banri trying to battle his inner problems caused by the amnesia, while maintaining his relationships with his friends and Kōko. Unfortunately, said aspect is not quite as well executed as it could have been, because he occasionally comes off as a little one note. Despite my praise of Banri’s character, he is not on the same level as other similar protagonists like Tomoya from Clannad.
Kōko Kaga is one of my favorite female anime characters. Despite coming off as an overly perfect rich girl, she develops into a very realistic character with realistic problems. Kōko is first introduced as the obsessive stalker -- wannabe girlfriend -- of Banri's new friend, Mitsuo, and quickly develops into one of the best parts of the series. From her hilarious antics to her cute wanting to be the perfect girlfriend, Kōko is the type of character that the audience grows attached to at the same rate as Banri does. She is a very flawed character, and she tries to change, yet she struggles a lot while attempting to change because she is not always successful. Also, Kōko does not fit any main anime archetype. She displays a few minor traits of a tsundere or a non-violent yandere, yet that is a small aspect of her character. Even though some people might find certain character motivations in the second half unrealistic, and while those aspects are overdramatized, it is something that I have seen happen, so it was believable to me.
Linda is a mysterious character for the first few episodes of the series, and as to not spoiler why she is important; I will stop at saying that she is surprisingly likable with understandable actions considering her situation. Some aspects of the character actually remind me of people that I know.
Mitsuo Yanagisawa, the aforementioned friend of Banri, is a character that seems like an important aspect of the series at first, but is then moved to the side for certain parts of the series. However, he is brought back at the right time, and he is given a satisfying character arc.
Chinami Oka, at first, seems like just another pointless moe-blob character introduced for the sake of cuteness, but she is even given an effective character arc.
Nijigen is dubbed "2D-kun" for the fact that he is an Otaku that has humorously given up on women of the third-dimension. 2D-kun is probably the greatest "Third Wheel" of all-time, since he causes no romantic conflict among the group, but rather helps to keep everyone together.
Last, but not least, is Nana. When first seeing Nana, I thought she was a fun cameo/parody due to the striking resemblance to NANA from the popular Josei manga/anime. Surprisingly however, Nana is actually a somewhat important character in the series as Banri's neighbor, who gives important advice to him throughout the series. Also, Nana is just a funny and cool character, and seeing her in Golden Time makes me want to watch the NANA anime.
Acting: 9.9/10- Golden Time's strong performances is one of the key elements that drives the compelling drama throughout the series. Every single performance is nearly perfect. Since Golden Time is a recent release, there is no English dub as of now, although I doubt that any dub could do the series justice.
Art Style: 7.2/10- Golden Time's animation by Studio J.C.Staff is one of its only weaker elements. While very solid and consistent for the majority of the series, it is rarely notable or exceptional. Also, Golden Time is relatively light on fanservice, with the only fanservice-ish elements being like real life, even the "Beach Episode" is not clichéd.
Soundtrack: 7.5/10- While nothing especially notable, Golden Time's soundtrack is fitting for what the series requires with fun and comical tunes for the lighthearted moments and more dramatic music when the need arises.
Humor: 8.4/10- Despite the, at times, heavy drama, Golden Time can be positively hilarious. When the comedy comes, it hits the mark at the most absurdly hilarious and random times.
Opening and Ending: 8.7/10- My first impression of the first Opening is that it was nothing special, but it really began to grow to on me as the series progressed. The second opening is particularly noteworthy for being absolutely perfect and filled with emotion that perfectly fits the series second half. Plus, the animation for both openings is excellent, and the endings are solid and mostly fitting.
Entertainment Value: 9.7/10- Well, considering that I literally marathoned the entire 24 episode series in two days, I have to say that the entertainment for me personally is extremely high. That being said, this type of romance is my thing, especially thanks to the college setting.
Overall: 9.0/10- Relatable and realistic characters, great comedic timing, and compelling drama/romance, all adds up to Golden Time being a superb example of the romance genre. However, there a few noteworthy flaws, and if you do not relate to the characters, some viewers could see the series as melodramatic.
Closing comments: If slice-of-life is not your thing, maybe Golden Time is not for you, but after watching countless high school set series, finally seeing something that breaks the mold, while also having great characters, relatable aspects, and filling the void left by Clannad, Golden Time is a new personal favorite of mine, although I am not sure if others will enjoy it as much as I did.
Recommended for: Drama fans, Comedy fans, College students, Clannad fans, Toradora fans,
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