Banri had a bad start on his first day at law school, but things start to look up when befriends a classmate named Mitsuo. Banri gets caught in the middle when Mitsou's crazy stalker "ex-girlfriend" tracks him down. Mitsou and Koko are childhood friends, and years ago she decided they were destined for marriage and refuses to believe otherwise no matter how much he's tried to escape her. Oddly enough, Banri and Koko get along quite well and the two start dating.
Banri seems like the ideal guy who can cope with her clingy behavior, but he has a problem with his past that may soon tear them apart. A year ago Banri lost his memories. His personality remains, but no recollection of past events makes him a different person. Banri moved to Tokyo to start anew, but his past self watches silently like a ghost. Will Banri accept his past, and will his past self accept him? If his memories return, the current Banri will cease to be. Can love survive when one of them is fated to disappear?
While I won't say I'm tired of romance in anime, I'm starting to feel like most retread the same stuff and predictably go the same directions; typically only differentiated by some gimmick. From outward appearances, Golden Time looks like another one of these, but it becomes something far better with interesting plot elements. It does a great job with comedy, drama and romance all at the same time. More importantly it never pushes drama too far, which sometimes makes it harder to predict oddly enough.
The characters are really good, with fun odd traits, and fair amount of depth to them. While good as individuals, they excel as a group in the way they interact with each other. By the intro it looks like a love comedy sugary enough to make you diabetic, but there's more to it than just Banri and Koko. All of the characters play important roles, and the cast is well balanced.
Koko is interesting with her incredibly clingy and possessive nature, to the point of being an overbearing stalker. I expected her to become annoying, but as the romance took shape, I found her endearing. She's crazy and she knows that. She's trying to get better, it's something she's improving on, but she knows she'll never be perfect. Her personality is a key trait in making it such a compelling story. With a normal girl, Banri might talk some of his problems out, but knowing Koko is mentally fragile, he tries to keep his problems hidden to avoid hurting her. Koko doesn't take things well as she learns the truth, but also understands that he meant well and only did so for her sake. Characters take a practical view instead of blowing up just for the sake of drama as is often the case in anime.
Golden Time begins with an upbeat pace that keeps introductions and character development enjoyable. It slows as it goes deeper into Banri's story, but its also a more appropriate pace for that kind of content. As the disembodied Banri starts to haunt his current self, it takes a more serious tone. Things go awry in the relationship between Banri and Koko, but the two are quite resilient in keeping together. This makes it all the more engrossing when things finally start to unravel, because they've already been through so much. While many titles seem predestined to end a certain way, Golden Time is unpredictable enough to make you wonder how it will get there. A few things aren't completely resolved by the end, but you'll probably be satisfied with the exceptionally mushy last episode.
I wouldn't say Golden Time has one absolute stand out feature that makes it unique. Instead it's the strength in many areas that makes it feel fresh. It's a great character driven anime with a solid foundation for a story. Highly recommended.
Takaya: Happy people in real life are so annoying!
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