Toradora is considered by many anime fans to be one of the greatest romantic comedy anime series of all time. It is a sweet and funny series filled with memorable characters and scenarios that like its leading lady had a truly warm heart beneath its surface. Toradora is cherished, loved by fans across the globe, so it was only expected that fans would tune in to see what series’ creator Yuyuko Takemiya had in store next with a series by the name of Golden Time.
What is so remarkably startling about Golden Time is how unlike Toradora it is. Grounded in its high school setting and dealing with home life issues that many viewers could find themselves relating to, Golden Time focuses on bizarre supernatural concepts such as spectral personality separation and see its cast accidentally joining a cult in a particularly absurd story arc. If Toradora is the benchmark for romantic comedy anime, Golden Time doesn’t even try to measure up, instead opting to venture into one insane story direction after the next in what amounts to an utter trainwreck of a series, albeit a highly watchable one at that.
Set at college and following hapless amnesiac Tada Banri, Golden Time begins with a rather familiar premise, bratty rich girl, Koko Kaga, is crushing on Banri’s best mate Mitsuo. Banri becomes aware of her crush and the two quickly grow close because of this discovery ultimately leading to romantic implications between the two. It is essentially Toradora but in college, right? Wrong.
Unlike Toradora, Banri and Koko almost immediately become a couple and the series spends a great deal of time exploring their insipid relationship which is constantly on the rocks. They aren’t the greatest match and it is heavily implied that Koko is just in love with being in love more than anything else. It is somewhat painful at times to watch this infuriating relationship play out, as both are clearly unhappy with the whole arrangement. This goes back and forth for just about the whole series making great cases for why both of them deserve to be forever alone but it ultimately decides on a romantic pairing by series end.
Now if that were just what this show was it would be a pretty droll watch with little to no creativity, but in Golden Time’s favour, it is anything but and lacking in creativity. It is an unholy combination of ideas, concepts and characters that feel as though they belong on about 6 different other shows and definitely not a romantic comedy series such as this. The most ridiculous of it all however is protagonist Banri’s literal ghost self which hangs about trying to bugger up his life like a vengeful spirit.
It is later revealed that this ghost is actually the spiritual embodiment of Banri’s past self which was separated from his body during a near death experience which left him an amnesiac with an entirely different personality and no memories whatsoever of his life before the incident, especially not his loving high school girlfriend Linda, who just so happens to go to the same college as him.
The show juggles a plethora of insane ideas throughout its run ensuring that it never really gets boring, but it ultimately amounts to nothing as the series concludes in the most conventional way possible utterly disappointing viewers who were enthralled by the series’ devil may care attitude to grounding this story in any sense of reality.
While the show’s story and direction may be a complete mixed bag the show has indisputable quality in terms of aesthetics and sound. The show features some fine animation work and a serviceable soundtrack that fits rather well for such a tonally and thematically schizophrenic show.
Madman’s release of the complete series is unfortunately pretty bare bones and only available in subtitle only format. I would have liked to see a dub for this series but alas it is not to be with this particular release.
Golden Time is about as fun a time as riding a roller coaster without the harness, you can’t help but fear for the potential disaster that awaits at each twist and turn. That said it does make for some fascinating viewing that doesn’t require a whole lot of thought to be swept up in its particular brand of insanity. However the show can prove to be utterly frustrating if you are trying to find anything meaningful to take away from it. It ain’t no Toradora but its still pretty fun.
You can pick up a copy of Golden Time over at Madman’s Online Store.