There’s a good show in here somewhere I swear.
Golden Time has actually had a good run the last couple episodes, relatively speaking. It’s managed to recapture a bit of the magic it had around episodes eleven and twelve even if all that came between precludes the overall show from being that good. This episode actually addressed one of my primary complaints from last week in Banri’s seemingly unfounded fear that he would “disappear” somehow. This week’s reveal that Banri’s current memories are actively fading in and out means that his current self legitimately could be overwritten which is cause for concern. I wish this had been made clearer early on so that Banri’s behavior would have made more sense at the time but that’s small potatoes at this point. I also believe that at their most basic level Kouko’s actions in breaking up with Banri make sense. When your boyfriend lies to you about something as important as losing/gaining memories and you find out about it I think that it’s fair to make the decision that you can’t trust him and that moving on might be the best thing regardless of what your lingering feelings may or may not be. I can get behind this course of events in a vacuum.
The problem comes from everything surrounding these seemingly reasonable events. Linda in particular has severely deteriorated in my mind over the last few episodes. What seems like her almost single-minded dedication to making Banri and Kouko’s relationship work out is quite puzzling. I guess I could accept that Linda has given up all her feelings for Banri but dedicating herself to saving a failed relationship doesn’t seem like a particularly noble cause. She does have some constructive things to say like when she tells Kouko that the world doesn’t move according to her wishes, something that Kouko probably needs to hear more often. Unfortunately, she follows that up with the cryptic statement “don’t underestimate me”. It’s not clear what Kouko isn’t supposed to underestimate. Don’t underestimate her dedication to saving a relationship Kouko doesn’t seem to want anymore? Forcing that back on her doesn’t seem very fair to Kouko. Don’t underestimate her dedication to winning Banri for herself? If that’s her goal she’s doing a terrible job of it thus far.
Mitsuo also disappointed this week as he continued the trend of characters in Golden Time overreacting to things. After finding out that Banri and Linda went to high school together he goes into hiding because apparently the only way Mitsuo knows to react to romance problems is to become a hikki. Banri’s history didn’t seem to faze the normally neurotic and jealous Kouko but somehow the only tangentially related to the situation Mitsuo suffers a complete breakdown. A breakdown that was effectively invalidated later when Kouko brings him back out of hiding like it’s no big deal. Golden Time continues to suffer from a lack of moderation in the behavior of its characters here. It was also puzzling the way the festival club’s failures were suddenly forgiven because Mitsuo showed the school president video of the club practicing. I hardly thing that the club’s dedication to practice was what was in question here and if it was it makes the withholding of funding and facilities seem that much stupider.
Banri himself has become something of a problem for the show even when Kouko isn’t involved. His frequent break downs have caused the plot to only move forward in fits and starts rather than progressing steadily. To me it’s reminiscent of the last couple episodes of H2O: Footprints in the Sand where the main character suddenly regained a handicap he had lost early in the show. The show was able to progress reasonably well for a mediocre VN adaptation while the main character was fully capable. However, by the end the plot had ground to a complete halt because rather than being able to move anything forward the central character around which everything revolved had ceased to be a competent human being that could actually make things happen himself. I see the same thing with Banri breaking down and needing to be helped through the most basic of social interactions. It’s a real drag when otherwise interesting plot is interrupted by a 90-second Banri meltdown. I get that they have to sell us on his condition somehow but the way it’s being done is so debilitating to the plot that I can’t really say that it’s worth it.
There were other minor annoyances like 2D-kun somehow being the one to take the initiative an rally everybody or Nana inexplicably losing her logic when she decides to join Banri in bed but all of this is secondary to the fundamental problem with Golden Time that I’ve been pounding on for weeks: the lack of any semblance of chemistry between Kouko and Banri. If you don’t take the fact that these two are destined for each other as an article of faith then the rest of the show falls apart quickly. Banri and Kouko’s tear felt reconciliation at the start of the episode becomes forced and hammy when you start to question why Kouko was ever this dedicated to Banri. Linda’s aforementioned crusade to save the two makes even less sense when you don’t believe that it was something worth saving in the first place. It all comes back to Banri and Kouko and when the relationship that the author tries to sell you as the ultimate goal of everything in this story turns out to be a sham then the rest of the work follows quickly after. I can almost enjoy these episodes of Golden Time but each time I get close I’m reminded of how bogus the central premise here is.
With one episode to go I think hope of anything except a Banri/Kouko ending is ruled out at this point. How they plan to resolve their break up and Banri’s ongoing mental condition is anybody’s guess. It seems like there isn’t enough time to properly fix his problems but future events following logically from past events and consistent characterization have never been this show’s strong points. I’m sure they’ll find a way to make this all “work out” in the strictest sense but I can’t say I see anything particularly satisfying coming our way.