Kouko has to go to the police station to sort out her bike theft, and she introduces Banri as her boyfriend to her father. The next morning, Kouko is waiting for him at the station and they walk to classes together. They start dating, but Banri continually ignores Linda’s texts. His neighbor Nana, Linda’s friend, tricks him into coming home to tend to an apartment leak, but he finds Nana and Linda there. He invites Linda in, where they exchange apologies. Linda explains how they knew each other and why she blamed herself for his fate. Kouko calls him, saying Mitsuo is in trouble.
OMGOMGOMG, Banri and Kouko are a couple…EEEEEEE!..Right? Whoaaa, hold your horses: we’ve been down this road before. We know how it sometimes ends. And as soon as we saw the episode title, “Masquerade”, or suspicions only heightened: could Kouko only be pretending to be in love with Banri? But lest we forget, this is a show where the characters are given ample time to explain their actions and feelings, and at the police station, she convinces us that what she’s feeling is real. And then we’re off to the races. There’s a joyful thrill in watching the two interact as a couple, and Banri really takes to the extremely affectionate, dopey lovey-dovey atmosphere of their nascent relationship. In short, he’s over the moon; stupidly happy, and we’re happy for him.
This episode did what few contemporary anime dare to do, especially this early in a long run: put two people who like each other together, for which we’re grateful. Things even take a turn for the amorous when Kouko finds Banri’s “box ‘o’ stuff”, culminating in Kouko confessing she wants to lose her virginity in Paris. It’s such a Kouko moment, and for all their interactions, you get the feeling that yes, she is a little weird and perhaps a bit clingy, but neither we nor Banri have a problem with that. Right now, they’re exactly the people they need for each other, and aside from a few subtle foreboding details here and there (Kouko’s dad’s talk of her “targets”, and Banri lying to her about the leak), it looks like it could work. Golden Time resists the urge to immediately pull the rug out from under everything.
That’s despite the fact it meets all the necessary conditions to plausibly blow up Banri+Kouko. Yet it doesn’t pull the trigger—not yet at least—but lets us savor the warm, fuzzy glee. Thanks to Nana (proving to be an excellent supporting character), the awkward silence between Banri and Linda concludes amicably. The tension in that room oozes through the screen as the camera closes in on Linda…but while she’s fiercely honest with details about the past (including Banri confessing to her), she doesn’t end up confessing to him. For one thing, she doesn’t feel she deserves to (remember: she was only late to the bridge, not an out-and-out no-show); but it’s also not crystal clear whether she loves him in quite that way. It’s good she didn’t confess, because she has yet to learn that her previous assumption about Banri dating Kouko is no longer wrong.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
- Mitsuo went to get his head shaved, but ended up getting his hair bleached.
- Mitsuo can’t face Chinami at the moment, which concerns her, because she didn’t mean to reject him for all time. There’s is still a slight arc, but we hope it goes somewhere. Love for everyone! Except 2D-kun, AMIRITE?
- Banri could have avoided quite a bit of stress by stashing that box somewhere before answering the door. Although in the end, Kouko didn’t mind it. More adult behavior.
- We’re not sure how Banri didn’t realize the woman in the elevator was Nana. Still, it was a hilarious scene.
- Nana is voiced with authority by Satou Satomi, who was cast against type here (at least from what we’ve watched of her).