Golden Time returns for the second half of its series on DVD and Blu-ray on the 9th May, and having watched the Blu-ray release, I’m happy to say that it resolves itself rather well. If you’d like the finer details on the visuals, sub and dub performance and basically a fresh perspective on the series from the beginning, check out my original Golden Time Collection 1 Review, but from this point on, we’ll be heading straight in to Collection 2’s details, so read on for our full Golden Time Collection 2 Review.
We return to Golden Time as the Festival Club gathers for their participation in the Awa dance Festival, their first event of the Summer Vacation. Everything seems relatively smooth between Banri and the group, but of course, this doesn’t last. Where would we be without the angst of the young? Kouko is having a rough time dealing with her nerves and the group attempts to help, but ultimately, “Roboko” is a train-wreck. The early episodes of this half of the series leans a bit too heavily on the attempts at comedy for my liking, though there are some genuinely funny moments, such as when Kouko and Chinami are trying on swimsuits and Kouko tells Chinami she looks like a pipe, accompanied by an appropriate Super Mario Bros. sound effect. It’s not long before we get in to some awkward drama involving certain group members here, as Mitsuo is seen with none other than Linda, heading in to a restaurant. I commend the anime for how they handled this, as it would have been easy to have Banri flip out or run from it, but he seems fine with the idea of Mitsuo and Linda because he’s focused on making it work with Kouko. Because of this, we get to explore Chinami’s more sensitive, sometimes aggressive side as opposed to her usually cheery self, as she struggles with her sudden realisation of affection towards Mitsuo, having refused his advances during the first half of the series.
What I appreciated most about this half of Golden Time is that it took the time to elaborate on the group as a whole. The side characters feel a lot more fleshed out in this half, with 2D-kun, Nana-senpai, Chinami and even Kouko’s father becoming important parts of this world. It does this whilst still dealing with Banri’s own identity issues and Kouko’s deep insecurities. Granted, we see a little too much of Banri running and crying and Kouko faking out everybody with her stubbornness, but on the whole, the way I came to adore the rest of the cast as much as I do the main characters is an accomplishment.
I do have a particular gripe, and it expands upon my original dislike of Banri’s ghost. The ghost of Banri, representing his past, creates some important moments right up until the climax of the show, but there’s an early moment wherein Banri decides to leave his past behind and the “ghost” of his old self expresses that he’ll make Banri unhappy by cursing him. This leads to bad weather, a nigh-on fatal car crash and just general discomfort in Banri’s life. I was fine with the “ghost” being a window to Banri’s past, but it becomes far too involved in this otherwise realistic world during this final half of the series. I wasn’t big on the “ghost” having direct impact on Banri in the original 12 episodes and I’m still not a fan of it here. I feel there was a much more subtle way to handle this than have his past self take-over every now and again, and it happens too often for it to just be skipped over. Granted, this leads to the ultimate resolution of the show, which is satisfying, but the “ghost” impacting the weather grated at me. As if it brought him bad luck because Banri wouldn’t acknowledge his past feelings for Linda any more. Perhaps it’s a cultural difference, but it just didn’t gel with me.
That aside, Banri’s memories returning and taking the place of his current self seemed odd too. That they’d not just meld with his current memories was confusing to me, but it led to him disclosing the events of his life to the people closest to him, after having hidden it from them for so long, and the efforts Banri’s friends go to in order to help are truly emotional, cementing their bond and their place in the show. Also having Banri cook a packet of ramen noodles for Kouko’s father was a nice touch as Kouko freaked out on the bed.
Nana-senpai plays an important role in this half too, taking care of Kouko and her “exorcist” pose whilst Banri went home briefly to confront his past alongside Linda. Nana warms to Banri and eventually confesses her almost-like of him next to Linda. We’d always known she was soft at heart, but her heartfelt acknowledgement of her cold approach made for a pleasant end to her character arc.
Add to that Mitsuo’s struggle to get the attention of Linda, Linda’s frustration and fight with Banri as Banri attempts to give up on his current life and the heroic efforts of 2D-kun to keep this group together and you have an enjoyable second-half to a very good series.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the series. The resolution between the love triangle comes to a pretty swift end and the rest becomes about Banri’s inner turmoil and Kouko’s inability to deal with it and herself, but around all of that we find a real reason to love the other characters for their various character traits. Chinami became the real MVP for me, but Linda will always have a special place in my heart. The show wraps up with a puzzling finale episode, but offers complete closure as it ends, and I’m sad to say that I won’t be seeing these characters again, but the journey was a pleasant one that, as somebody who can relate to Banri Tada’s issues, really resonated with me. As my first slice of life anime, I could have done without the Ghost of Banri mucking about, but I appreciated this look at the lives of these 20-somethings, as opposed to the usual high-school fare. Their lives felt real to me, and I’ll be sure to remember that, ironically. The time spent with this anime was definitely golden.
Game: Golden Time Collection 2
Review Format: Blu-ray