Golden Time 21: Too Little, Too Late?

Oh, what could have been.

I’ve been waiting for this for weeks

I’ve been waiting for this for weeks

It’s unfortunate when the good episodes of a show server merely to throw into stark contrast how bad the bad episodes have been but that’s what we have on our hands with Golden Time. The events of this episode and the way the characters acted were much more reminiscent of the good Golden Time we saw back around episode twelve. The problem is that the intervening episodes make the contrast between this episode and what came before incredibly dissonant. It’s impossible to take the characters’ behavior at face value because it’s all completely contradicted by how they’ve been behaving for six episodes. Consistency in characterization has never been Golden Time’s strong suit and it really showed this week.

It also showed how it would have been possible to fix Golden Time, or at least make it less bad. Arguably everything from episode fourteen through to the last part of episode twenty could simply be eliminated and almost nothing would have changed about episode twenty-one. We’d still need to introduce the idea that Mitsuo has feelings for Linda and Chinami probably still has to cut her hair for some reason but really all of the content that matters from those eight episodes could have been condensed into one episode. It’s never a good sign for a show when a third of the show is almost entirely pointless.

It was almost comical to see what I had been expecting out of Golden Time ten episodes ago finally come to pass. I had likened Banri to a ticking time bomb that could revert to his old self at any minute but nothing like that happened for so long that it was almost forgotten. Now he’s doing what he probably should have done much sooner instead of the author feebly attempting to get the viewer to appreciate Banri and Kouko’s relationship. I also had previously wondered why Kouko was even interested in Banri and I figured that it must have been some scheme on her part rather than genuine affection. After taking the time to try to convince us that Kouko’s feelings were really genuine she just walks out on Banri at the end of this episode which honestly should have happened sooner.

This was a long time coming

This was a long time coming

We were also back to observing how truly dysfunctional Banri’s relationship with Kouko is when Banri was practically hysterical in his apartment begging his friends not to tell Kouko about his sudden memory restoration. It seems to me that if something this major happens to you and you’re completely unwilling to tell your girlfriend about it that might be a sign that your relationship isn’t what it should be. This would have been a good time for Banri to recognize how bogus his relationship with Kouko is but he gamely hangs on which, while not ideal, is at least defensible characterization. I really did like that whole sequence, maddening as Banri’s behavior was, because it represented real human emotion that had been sorely lacking from this show for some time. In addition to the breakdown in his apartment, the scene between Banri, Mitsuo and 2D-kun on the bench was one of the most emotionally potent scenes in the entire show as Banri spilled his guts to the two of them. There’s definitely a good show lurking in here somewhere and it’s clear that Takemiya Yuyuko has some writing talent in her even if she’s been missing more than she’s hit lately.

She’s gonna notice

She’s gonna notice

That’s not to say that everything about this episode was good. We opened with a reproduction of the blame game from episode sixteen, this time with the festival club blaming themselves for the fallout from Banri’s breakdown. Getting cut off like that after the incident at the festival seems harsh but it isn’t an excuse to get all mopey and guilty over a freak incident. There were also times where the characterization was out of whack and it seemed like Kouko had become the down to earth and perceptive one while Chinami was the completely neurotic one. This inversion could have been defensible if it had been properly justified but once again it seems like things sometimes just happen in Golden Time without any basis in previous events. The same goes for Chinami’s sudden affection for Mitsuo. I guess you can argue that it took Mitsuo not being interested in her to make Chinami realize she liked him but I never saw her as petty like that and she really took her time realizing her feelings. It was also weird how a Banri who supposedly had completely reverted to his past self, to the point of not even recognizing his own apartment, somehow managed to recognize a version of Linda that’s two years older and had cut her hair.

Since when are you so unpleasant?

Since when are you so unpleasant?

But I’m getting too down on what was arguably a step in the right direction for Golden Time. I don’t think it’s possible at this point for Golden Time to be a truly good show but I’m much more inclined to believe there’s something salvageable here than I was a week ago. That’s probably almost entirely because it seems like Banri and Kouko are on the outs, but a win’s a win. At least until it suddenly becomes not a win next week when Kouko’s true motivation for walking out is revealed. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much since I’ve been burned in the past but still, little victories.

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This entry was posted in Episodic Commentary, Golden Time, Winter 2014 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Golden Time 21: Too Little, Too Late?

  1. Mark Wise says:

    Geez, seems like someone has only been watching this show with one eye open. The foreshadowing and reasoning has been there but it is a lot more subtle than a lot of other anime. Perhaps that was why you missed it?

    Mitsuo likes Linda because she is a very down to earth person, the complete opposite of Koko. Chinami has always liked Mitsuo but he was very stupid in his confession to her so she rejected it. She’s been waiting for him to ask her again but then sees him dating Linda. In anger/disappointment of that, she cut her hair. Please note whose hairstyle it looks like… Linda’s!

    As for Banri’s selective memory, a face is a face no matter the hair. He would recognize her if no one else since that is who is was/is in love with.

    • I kind of wish you were writing the show. All of those are solid pieces of reasoning but I don’t really see them as being justified within the show itself. I am certainly open to the idea that Mitsuo was looking for something that’s the opposite of Kouko, especially given how insane she was around him in particular. However, his first focus was Chinami who, while she certainly isn’t Kouko, isn’t exactly the model of “down to earth”. The fact that he was so distraught over Chinami’s rejection that he dyed his hair and went full hikki for awhile is a lot of what makes the fact that he suddenly switched gears to Linda so strange.

      I’ve heard the Chinami short hair = Linda hair argument before and I think it’s an interesting angle but almost subtle to the point of not existing. I also don’t believe that the way Chinami acted after Mitsuo’s confession gave any indication that she had feelings for him. I like the idea and I wish it had been presented that way but if that’s what the actual creators were going for I’d argue that they kind of whiffed.

      Banri’s selective memory was admittedly the weakest of my gripes but as part of a pattern of developments that were either poorly justified or not justified at all it bugged me all the same.In a vacuum it probably isn’t an issue for the reasons you stated.

  2. Boundless says:

    I just wanted to say I approve of your title picture.

    Nana best girl confirmed.

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