Dang! A quick glance at the UK anime calendar reveals that this week’s sole DVD release is Golden Time from Animatsu Entertainment. I am therefore burdened with the task of once again critiquing a romance show. From the many genres covered in Japanese cartoons I make no secret that tales of love rank amongst my least favourite. Perhaps my feelings stem from a lonely history devoid of February 14th gifts? Nah, I just dislike romance shows in general because they tend to be mediocre at best. There are some exceptions of course (such as Clannad) but for the most part love stories usually test my patience. The market is oversaturated with harems who cock block each other and don’t get me started on anime were it takes twenty-six episodes for a couple to share their first kiss. Will Golden Time manage to subvert these overused tropes? Read on and find out.
Amnesiac Banri Tada is moving on with his life after an accidental bridge plunge robbed him off his memories. The forgetful teen has moved to the big city where he intends to study law. Tada’s first day on campus doesn’t start well though, as his inability to navigate Tokyo’s labyrinth of streets results in him arriving tardy. Our hapless protagonist ends up missing his university’s opening ceremony, but on the plus side he befriends a fellow freshman named Mitsuo Yanagisawa on the journey back. Whilst conversing with Yanagisawa, Tada gets the opportunity to meet with his new pal’s childhood friend Koko Kaga. As it turns out Koko is rather loco. She has been pursuing Yanagisawa, ever since they were little, under delusions that the pair are destined to wed. Her infatuation is so strong that she has gone through the trouble of secretly enrolling at Yanagisawa’s academy, much to his annoyance.
Unsurprisingly Koko gets kicked to the curb by Yanagisawa and is eventually forced to accept that Mitsuo will never reciprocate her feelings. The heartbreak is short lived though, as Tada wastes no time in hooking up with the now available Miss Kaga. Initially things go swimmingly for the fledgling couple. Tada tolerates Koko’s possessive quirks better than Mitsuo ever could and he isn’t intimidated by his girlfriend’s affluent heritage. Their courtship is put to the test however when Tada decides to leaf through an old high school scrapbook. Whilst perusing the tome he stumbles across a photo, which reveals that Tada once harboured romantic feelings for a girl named Linda. As luck would have it Linda happens to be an upperclassman in Tada’s new school, putting him in an unenviable bind. Will Tada persist with his current relationship or will his re-emerging memories compel him to investigate this long lost crush?
My rating for Golden Time (Collection One) is three stars. The series is mildly entertaining, but I can’t say that the twelve episodes contained in this set have converted me into a fan of romantic comedies. In hindsight I should have expected just as much, given that the series is based on light novels penned by Yuyuko Takemiya. Her previous works include the popular Toradora franchise, which never made an impression on yours truly despite being highly regarded. If you are a fan of rom-coms don’t let my lukewarm assessment dissuade you from giving Golden Time a chance though. The series is competently put together, boasting solid animation from J.C. Staff and plenty of chuckles. Although the script’s romantic moments didn’t resonate with me I did at least giggle at Koko’s robotic dance moves and the scenes were Tada is abducted by the Tea Drinking Club’s party hardy membership.
Golden Time would have been more to my liking had its leads been more amiable. Tada is a nice enough chap, but I can’t condone how he jeopardizes his bond with Koko by pursuing Linda. His actions are especially odd when you consider that his motivations for migrating to Tokyo were to escape his forgotten past. I guess he may be okay with severing ties with Koko, as she is a deeply flawed character. Not only is Koko spoilt, clingy and manipulative but she also gives the vibe of loving the glamour of being in a relationship more than the act of loving someone. I especially disliked how she jealously assaults an innocent girl that Mitsuo fancies in one episode. Koko will have to grow up fast in the final dozen episodes to garner my support in the show’s upcoming love triangle. Given how nasty romance anime can get is it a wonder that I avoid the genre? In comparison the murder filled action shows I usually watch seem rather tame.