Golden Time – 10

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Banri trips and falls on his chin and returns to normal, but still remembers loving Linda. In the morning he wakes up with a fever, and Nana takes him to the hospital. Back home she passes him off to Linda, who takes care of him until Kouko arrives with Mitsuo and 2D. They all plan a trip to the beach as Banri drifts off to sleep. When he awakes in the night, only Kouko remains. She tells him she really wants just the two of them to go to the beach together when he’s better, remarking that “it doesn’t have to be Paris.”

Status Report: Banri and Kouko are still together. We know we shouldn’t be so shocked, but chalk it up to the fragility of romantic relationships—if and when they even happen—in so much recent anime. To be honest, we were a little glum about the consequences of Banri memory’s returning vis–à–vis Kouko, but fortunately Golden Time continues to demonstrate it’s not that kind of show and prone to neither easy outs nor cheap twists. Far from a cop-out, restoring Banri’s memories of Linda—if only for a moment—will have a lasting effect on Banri. In his weakened state, under Linda’s care, he finds himself desperate to see his actual girlfriend’s face, lest his love for her fade away like a dream, leaving the “reality” of Linda.

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Kouko indeed arrives in the knick of time, and how about that entrance, mimicking her very first scene in the series when she beats Mitsuo with roses and we thought to ourselves at the time “ehh, we’re not too sure about this one,” only this time it was a joke? Effing priceless. We also like how consistent she is with her behavior while in the presence of the others compared to when she’s just with Banri: the armor comes off and she tells him exactly what’s on her mind. She’s a bit harsh on herself this week, but part of that is because she found that photo of Linda, and then saw Linda the SuperNurse.

Banri does all he can to assure her she’s not a piece of junk and he loves her and wants only her, but this is something he may have to convince himself of first and foremost. Meanwhile Kouko is anxious to take their relationship to the next level, and we love how she puts it“I want to go to the beach with you”—elegant, cute, and unequivocal. Have we mentioned what a lucky cat Banri is, despite all his past trauma and lingering inner turmoil? Well, he is, and you bet your ass we’re going to be holding him to his promise. Kouko needs—and deserves—a fully-committed boyfriend. If Banri can’t be that, he’s not allowed to perpetuate a charade. Time to make his dream girl his real girl.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Honestly, we like Nana—at this point merely a surly yet dependable side-character—more than we like some main characters in the other shows we’re watching. She’s just awesome.
  • A woozy Banri’s hilariously-detailed “wrong idea” about Nana being an “over-the-top cosplayer from Kawaguchi (wrong hometown!) putting on a brave front so she wouldn’t be taken lightly in the big city until the harsh Tokyo life changed her and she forgot neighborly love for real” was one of the highlights of the episode, as was Nana’s nonchalant “pass” of Banri to Linda.
  • We liked—and bought the explanation for Mitsuo and 2D-kun for tagging along with Kouko (to “restrain her if it comes to it”).
  • 2D (AKA Satou Takaya) and Linda formally meet. Our takeaway: they could totally become a couple! Make it happen, Golden Time.
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Golden Time – 08

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Banri rescues Mitsuo from the aggressive Reina, and learns that Mitsuo told Chinami not to speak to him again. Banri, Kouko and 2D-kun arrange a day at the theme park to cheer Mitsuo up. Kouko invites Chinami too, and when she arrives, Kouko upsets Chinami to the verge of tears, but they make up. Everyone has fun at the park, and Mitsuo and Chinami also make up. Later, the five party at Banri’s house. At 3 AM, when everyone else is asleep, Banri meets Linda on their adjacent balconies, and they talk more about the past with fondness.

With the focus on Banri, Kouko, and Linda, Mitsuo and Chinami had gotten a bit of a short shrift, but that changes this week, as both characters get some very nice development, as well as repair their impasse. It may be so that Mitsuo is overreacting to the embarrassment he suffered, but we’re not insensitive to the fact that someone in his position could end up over-thinking things, panicking, and self-destructing something that had a lot of potential. Luckily for him he has friends who won’t let that happen. It was also great to see Chinami not cheerful and baudy for once, as Kouko directs one too many barbs at her, not fully aware of the situation. The whole scene at the station with Chinami, Kouko, and Banri showed us a new side of Chinami, and we liked it. In fact, this is one of those rare shows where we can declare that we like every single character in the cast.

They’re all great right now. Banri and Kouko, Chinami and Mitsuo, Nana and Linda…even 2D-kun has his charms, despite being the odd man out (maybe he can meet a nice tea club gal…). It’s telling that the episode begins and ends with Banri and Linda alone, talking about the past. It’s a fascinating dynamic, with Linda knowing so much and Banri remembering nothing. In that past Linda assured her friends she didn’t like him at all, when the opposite was true. We wonder if that also applies when she planned to say “no” to him on the bridge? The present Banri seems happy and content, but his past self is restless in Linda’s presence, even seemingly regaining control in the the moment Banri falls asleep, wishing everything could simply reset. Present Banri’s Golden Time is now, but Past Banri’s was back when it was just him and Linda.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • That was a nice and surprisingly playful save by Banri, waving off Reina by proclaiming he and Mitsuo were lovers.
  • We liked how Mitsuo and Chinami got more visibly comfortable with each other as the day at the park and Banri’s house went on.
  • We’re trying not to read to much into the preview for next week, which shows Kouko and Banri troubled by something. As much as we like Linda, we wouldn’t mind them dating a little longer. 
  • That’s right: we’re rooting for both Kouko and Linda. And why not? They’re both likable. Banri—and we—win either way. Such is the quality of this show and its characters so far.

Golden Time – 07

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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.

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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)

Stray Observations:

  • 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).