Roses, hearts, and happiness!
Coming into this, we see rose petals floating over a blue gradient with a light glow over chimes in the soundtrack, segueing into a woman walking through a city street wearing a bridal gown. The color scheme is bright, color temperature is neutral, dominant colors are green, blue buildings and sky, pink and orange. The girl’s hair is orange, long and curly, like it was professionally permed, but as we know anime girls’ hairs require no maintenance. She is walking towards two generic-looking men who appear shaken, holding a mischievous grin. Then she raises her bouquet and slashes downwards, as if hitting them with it. The men, by the way, are undoubtedly our protagonists, for even though they look generic, they look generic with the disarmed look: round faces, slightly stupid expression but not overly so, normal messy hair, and an unintimidating reaction. This is often the kind of spectacle that opens slice-of-life series. The whole thing so far just screams two words: generic and Shoujo (although I’m aware that it is listed as Seinen and takes place in a college setting instead of the typical high school, it certainly doesn’t have a very nuanced or mature vibe).
Then we get the same rose petal transition into the OP, sung by Yui Horie, which sets the tone for this show. Yui Horie could probably be considered a voice actress superstar: she has had dozens of roles under her belt and has sung opening and endings for anime such as Love Hina, School Rumble, Dog Days, and ToraDora!. So we have a good idea of the kind of anime we’re getting into here. Aside from Yui Horie’s saccharine bubblegum pop, the OP features the orange-haired girl in the intro running around, spinning around, dancing and prancing on a backdrop of flying hearts, stars, flowers, and confetti, before running into the brown-haired boy and embracing him. She leans in for a kiss, he pulls back and turns his cheek towards hers, they both blush — we know what that’s about.
A bright idea…
And so the show opens up with our main lead Banri Tada coming out of a subway, being late for his first day at college. Despite the music and a shot with dramatic black borders zooming into his face with him saying, “Oh shit, oh shit”, there’s not even a single atom of tension in the air.
The day is just as bright and sunny as ever, still bright green, blue skies and saturated tones. He arrives to school just in time… for the end of the entrance ceremony. Not too bad, there’s still the orientation, but he feels discouraged since he has just moved to Tokyo, started living by himself, and he doesn’t know a single person there. But while I can understand his plight in retrospect, I didn’t have one single thought of sympathy for our generic protagonist #1 while watching.
The problem now is that Banri Tada has no idea where the department building is, so he devises a brilliant idea to stalk two other college girls who seem like they know where they’re going. What plays out is this… not-so-funny exposition which has the sole purpose of establishing what our male protagonists have in common — stupidity. Yes, very often in these shows they use the awkward situations that arise from people making questionable decisions to create comedy. And of course the girls will get mad at them at first, but then ‘forgive’ them, sort of like having a tough woman to keep the men in line sort of thing. But I digress. This kind of plot device can sometimes be amusing, but let’s be honest: it is always contrived. And so if we are looking for maturity and realism, the kind of show where people might actually act like people in real life, Golden Time probably isn’t it.
It turns out that Mitsuo Yanagisawa, also lost, has stalked the same pair, arriving at the same convenience store, bought the same popsicle, each being unaware of the others’ existence until arrival! Amazing, huh? They share banter, some awkward laughs, and introduce each other. Having lost the girls, they proceed to find the building by themselves.
And they find it without trouble. One wonders why they needed to follow the girls to a convenience store to begin with. Small talk ensues, with Banri going into an insecure moment and talking about not having friends. And the whole time he has that generic look on his face, as if he’s soulless. To give Golden Time credit, it doesn’t fall into some of the conventions that have become more common, such as symbolizing angst by having Banri squeeze his fists or zoom into his lips or his face with dark lines coming down his forehead. I am certain that even the lack of expression is better than a cliched expression that distracts and ridicules its own credibility. Still, he could have wavered a bit in his voice or something. He does waver in the line that comes after, which is of course the line that gives Mitsuo an excuse to talk about his past.
Mitsuo explains that he was set to attend a very prestigious school but ran into troubles with the opposite sex. Uh oh, I can see where this is going. By the way, does the setting look familiar to anyone? This is where our protagonists were at the beginning when that girl threw roses in his face. Girl troubles!
Anyways, given the lack of dramatic proficiency in these 7 minutes, and the contrived character actions, the uninteresting script, and uninteresting character design, I have no reason to believe that Golden Time would transcend the typical rom-com that is recycled every season. If, perhaps, you haven’t had enough of the rom-com structure, perhaps with a few twists thrown in to convince you that it is something else when it is not, you might find this somewhere on the edge of your radar; that is if Hataraku Maou-sama!, Chuunibyou, or Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is right up your alley… As for me, I found the aforementioned works below average, and I can think of no reason why Golden Time would deviate much. So the verdict is:
TENTATIVE SCORE: 4.1
PREDICTIVE SCORE: 4.2
Edit: I know this is after my allotted 7 minutes, but I couldn’t resist. They wanted to include a joke, apparently, but didn’t plan the animation well enough. I’ll let pictures do the talking.