I’ll take my small victories when I can get them.
Let’s start with the good from this week’s episode of Golden Time. (Because that’ll be shorter) Despite all the BS we’ve been through I still really like the kind of conversation we can get when Linda and Banri are alone together. In this case it didn’t hurt to see Linda push Banri around while calling him out for being dense and not realizing that she might care that Mitsuo was coming to their club meetings. The whole experience was quite cathartic really. After that the two of them were able to have a frank conversation about their circumstances the likes of which hasn’t been seen for several episodes. There was no Kaga Kouko to run in and do something stupid and/or insane. There was no gorilla of a brother to interrupt the moment. It was just Banri and Linda being honest and open with each other. If it wasn’t for the nagging feeling that this type of interaction wouldn’t last long it would have been perfect. The whole sequence served as another reminder of how much better Linda’s chemistry with Banri is compared to Kouko’s. Once again I find myself baffled as to why anyone would prefer to see him with Kouko.
But object they do and that’s where we get to the bad parts of this episode of Golden Time. As I had feared, the good feelings didn’t last long. This time they were interrupted by Chinami, who up to this point I had thought might be one of the good ones. Previously she had seemed sweet and understanding but then she busts into Linda and Banri’s conversation and breaks it up with no real provocation whatsoever. I don’t know if she’s picked up Kouko’s jealous nature but the way she acted you’d think she had caught Linda and Banri swapping spit rather than simply having a conversation. Maybe I missed the memo but I don’t believe that having a conversation with another person amounts to attempted infidelity and treating it as such, even when the person in question has a history like Linda’s, is not a way to operate a healthy relationship. Six episodes ago I might have given Golden Time the benefit of the doubt and assumed that this was going to be treated as unhealthy behavior eventually and everybody would learn that this level of jealousy is no way to run a relationship. After what’s transpired as of late I have no more confidence that that’s the case and am instead forced to take such scenes at face value. I’ve spent a good deal of time bashing Banri but in this specific case I don’t think he was in the wrong even if the writers might not see things that way.
Chinami wasn’t the only one acting weird this week. We finally got confirmation of what is going on with Mitsuo and Linda and it makes exactly as much sense as you’d expect from Golden Time at this point. I said when the issue of these two first came up that I would be really upset if the two were revealed to be dating because the show had given us no basis at all for that relationship. I guess they aren’t technically dating but Mitsuo’s infatuation with Linda is almost as inexplicable. Would it have killed the writers to cut a few scenes of Kouko being insane in order to give us just a little bit of foreshadowing of Mitsuo’s feelings? I mean you can argue that the original scenes with him and Linda were a form of foreshadowing but as far as the in-universe situation is concerned he already had feelings for Linda based on almost nothing as far as I can tell. Yet despite the apparent lack of basis for these feelings and the complete absence of any reciprocation from Linda at this point Mitsuo seems to be all in on this. I can’t say it’s too surprising though given how paper thin Kouko’s justification for being madly in love with Banri is. To add to the frustration, Banri’s flat refusal to admit his history with Linda is pretty inexplicable as well. I get that telling Mitsuo that might make things more complicated but he’ll have to find out eventually and Banri hasn’t exactly been guarding this secret. I’d be far more worried about Kouko’s reaction to this fact yet Banri has been open about this with her for a while now. Pretty strange if you ask me.
The cream of the idiot crop, as usual, was one Kaga Kouko. Her childish lovey-dovey antics with Banri continue despite the fact that they stopped being cute or endearing about five seconds after she started them. You’d think that her being this kind of apparent emotional wreck would be reason to think that her relationship isn’t working but it seems to be merely the price of love in this case. Things didn’t really get insane though until she brought out her “present” for Banri. A botched work of art that could have been treated as an endearing attempt at a personal gift instead became something incredibly creepy and awkward when Kouko tried to use it as a pretext for unwanted sexual advances. One could argue that anime relationships tend to be overly chaste but I really don’t think that adding sex to Banri and Kouko’s relationship would be a healthy move at this point. There’s so much baggage here already that adding more would be particularly ill-advised. That’s not to say it isn’t realistic that a couple of Kouko and Banri’s age would make that move but ideally it would be portrayed as a foolish action taken by naïve children but once again I have no confidence that the author actually sees things that way. Either way, add another point in the creepy/possessive column for Kouko.
So with the fall of Chinami this leaves us with a show in which everybody is nuts except Linda and occasionally Banri when he’s around Linda. It’s one thing to have eccentric characters but I’d like for the characters’ actions to at least be internally consistent and to vaguely resemble how real people might think and act. It’s actually really surprising to me that an author who handled the tsundere archetype so realistically in Toradora could fail so utterly at writing realistic characters with Golden Time. It’s hard to believe that Takemiya Yuyuko simply lost that skill between writing Toradora and writing Golden Time but I’m not sure what other conclusion to draw. The only other possibility I see is that Toradora was equally lacking in its writing but the story was saved thanks to the skill of one Okada Mari. Then again, if Ms. Okada managed to save Toradora why wasn’t she able to do the same with Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo? In the end it isn’t clear where things went wrong but it’s more the evident that things have gone horribly wrong somewhere along the line. I fear that we may have just hit the high point of the second half of Golden Time which is truly a sorry state of affairs.
Next week would appear to mark the return of the tea club. Ten episodes I didn’t think it would be possible that I’d be welcoming the return of that demon club but that’s the state of affairs at this point with Golden Time. So bring on the insane lesbians. It can’t be worse than what came before.