What They Say:
Adjusting to college life is hard enough for most students, but ever since Banri Tada lost all his memories he’s literally being haunted by the spirit of the person he was before the accident. And now that the Banri-that-is has fallen in love with Koko instead of Linda, the girl his old self was in love with, the ghost of the Banri-that-was is stepping up its efforts to sabotage his new relationship with every power at its disposal.
Since past-Banri can sometimes take over present-Banri’s body, the entire life new-Banri has built is now in imminent danger of being blown away like a house of cards in a whirlwind. That doesn’t even take into account Linda and Koko’s feelings, let alone those of Banri’s friend, Mitsuo, who Koko was formerly in love with, but who now has a thing for Linda – at least, when he isn’t crushing on Chinami. And if that sounds confusing, it’s nothing compared to how Banri feels as his old memories begin to resurface and the ultimate battle of Man Vs. Himself escalates!
Contains episodes 13-24.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that doesn’t have a lot going on in general as it’s very much a dialogue driven piece, but it’s one that doesn’t use a lot in the way of placement since it’s usually single character focused. But that focus is well done as there’s a lot of great performances throughout with emotion that comes across in a very clean and warm way that’s required. The show does have its moments of placement of course because of multiple characters around and some of the minor “action” pieces work the directionality a bit, but that’s not the focus of the show. What it does do, it does well, and the mix comes across in a very clean and clear fashion here that will work well for fans.
Originally airing in 2013 and 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The second half of the series here has its twelve episodes spread across two discs in a nine/three format. Animated by JC Staff, the series has a really great look here with very appealing and detailed character designs, a real world setting that has a lot of detail itself and a beautiful color palette that often breathes its own life into things. The transfer captures this all very well with what it does as the colors are vibrant and striking in many scenes, the detail in Kouko’s clothing is a real plus and the backgrounds have a very solid look to them that lets it stand out while taking in all the detail within it, especially the building exteriors. The show is one that won me over in its look during the simulcast and the high definition release here takes it up quite a few notches in color quality and solidity during regular playback, making it a great enhancing experience.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover has a very appealing design to it as it gives us Kouko in the foreground with Linda and Chinami alongside her and set slightly to the back so we know where the main focus is but that they’re definitely a part of things. With good, real world costume design here, that helps to give the show a bit more impact as well. The background is done with an obvious golden hue and we get the floating sparkles that adds a bit more color to it all as well. It may not be the most standout of covers, but it places its focus on the leads here in a pretty good way. The back cover is fairly traditional overall as we get a few shots from the show on the left and some good character artwork of the lead pair. The top has a decent tagline and a good breakdown of the premise of the show along with the clean listing of the discs extras. Round out the rest with a traditional technical grid and production information and you’ve got all the basics done up cleanly and accurately. There are no show related inserts included nor a reversible cover.
The menu design for the series is one that plays up some really nice design aspects as it avoids using cover materials for it. The layout is standard where on both discs we get the navigation along the left, which is really beautifully done with its white and golds and the roses along it, while the rest of the menu works in the artwork. The first disc has a really great image of the main gang together outside the school buildings with good smiles and a real sense of friendship coming from it. With her character artwork standing out in a striking way with the reds, it’s very appealing. The second disc uses the same navigation design but gives us an image of the leads together that’s definitely appropriate. Navigation is quick and easy to use and it looks good when utilized as a pop-up menu as well.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Golden Time is something that appealed greatly to me when I first saw it for a lot of reasons, most of which still resonate as I move into watching it in marathon sessions with the Blu-ray releases. The show is one that does a lot of things I wish we had more of when it came to anime as we got a college setting, we had real troubles for the characters at times to struggle through and we got the complexities of relationships. There’s plenty of fun and silliness with plenty of high school and some middle school romcoms, but Golden Time again shows that the real meat, and the real emotional complexity, comes when you remove yourself from that realm for the most part. Exceptions abound, of course, but Golden Time does a lot of very good stuff.
With the second half of the series, things certainly get a lot more complicate here because of some of the less than seen parts of the show. There’s plenty of good stuff in watching how Banri and Kouko get along and the way that so many others find themselves very happy for them and drawn into it all the more because of it. While the others aren’t in relationships themselves, they see what these two are like and yearn for something similar for themselves, which is a very fun thing to see as we have teases of Chinami showing interest in Yana while Yana himself is pursuing Linda. And Linda is complicated enough herself with guilt over what happened to Banri but also is deflecting Yana because she can’t imagine how he would want to pursue with how little he knows of her. There’s some cultural stuff that comes into play a little bit as well, but mostly it’s heavily filled with Linda not really thinking that someone would want to be with her.
This half deals with a lot of the trauma going on in Banri’s head because there are more and more instances of the old Banri surfacing. These are freaky moments when they happen because when the old Banri makes it to the surface, he has no memory of anything since the bridge each time. And coming “awake” in the middle of Tokyo, in different clothes, different places and surrounded by people not sure why you’re acting funny as nobody besides Kouko knows the truth just ramps up the fear factor. And Banri in this form really does feel afraid, both through the visual and the acting because of what he’s experiencing. It’s not played for comedy, nor are there silly moments because of it, but rather a play on the fear and worry that comes from both sides. It moves quickly sometimes and lasts long others, both of which has its own issues depending on when they come up.
One of the things that starts all of this coming to the surface more is when the main four go off on a beach trip only to have it get rained out. There is a lot of fun with the actual time in the rain that really highlights their age, the joys of youth and living the moment, but the drive back to the city goes badly when Kouko is driving and falls asleep – along with everyone else. They have a very minor accident overall considering what it could have been but it’s enough to really jar Banri even more and allow his old self seemingly more access. It’s also one of the sequences that has a difficult scene because it’s done so culturally. When they get back, Kouko’s father has come to drive her home and his first instinct is to slap her to the ground for what she did. This has her turn in on herself for awhile and creates a minor wedge between her and Banri. But it was watching as the others just stand there and watch this happen, nobody speaks out and nobody goes to help Kouko up or to make sure she’s ok. It’s something that doesn’t make sense for me, though I grasp it in context to the situation and the people involved.
There’s a lot of ups and downs in this season as Banri and Kouko go through things, as she struggles with his situation as it becomes more and more apparent that his current self is going to be lots and she gets a bit into the self preservation mode. Banri also realizes at times that he should just leave all of them so as to not hurt them, but he’s also so much in love with Kouko and has such strong feelings for all his friends that it really creates a schism within him, something that makes it easier for the old Banri to break through more and more. The ups and downs are difficult to watch because it swings so widely with feelings and emotions, and the impact of others throughout are made plain as well. This isn’t limited to just the main two characters with a touch on the others, but rather keeps them fairly well engaged, especially since Linda is very close to it and that sprawls into the others.
With this series coming out at the same time that the original work ended, they were able to bring this to a fair conclusion. I haven’t read the original so I don’t know personally how closely it hews to it, but what it does here works very well as we get the current Banri lost as the original one takes over and he falls back into his old life back at home for awhile to acclimate to everything. There’s some really interesting stuff here as we see Banri in a way that we haven’t before, almost a different person in many ways, but also the struggles he’s facing alongside Linda and the others. A lot of it does come down to a very internal struggle, though not a physical representation internally, as there’s some very good dialogue and closure brought through in order to bring everything to a true moving forward point. One that does largely leave you pleased and hopeful for a bright, promising future.
Similar to the first half, there are ups and downs here, though nothing like the cult episode. The way things go between Kouko and Banri is all over the map, but it may seem silly or unrealistic unless you’ve been in a chaotic relationship like that before. There’s a lot to like in seeing the struggles that they all go through, individually and in pairings as well as a group, and that we really do get a resolution here rather than just something that could be left open. Though I will admit, I’d love to actually follow their stories after all of this to see where their lives would go because relationships, especially one involving Kouko, are more interesting to watch than the will they or won’t they admit they have feelings for each other things. This series is one of the better relationship anime series of the last few years and one that deals with kids outside of high school, which is an even bigger bonus. I really enjoyed this show, hated the ups and downs because they resonated too well, and simply enjoyed seeing the overall progress of it all. It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it hit many sweet spots for me.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: b-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.