I don't know how I missed it when Golden Time first aired. I tend to keep an eye out for fun anime, like this series, especially when they're by writers and/or directors who've done stuff I've loved before.
Golden Time is an anime based on a light novel series written by the same author who gave us the original Toradora stories. That's basically just a fun fact considering things in Golden Time start off the complete opposite of how they begin in Toradora, what with the two main characters getting together relatively quickly, but them being totally wrong for each other and you actually root against them making it as a couple. How can this make a good show? Let me tell you the ways.
So Golden Time goes a little something like this: Banri Tada is a wimpy high school grad who shows up to his new college's entrance ceremony late because he's pretty goddamn lame. He then immediately gets lost when he tries to find his way to his school's law building for freshman orientation, but he meets another lost (and exceptionally confused) frosh in the form of Mitsuo Yanagisawa, and together the two fast friends somehow make it to their building in time, only for Mitsuo to be assaulted right at the front gate by the most gorgeous woman that Banri has ever seen.
After getting his ass handed to him by this beauty and the bouquet of roses that she smacked him with, Mitsuo explains to Banri that this woman (one Kouko Kaga) is a childhood friend who has declared herself his future wife and has stalked him for as long as he can remember. Banri and his penis have no sympathy for his new bud though, and despite his soap opera-like condition that our main character suffers from (Banri has amnesia and remembers nothing in his life that occurred before getting knocked off a bridge a year earlier, including friends and family), he starts to pursue the hot, but incredibly IN-FUCKING-SANE Kouko because he's super hard up for a piece of that ass. And it is a fine piece of ass, I'll give him that.
Anyway, Kouko continues to hunt after Mitsuo, despite not taking the hint that he wants nothing more to do with her psychotic clinginess — which he's given her absolute proof of by sneaking away to the private law school that he met Banri at without telling her... But because she comes from money and she's a super-stalker, Kouko found out about her stalkie's plans and enrolled in the same college because craziness and "fuck actual real world plans for the future."
I'll try to make the rest of the set-up short, but there is a lot of it.
Okay, so Banri starts pursuing Kouko, but since he's your typical wimpy anime lead, he is kind of a wuss when it comes to wooing a woman, and he actually starts off by helping her continue to stalk his new bestie, Mitsuo. Yeah, my eyes were rolling too. Anyway, soon Banri also gets involved with a girl who's one year his senior in school (but his same age since his amnesia kept him out of college for a full year) named Linda, who in reality (*BUM BUM BUUUUUM! SLIGHT SPOILERSSSSS*) is his old high school sweetheart that he's totally amnesiadly forgotten! Que horrible! (SLIGHT SPOILERS OVER!)
Anyway, Mitsuo starts chasing after a tiny girl who acts all super cute, Banri and Kouko start knocking boots, and Linda sits on the sidelines pining away... Well, that's actually not true. Linda is a pretty strong character and she, well... I'll just stop there.
That's the one thing that drove me crazy during the first half of this thing: the way Linda was treated by Banri. Of course at first he had no idea what he was doing to her, but when he does find out that they used to be an item (ooooh fuck it... It's not that big a spoiler anyway) he continues with his terrible plans to stick with the emotionally unstable Kouko.
Kouko, for her part, is not as bad a tsundere character as she could have been, but add her "daddy's little princess" factor to her personality, and her obsessive stalker tendencies, and you have a woman who just annoys me by existing. But soon things change.
Golden Time has some of the biggest and most believable character development that I've ever seen in any anime, book, TV show, or movie. All of the main characters evolve slowly, but honestly, right in front of your eyes, and always into better people. Banri gradually turns into a real man and starts acting like a non-pussy (despite his forgotten amnesiac self literally haunting and cursing him for forgetting his high school love like a bad dream). And Kouko, well Kouko turns into a girl who can think for herself, regret past mistakes, and who actually wants a future beyond just being somebody's girlfriend. Everything and everybody grows and matures at a very nice rate. People evolve and become different people in front of your eyes. Couples who you root against at first slowly become ones you want to succeed. I've never witnessed anything like it before.
Lots of outside stimuli help the characters grow (like bad situations that they get themselves in, overprotective fathers realizing that they weren't helping their daughters by letting them run around doing whatever the fuck they want to do while they pick up the bill for their shenanigans, etc.), but they DO grow. Once I got to the end of this series I clearly saw the same touch that made Toradora so great (the deftness with the character development).
Oh, and like Toradora there is a ton of character-based humor; meaning that this thing is funny as fuck, and most of the jokes and hilarious circumstances come from who the characters are and their great interactions, and NOT stupid situations and ridiculous gags. One of the funniest scenes of anything I've seen in a long time happens when Kouko enters her bf's apartment when he's out of town and starts... Getting weird. And when she impersonates Linda Blair's crab walk scene in The Exorcist and the punk rock neighbor Nana sees her, I think that's the point I started spewing Dr. Pepper out my nose. This is closely followed by Linda's faceball incident.
There's only one thing that really bothered me with this show, and I'm hoping that you'll enjoy it more if you you about it from the beginning. We never find out who is responsible for knocking Banri off the bridge and causing his amnesia (which in turn causes the ghostly form of his previous self to curse his current self from the shadows... Yeah, it's kind of weird like that). We see a person on a moped doing the shoving, but I was expecting a special reveal or a motive. Nope. Sometimes shit just happens apparently.
If some tart in a nice outfit started chasing the Wolfman around and giving him a boner wherever he went, the Wolfman would not scare said chick away. The Wolfman would in fact leave his door unlocked and some whips and chains lying around for said chick to find and implement in whatever task she had in mind.
Also, are the kids in this here anime show really the kinds of kids going to college to become lawyers in Japan? Holy shit! The Wolfman went to school with some guys who were heading to law school, and let me tell you something, you did NOT want to fuck with them. Their head was already in the game, and your ass would be sued to next Wednesday if you tried to pull any crap on them.
The pussies in this anime are all in law school, but they're mostly all timid or weird. The Wolfman wouldn't want any of them representing him if he was charged with murder, even if he had absolute proof that he was half a world away at the time of the crime. The Wolfman wouldn't want them representing him if he was just going in to pay a parking ticket. Japan has so lost its edge. Remember when they almost took over the world and razed Korea and China? Now their kids are afraid to talk to women even when drunk.
I guess once every blue moon the Rossman is allowed to pick a show that doesn't make me want to shove #2 pencils up his nose and in his eyes. This is one of those shows.
This Golden Time started out fairly generic, but soon enough I got way too caught up in the lives of these [at times] dumb-ass kids and their classes, relationships, and all around shenanigans. Their drinking parties looked enjoyable, their social lives soon became somewhat enviable, and by the end of its run, I actually became slightly jealous of the characters in this show... What the fuck is wrong with my life?
Not that I wanted to go back to school, or travel back in time and do school again, this time looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with instead of actually studying and becoming the best damn accountant in my class which only led to a career making $45k a year due to the recession and a flooded job market.... No... I'm not lonely... I just think that... I mean, fun, beer... Cute boys... I.... Goddammit... My life blows. The only thing that I even enjoy anymore is saving the company $100 in travel expenses, or putting arsenic in the Rossman's water bottle. A little each day. That shit adds up.
Oh well. Yes, I enjoyed this show. That's all you should take away from this... Unless you have a time machine I can borrow?