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Golden Time Collection 1 UK Blu-ray Anime Review

13 min read

Golden Time Collection 1 HeaderThe making of a great romance/mystery series – some good characters, and comedy…but one or two slight hiccups…

What They Say:
Tada Banri is beginning anew in the busy streets of Tokyo as a freshman student at a private law school, away from the troubles of his former life. While managing to get lost on his very first day of class, he finds himself befriending fellow law student Mitsuo on the way. Things get a little more interesting when a stylishly well-dressed beauty suddenly appears – only for her to slap Mitsuo across the face with a bouquet of roses!

The mystery girl is Mitsuo’s childhood friend and self-appointed future bride Kaga Koko. It seems that more problems are on the horizon for Banri and his new friends with a troubling secret that will change them forever. What kind of new life has Banri stepped into and will he be able to survive the trials ahead of him? Join this group of friends as they attempt to discover themselves while juggling love, life, and a little drama!

The Review:
Audio:
Set in 2.0 Stereo in Japanese only, the track had no real issues in terms of standard quality or regarding delays to lip flaps or transition to subtitles. It is quite annoying when there is only one track considering the price (and lack of extras) however there was no need to change my default settings with the audio so it is more than acceptable, just pretty much standard and that is it.

Golden Time Episode 1
Golden Time Episode 1

Video:
Video wise, colours were fine and flashy, and no issues in terms of video to audio on a 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio though set NTSC style with top/bottom wide screen, no problems video wise with subtitles synching, no video freezing or any slack animation when pausing the show and the colours do come out very vividly and look rather good on a Blu-Ray set up (good in this school setting and the contrast in styles with characters like Kouko’s normal attire vs. the festival club get up) – no problems found so overall very strong.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release.

Menu:
The menus are pretty basic – both menus have shots of Kouko in a pose from the first opening song just different scenes – both have the same set up which is the episodes list only on the left hand side scrolling down, with disc 2 having a special features tab – there isn’t a Play All so you select episode 1 and that is your Play All (and no audio select as Japanese only though you can manually turn off the subtitles from your options selection whilst watching) – there is a popup menu as is no standard but there is no real point as all you can do is switch episodes – it does its job fine but the lack of anything makes it very basic.

Extras:
The only extras for this release is a clean opening and ending animation, and trailers for shows that are licenced by Sentai in the US but NOT licenced as of yet in the UK so this is a clear transfer from the US version to the UK, which makes this extra mostly obsolete unless you intend to import – the trailers are for Watamote, Dog & Scissors, Majestic Prince, Listen To Me Girl, and I Am Your Father. There are also on both discs the disc credits as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Golden Time was a series I was familiar with seeing the series originally on Crunchyroll and actually surprised it got a UK release. Sadly, without a dub meaning feels a bit strange (similar to the Haikyuu release) in the UK market, but things change – and this series which feels initially like a romantic comedy turns to surprisingly deep backstory for our lead character and a lot of background makes it surprisingly thought provoking. It feels like the perfect series for me…except there are a couple of slight things which stop it from being perfect. That said, I will say it is worth looking into now, but how much so depends…

We are introduced quickly to our main character Banri, who is late arriving to his university for his entrance ceremony. After getting lost a little, he meets a kindred spirit named Mitsuo, and the two quickly become friends. However, on their way actually to the university, a fancy car comes up, and out appears a beautiful young lady with a bunch of roses.

Golden Time Episode 7
Golden Time Episode 7

Which she uses to smack them over Mitsuo’s face.

The lady is Koko Kaga, his arranged fiancé, and Mitsuo specifically tried to hide which university he was going to avoid her, as Kaga is definitely on the obsessive stalkerish side, to say the least. Made worse as his attempts failed as Kaga did enrol in the university, yet Banri doesn’t seem to be as angered by her behaviour – in fact, he definitely seems attracted to her. However, two other girls also come into play – the small film club student Chinami who Mitsuo definitely seems to like, and my favourite character Linda, a festival club member in the 2nd year who seems to get a connection with Banri for as of yet, unexplained reasons….

What makes this first episode more interesting is at the end of it, the scene screams romantic comedy with the characters introduced, yet right at the end, there is a flashback where Banri remembers something happening to him in his past – namely being run over by a motorbike and here this is where the mystery part of the series comes into play. Banri seems unable to remember things before this apparent accident but later in the series, we see a ‘ghost’ version of Banri narrating stuff that happened, and the fact he is trying to get involved in the current Banri’s life – this goes more in depth later but it gives a great contrast to the two different personalities and at least which Banri is the true one in terms of feelings (one with Koko, and one with Linda)…

Initially, we do get some character hijinks, with Mitsuo warning over Koko, Koko still being a bit over the top yet seems lonely without Mitsuo (she has the edge of being gorgeous yet no-one will talk to her), some silly club banter (and introducing the other new character friend in Sato, known as 2D-kun due to his preference over 2D girls than 3D – which when you consider the tea club girls he may have a point) which leads to Banri trying to get Koko to open up so they join a club – they are asked to join a club with an overnight camping so the two and 2D-kun join but it turns out they are a cult who are infiltrating other universities for joining – Banri however is pissed and basically forms a plan where that he would like to say because he has lost his memory and wants to start anew. It works and they let everyone go but Banri, yet Koko decides to stay with him. Of course, the two immediately escape and hide in the woods, where Banri reveals his story was based on fact, and here we see the nicer side of Koko, admitting that she was initially using Banri because of Mitsuo but now feels he is a friend of hers, whilst Banri amnesia has affected his family but doesn’t want to lose his current self. Fortunately they are saved as nearby the woods another group is having activities – Linda’s festival club.

Golden Time Episode 12This is where the story alternates between relationships, comedy and mystery. On the comic side, we have Koko belittle Chinami for her friendship with Mitsuo, yet he finally snaps at her (and seeing Koko realise how horrid she was actually is amusing), and Koko full with hearts over her friendship with Banri but on the other side of the spectrum we learn soon that Linda was in high school with Banri and this leads to Banri realising there was some sort of friendship between the two beforehand (and here we see the spirit Banri for the first time) – interestingly at this point Linda and Koko are friendly and the two even join Linda’s festival club, but the clash of real Banri vs. spirit Banri and the feelings he has really confuses him to the point he even seems to want to dissolve his friendship with Koko – which in turn makes Koko realise she now loves Banri. So from episode 7, it seems that Koko and Banri are a couple…right?

Of course it isn’t easy. With real Banri with Koko, ghost Banri is still in love with Linda, which leads to more memories being revealed from ghost Banri – whilst the comedy is still there (Mitsuo hiding from Chinami and having his hair dyed after she rejected him at a party is pretty hilarious, especially now that Koko is dating Banri) the awkwardness between Banri and Linda as by now Linda knows that Banri knows they have met before – some help from Linda’s friend Nana (who is obviously a reference to Nana from the manga of the same name) seems to patch things up, but there was definitely feelings in the past (ghost Banri definitely still has them) and the two personalities at times seem to actually come together, clarified when after a nice date with Koko, dragging Mitsuo and Chinami (where Koko and Chinami actually bond in their own way) Banri seems to scream about wanting to be with Linda and you wonder if this is going to mesh in the future…

This doesn’t help with Koko who whilst improving is still a tad obsessive and whilst current Banri says he won’t leave her, ghost Banri continues to mope about Linda as he regrets never confessing to her. Koko begins to get suspicious (she actually takes the photo in Banri’s scrapbook of him and Linda) which leads to a tense moment when Banri gets a job for Nana’s nightclub where she performs (with him wanting to pay for stuff with Koko despite Koko refusing him to have a job as she is rich and wants to spend as much time with him as possible) on the sly, Mitsuo also joins as it is quite an unusual party (Banri cross-dressing as a maid whilst Mitsuo is basically in a macho man style outfit) but what changes things is Linda being there as well. With Koko trying to contact him and his phone out of the way, it comes to a head when some guests wish to take photos of the two. With Linda in a very provocative outfit, the two slowly seem to get way more invested in their poses and just at the most provocative, Koko spots them – cue misunderstandings.

Or is it? We’re not sure if maybe ghost Banri had managed to combine (it has happened before) but Banri does go to see Koko and the two apologise over their own actions where Banri reveals what he knows about his history with Linda and his feelings for her do reveal at times, whilst Koko hopes that he can just focus on the future. With that, Banri and Linda have a walk where Banri tries to rip up the picture as a point of moving on but can’t, but Linda realises her relationship is troubling Koko a lot and rips it herself – the two are now strangers and Koko and Banri can now have new memories formed.

Golden Time Episode 8
Golden Time Episode 8

With 12 more episodes to go, doubt will be that simple.

This is a surprisingly deep series which you won’t expect with the initial set up. Spoiled rich girl who gets what she wants yet the guy isn’t interested so instead another guy gets her and she gets character development? That part was expected. The whole amnesia angle with another personality where was in love with another girl? That is where it gets complicated. And yet it actually writes pretty well.

It is clear Banri is quite smitten with Koko right away despite her obvious flaws. And also to the shows credit, it slowly develops Koko well to that her worst tendencies are much more minor – she slowly begins to make friends (the festival club call her Robogirl due to some of her more amusing ways she tries to dance) and it is done very subtly, but not to the point that you forget what she is like, she is just try her best to hold her urges as she still definitely has a long way to go. The contrast here is with the other characters – Mitsuo for example, is a great best friend for Banri (there is a hilarious moment when a girl is being too forward with him so Banri pretend he is his boyfriend, and has such a smug look especially as Mitsuo gets into it that I was in stitches) considering his past relationship with Koko, and his own woes with him being in love with Chinami gives plenty of amusement to the show. Chinami at the moment is more of a satellite character, but I get the feeling she will become more important to the plot as it comes by (plus the fact she and Koko are friends now despite Koko trying not to admit it is amusing), and 2D-kun is a great side character to add to the amusement (his reaction to Koko dating Banri was hilarious).

The best character though, and indeed best relationship which makes this a much better series than it could have been, is Linda. The moment you see her, decked in a festival outfit and her eyes linked with Banri, you know there is some sort of chemistry, but you never realise what it is. The fact it was the moment Linda recognise Banri from her past yet Banri didn’t recognise her (at first) is something you realise on rewatching that all their interactions after is Linda trying not to remember the past and trying to make memories with the new Banri, yet the past does catch up with her, and relevant flashbacks (one key one is when Linda’s brother’s fiancé is cheating on him, and Linda confronts her with Banri watching her back, to where a key question whether they could stay forever together Banri regrets not answering her) really add you to feeling more for Linda and Banri pairing together compared to Koko. This is made even better with Linda never being obvious on what her feelings were for Banri, insisting she would have rejected him yet the care never left her – she clearly doesn’t want to ruin things for Koko either but at the same time with ghost Banri looking more and more prominent, this could get very interesting…

Golden Time
Golden Time

This is a great series on the whole – the characters are defined well for the most part, it has good mixes of comedy, storytelling, drama and even mystery and the whole amnesia angle is played really well.

So why isn’t it an A grade?

Well, the unfortunately thing is basically there are two parts which can be annoying. And sadly that is the two main characters. Well, I say main, what I mean is Banri’s ghost self. Regular Banri is actually quite likeable – he is wise-cracking, understands situations well, and even when he does regret to his previous self, he tries to keep an open mind. The problem is whilst his ghost self is great for exposition, he does come off very whiny. Now, this is understandable, especially as he is regretting the fact current Banri is with Koko when original Banri wanted to be with Linda, but at the same time it does feel like he is trying to ruin Banri’s life now when he is finally getting it back on track. He is definitely necessary for the show (and helps with the mysterious past elements especially his relationship with Linda) but at times he can be grating.

However, not as grating as Koko or at least initial Koko. She definitely is improving that is for sure, but even in her better moments, her obsessive tendencies seem to show – at the start, she was a terrible character. Clearly only dynamic was she wanted Mitsuo for no reason bar it was fate, destiny, etc – and thanks to the opening, you knew that she and Banri were going to be the main couple and realised it was her, it was like ‘you are kidding’. This is especially misleading when Linda is introduced as a far more engaging and likeable character that Koko’s negative traits seem to be even more obvious – there is a moment where she is berating Chinami just for TALKING TO MITSUO. This was the moment I hated her (fortunately the hate wasn’t for long as her scene when she realises she messed up is hilarious) and yes, fortunately she does get better – though her jealousy still showcases a lot (including the nightclub scene where she was legit reason to be annoyed, but as there was an explanation and it showcased she was obsessively texting Banri early, she hasn’t improved 100% yet) it seems there is definitely ways to improve her – she is on her way, and by the end of the first cour she is definitely better (her relationship with Chinami in particular being far better, and now has a much more hilarious banter with Mitsuo most of the time). I enjoyed her as the series went on, but for a fair bit, she was definitely the worst thing of the series – which isn’t good when you are one of the main characters.

Golden Time Episode 4
Golden Time Episode 4

That said, the story definitely had merit and there is still 12 more episodes to go, there is more chance for heartbreak and character improvement – the splendid side cast I hope will be more involved (I still think there is more to Chinami, and there are definite hints that Mitsuo might now be interested in Linda as well) and with luck, the potential triangle has been sorted but I get the feeling there is more to come…and can’t wait.

In Summary:
Golden Time feels like the perfect series for me – a romance series with good elements of comedy, fun characters but adds in an element of mystery and intrigue which suits me well. It would have been perfect if the two leads characters didn’t have a few niggles, to say the least, but the art of character development is slowly working and combined with the cast they have, there is definitely hope that this series will continue to work its magic. An interesting series with a lot going for it.

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: March 14th, 2016
MSRP: £26.99
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.


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