First Impressions – Golden Time

Obsessive stalkers included.

It’s Golden Time! Or perhaps more appropriately Romance Time, if our lead, Banri, has anything to say about it. I’ve made it no secret that I’ve been highly anticipating this show, so now that the premiere is all said and done, let’s discuss how Golden Time’s opening shot turned out.
It’s JC Staff Time, too. They’ve been the studio behind two of my favorite romances: Toradora! and Sakurasou no Pet no Kanojo. And while Sakurasou and Toradora shared Okada Mari for Composition, Golden Time and Toradora share Takemiya Yuyuko as Original Creator. Sakurasou was a success, so can Golden Time be another and fill out the trifecta?

A Bright Future

Sorry, there’s this girl obstructing a great view of the rose petals.

Honestly speaking, I’m not a connoisseur of the romance genre. But apparently romance makes up the vast majority of all shows I’ve ever watched by far. So maybe that counts for something. Anyway, long story very short, I wasn’t particularly wow’d by this premiere. Basically, the episode was formulated as a very tame introduction. Which is fine; it just doesn’t make the show stand out much, especially when you’re competing with other romances with more exciting concepts like sea-people. That said, it’s not as if Golden Time is doomed for blandness because it lacks fantastic elements. Being arguably the centerpiece of the show, Kouko is definitely a treat (I’m so gonna get it from feminists for “objectifying” her). Takemiya-sensei has a track record of creating very strong and complex female leads, and our fabulous stalker here is no exception. Here’s a young lady who knows what she wants; she’s got her entire life planned out, and she absolutely has to have her way. And it just so happens that it includes an “unfortunate” Mitsuo as her unwilling spouse.

It helps to have situation awareness.

Seriously speaking, I can understand his displeasure with the overbearing annoyance that has plagued his entire life so far. But as it stands, I don’t think it would be so bad for him to give in and let Kouko (further) into his life. Aside from her alarming obsession with him, I see nothing else concerning about her character. It might even be a good thing to have a partner who cares so much about you and is exceptional at planning ahead. Then again, it’s possible (and highly likely) that we haven’t seen all of Kouko yet, and there might just be other darker things hidden behind her pretty face. But I digress. The other character of interest is, of course, Banri. At first glance he looks like your generic main character, but I think it’s a nice distinction that he’s decided to actively seek a wholesome relationship. Quite the romantic, wouldn’t you say? And a nice change of pace from the typical dense or perverted idiot that we get. For the moment, it’s intentionally unclear whom he might end up with, as he’s almost comically wagged his tail at all the important girls he’s come across. But this should make for some good material moving forward.

Surprise hit and run!

Then there’s that final bit with the hospital in the call log and the random bike-on-the-bridge scene (who was he waiting for?). I’m not sure where the show intends to go with that, but given that apparently Banri got hit, odds are we’ll get some amnesia cliche. Add in the fact that Kouko’s father runs a hospital and I think you can see that we might be in for some juicy drama.

If You Just Did What I Told You To…

Certainly not threatening.

The contradictions in Kouko are something I find very interesting. A beautiful, even ‘exotic’ girl, with long blond hair and a beautiful body, you almost want her to have a horrible personality. And according to Mitsuo she does. But she certainly doesn’t do anything *overt* in this first episode to warrant his horrible opinion of her. Yes, she followed him to Tokyo, yes, she smacked him with a bouquet of roses, and yes, she pops up right behind Mitsuo and Banri when they don’t expect it. Is she a stalker? I guess so. But if the protagonist of the show is the one who chases the girl he loves, we like him. Why do we feel that Kouko is worse?

Beware the Latin Dance Club!

But also interesting is the blooming of Banri’s life. He’s realizing that as hectic and strange as Tokyo is, it’s also cool and new and full of things to experience. The fish-out-of-water scene with the freshmen accosted by all the school clubs was glorious chaos (“Help, I’ve been trapped by the Latin Dance Club!”), and meeting Linda certainly left an impression on him (warning: be careful of clicking on spoiler tags!). As did meeting Chinami, who’s got the genki girl slot wrapped up, it seems. And being set in college is a definite change, hopefully for the better. I find that romances among somewhat older folks tend to be more authentic and believable, even if slower and less whirlwind. Last season we actually saw quite a few: Servant x Service and Genshiken Nidaime both tackling adult relationships. There seem to be so many possibilities in this show, it will be fun to see where it goes.


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So yeah, there’s definitely a lot of potential for Golden Time. In spite of the uninspiringly standard premiere, I believe it can and will turn out to be something to look out for in the near future. WIth 24 episodes, there’s plenty of room to work with a slower pace. And we all know that a rushed romance is a recipe for disaster, so this is a good thing. But more importantly, I’m already hooked on the characters, which is a sure sign of a character-driven show doing its job well. From Kouko’s heavy-handed approach to catching Mitsuo to Banri’s prospective romantic future, there’s certainly a lot more to come.

A lot of people are talking about the ‘slow’ start to this show, but perhaps this is the tortoise, where slow and steady over a long 2-cour series will win out. I definitely think there’s a lot of possibilities, and even if you think the OP sequence is spoilery, it’s possible it’s either a misdirection or just early season happenings. It’s almost certain that a 2-cour series is going to have a different OP by the end. Will it still be with Banri and Kouko holding hands? Or maybe Mitsuo will realize what he’s giving up.


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42 Responses to “First Impressions – Golden Time”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Romance is actually lower on my ladder of anime genres, real low but somehow I still manage to get around and watch them. Why do I continue to do that? I’m still trying to find the answer myself but this is a new season so it deserves at least a shot.

    I can totally see why Mitsuo chose to apply to another school to get away from Koko. Anyone who’s that insensitive, who has only one-sided views about how things are done and being a stalker on top of that is nothing but trouble. It’s funny and ironic that in spite of what he’s seen and heard, Banri is still interested in her. Obviously love at first sight but I’m sure she hasn’t noticed him the same way as she does Mitsuo.

    Banri is where things aren’t so typical where romance is concerned. He was already taken in when he saw Koko at first glance but now he’s focusing on another girl he’s just met, Linda. Usually, it takes a male lead everything he has to confess to the girl he likes but I can’t begin to imagine how one is going to handle deciding which girl to go after.

    Well, for now I’m going to put the three episode test into effect and see where things go from there. Just like Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, it surprised me finding out this is a 2 cour series.

    • Highway says:

      I think you just need to be more honest with yourself, BB, and realize that you’re really a romantic guy. Come out of that closet! Honestly, tho, I think romances tend to show us that most necessary of human conditions: companionship. Almost universally, people love to vicariously share in the details of others companionship stories. It touches us deep inside whether we think we like it or not.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Nice one. Though honestly, that genre is not all that interesting to me. I guess I watch these kinds of things for watching’s sake because it’s one of the few things to help me pass the time. If there has to be romance, I’d more prefer it with a thrill behind it like what’s found in a supernatural story, a bloody, torrid relationship or forbidden love to be specific, which is more my taste.

        • skylion says:

          He’s so romantic that he is willing to see just where the BlV’s really need to go. Right here.

  2. sadakups says:

    Overly Attached Girlfriend – The Anime.

  3. skylion says:

    I wouldn’t call it uninspiring, perhaps, mildly so. It doesn’t give you the first impression that the zanniness of ToraDora gave you (can you image Kouko sneaking into your house to steal back a love letter), nor does it have that splendid introduction of male and female lead that Sakourasou brought to the fore.

    But, I like how it introduces all the possibilities. Like many, I was anticipating the show as well.

    • Highway says:

      Well, I think this start also indicates to us a different kind of maturity that we’re going to see. ToraDora was about two completely inexperienced people who couldn’t understand their own feelings, even two people who were behind everyone else, and trying to catch up (one might also say that Minori was bad about understanding her own feelings, but Ami and Yuusaku were both far ahead). In this one, we have people who are just that bit more developed, and even if Mitsuo and Kouko are acting kinda bratty about it, they both understand more about their own feelings.

      Something that I’m finding interesting as I recall writing the post and these comments is that I wonder why I am defending Kouko so much. I mean, yes, she seems to have done some outrageous things, but are they really? As I said above, we celebrate a male lead who does the same things she does (minus the rose assault, at least), but I don’t think it’s about gender discrimination. I think it’s about portrayal. We’ve gotten more of Mitsuo’s point of view, much less of Kouko’s, so he’s the more sympathetic character. Although a line from Chris Rock that I heard recently does pop into my head: “If you just broke up with your girlfriend… you’ve been breaking up for 6 months.” Maybe that’s just what Kouko needs, to get through that time.

    • Namika says:

      I seem like the only one who disliked TorDora.

      • Highway says:

        One thing about Toradora is that it has, perhaps, the single greatest moment in anime, or at least romantic anime. That 24 episodes lead up to two words, repeated 3 times, which I think are unforgettable to anyone. And it wasn’t a big confession, it wasn’t a big staged event. It was private, so intimate, and so touching. So having that as part of the series makes it pretty automatically at the top of a lot of people’s lists.

        (For me, the only other romantic ‘event’ that comes anywhere in the same zip code is Kazuma’s confession in Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi, which is much more of a staged event, but still a lot of fun)

        • Namika says:

          I know which scene you’re talking about. I dropped this show after several episodes, but I still came across that scene, thanks to youtube.

        • Namika says:

          I hope I didn’t sound bitchy or anything. I actually liked that scene a lot, it was really cute. That show just wasn’t for me.

          • Highway says:

            Oh no, you didn’t. I was just trying to say why I think so many people hold Toradora up above the rest of the universe of romance anime. It was very good throughout the entire run, but that scene gave it a payoff that was rare, and gave it that lasting mindshare. It’s that scene that you can watch and instantly remember all the best things about the show.

            If you compare the shows episode by episode, I would tend to think that Sakurasou was actually a bit better. But I thought at the time that it’s only detriment was that it didn’t have that “crowning moment of awesome.” Sakurasou had great arc ending episodes, almost like clockwork – 4, 8, 16, 23 – but it just didn’t have that one stellar moment.

    • Sumairii says:

      Yeah, I admit I used some words perhaps harsher than necessary in this post. We should in no way be scared away or condemn the show by its very first episode, but regardless, it’s not impossible for a show to still have a genuinely great premiere and maintain that throughout. As I tried to get across in closing though, this show is definitely looking up for the future.

      • skylion says:

        I loved ToraDora because by the second episode I realized I was watching an anime version of a Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracey film. Well, I loved it for more reasons than that, but yeah.

  4. Namika says:

    That scene with the roses, OMG. 😀 I loved it so much xD
    The MC is really cute, the visuals are great, so I’m watching this. I wonder, how will Kouko fall in love with Banri? I don’t think he’d run away from her like the other guy 😀

    • Highway says:

      Actually, what will be more interesting is Banri’s reaction, compared to a complete stranger. He’s got the knowledge advantage of Mitsuo’s experience with Kouko, so if he does get involved with her, it’s even given the contra-indications from her previous relationship. Would it turn bad, like Mitsuo thinks it has? Or is it a situation where because Kouko in a relationship with Banri doesn’t have nearly the ‘sunk cost’ that her relationship with Mitsuo had – osananajimi, life planning, over a decade together focusing on him – she can be more open and free with him?

      • Namika says:

        Hmmmm…. I think that he may try to avoid her at first, but eventually give in, because he doesn’t seem as stubborn as Mitsuo, and is more delicate. But I don’t think it will get as extreme as with Mitsuo.

    • Sumairii says:

      I wonder if Kouko might enlist Banri’s help to win over Mitsuo’s heart. He’s managed to get really close to the guy in the span of a single day, and if she can exploit his position of bro-friend, she might be able to gain some tactical advantage in the battlefield of love.

      Then, of course, Kouko and Banri would grow closer while they plot Mitsuo’s demise capture, and love blossoms. But yeah, that’s a very generic trope, so perhaps Takemiya-sensei has other bigger ideas up her sleave.

    • BlackBriar says:

      That’s assuming she falls in love with Banri at all.

  5. Foshizzel says:

    Great first episode and lots of oddball characters, but I still feel the OP spoiled who the MC gets with! I guess only time will tell if that is true or just JC Staff trollin…

    • Namika says:

      But maybe the fact that they get together isn’t the main focus of the show?

    • d-LaN says:

      Well… If we refer to the the RomCom tropes, the main girl usually wins.

    • skylion says:

      Well, how they both get togehter is A to B. That’s a good story. Seeing as how this is two cour, OP2 might just mix it up.

  6. Soliia says:

    This wasn’t too bad! It’s cool to see a college setting as opposed to a high school one. Kouko is… something. Something about her is refreshing. The MC is a bit boring though, but maybe that’s because I was comparing him with Ryuji the whole time. Anyway, I look forward to more!

  7. Liza says:

    I’m not sure if I’m going to be continuing this one. Nothing in it is really grabbing me. I also find Kouko to be annoying and the MC to be a bit bland in personality. I think I’ll watch episode 2 and then decide from there whether I want to continue or not.

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