This is review number two hundred and seventy seven. This anime is still part of the Fall 2013 lineup. It’s actually one of the shows I’ve been anticipating to watch. It’s a romance show called Golden Time. It’s a twenty four episode anime about a stalker crazy girl and a guy that likes being stalked. No, I’m kidding. My description actually sounds better than this show. It’s actually about a guy with amnesia in love with two different girls. Sounds fun, right? Let’s read on.
This anime is about a guy named Tada Banri. During his first time attending law at a Tokyo College, he befriended a dude named Mitsuo Yanagisawa. They were both lost on their way to orientation so they became close immediately. On their way to the designated building, a car came pulling beside them. Out comes a beautiful girl with a bundle of roses that soon approaches the two. She smiled and then whacked Mitsuo with the roses. She is apparently in love with the guy and it was his punishment for leaving her behind. Mitsuo doesn’t want to be associated with this girl though mainly because she is crazy. Tada Banri just looks on in amazement though as this girl would stalk and devote way too much of her time on a guy that doesn’t love her. Tada is so fascinated that he wants to befriend her. Kaga Kouko is the kind of high maintenance girl that no one can keep up with. Luckily for her, Tada is the accommodating kind that can keep up with her. As they grow closer, could this be a chance for love to grow? It won’t be easy though because Tada has a secret past that even Kaga Kouko would find a hard time dealing with.
Taking the Pants Off
I always complain about the lack of a good romance anime nowadays. There were a few good ones popping up last year but nothing really impressive enough to guarantee a romance movement. Right now, there is a wave of sports as we see Production IG taking the lead in showcasing all the cool stuff we love about sports. As for Romance, I was actually hoping Golden Time would start that wave. Just looking at the people behind it, you can tell it was destined for success. It’s handled by a studio that knows how to do romance. JC Staff is known for all the cutesy romantic shows I personally grew up with so you can trust them into giving us something awesome. Golden Time is even more impressive because the author of the light novel also created ToraDora. JC Staff and ToraDora is an epic pairing so Golden Time is sounding pretty sweet right about now. It is then directed by Chiaki Kon. This female director basically knows her romance making four notable shows about two dudes falling in love look like the most awesome love story you can indulge in. Golden Time sounds like an amazing force on paper. Seriously, look at the holy trinity it has going on. It will take the devil’s intervention to screw this show up. It was really just hard to mess it up with the kind of talent it had behind it. With all that being said though, I guess the devil really intervened because Golden Time is a really disappointing anime. It was dull. It had a lot of potential to really be a compelling show but it just sucked. So many things went wrong in this show and you soon realize that your expectations betrayed you as you keep watching the show. It felt disjointed, the romance was lacking and the characters are really hard to like. They were pretty damn interesting but it takes some really horrible writing to turn a bunch of college students into a group of whiny children. It was directionless and I seriously have never seen an anime so boring. I have seen boring anime but I can’t believe I’ll actually be reviewing one that isn’t a f*cking otome anime. Golden Time is seriously one of the most disappointing anime I have ever seen in my entire time as the pantless anime blogger. It hurts twice as hard because it had a stunning trinity behind it. A famous studio with a famous director adapting a story from a famous author somehow churned up a pretty disappointing anime. It’s like they canceled each other out. What the f*ck?!
The first few episodes of the anime are pretty direct. We are seeing just how crazy Kaga is and how accommodating Tada Banri is. The next few episodes after that are where the anime comes off as a bit screwy. It was avoiding the potential romantic build up between the characters and seems to focus on something else. You see Banri talking to his friends and you see a lot of comedy but not a lot of the main story actually forming. The anime felt a bit directionless right from the start. I personally questioned it when I saw Tada Banri joining a club with the initial focus being on the eccentric characters he meet. There was something good forming though. You can’t mess up a romance anime when all the elements are present so I really just wait. I saw a lot of characters talking and Tada being close to some people while patiently waiting for the romantic element to kick in. It’s all there, really. Our main character feeling vulnerable, some personal moments with Kaga Kouko and an eccentric relationship waiting to blossom is all nicely established. It just really took the show a lot of time to get it started. I always thought it was a slow and deliberate process but there is certainly something wrong with the anime.
This show had three plot points. The first one is about Tada Banri’s romantic story. The anime started out with Kaga Kouko stalking and smothering poor Mitsuo all the time that the guy couldn’t take it. Tada noticed though that Kaga doesn’t have any friends and people are all intimidated with her. She is rich and beautiful so they kinda knew someone like her will have no interest being with normal people like them. Tada noticed it. He saw Kaga sitting alone in a bench and the nice guy inside him wanted to help. He wanted to see her happy and he’ll do anything to do that. She gladly welcomed Tada as friend and she dragged him all over. The first half is mostly about Tada and Kaga getting closer to each other. They experience a lot of crazy stuff together. They met while being recruited by a cult organization. They got kicked out of an underground rock concert and even joined an eccentric club together. The two of them experienced a lot of things and this helps their relationship grow. As it intensifies, they slowly started opening up to each other. They would open up about their secrets, anxiety and personal dilemmas while the other person gives his/her support. All they really need now is a nudge on the right direction to get the relationship into something more special. Of course, there is still the problem of Kaga being obsessed with Mitsuo. She enrolled in the school to actually be with him so getting her to like Tada as more than a friend might be challenge. The idea of the eccentric and borderline insane girl like Kaga Kouko being intimate with a reserved guy like Tada opens a lot of exciting possibilities for the show. If the two can get kicked out of a rock concert as friends, can you imagine what it’ll be like if they become boyfriend and girlfriend? It sounds like a pretty fun idea.
Kaga isn’t the only one with a problem though. She might be overly obsessed with her childhood friend but it doesn’t compare to Tada’s own problem. You see, the poor guy has amnesia. He got into an accident back in his hometown and he doesn’t remember anything about his past. To make matter worse, it seems that Tada is romantically involved with another girl before he lost his memories. To complicate the situation even more, this girl is attending the same college as Tada…and she belongs in the same club. It appears that they were very close. The anime then showed us a lot of flashbacks that further cement that fact. Tada is really in love with this girl and things would be different if he didn’t lose his memories. The show entered a really wonderful triangle. Tada is now forced to choose between the girl he is currently falling in love with over the girl he loved his entire life. The fact that they are both in the same place as Tada just makes it all the more juicy. When I realized the anime was entering a love triangle, I seriously cannot wait how it will play out. The show was pretty precise in introducing both girls. One girl is super crazy who puts the same excessive energy into everything, including her friendship with Tada, while the other one is a girl he grew up with and has spent a lot of personal moments together. They were like brother and sister. If it wasn’t for the accident, they’d be together by now. I was really glad at how the anime developed this complicated love story. Tada is forced to choose between his past and his present while the girls slowly grow closer with him. Really, the only logical step is to have the girls fight over him while he wrestles with himself. As the triangle intensifies, a lot of tears will be shed and a lot of issues are brought up. Add in the fact that one of the girls used to stalk another guy, anything that isn’t close to a School Days ending is really an injustice to the anime. That’s what I thought was going to happen. I spent a lot of my time being engrossed with romance anime at one point that I learned every possible outcome of a situation. A love triangle as toxic as the one in Golden Time will really just lead to a disaster but it’ll be a dramatic one. It’s a dramatic bomb waiting to explode. While I’m on the topic of romance anime, I was so engrossed with it simply because I have not seen a bad one yet. All of them are dirty mangalures (they bait you to read the manga) but the content is always satisfying and the payoff is always pretty special. I knew Golden Time would be special as well but I never thought such an exciting love triangle would just fizzle into obscurity.
The second plot point is about Tada Banri and his college life. There is just one single point here: Tada has an unusual college life. He shares it with a lot of people. He had some weird time with Kaga but he also spend some serious time with his group of close friends and the various eccentric club in the school. This plot point is pretty directionless though. There is no focus. It’s simply a bunch of people enjoying time together. I’d call it slice of life but it doesn’t feel that way. The second plot point feels like it was leading up into something important and uses such a diversionary tactic to elude the viewers of that point. The romantic element of the anime didn’t intensify until episode twelve simply because Tada was wasting time with a lot of people. The time with Kaga is pretty decent because it led to the romantic element that made the anime special. He also spent it some friends though. These friends all had some personal problems of their own and Tada usually entertains them by listening to their woes. He even helps some of them because he’s such a nice guy and other times, he’ll be the one to approach a person if they are feeling troubled. The show was trying to present this wonderful bond between the characters and the way they try to overcome problems as friends. As you can imagine, this is completely different from the first plot point. I have no problem with the characters having friends since most romance anime has some branching subplots involving their friends. I remember the Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun anime ending with a blossoming love story between two side characters. Friends are a big element in romance anime but Golden Time doesn’t use them to help the romance element develop. The friends felt like they had a separate thing going on and it’s actually preventing any romantic development to happen. It usually involves Tada consoling a friend that got dumped or Kaga helping a friend to move. There are times where the group of friends would attend parties, eat lunch together or go to the beach together. They’re often standalone that it has really nothing to do with the exciting love triangle the show have.
As I said though, the second plot point is alluding to something. All of these interesting experiences lead into one thing and that’s basically the third plot point. Tada Banri is actually a broken person. His past self is fighting over his present self. The guy that loves Kaga is struggling to maintain the guy that loves the other girl. It came to a point where Tada’s ghost of the past started haunting him. I am not talking about anything metaphorical. A ghost version of Tada is confronting him over who gets the right to live. There is this problem where the past Tada wants to comeback but that means replacing present Tada. When the past comes back, everything Tada experiences after the accident is erased. This includes being in love with Kaga. With the present Tada here though, there is no way for past Tada to come back. The show entered this supernatural angle where the ghost keeps trying to enter Tada’s body. I seriously thought it was all just some symbolical thing but it isn’t. A ghost is seriously trying to take Tada’s body and this ghost is hell bent on getting his life back. Poor Tada would often have some bad episodes regarding his amnesia and you just watch him fall apart. The ones picking up the pieces though are his friends and the girls he’s trying to love. This is basically the point of the second plot point. It refers to how much good there is in present Tada’s life that the ghost is trying to ruin. Of course, the other side of the coin is also presented. The ghost also had a rich life with his friends and family that the present Tada is preventing him to enjoy. There’s this internal tug of war between the two and Tada will eventually have to choose because his amnesia is apparently not permanent.
Now I’ll be fair, the anime had some rich moments that I really enjoyed. There are some flashbacks where I was really crying because I feel for the girl that is beside Tada but he can’t seem to remember who she is. She had this shocked look on her face as she try to keep it together, it was really heart wrenching to watch and I definitely wept at how sad the whole thing is. There also some sweet romantic moments from time to time that felt satisfying because you see the romantic element of the show come through. Golden Time certainly had some wonderful moments. It’s too bad that the whole thing is ruined by some horrible pacing, unlikeable characters and a directionless story. The show also had a lot of talking. Seriously, majority of the moments involve two characters just exchanging words and it comes to a point where the talking leads to nowhere. The first half had nothing but talking so it feels unfair that the second half is basically the same. Nothing grand happens. No one chases after a girl, no one had sex with someone, no one cat fight in a bar or something. Nothing. It was just dialogue heavy with a directionless story so all the talking ultimately amounts to nothing. My mind wandered off at a lot of the episodes because the talking was just too damn boring. It hurts all the more in the second half. I wanted something big to happen. Every romance anime builds up to one crucial point that changes the story completely and I was hoping the love triangle would culminate into something big at this point. Nothing big happened though. Majority of the notable moments just involve the characters talking. It’s as if the anime is purposely avoiding all the good things that could happen. The crazy stalking angle was toned down in the second half. The love triangle calmly died down. The whole ghost thing silently went away and all that’s left is a bunch of characters doing things with questionable purposes. It was boring. It’s so boring that everything good about the show was dried out almost completely.
My biggest complaint about this show is the lack of a good conflict. Good gawd, this is the basics. Any good story requires good conflict. This particular anime didn’t have any. The love triangle that was supposed to explode into chaos didn’t happen. Instead, the characters just walked around each other’s eggshell. It was pretty disappointing. The characters were all friendly to each other and no one really got serious about their feelings. Even Kaga Kouko’s declaration of love is a bit childish and stupid. The problems between the group of friends also didn’t mount to anything worth watching. There was some tension because one friend dumped another but it didn’t culminate into something you would expect from two people having disagreement. Most of the characters would just run away whenever something is about to happen. It was supposed to be cute but it got annoying when the male characters did it. Seriously, they’re running away from a confrontation with a girl. What kind of childish group are we dealing with here? In fact, Tada’s knee jerk reaction to any problem he has is to run away. It’s frustrating seeing everything so complacent and non-confrontational. It was a bit disgusting. This show told me you can run away from any problem and everything will be fixed if you just run faster. I especially hate the love triangle because, even when they know they love Tada, the girls wouldn’t put up a fight. We’re not expecting you to be civil in situations where your love is questioned. We want you to fight for your feelings because you have stronger love than the other person. Seeing characters lie down and take an emotional beating just sucks. If you want to waste twenty four episodes on a show with no conflict then be prepared. Conflict is like salt. It makes bland things taste better. Ask yourself if you really want to watch a bland show like this.
Aside from the story, the characters are also pretty bad. Again, they are college students but they act like elementary kids. I understand that the show was going for a light hearted appeal when it comes to the characters but the serious moments didn’t have much of an impact because of how childish the characters act. Tada Banri is a decent character. He stays quiet for most of the story and only stands out when he is indulging all of Kaga’s crazy tendencies. I love it when he freaks out though. He is like a helpless child desperately clinging to his bottle. It’s both pathetic and adorable because most people with amnesia isn’t as pussy foot as this bastard. The amnesia angle was wasted on this guy. Most people try to re-claim their lost memory. This guy ran away to Tokyo. While I understand the pressure of being around strangers, you’d have to be one ungrateful f*ck to leave your parents behind. His relationship with Kaga is also a bit off. I understand that he has a complimentary personality next to the crazy chick but he never feels smothered by it. I was bothered when the girl checked his mail but he just shrugs it off. I think it’s because he is just desperately lonely but the anime never dived deep. All we can gather are shallow speculations and his own weakness overcoming his entire self. I seriously wanted to see him get nice boat (School Day reference) and I thought the love triangle would at least do something insane like that. Kaga Kouko is an eccentric character. She crosses the line too much though but most people let it slide. I think others are just too polite to sit her down and give her a stern talking. This girl is also a serious stalker. The way she clings to Mitsuo was abnormal enough. When she started befriending Tada, I didn’t expect them to hit it off with ease. When she started waiting for him in front of the train station like a dog, I honestly thought Tada would back away. The guy never feels any red flag when it comes to Kaga. She would get suspicious when he talks to the phone with someone, she checks his mail and she even breaks into someone’s home but Tada apparently is the accepting kind that she could stab him while he sleeps and he’ll just laugh it off. Most of the romantic moments with Kaga never sit right with me. I understand they have a connection but I think Kaga is just too much. The show didn’t properly utilize her craziness though. It was a shame but the story often needed her intervention yet they toned it down as the show keeps progressing.
The rest of the characters are pretty decent. They’re as childish as the main characters. Mitsuo is the typical handsome guy but he is a bit unlucky with the ladies. He is often doing things wrong that he ruins any relationship he has with girls. I love it when he spirals off into depression because the guy is pathetic. The show never fully utilized the guy’s unlucky love life though. I bet it could’ve easily filled up the show since the story lacks a bit of intrigue. There is also this pink haired girl. I forgot her name. All I know is that she has an annoying voice and she often uses her cuteness to divert the attention from anything serious. She also had this angle about coming in terms that the person she likes now has someone else in mind but it’s nothing serious. It is part of the second plot point where Tada became her comforter when she was feeling down. There is also the girl from Tada’s past. She was an interesting character because she was obviously giving way for Tada and Kaga to be together and suppressing her own feelings. She was a bit annoying though because there is a moment where Tada was asking if she loved him back and she always chickens out. I am serious. This girl lacks determination and she was too polite. She could easily out best Kaga if she truly cared. The story implies she loves Tada but she doesn’t really show it. She was too underwhelming that it became annoying. It’s as if she doesn’t even know what she wants herself. She is friendly with Tada and I get the feeling she just wants to lead Tada on until she grew tired of it. Even when the story shifted to her favor, she was too nice of a gal to do something about it. She’s one of the worst characters for a love triangle ever.
My favorite character in the show is Tada Banri’s next door neighbor, Nana. She looks exactly like Nana from that other show. I love the fact that she appears in this anime and that half of the audience doesn’t know who she is. Isn’t that funny? She mostly just gives advice to Tada and often helps him when he needs it. She is also very close to Tada’s other girl so she often acts as a messenger for the two. I like her because she doesn’t do anything remarkable in the story so her personality easily shines through. I remember she punched Tada in face when he accidently greeted her in the elevator. She’s awesome. There is also this guy named 2D-kun. He is mostly the least important guy in the group of friends because he doesn’t pair with anybody but he also gets along well with everyone. He is the only character that doesn’t run like a child and often confronts people when needed. Sometimes, he does the confronting for others. The guy who promised to love 2D girls apparently is the most mature among the group of friends. It’s funny and also pathetic.
Lastly, I look back and I realize that maybe this show isn’t really about the romance. It feels more like a character driven story focusing on Tada Banri’s coming of age story. He struggles with amnesia but also learning to become a well-rounded adult. If you look at it that way then some scenes does feel appropriate and some moments feel more special. With that being said, I think it doesn’t really do anything for the show. That character driven angle is also lost amidst the clutter of the show. It was mixed in with the romance and the crazy group of friends that it doesn’t really matter if the focus was his personal growth. It still amount to nothing. The last few episodes of the show do feel a bit satisfying but it really doesn’t compensate for the boring dialogue heavy scenes littered throughout the anime. It’s a shame. This show has a lot of potential and every promising element somehow ends pathetically. I’m guessing the light novel was too long and the anime’s length didn’t quite give the original source any justice. Just like any hamfisted adaptation, this one is just disappointing and, honestly, a complete waste. JC Staff has a lot of dud throughout its colorful lineup but they’ve been doing it a lot lately. From Arcana Famiglia to Little Busters (this is a dud! Come at me), they’re either producing bad shows or just so and so ones. I also feel like they’re desperately trying to reclaim a few of their lost glory. Their reputation is still sound though so I guess they just need a big one to get them re-energized again. Trying to adapt a light novel from the author of ToraDora seemed like a smart move. Seriously, I would be dumbfounded if I was JC Staff knowing such a powerhouse of a show ended up as dud when it really shouldn’t. Oh well. If you want romance, you should watch more of Brain’s Base because they seem to be doing some great things recently. JC Staff is sadly stuck in mediocrity for now. I am cheering them on hoping they can get themselves out of this rut but I am betting it won’t happen for a while. Maybe they should do sports as well. Who the hell knows, maybe they can ride the sports wave for now.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty decent. There aren’t a lot of stand out details when it comes to the design. Eeji Komatsu’s design seems pretty typical but it’s entirely different from the way the anime depicted it. His characters look younger in his illustrations and there is more emphasis on the figures of his characters. I notice that Kaga Kouko is a bit chesty with her dress emphasizing her sexy curves. I don’t see it in the anime though. She does dress as fancy as the illustrations but it’s not as detailed as you’d expect. JC Staff isn’t really known for outstanding character design. The only thing that stands out in the anime is the bright color palette the studio applied to the characters. It makes it easier to appreciate the decently designed characters. You’ll easily notice how cute Oka is or how handsome Mitsuo is thanks to the bright color palette. Tada looks plain. I love his eyes though. It was expressive so you can appreciate his freak out moments more. Also, I love Nana’s design. It’s nowhere near as gritty as the original but it had the soft touch of the anime but the attitude is pretty familiar. Even the makeup and outfit looks similar. The best cameo in an anime ever.
Animation is decent as well. As I said, the characters mostly talk. The facial expressions are, indeed, nicely animated. When someone is hurting, you can easily tell they are forcing a smile. It’s not much but it does make the animation pretty impressive. All the avoiding glances, the lip bites, the wide eyed surprise were nicely captured making the dialogues interesting. There were too much of them though so it was still boring. There are also scenes where characters run and do other stuff that involves running and they were nicely animated as well. The transitions are decent but nothing impressive. The kissing scenes are a bit lacking. It’s just two characters touching without any decent passionate exchange. They could’ve employed some different camera angles on the kissing scenes but it’s all bland. Chiaki Kon’s directorial style is never flashy. She trusts the narrative more than any physical storytelling. You didn’t exactly fall in love with Junjo Romantica because of the way the seme pins the uke. No, you’re in it for the story. This style backfires here because the narrative sucked and it needed some standout animation to carry it through.
The anime has two OP. The first OP is “Golden Time” by Yui Horie. It’s basically sung by Kaga Kouko since she voiced the girl. It’s a bright and charming song with a cute upbeat sound. It’s also made special by Yui’s talented voice. She’s just that awesome. The song is basically a short lyrical interpretation of the anime. It has lines like “my troubles don’t matter as long as we enjoy the moment” and it has lyrics about someone expressing his love before his memory forgets it. Pretty damn good summary, right there. The OP sequence features Kaga being cute and bubbly as she dance around for no reason. It also features Tada being with her as their cheeks touch. It’s cute. The second OP is “The World’s End” by Yui Horie. This song is pretty cute though. I love how the instrumentals with the big bells echoing drown out the lyrics. It’s oddly soothing. The lyrics are a small summary of the show as well in Kaga’s point of view. “If I met you in a dream, what would I say to you?” pretty much sums up Kaga’s feeling at this stage of the show. The sequence features Kaga, again, acting all cute and doing random adorable stuff.
The anime also has two ED. The first one is “Sweet and Sweet Cherry” by Yui Horie. I love the opening piano arrangement because it was so melancholic. Most episodes end with a sad scene and the piano arrangement intensifies it, effectively making me cry like a little girl. The song is still pretty bubbly though. It’s about a girl overthinking what she should dress and what smile she should put on before she meet up with the guy she likes. It’s adorable. The ED sequence features Kaga being cute and stuff like that. I love the lip sync as well because it makes her all the more cuter acting out the lyrics of the song. The second ED is “Hanneikyuuteki ni Ashite yo” by Yui Horie. As you can see, Yui Horie is whoring out her songs. She’s talented but goddamn, too much. I’m really starting to wonder how big her ego got. Between hogging all the OP/ED spots and Miss Monochrome, I wonder just how much she thinks of herself. Then again, maybe it’s just aggressive self-promotion. Either way, I don’t like it. The song is just like the rest. It’s bubbly and cute even if it has lines like “love me until we die”. The ED sequence features Tada and Kaga being cute together. That’s about all of it.
5/10 “It had its moments but the boring narrative and the unlikeable characters makes this anime very disappointing.”
I was hoping for some wonderful romance only JC Staff can give us but all I got was regret. I was hoping for some dramatic moments and I was crying because the show sucked. I was honestly hoping for more than this. The payoff was lacking and the overall experience is bad. If you like JC Staff then here’s a reason to hate them. If you want to see Nana cameo in another show then check her out. Yeah, that’s about it. It’s safe to say this anime is bad. I do not recommend this.