Satomi SatouIbuki KidoKaito IshikawaMakoto Furukawa
Golden Time
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2013
Director: Chiaki Kon
Writer: Fumihiko Shimo
Original creator: Yuyuko Takemiya
Actor: Ai Kayano, Ibuki Kido, Kaito Ishikawa, Makoto Furukawa, Satomi Satou, Takahiro Hikami, Yui Horie
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 24 episodes
Website category: Anime 2013
Review date: 8 May 2024
Golden Time
It's based on a light novel series by the author of the excellent Toradora!. This show's also very good... but it stretched my tolerance for idiot protagonists who make you want to grab them and scream "TALK TO EACH OTHER!!!".
This review contains mild-ish spoilers, by the way. This story can't be discussed without revealing some early plot developments.
Our hero's name is Tada Banri and he lost all his memories two years ago, after a road accident. He fled to Tokyo and severed all links with friends and family. He also has strange ideas about a ghost Banri (i.e. the dead one who still has all those lost memories) who he thinks is hanging around, watching him. What if his memories return one day? The current Banri is just a brain-damaged replacement, after all. Will ghost-Banri take back their shared body? Would replacement-Banri cease to exist, i.e. die? Morbid thoughts... but, surreally, his fantastical suppositions are correct. Ghost-Banri is indeed haunting him, visible and audible to us. (The show's fans nicknamed him Casper the Depressing Plot Device.) This gets messy because ghost-Banri was in love with his childhood friend, Linda, and rejects his replacement's love life and relationships. So, in other words, he's a twat. Yes, he's dead. You can understand his feelings... but he's still a twat. Every so often, he'll affect replacement-Banri's thinking, or even take control of their shared body for a few moments.
The correct action would be to talk to people about this. Does Banri do this? Nope. Does he pointlessly conceal the truth even in situations where there's no benefit whatsoever to lying and it's guaranteed to come back and bite him? Yup. He'll lie about his past with Linda to his new girlfriend and indeed all their other friends, i.e. building a pointless noose and tying it around his own neck. He's basically a nice guy, but he made me scream (and I noticed that his creative solutions to unrelated problems might also involve deception, e.g. the religious cult in ep.3.)
Then we have the rest of the cast. There's a pattern with them. Let's say A fancies B and asks them out, but gets refused. Normal people would stay friends. These idiots might instead order each other never to speak to them again, or perhaps to pretend that they 're strangers who don't even know each other. Also, B might have wanted to say "yes" really, so since then she's been tearing herself up with... gyaaaah. I CAN'T HANDLE THESE PEOPLE.
Our chief clown is Kaga Kouko. At first, she's a nutcase. She's in love with her childhood friend Mitsuo and thinks she can win him with scary stalker behaviour. She even changed university to follow him. She has an entire Titanic's worth of screws loose and she needs professional help, but she's flamboyant, silly and funny. She's harmless. She just needs to realise that the terrified Mitsuo would do anything to get away from her. The only person who'll associate with her is Banri, who doesn't know anyone and has a feeling that she might be as lonely as him, in her deranged way. Kaga will thus prise herself off Mitsuo and fall in love with Banri instead, but it's a bumpy ride. (She'd be the perfect girlfriend, though, if you could overlook her mental processes. Beautiful, rich, forgiving, nice and about as devoted as it's possible for a human to be. She's also clinging and needy, though.)
Half the time, this show is funny and likeable. It has a knack for comedy and I liked its cast, when they weren't making me scream. I wanted them to be happy.
Unfortunately, though, they're often making unhealthy decisions, hiding behind their pain and making you tear your hair out. The show's finale is a happy ending overall, but it was impossible for everyone to get what they wanted given the spider's web of mishandled feelings and avoidable communications failures. Even a minor character like Kaga's father gets introduced by hitting his distraught daughter.
Sometimes, they're just stupid. Our heroes screw up their ep.15 beach trip by keeping each other waiting and not checking the weather forecast. If they had, they'd have seen that Hurricane Godzilla was about to hit. Then, when returning, everyone falls asleep in the car. Yes, including the driver. While still driving at high speed. (Yes, this happens in real life and there are extenuating circumstances... but still.)
I often enjoyed this show, but it put me through hell. There are times when Ghost-Banri is functionally evil. The good news, though, is that people grow and eventually learn to talk to each other and behave AS THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING FROM THE START. Ultimately, it's a strong story. It's not tying everything up in ribbons and pretending that everything's for the best, or that everyone can get what they want. I could even imagine amnesiacs having something like Banri's odd-looking dissociation about their lost identities. I'd never recommend this show for light viewing, but there will be people out there who respond strongly to it.