Golden Time ep4: heart to heart, or knife to heart?
You can warn and warn people all you want, but you can’t break someone’s reality easily. They have to accept it as a lie, through some sort of hard evidence. And even then, there’s a risk of relapse at the slightly provocation. In this episode, it’s time for Koko to come to grips with a hard fact. Mitsuo doesn’t love her. He doesn’t even like her. And Banri may have to come to grips with something similar. The strangers in his life may know him better than he knows himself.
If I have to give a bit of credit to anything in this show, it’s that it sends a clear message that friendship and trust are important and integral things, even among people that aren’t friends, yet. As the episode starts, we see Mr. 2D (that’s what I’m calling him now) crying and telling Banri how thankful he is that he and Koko made it back safely. It’s understandable seeing as how it appeared that both of them had been left behind to the whims of some strange cult. Banri and Mr. 2D end up running into Mitsuo and Chinami as well, and everyone goes to one of the school cafes to talk about the incident. Mitsuo was worried enough to text both Banri and Koko, admitting that he couldn’t not be worried about an old friend. Banri mentions how she’ll love that, but they all have no idea what a bad idea that actually turns out to be until Koko actually shows up. When she sees Mitsuo sitting next to Chinami and being close to her, she swoops in, and we’re treated to one hell of an ugly display. Koko doesn’t just single poor Chinami out, she bullies her to a vicious level, berating everything she can on the poor girl. Mitsuo has to physically step in to get her to stop. It was a bit of a distrurbing scene, and it really justified everything Mitsuo’s been saying up to this point (though Koko has shown other valid reasons that she’s a terrible mate). Mitsuo is forced to warn her to stay away from Chinami, and escorts the poor girl out of the area. Banri volunteers to stay behind and look after Koko.
Looking at her once Mitsuo’s left, you can tell that she realizes what she’s done and how bad it is. She’s sweating profusely and looks like she’s seen a dead body. But when she leaves for the bathroom and comes back ten minutes later she’s totally fine. I’m impressed by her ability to cope and her power sense of denial. Though I’m not going so far as to say those qualities are necessarily good things, it at least makes her resilient.
Once that nasty business is out of the way, they both decide to head over to the Festival Club and thank them for saving their behinds. They run into Linda who escorts them over to the club. Along the way, she tells them that she’s gonna report that group to the school authorities. Apparently that group has been causing a lot of problems at other schools, too. And they’re not just some creepy cult, but seems to be a mildly criminal group, going so far as to even engage in pyramid schemes. And as if it’s a completely unrelated subject, Linda finally asks them to join the Festival Club, and in talking to them somehow triggers a memory in Banri that fades away just as quickly as it appeared.
After giving their thanks, the two guests are asked to participate in one of the club’s traditional dances – and they fail miserably. But they do gain a healthy respect for what the club does. It’s not as easy at it looks apparently. Banri is still wavering on joining the group though. As for Koko, she seems unexpectedly down about the idea, citing a lack of confidence in herself.
Back in class (this is taking place on a college campus after all) Mr. 2D, Banri and Mitsuo are exchanging notes in Mitsuo’s notebook, talking about what he’s going to do next, when Mitsuo drops the bomb on them saying that he’s going to try to get serious with Chinami. On top of that, he’s determined to set Koko straight TODAY! All I can think reading this is that there’s going to be an ugly confrontation in the near future. And true to my expectations, things got really weird, as Koko didn’t show up to school for a week (school seems really secondary to all these people right now), being almost completely unresponsive and reclusive that whole time. Things finally come to a head once Banri’s invited by her to a cafe where she’s meeting Mitsuo, a very uncomfortable situation to be involved with.
Koko begins by stating their case as to why they should be together (maybe she does have hope as a lawyer), pointing out all their history and memories together. Mitsuo immediately sets her straight, pointing out that all those things were things involving their chilldhood, and that they don’t matter in their adult world. On top of that, he points out that she’s never once listened to him, or considered his feelings, only selfishly staking claim to him. And while he does value her as a childhood friend, he tells her outright that he could never date her, and that she should stay away from Chinami or face the consequences. Koko is on the verge of tears as she tells Mitsuo of all the things she’s done for him, and about how she tried so hard to be perfect for him. And when Mitsuo rejects her again she explodes, calling off their entire relationship. Mitsuo merely gets up and walks away. End of story.
Koko just sits in the cafe at the table with Banri for probably around an hour, Banri doing his best to try to cheer her up, when some rocker chick dressed in black with a guitar, named Nana, invites them to a concert she’s having. It appears that Koko is having just sh*tty enough of a day to need one of these things. Though when they do go, Koko goes way overboard, jumps on stage and steals the mic to scream into, and then falls off stage with Banri when he tries to get her down. For all their troubles, they’re kicked right out of the concert (rightfully so). While they sit in some room together, it finally hits Koko. She finally seems to understand why Mitsuo can’t stand her. Banri tries to console her by telling her about his problems and how they equate to her. Mentioning how perhaps giving up the old you, or your past isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though it does come with its pains. And that’s when IT happens. Banri confesses her. And though she doesn’t respond in kind, she doesn’t reject him either. She just kinda runs away to find her stuff that she left in a locker before entering that little concert. But she does send him a message later. Something to the effect of worrying about rejection being a form of rejection of yourself.
Banri decides to kill some time by taking a train ride back home and visiting his family. A curious thing happens when he goes back home and goes through his old yearbook. A picture falls out with him and Linda in it. All of a sudden, those words from here start to ring very true in his head.
End of episode.
I normally hate the use of amnesia in storylines, but I may have fun with it here. It seems to be a unique little time bomb in this story, as Banri is always worried that his memory will return, and his current self will disappear. And in this episode, we actually see two people who may actually be waiting for that other Banri. Banri’s mom (though she doesn’t appear to be a focus now) and Linda, who apparently was at least a friend of Banri’s. It also creates an interesting comparison between him and Koko. Koko, a woman who clings desperately on to her past, and Banri, a guy who has lost his past and doesn’t seem to want it back. It really makes you wonder who has the “better” perspective on things here. I’m also beginning to wonder if Banri can’t remember because he doesn’t want to remember. The more he talks, the more I start to think that the mental block may not just be because of head trauma, perhaps he’s really afraid to remember.
We also get to see the series change a bit as relationships are attempting to be formed, new potentially romantic ones. Mitsuo seems to want to get to know Chinami much better, and Banri seems to see an opening for a relationship with Koko (one he’s obviously been looking and waiting for). There’s no telling if either of these will work (aside from the spoiler-ish OP animation). But at least we see the characters in fluid, dynamic relationships. And at least we see the characters being forced to look inside themselves and hopefully change. Koko is obviously the headline of all of this, because she has the farthest to go, and needs the most help. She’s a broken woman who doesn’t even comprehend herself as a full person without Mitsuo. And with a lifelong dream being crushed, you have to wonder if her downward spiral starts here, or if it’s just the beginning.
Looking forward for this show, I’m really wondering why this show has its name, when things overall have been a mixture of amorous, sad and lonely so far. And you have no clear villain here. What you have is a very broken woman who can’t seem to control her emotions, or get her life together. And then you have guy who isn’t broken, but very, very lonely. I’m enjoying this show, but happy times seem to be moving further and further away for our main characters. Then again, this may be the turning point for the whole show.