Golden Time – 06

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“The Old Banri” recalls confessing to Linda after graduation, and asking her to meet him on the bridge with her answer. In the present, Banri brings Kouko along to a party Chinami is throwing. Mitsuo is there, and Kouko goads him to confess to Chinami and ask her out. Banri throws both Mitsuo and Kouko over to the tea club. While walking home, Banri tells Kouko it’s too painful to continue being around her, and gives his mirror back.

The next day when Linda notices them acting strangely, he turns things on her, asking how she can forget he existed and running off. Linda catches up and tells him she was too afraid she was responsible for his accident after being late to the bridge. Kouko waits up for Banri, but he runs off to the bridge, contemplating jumping to “reset” things. Kouko runs into him with a bike, embraces him, and tells him she loves him.

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Yes or No—so pure, elemental, straightforward and unambiguous (unless you get into double/triple negatives, that is). Those one-word responses are all over this excellent episode, but first show up in the cold open, when all Banri wants is a straight answer from Linda, with which he can move forward. At a crucial crossroads in his life, and needs all the straight answers he can get. But instead of moving forward—either Yes and off to Tokyo with her or No, and off elsewhere without—everything in his life simply, tragically, stops. What was supposed to be simple became complicated.

Considering this is a two-cour series, we were expecting Banri’s “just friends” situation with Kouko to be drawn out a little more just to underline how miserable it’s making Banri to be constantly around someone who doesn’t share his feelings. But all the conditions necessary for him to let Kouko go—and confront Linda—were met this week, and in short order. With Kouko embracing his new self, but only so far, and continuing to obsess over Mitsuo, and with Linda’s utter avoidance of the past through silence, Banri simply can’t deal with either of them anymore.

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Seeking clarity and certainty somewhere, anywhere, Banri runs, and returns to those yes’s and no’s: No, he and Kouko can’t be “just friends”; Yes, Linda’s pretending she never new him, which is kinda cruel; No, he won’t come back and talk about this. But in a sequence intentionally paralleling the night everything went to shit and the Old Banri became lost in the ether,  Kouko chases him back to that same bridge and mows him down with a borrowed bike; though not hard enough to cause serious injury—or more amnesia.

In a superbly emotional, adrenalin-charged moment that nicely skirted the edge of schmaltz, she gives him the straight answer he had been awaiting for years: No, she doesn’t want them to be apart. Yes, she loves him too. Only she’s not Linda. That means, of course, things are still complicated, so we’ll close with some simple answers of our own: Was all this intense drama well earned? Yes. Were we expecting an episode in which things moved so fast for Banri, Kouko and Linda? No. Is Golden Time on a serious roll? Most assuredly Yes.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Now we know: Banri and Linda weren’t a couple; he was in love with her, but they were just friends, just like he and Kouko had been until the end of this episode.
  • This episode wasn’t all tears and drama; with some brief comedy at Chinami’s party, including the callback to the “hell” of the Tea Club, and Banri’s clever use of it as punishment for his bickering friends.
  • Like everything about her, Chinami’s response to Mitsuo’s sudden confession was adorable.
  • In an episode full of powerful confrontations, we were perhaps most moved when Banri finally confronted Linda about her silence. As Kouko’s actions in the end further demonstrate, Banri and Linda never could get their timing right.
  • Linda feels responsible for what happened to Banri, but not because she personally ran him over, but simply because she was a little late getting there
  • Hard to believe we’re only a quarter of the way through this baby. We’ve gone through entire series in this genre where less happens than in just these first six episodes. We like density.
  • If it can keep things humming along as brilliantly in the next eighteen, manage a 10 somewhere along the way, it has a chance to join AnoHana or Toradora! in the august pantheon of our favorite romances of the last few years. (For the  record, Kare Kano remains our all-time fave.)
  • We watched this episode a second time, and liked it even better.
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