Golden Time is back again, for better or for worse.
After two weeks off and several mediocre premieres the continuation of the fall lineup seemed like a welcome development. I was excited to have Golden Time back in my weekly schedule. While on the whole I’d say I’m still glad to see Golden Time again it didn’t take long for the show to remind me both why I missed it and why I really needed that break from it in the first place.
On the positive side, there are times when Golden Time does a great job of capturing longing and romantic tension such as the moments when Banri sees Linda becoming closer to other men. There’s an understated quality to these scenes that is largely lacking in the balance of the show. The other main thing keeping me on board with Golden Time is the concept itself. I really do like the idea of a guy who was close to a girl in the past but has forgotten her due to amnesia and now must struggle with what remains of his past feelings versus his feelings for his current girlfriend. This provides an interesting angle on the traditional love triangle dynamic where the focus of the triangle only has his or her present feelings to consider.
Unfortunately, Golden Time’s execution of this leaves much to be desired. Primary among the issues here is ghost Banri himself. If ghost Banri was merely a representation of Banri’s past self I would find his presence less problematic. Now that it seems he’s not only messing with Banri’s mind but also with the weather (?!?) I have a hard time seeing him as anything but a distraction from an otherwise interesting storyline. Any investment I may have had in Banri’s plight is kind of killed by the introduction of these elements that make the situation much less real and relatable. When ghost Banri isn’t messing with the plot, I continue to find that in general Golden Time could benefit from toning things down just a bit. This week the prime offenders were the absurd dance scene the somehow motivated Kouko to participate in the parade and then the painfully awkward “air yakisoba” scene later. I’m not categorically opposed to throwing some comedy into my romance but these scenes really could stand to be toned down a bit.
As for the actual content of this episode I continue to be struck by how fundamentally incompatible Kouko and Banri appear to be. Kouko, clingy and insecure as she is, is certainly not the type of person who is mentally capable of dealing with a person in Banri’s circumstances. Regardless of whether Banri’s indecisiveness is caused by uncontrollable compulsions he has, his own personal weaknesses or the ghost of Banri past the uncertainty surrounding him is not good for Kouko. I suggested last episode that cutting bait and moving on from Banri might be the best thing for Kouko at this point and the developments this week did nothing to move me off of that stance.
Even ignoring the psychological impact Banri’s situation is having on Kouko, the two just don’t seem to work that well together in general. Kouko herself is constantly awkwardly trying to appease Banri and never seems completely herself around him. Banri too seems unduly concerned about losing Kouko to another man which seems odd because the only motivation I can see for Banri staying with Kouko is Kouko’s happiness since Banri would certainly be happier if he could pursue Linda without his relationship with Kouko hanging over his head.
Ultimately I continue to see Banri’s relationship with Kouko to be a transient thing. There’s just way too many issues for them to sell me on the two as a viable couple long term. I do think there’s happiness to be found for both of them but them being together doesn’t seem to be it. Unfortunately, the people behind Golden Time haven’t shown much capacity for decisions that make a ton of sense to this point. I’d like to believe that Takemiya’s previous work on Toradora would mean that Golden Time is salvageable but my hope is starting to wane.