Golden Time (ゴールデンタイム)
This has been on my list for a while, but I decided to push it up on the “must-watch” list after reading a fellow blogger’s review on it. I can’t fully recall the review or the discussion I had, but I do know that she wasn’t a fan of Tada Banri. So this post will mainly focus on the characterization of Tada Banri.
After a sudden accident, Tada Banri has no recollection of who he is. He refuses to learn about his past and instead, decides to start fresh as a first-year university law student. While there, he makes new friends and even gets a girlfriend, Kaga Kouko. Yet things get complicated when he finds out that a girl from his past, Linda, goes to the same university as him.
An Identity Crisis
As viewers, we question, “Who is Tada Banri?” There are two different souls living in the body of Tada Banri: his “past self” (the high school student) and his present self (the university student). Throughout the anime, Banri is having an internal struggle within himself—both souls are trying to take control of his body and be the “real” him. His former self is this passive, scaredy-cat wimp who is in love with his former best friend, Linda. While his current self is a university student who is optimistic and open to new experiences and making new friends. By having both souls fighting for control, each soul denies the other as the true identity of Tada Banri. In fact, in the early episodes, the current Banri had no interest in learning about his past, trying to gain back all his memories and reconnecting with the people he left. However, the truth is that both souls make up Tada Banri’s overall identity and he should accept both of them. Now, individuals may use different personas when interacting with a variety of social groups, but all those personas make up that person’s identity. Banri’s two souls function the same way.
The Symbol of the Vengeful Soul
Eventually, Banri’s past self “dies” at the bridge where the accident took place by drowning into the river. His past self transforms into a vengeful ghost and wishes misfortune onto Banri and his friends. For example, when Banri and his group of friends planned to go to the beach, his past self made sure that they weren’t on-time and that it was raining. Yet, his spirit’s wishes of misfortune towards Banri goes too far when Banri and his friends almost got into a car accident. The reason why I’m bringing this up is because the vengeful spirit is a concept that has been embedded in Japanese literature and film for quite some time. One of the well-known vengeful spirits is Lady Rokujo from The Tale of Genji. She loved Genji deeply but would get jealous and kill women that were close to him. So seeing such a spirit in Golden Time was a treat in my opinion. With these type of characters, I enjoy trying to figure out why they are angry and whether they deserve my sympathy or not.
Rewriting Golden Time
Which brings me to my next topic, “Should Banri have told his friends about his situation in the first place?” Well, the easy answer is that if he did, we wouldn’t have a plot and this anime wouldn’t have been made. However, he didn’t and I think he has every right to not express his personal business to others. The reason why I think it was alright that he didn’t mention his condition is because this is a medical issue that makes him uncomfortable, and it affects his daily life and interactions with people. Although he loves Kouko, he didn’t want her to worry about him despite his mental state not being completely there. He thought it was best that they go on like a “normal” couple so that he feels “normal;” hence as to why they act so lovey-dovey.
There’s also the trust issue when confiding with others. He trusts people to a certain extent. For example, he permits Oka Chinami to video tape him talking about his feelings for Kouko. However, his trust issues come mainly from within himself, where he struggles to figure out which soul is the real him. He wants to live his current life normally, but his past self keeps haunting him; as a result, it is difficult for him to make friendships. He fears that his former self will take over and he will disappear and be forgotten by his new friends. Banri maintains a wall between him and his friends because he doesn’t trust that he will always be there for them.
These are just some of my thoughts on Golden Time. If you haven’t watched Golden Time, it’s a good one to check out when you’re bored.