**Golden Time is a show befitting of the name, as I felt that every moment was golden. Although fans may be better familiar with Toradora, Yuyoko Takemiya’s other work, I connected with Golden Time on a much deeper level.**
Don’t get me wrong, I love Toradora, but I felt that Golden Time portrayed a much more realistic love story fraught with hope, despair, rejection, confusion, paranoia, insecurities, trust and love. A romantic journey isn’t an easy one, and although I’ve watched many animes, I’ve never found one that really delves into the real troubles of a relationship like Golden Time has done. I’ll try and explain this with minimal spoilers, but do read at your own risk.
I found the story to be enticing as it focuses on Banri Tada and Koko Kaga and their new-found love, although things were very different for them before they started college. Kaga only applied as she stalks her best friend, the unfortunate Mitsuo Yanagisawa, who just wants to be free of her constantly trying to be with him as he harbours no romantic feelings towards her. Banri and Mitsuo become friends after becoming lost in Tokyo, and Banri sympathises with Koko as their friendship deepens.
Mitsuo states from the beginning that it’s troubling that so many guys are jealous of him as Koko is very wealthy and attractive, but he says that they don’t think about him and how much of a struggle day to day life can be with a stalker, even if they are close friends and he doesn’t want to lose that. Banri, a year prior, suffered an accident where he fell from a bridge head first and now has amnesia, meaning he doesn’t remember anything previous to the accident but struggles with those memories returning, which affects his current memories with Koko, his friends and his new home.
You’d never guess that Golden Time is telling a story that’s anything other than a fairy tale though, as the opening and ending themes and visuals are bubbly, colourful and smile-inspiring. They’ve quickly become my favourite openings and endings, with the first opening taking the spotlight. Love is a great thing, and should be treated as such; I feel that they try to convey the excitement and troubles that love brings.
It might be that I’m very in touch with my feminine side, but I adore love stories and find them very easy to relate and empathise with, and I related to Golden Time the most despite not having amnesia or wealth – or maybe I do, and I just don’t remember it!
The characters quickly grow on you, although you may not feel that was at first, with the loveable cast of Banri, Koko and Mitsuo being joined by Banri’s previous flame Linda, new student 2D-Kun (who got his name by stating he prefers 2D life to 3D life) and the tiny and eccentric Chinami Oka. You may ship many ships during the series, but my favourite character will always be Koko due to the relatable struggles she deals with daily.
If you’ve been in love, you might have struggled with issues of paranoia and trust; what are they doing, who are they with, they seem really close to that person, do they still love me? I’ve faced these issues in the past and they’ve always posed problems, but I’m unfortunately hard-wired to work this way, but Golden Time helped me to face these issues on a personal level and to accept that how I am is okay, that I’ll never be perfect, that I may always be broken in some way. But that’s okay, we’re all looking to find who we are.
Everyone seems to be more traditionally masculine than Banri, and although the girls may be more feminine visually, Banri is the one who needs coddling and reassuring. His relationship with Linda sees that Banri is emotional and that he turns to Linda to feel safe, because he’s unable to reassure himself that everything’s okay. He happens to be strong for Koko though, but even then he finds himself becoming an emotional wreck. I relate to Banri in this sense too as I also find it difficult to reassure myself of things, but there’s nothing wrong with needing coddling, or dare I say it, being high-maintenance.
Banri and Koko in particular struggle to accept that they’re okay as they are, as Banri’s past comes back to haunt him which includes loss of current memories and Koko, whilst Koko struggles to be – what shes views as – the perfect girlfriend, as she’s unable to help Banri regarding his past.
They both have to cope that his past self is in love with Linda, whilst his current self is in love with Koko. Banri has to work through his memories to decide what he really wants, and whether or not he can accept his past into his new self, or if he’ll lose his new identity to his past self; of course, Koko has to watch this happen as she’s helpless to stop it.
The animation itself is beautiful, with emotions drawn with realism in mind – although there are some exaggerated faces that we’ve all come to love in anime – and the city of Tokyo looks as amazing as it truly does in real life. I particularly like the design of Koko, and whilst it’s a relatively simple concept, the way that the animators brought the characters to life is brilliant.
Some scenes, such as the one with Koko crying above, capture the very essence of despair, of wondering what could you have done better and if you’ll ever be able to help the one you love; and more importantly yourself. The openings and endings are vibrant and bursting with life, with the first 2 symbolising fresh love, and the latter symbolising that things can go wrong but that you’re not alone.
There’s no English dub yet, but the original Japanese voice-over is packed with emotion and brimming with personality. As someone who prefers dub, I really enjoyed the Japanese voice-over and the clear English subtitles that came with it; they’re easy to read.
The soundtrack is one of my favourite parts of Golden Time, with the OP’s first theme – appropriately dubbed Golden Time – being one of the catchiest Japanese pop tunes I can name. Sweet & Sweet Cherry, The World’s End and Love Me Semi-Permanently are also great and uplifting tunes that inspire nostalgia, happiness and bittersweet memories all at once.
I’ve not reviewed an anime before, and this may appear as little more than a character analysis or something perhaps better suited to a personal blog, but I’ve always been very open to my feelings and Golden Time resonated with me personally in a way that I never expected it to. I hope I’ve done an okay job, and I hope that this anime can help you find the peace you may have been looking for. I wanted to share my passion with you all.
Golden Time may not be to everyone’s liking, or you not be completely happy with the outcome or various other things but I accept that, and Golden Time will always be special to me as it’s an anime that’s not afraid to delve into the deeper and darker parts of a relationship and a young adults life. I urge you to give Golden Time a go if you’ve been struggling with a relationship or have been before, or just want to experience a truly outstanding love story. Love, sex, trust – none of these things are easy or simple, and it’s good to understand that.
If an emotionally damaged and unstable couple such as Koko, with her stalking tendencies and near intolerable ability to cling and never let go, and Banri with his confused feelings, hesitance to commit and their shared feelings of self-doubt can exist and attempt a functioning and happy relationship, then there’s no reason for us all not to try.
Remember, we’re all looking to let go of the past and head towards the future and, for who we think is the perfect match, but it’s the broken people that might be the most perfect of all. Your plans will go awry, you’ll get in the way of your own happiness, and you’ll realise at some point that you may be utterly broken with no hope. But it’s okay, nobody’s perfect, and you’ll find someone who’ll accept you and your flaws anyway; they’re a part of what makes you, you.
We’re living our Golden Time, here and now, so let’s make the most of it.