Episode 1 – “Spring Time”
Autumn is upon us. Leaves begin to turn a beautiful hue of amber and soon after descend to the ground, where under the tires and feet of civilization they merge into a nameless black sludge, serving no particular purpose. Under the speculation and high expectations of the online community, anime fans always head into a new season with a few titles clear in their mind and for me they were Kill la Kill, Kyoukai no Kanata, and Golden Time. People often criticise the way I select anime to watch, judging first by the company producing it before looking at the actual story, but so far it would seem that Golden Time is a perfect example of why I opt for this method. Somewhat ironically named “Spring Time” this first episode reminded me less of the eruption of colour and beauty of spring and more of the useless black sludge of autumn, but let’s dive in regardless, shall we?
As I mentioned in my autumn picks, the light novel that this is adapted from is written by Yuyuko Takemiya, the same woman that blessed the world with the wonderful romance that is Toradora. With that in mind, I went into this episode with eyes aflutter since Toradora had a magnificent set-up that still sticks in my mind as one of the most stand-out intro episodes of all time. It laid strong foundations for character development and plot direction all while showing us just how side-splittingly funny the series could be and left me hooked. Unfortunately, Golden Time did none of this, delivering such thin plot direction that they even failed to mention the fact that the main character has amnesia which is not only a gigantic plot point, but was quite clearly in the synopsis for the show! In that regard all we were given was a forced cliffhanger that, to be honest, is the only reason, other than my obligation to review the series, that would make me give episode 2 any of my time.
Criticising the plot or the pacing of a show in its first episode is not something that I enjoy doing because generally one episode is not a good indication of the series as a whole, but Golden Time completely hashed the pacing to a ridiculous level. There was no flow to the episode at all and everything felt like it had been engineered to shove as much in a humanly possible which is horrible to watch. Blazing through the plot to reach the forced cliffhanger served only to make all 3 flags (yes, 3 in one episode) seem hollow and emotionless. What is worse though is that while being dragged along in this unstoppable hurricane, the main character, Banri Tada, was left feeling like an empty husk of a character. If there is one genre that you can’t get away with having a bad main character in, it is romance. If you don’t feel anything for the lead man then you feel nothing for his emotional attachment to the girls he falls in love with, and then the whole point of the series is lost. Hopefully, the second episode will redeem itself and Tada will break through as a character, but so far the only established character is his friend, Mitsuo Yanagisawa, who in all fairness was very amusing and about the only redeeming feature of the episode.
As if all of this wasn’t bad enough though, J.C Staff shot themselves in foot, then the other foot, and then prepared the gun for a shot to their vitals by making the animation look like absolute arse. Forgive my crude description, but that is literally all that I could think as I was clawing my eyes out at the sheer averageness that lay before me. If someone told me that Golden Time was made 6 years ago I would believe them. Hell, if anyone told me that Toradora was newer than it, I would believe them. Why when they can make things as beautiful as Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, and Railgun S, do they revert back to the bland, framey, lifeless animation that they used back in the days of Shakugan no Shana, 8 years ago! Seriously J.C, when KyoAni can afford to make something like Free look as glorious as they did, you need to up your game and this is not how you go about doing it. Even the falling rose petals which are an anime standard looked better in Ouran High School Host Club, made by Bones in 2006!
The OP/ED were okay tracks, but once again they were only “okay”. The animation accompanying them was garbage and so generic it isn’t even worth watching. Everything about this first episode from start to finish screams mid-2000’s … humdrum … beige. You’ll rarely see me go to town on an anime as hard as I have for this first episode, but it truly was poor. I would like nothing more than for this anime to pick up and show me how wrong I am next episode, but by itself this intro episode was a waste of animation money that could have been used to give something more worthy a second season (not a lot of money by the looks of it, but certainly some). Golden Time? More like Copper Time.
Keep an eye on our Anime Impressions section for more weekly impressions of the best (and worst) anime that fall has to offer!
Check out more Golden Time impressions HERE.