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!
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.
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 – no problems found so overall very strong.
There was no packaging for this test release.
The menus are pretty basic – the first menu has a shot of all the main characters smiling whilst the second one has a shot of Banri and Koko with Banri about to hand over a ring to her – 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.
The only extras for this release were the clean opening and ending, and trailers for various Sentai Filmworks shows (which whilst some of them are released in the UK just seems a direct rip from the US release) – Engaged To The Unidentified, Maid-Sama, The World God Only Knows: Goddess and Beyond The Boundary.
The first half of Golden Time impressed me for the most part – a very good romantic story with potential love triangles, an interesting mix of a cast and some unique elements with the amnesia/ghost angle with its protagonist. The one weak spot I mentioned was the fact the lead characters had some issues with their characterization, so it was going to be interesting how they would develop for the second half. Combining the fact almost all the side characters get more heavily involved with the main ones and the improving of these characters and development of how Ghost Banri affects the plot, the second half definitely feels like a success.
The previous set ended with Linda and Banri to return being friends, and things seem to have patched up between Koko and Banri – whilst Koko definitely still has her issues, she seems to start being a lot better starting here – the first main scene with her in is her being terrified of performing at a festival and the fact all three (Koko, Banri and Linda) are all pleasant to each other is a good sign…then the fact Ghost Banri is still around and clearly doesn’t like this development, even going to say he wishes to make Banri as unhappy as possible. I mentioned that Banri’s other self can be quite unlikeable at times and this continues to be but it is also the main source of conflict which carries forward the story so it is necessary.
Initially there are some real fun moments, like Koko trying to cook for Banri and my personal favourite of the relationships after this arc, Koko and Chinami. Chinami gets a lot more screen time and development this arc, and one of the best things is the fact Koko and Chinami pretty much become best friends despite Koko trying to deny it – it is both hilarious and sweet their relationship throughout which actually comes to a head later in the series involving Banri – the big thing with Chinami is that she notices that Mitsuo seems to be hanging out with Linda a fair bit – from the first arc as we know Mitsuo had a big crush on Chinami but was rejected, however Chinami seems to regret it and seeing Linda together with Mitsuo stirs some things in her. This is what leads to a lot more chats with Koko as she confides in Chinami she still feels jealousy at times if Banri isn’t with her. The two have some fun bonding moments whilst this also brings in another thing – Mitsuo definitely seems to have interest in Linda and Banri doesn’t want to reveal his past feelings and relationship with her…
This leads to an impromptu trip to the beach with all the main gang bar Linda – things however go wrong with traffic jams and weather (making you wonder if this was Ghost Banri’s doing) but they still manage to have some fun, but it leads to the first major conflict as 2D-Kun was driving and was tired to drive back so Koko offers to drive back home. Banri tries to stay awake for her but fails, and both fall asleep and only through some memories snapping Banri back awake do they avoid crashing completely, but they hit a guard rail and Chinami gets injured, upsetting Koko greatly. Koko realises her own immaturity and feels like she shouldn’t be with them almost like they are breaking up (despite some hilarious banter with Koko’s father – seriously, one minute he slaps his daughter, the next he offers to cook them ramen) – however they are definitely still together ready for the festival club, bringing my favourite character Linda back into the fray. At this point, it does seem that Koko is a much better character with their interactions, not just with Linda, but Mitsuo and Chinami – she stays over at Chinami’s new place to help her unpack – would you have seen the old Koko do this? However, there is now proof that Mitsuo does indeed like Linda and she seems to brush it off as he notices the connection that Linda and Banri are from the same place…add to the fact a really underrated character in 2D-kun seems to know a lot more than he seems, there are more questions than answers in this strange love circle…
The show seems to combine comedy and drama quite well – a lot of the times in the same episode. There is one when Koko misses Banri and sneaks into his apartment, but gets caught doing weird things by Nana which leads to some fun moments between them (Nana is another underrated character considering how they helps out their relationship and with Linda in her own way) – Banri has returned to his home town with Linda to go to a class reunion, which Banri is worried about because he doesn’t remember any of his old friends or classmates. Linda helps him out and it seems like it goes well with a fun dodgeball match and retelling stories of Banri which embarrasses him but he seems to accept everything, to the point he returns to the bridge where he had the accident. However, he sees a vision of his other self, and tries to save him but Ghost Banri forces him to fall, causing Banri to wonder if his memories are returning…
The final 6 episodes become then quite deep – Banri goes onto medication as he seems to remember his other side whilst at the same time wishing to offer a ring to Koko that his mother gave him to prove his love – Mitsuo as part of the film club wishes to film the festival club but is also a chance for him to get closer to Linda whilst also questioning Banri about his relationship with her. Koko also is trying to take a further step in their relationship but things never seem to work out (both real and comic) though their relationship now is stronger. However Linda isn’t happy with this new development with Mitsuo and talks to Banri about it…which in turns gets Chinami upset because of how close Banri and Linda seem to be when he has Koko…almost to the point she wants Mitsuo and Linda to get together…Chinami’s character does a complete twist from the cheerful happy go lucky girl we’ve seen her here and she became probably joint favourite character at this point with Linda – the character development whilst small, has been subtle and smart, and Chinami is the best example of that for a character that didn’t feature as much in the first half apart from a potential love interest for Mitsuo.
It all comes to a head during the latest festival performance. Banri has a breakdown during the performance and his mental state seems to switch between old and current Banri – this is a real clash because he is scared that he will now forget Koko and his love for her – everyone seems to try and help him, Chinami, Linda and Nana at one point all help in his apartment but when he switches to his other self he is helped by 2D-Kun and Mitsuo and ready to give the ring to Koko.
Only Koko refused and apparently breaks up with him.
That was a bit of a twist.
Turns out Koko is actually scared of him forgetting about her which is what the climax of the final 3 episodes hits. The two seem to be friendly still but Koko’s fears of seeing him forget her make her resign from the festival club, Mitsuo learning everything about his past with Linda (though the two do forgive each other) and Banri eventually returning to his old self. It is a race to see if he can be brought back to the present and if he can remember Koko, as it is clear Koko is still in love with him but the fear of him forgetting about her made this decision. The way the gang bring them back together is actually well thought out (and reason why characters like 2D-kun and Chinami are much better and involved in this arc) – I won’t spoil it but it is something that is gradually showcased throughout the story (things like Chinami’s filming become much more important than you realise) to get to the happy ending.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed this series. I actually watched it beforehand on Crunchyroll back in 2013/2014 and already was familiar with that, and my enjoyment hasn’t diminished. I did mention Koko wasn’t a favourite heroine in the first half but this is how development works, and in the 2nd half her obsessions have toned down considerably. There is a moment where she and Banri realise they are comfortable around their ‘exes’ (Mitsuo and Linda) and there isn’t any issues between them as it is clear that the two are now properly in love. The car crash incident showcases whilst Koko can be childish, she really cares for the fact she has found friends (her little nickname ‘Roboko’ in the festival club shows she is endeared plus in the 2nd performance she has changed from being incredibly nervous to helping others out) – her friendship with Chinami in particular is my favourite (there is a fun moment I always smile at when Chinami is having her fight with Banri, she ignores him and glomps Koko telling her the limited edition Belgian chocolate ice cream is available on campus, and the two need to eat it to get their energy back ^^) considering their initial problems.
The other issue I had initially was ghost Banri being a bit of a whiner, which whilst understandable can be grating. This issue sadly is still there and seems to have increased as he doesn’t want Banri to have a good life with Koko – however, this does become integral to the plot as the two seem to have to merge into one. The thing is him being back will make him forget Koko but fall back in love with Linda. The strange thing is in the first arc this may not have been as problematic as Linda was the more likeable character, Koko’s development combined that the two are truly in love make this a lot more awkward. Combined with Mitsuo’s interest in Linda, this does set up some tension with them as Mitsuo suspects something, though it is brought out and resolved quite well. It is one of those necessary evils for the plot, and whilst his moments do cause drama, it is necessary drama.
The combination of personal issues, this mystery element and the love stories combined with some really fun characters make this a really good all round series. There are some great fun moments – anytime Chinami and Koko are together it is game for a laugh, 2D-Kun has some great moments himself (and is far more integral to Banri’s recovery than you’d expect) and the Nana/Koko moments which involves wrestling, the Exorcist and accidental beating up on a burger who was a fake (don’t ask) – there is a lot of fun despite the drama. (The moment with Koko’s father interrupting a moment between the two by asking Banri help to make cup ramen is just perfect…).
Strangely, the only reason why this isn’t a full A series is more personal preference. It reminds me of a show in a weird way called Strawberry Panic which was a shoujo-ai/yuri pairing series. Golden Time is a far superior show but the one thing it reminds me of is that the pairings at the end aren’t the ones I wanted as much. Not as bad as say what happened in Panic where I wanted Hikari with Yaya, and Tamao with Nagisa for example, because Koko at least improves. However, Linda/Mitsuo is not one I felt worked as well as Chinami/Mitsuo and potentially Linda/Banri. It is obvious that Koko/Banri is going to be the pairing, but the side cast are wonderful that sometimes you do hope. It is especially baring because Chinami becomes a great character this second half that I really felt bad for her. It is just one of those personal preferences/shipping like wars that I don’t wanna be part of, but you hoped was different. As I said, just personal preference.
Aside from that, the second half of Golden Time takes the issues I had with the first half, listened and improved upon it. One of the better pure romantic comedy shows with a good dose of drama and fun and challenging characters.
Golden Time was one of my favourite shows when it came out and still holds true today. The issues I had with Koko improve tenfold throughout and she becomes way more likeable and the true love she has with Banri is now much clearer without her jealousy and obsessions being as much a problem. Banri is a complicated character with good development and whilst he has issues, the rest of the cast all come through to make a great series. Shipping jokes aside, there isn’t much to fault this series as it combines characters, comedy, drama and romance really well and definitely recommended if you are fed up of the harem like shows and want something (ghost Banri aside) a bit more realistic yet still a whirlwind of emotions.
Clean Opening/Clean Ending, Trailers
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: May 9th, 2016
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.