Episode 24 – Golden Time
“I am broken, shattered, and not even close to perfect. I am always missing something, but this is who I am!”
As an anime fan, oftentimes you find yourself wading through a trashy, moe infested ocean of pestilence. Occasionally though, you catch sight of a golden glimmer that fills your vision and guides you back towards clear waters. An anime with qualities that make it stand apart from the humdrum we’ve become so tolerant of in the last few years. An anime like Golden Time. For 2 seasons now, Golden Time has kept up its unrelenting realism and non-stop drama and this episode saw it all come to a close. How will they tie up all the loose ends? Will Banri and Kouko find their happy ending? My mind was aflutter with a million questions as I hit play for the final time in my half-year love affair with Golden Time.
Before I go on to lavish praise onto Golden Time, it should be pointed out that it was definitely not without its problems. Aside from the occasional flourish, the art was mediocre at best and it didn’t even constitute J.C Staff’s best work which is shocking because they are not exactly renowned for their impressive artwork. The colour palette was limited, the cel shading was blotchy, and on a number of occasions you could clearly spot where they had cut corners to save money. At the start, when the story was struggling to get going, I considered the art and the barely likeable characters and I very nearly gave up on it, but clearly slow and steady won the race.
The strength of Golden Time is manifested in the unique way that it told its story. Taking on a mature fashion more typical to a shōjo or josei manga, it followed a narrative pattern atypical to the style of most mainstream anime, but never did that make it feel out of place. Typically, that entire subset of light novels and manga never get the chance to become animated because their audience is so small. Anime is primarily a vessel to advertise the source material so animation companies stick to what is popular to drive sales, but due to the success of Toradora, Golden Time was a rare, popular exception that slipped through the cracks.
However, unlike Toradora in which the focus of the main character’s affections was often questioned by the strong supporting cast, Golden Time never genuinely felt like Banri was ever going to end up with anyone other than Kouko. Instead, the tension that would otherwise come from a love rival was replaced with the lingering unease of Banri’s amnesiac relapses. Instead of questioning who he would end up with, the real thing that we all wanted to know was how he would end up with Kouko and unfortunately that is why this episode will undoubtedly be met with divided opinions.
Personally, I was more than happy with Kouko magically triggering Banri’s memories because I love sappy endings. In fact, it was the ending that I said was most likely to be how it all came to a close in my review of episode 23, but people who were looking for something innovative and new will definitely be left feeling let down. The way that Banri got his memories back was pure cheese and the way that he sprinted to catch up with Kouko – unbelievably cliché, but was it satisfying? To me, immensely so, but you would not be unreasonable for expecting more. For such a mature and well thought out series, the ending seemed a tad rushed and a lot of things were barely explained which must have irritated that section of the audience that need every aspect of a series explained in full. For instance, how was it that Linda hugged the ghost of Banri and confessed to him? Was it meant to be Banri’s past and present finally becoming one? Or was it Banri’s past finally being appeased as Linda embraced Banri and told him the words that she wished she could have said before all of this started? There was a lot of room for interpretation, something that I appreciate in an ending because everyone develops their own theories to suit their taste, however, a lot of people will be put off by that. For all that was left up to us though, the sheer force of emotion that every silly cliché, every sudden embrace, every word echoed across the bridge that knows such tragedy and such happiness, was undeniable. Raw, powerful, cheesy, but brilliant is how I would describe episode 24.
All in all, my final thoughts on Golden Time are largely positive. I would never have thought 23 weeks ago when my first review ended, “Golden Time? More like Copper Time,” that I would ever find myself tearful and smiling like a fool as the credits rolled. Just before it faded to black when a single shot of Kouko with Banri’s ring on her wedding finger came into my blurred vision, I sat in silent applause having thoroughly eaten my words. By no means is Golden Time the best romance ever made, nor is it one that will go down in history as a great. It is no Toradora and it has a number of problems with its art, its depth of character, and its pacing, but somehow despite all of that it remains a heartwrenching and incredibly well written romance that does a better job of exhibiting real life emotions than anything I have ever watched, anime or not. What I initially thought was yet another worthless copper token tossed into the well of anime turned out to be so much more. My wish was granted…
“I love the time we spend together. I love who I am, when I’m with you. Banri, I … Really love you.”
Copper Time? What was I thinking? Looking out of my window, admiring my home in the garden of England as it erupts into life as Spring arrives, I am right back where we started in episode 1. The Golden Time is just beginning… It has been a pleasure and, as always, until next time.
Catch the final episode of Golden Time over on Crunchyroll where every episode can now be found and watched on mobile devices, consoles, smart TVs and of course on PC.
For more impressions of winter’s best and worst and our Spring recommendations, head over to our Anime Impressions page.
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