Someone’s trying to be a happy couple
“We’re always running away without our bags, aren’t we?” Oddly enough, that little comment just about describes the situations of both Kouko and Banri right now.
Not only bags, but losing a few pairs of shoes. Probably not much of a problem for Koko, as fashionable as she is, but I can’t imagine Banri has that many.
Not Kouko’s finest hour, menacing a little girl
Sumairii \\ Let’s jump straight into the thick of things with Kouko’s relationship with Mitsuo. It might seem besides the point to mention that Kouko is obsessed with the guy, but this episode very well defines the girl’s character. The scene in the cafeteria shows us the extent of her possessiveness, with her uncontrolled tirade against poor Chinami. And then the scene in the restaurant develops that possessiveness into selfishness. You might think that this much is obvious, but honestly up until this point I would have called Mitsuo the selfish one for ignoring Kouko without making things clear to her. Now that the two have had their talk however, I can no longer say that. And with the talk, we gain further insight into their troubled “relationship”. Here’s a girl who decides to “make a case” for why the guy she likes should be with her for the rest of their lives. And to do that, she presents him with photographs of their childhood? First of all, if you have to bring binders of “evidence”, you’re doing something wrong. Second of all, if your evidence consist only of “we grew up together”, you don’t sound very genuine at all.
Would you be swayed if someone tried to convince you that they’re right for you by quantifying your relationship with photographs? I sure wouldn’t. And that’s not even the worst of it. The bigger issue is that Kouko keeps spouting this nonsense with little to no regard for Mitsuo. He’s the object of her attention, and yet he’s somehow the last thing she thinks about. I figured maybe the problem was that Mitsuo kept ignoring and avoiding Kouko. But as we saw from both confrontations, he clearly responds to her when she’s running her mouth off. And she never even so much as acknowledges he’s speaking. How can you expect to be in a real relationship with someone if you treat them like an object that’s used and not interacted with? To her credit, we do know that supposedly Kouko suffers from a lack of human interaction, which might be the root of her warped beliefs. But that doesn’t make her behavior any better objectively. Fortunately though, this attitude is likely a thing of the past now that she’s learned her lesson.
The exit ramp from the Friend Zone
Highway\\ I’ve been involved in a conversation lately about friend-zoning, and then I get to see this perfect example of friend-zoning in Golden Time. The only thing that’s maybe a little different is that this time it’s the girl who has been friend-zoned by the guy, and she’s doing the same kind of things that we often see: amassing evidence, trying to set flags, and ultimately thinking that love is an achievement that if you put in the right work, the right inputs, then the person’s love for you will come out. The problem for Kouko is that she’s pushed Mitsuo so far past that point that I really think there’s no hope for any future romance between the two.
And when he walks away protecting another girl, that should be a big hint
There have been some people who think that perhaps Kouko’s attitude changed a bit too fast, but I am not sure that we’re past her thinking about Mitsuo. I would think it’s common for folks who are rejected so thoroughly to make a strong statement like “I’m going to die” or seem like they’re moving on. But given a little distance and a little delusion (and who thinks Kouko hasn’t been a bit delusional about her relationship with Mitsuo to this point? I don’t see any hands…) it’s likely that Kouko would start thinking more about Mitsuo. I think we’ll have at least a little more swinging back and forth by her until she finally absorbs the information.
Kouko’s at least surprised at his confession
Sumairii \\ Kouko aside, we get some big hits on the drama front from Banri. I’m not sure why he thought it would be a good time to confess to Kouko right after she got solidly rejected by Mitsuo. I’ll admit the atmosphere was sort of appropriate, but the situation was anything but. Two people feeling unwanted and reflecting on themselves do not directly translate to a couple. There’s definitely sympathy between the two from reaffirming each other’s existence, not to mention all the stuff they’ve been through together lately, but surely Banri is jumping the gun by popping the question at that time. This is love we’re talking about though, and there is no shortage of wild cards when it comes to romantic relationships. So for the time being I’ll just go with the confession being a bold “spur of the moment” thing. Maybe Kouko’s talk of acknowledging his current persona got his hopes up.
At least he didn’t try to confess here
Highway\\ I’d disagree that Banri is jumping the gun with his confession, although it’s definitely rebound time for Kouko. Banri sees someone that he’s come to care about, even love, really hurting, and thinking that she now has nothing in the entire world. And his goal with confessing at that point is to try to let her know that she’s not nothing, that she has someone who still cares for her, maybe more than Mitsuo ever did. And in the two of them, we do have those parallels, and frequently two people can make their place in the world by using the other as an anchor. So perhaps Banri’s confession will help damp those swings that I think Kouko would have. She certainly doesn’t quite know what to do with it at the moment, tho, so she leaves for now.
This might be what she didn’t want him to forget
Sumairii\\ Moving on, we have the big bomb of Banri and Linda being old acquiantances. Besides the obvious shock factor, I think the more important thing to take away from this revelation is that Kouko isn’t the only one who has acknowledged Banri’s current existence. Banri’s main internal conflict is over how everyone expects and desires him to “return” to his old self. Kouko is able to accept him because she never knew him before his accident. But here’s another girl who acts just as kindly and genuinely despite knowing his past. Aside from the brief moment of recognition we saw in the premiere, we haven’t seen Linda act like there’s more to Banri than who he is now. And more to the point, she hasn’t made the guy painfully conscious of his past, purposefully or accidentally. That’s something that requires very deliberate effort to pull off. More effort than someone who only casually cares would be willing to put in, at least. So I’m willing to bet (and the pictures do hint at this) that the two had a special relationship beyond simple friendship in the past.
Nice imagery of memories falling out
If Golden Time felt rather tame in the first few episodes, this one definitely picks things up. As far as pairings go, Mitsuo and Chinami came rather abruptly, but no doubt that happened offscreen while we were following Banri and Kouko on their adventures. And if were simply these four, the show might be looking pretty set for the end. But then there’s the matter of Linda. So I guess in a way the love triangle has now shifted its center to Banri. At the moment, Kouko has the upper hand purely from the amount of time she’s spent with him. Not to mention, they have in common running away from something they’ve left behind (the trainwreck with Mitsuo for Kouko and the past for Banri) and are now reaching to each other for comfort. But I’m sure Linda will be bringing out the big guns if and when Banri confronts her about his past.
It’s about time they started talking about Linda’s past! Maybe soon I won’t be spoiled about it. I wonder about the reasons for Banri coming home on a whim, tho. Is it his talking with Kouko that’s made him more curious about his past, that maybe he feels like he should try to reintegrate it as well? But I don’t know that Linda will herself put the pressure on, because if she was going to do that, she would have done it sometime already. It’s been a year that he’s been recovering, and as Banri said: “If I had a girlfriend, I would have thought she’d come to see me.” That’s a bit of an odd relationship, but perhaps Linda was herself pretty upset by not being remembered? Well, at least Banri didn’t go the Touma route and fake it.