It's college, freshman year all over again! ...Goddess, help.
From the author of one of my alltime favorite romances, Toradora, comes this Fall's primetime romantic comedy, Golden Time. I don't know about most of you, but this is one of the series I've been anticipating the most since it was announced, and honestly it's the most likely to go on the blogging schedule as of this moment. This is a romcom through and through, a genre I tend to have a lot of problems with, but definitely one of a different caliber. Even better, it's being animated by my favorite romcom studio, J.C.Staff, which, for all its issues and not perfect animation, has some of the best depictions on human relationships and friendships I've yet seen. There's almost nothing I can think about that makes me not like the idea of this show on paper, adaptation issues though there were in Toradora, another J.C.Staff series. All this being true, how is this show stacking up to my expectations for it?
So far, it's doing pretty great. We have all the romcom tropes in line, the start of a new life upon entering school (except this time it's college!) the nice guy lead who is a bit ditzy and late, the new friend he just made, and the slightly stalker-ish heroine who's after the latter. There's fanservice, there's possible love at first sight (interestingly with a separate love interest), and there's possibility, that feeling common to all romcoms that school life is going to be good from now on, even if it isn't quite later. This is the story of Tada Banri (Furukawa Makoto), a law student who moves to Tokyo on his own, and his life following his meeting with Yanagisawa Mitsuo (Ishikawa Kaito) and Kaga Kouko (Horie Yui), a pair of childhood friends with a lot of history. He befriends them both, Mitsuo by choice and Kouko by association, and just like that, things get a lot more interesting right off the bat. But the tropes aren't what makes it good, what makes it good is the execution, and for this kind of series, the execution is quite great.
For one thing, the feeling of arriving at college is pretty spot on; there's a fascination with the newness, with all the opportunities and hope one has at first. There's also a sense of being a little lost, either literally or otherwise, and feeling somewhat out of place, and I think Banri does pretty well in depicting these sorts of things. He's a little overwhelmed with the school, but he's optimistic and waiting for great things to happen, and that's how most everyone is as a freshman. AS to Kouko and Mitsuo, they too seem like real people; Mitsuo is tired of being strung along by Kouko's whims and is trying to get away from her, whereas Kouko is definitely obsessed with him, which at the moment doesn't seem all that healthy. Whether or not she loves him, though, is another question; the OP is heavily KoukoxBanri for one thing, and for another, it doesn't really feel like she's in love. Is this about control, familiarity, or something else entirely for her? I'm not sure yet, but I am looking forward to finding out; I've missed this sort of show to round out my taste in anime.
OP "Golden Time" by Yui Horie