Golden Time is originally a light novel series by author Yuyuko Takemiya and illustrator Eeji Komatsu. It sprouted an eight volume manga adaptation followed by an anime adaptation spanning 24 episodes, first released in 2013. The best way to describe this series is: Legally Blonde meets the Anime world.
The Story – [Spoiler Alert!]
We follow the clueless Banri Tada, a new law student wondering around aimlessly after the opening ceremony, he eventually finds another lost fellow, Mitsuo Yanagisawa. As they eventually figure out where they are going and becoming the best of buddies they encounter a beautiful girl. The girl proceeds to thrash Mitsuo with a bouquet of flowers. Charming ! This is Kouko Kaga, the self-proclaimed childhood sweetheart of Mitsuo. As children they had promised to marry each other one day, she takes this dream to heart and proceeds to stalk Mitsuo throughout his life. Mitsuo secretly takes the entrance examination for college in Tokyo to escape Kouko. However always a step ahead, Kouko has also enrolled in the same college and is now planning on taking all the same subjects as Mitsuo to be close to him. Bizarrely I couldn’t tell who the main protagonist was, Tada or Mitsuo? You have to keep watching to figure out the whole complicated story.
Kouko’s ultimnate goal is to be joined to Mitsuo every step of the way and ends up confiding in Tada. He is aware she is pretty much using him but he doesn’t mind. Already by the second episode she has him feeling sorry for her, as she seems to have no friends and is obsessive over Mitsuo. Mitsuo in turn explains that what the ‘pretty’ ones do like Kouko, they make it about themselves and their hardships and he is often told by people ‘you should be grateful you have her she’s hot’. This conversation hints to the audience that Tada has developed more than a soft spot of the the brash beauty. While Mitsuo thwarts her constant advances, Tada becomes her shoulder to cry on. After Mitsuo breaks her heart, Tada and her mutual friendship blossoms into a romance and they become a couple. There are a lot of love triangles and the story doesn’t stop here.
More of a backstory forms around Tada in the series as he actually has amnesia. After a tragic car accident he decided to enrol in the prestigious law school. His path leads him across a college student named Nana Hayashida, better known to everyone as “Linda“. He and Kouko join Linda’s school club without knowing that Linda is, in fact, a former high school classmate of Tada’s whom he had confessed his love to before his accident. AWKWARD.
At the start I felt that this was a slice-of-life anime with a very annoying second lead lady popping up to mess up the story, but as her character develops through Tada’s eyes, the story starts to have emotional development and a path is soon created.
Golden Time worked through some unusual and difficult themes, especially towards the end of the series. However, I felt some of the over dramatic moments were unnecessary and ruined the moments at times. Watching Tada battle with his loss of identity – losing who he is now to who he was before had an impact on surrounding characters. It was amusing to see Kouko trying to keep her cool with Tada but not being able to control her feeling of loss. As in this type of emotional situation you aren’t handle your overbearing emotions, especially with the bond formed between the two.
Seeing the reawakening of feelings between Tada and Linda was interesting, as he was still very much in love with Linda and believing that despite all the time that has passed, she has not changed one bit and they can start a relationship together. The two spend time together, but Kouko shows up and Tada does not recognise her. But someone with such an overbearing personality simply cannot be ignored. You see both females showing complete love for Tada but who should win? After the confusion Tada gradually remembers her and chases her which leads to a dream-like sequence where a bridge connects the two sides of Tada, this allows post-accident Tada to take control and move forward.
The relationship between Kouko and Tada has been the main focus of the series and it’s been interesting to see Tada as a sub character slowly overshadow Mitsuo. When he did form a relationship with Kouko eventually, and dealt with their emotional struggles, I felt this was a good play on the belief that if you are willing to work for something you can be happy.
Golden Time has been an emotional roller-coaster ride going from slapstick humour to struggles with identity loss. You see the transition from the start of college to dealing with relationships to actually having real discussions about worries and hopes and dreams. I would class this anime as a romantic comedy/drama rather than slice of life as I originally thought.
Having the same creator as Toradora!, Golden Time does have significant overlap with its predecessor. Golden Time is best described as an alternate iteration of Toradora! The plots of the two shows are identical but with different characters. Toradora! is much slower paced than Golden Time as the series centers around younger characters, and has well planned dramatical moments. Golden Time is fast paced and possesses over the top characters especially the intense Kouko who takes over every scene she is in, just as Mitsuo describes her to be in the series.
Golden Time is currently available on Crunchyroll, but it’s not available for South East Asia due to licensing.
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