Tag Archives: Gamers!

Romance Anime, “Golden Time,” and Amazing Drama

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Hey everyone, so quick backstory on this post. I watched the anime series Golden Time earlier this year and I liked it… a lot. I liked it so much in fact that it ended up on my favorites list that I posted back in August. It also inspired me to make a video which, not uncommonly around here, I never actually ended up doing. So, since I ran out of time for today and could not think of anything else, here is the script for that video. Enjoy!


Hot take: most romance anime are not particularly good.

Yeah, I said it. What are you gonna do about it? In all seriousness though, I hope that at this point in the progression of anime as an art form that we can at least recognize the abundance of mediocre romance in anime. You know the ones I’m talking about: the generic Japanese high school main characters have never interacted with a member of the opposite sex will they won’t they until they maybe hold hands at the end of season two if they even get that far bs that feels like it dominated for most of the 2000s and 2010s. 

Thankfully, it seems as though that is slowly beginning to change. While I did not necessarily enjoy it as much as others, I can at least appreciate what a show like Gamers! was trying to do, playing off the traditional popular girl loser main character dynamic and flipping it on its head. Shows like Horimiya have shown that romance anime can come to satisfying conclusions, while also displaying a fair amount of emotional and character development among the whole cast. Granted, Tsuresure Children was doing this back in 2017 to a slightly worse effect, but still good to see regardless. 

Now, this is not to say that this push and pull dynamic can’t work in certain shows. Oftentimes, such as with a series like Kimi no Todoke, this revolves around the idea that the main characters are afraid of what the other one is thinking, which is definitely relatable. In fact, I would say most romances of this persuasion invoke this notion of relatability. However, that by itself is not a payoff or a mark of good storytelling, but merely a part of it. 

This brings me to Golden Time, a 2013 romance and drama produced by J.C. Staff. The story centers around a college-age amnesiac who remembers nothing about his identity due to having been knocked off a bridge. Tada Banri, thus, decides to move to Tokyo and attend law school in order to start his life over. From there, he meets Yana, and the rich girl who’s obsessed with him, Koko. The group begins to grow close while Banri slowly but surely regains his identity.

Funnily enough, I actually ended up hearing about this series at first from an old episode of the Podtaku podcast, which featured some familiar faces of the anime YouTube community, namely Gigguk. He was incredibly enthusiastic about the series at the time, and for whatever reason, his high praise of the show stuck in my mind. Never have I been more thankful for my oddly specific long-term memory, because while I went into Golden Time with relatively few expectations, it delivered a storytelling experience that I can only describe as emotionally cathartic and incredibly well executed.

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A lot of what Golden Time does right comes in the form of the character’s relationships as well as its use of Tada Banri’s Amnesia as a plot device. For starters, it helps that these characters feel like real people. Like I said before, relatability only matters in so much as it allows the viewer to form a connection with the series and the characters. However, forming a direct relationship between viewer and audience is not the only way to do this. 

Instead, the series ops to let the characters’ relationships progress naturally. The fact that Banri and Koko start dating in the first place is a product of both Banri’s longing to build a new identity due to his amnesia, as well as Yana’s refusal to date her. Similarly, Yana’s budding relationship with Linda follows logically from being rejected by Chinami and then hanging out with her in a purely platonic context. None of the relationships that emerge throughout the series feel forced, which allows for more of a genuine experience.

Of course, all of these relationships are centered around Banri, whose journey through college and battle with his amnesia is the focus of the series. Banri, while definitely having the character design of a generic anime protagonist, certainly does not act it. Even as a literal shell of a human being, his progression throughout this 24 episode series is a combination of heartbreaking and victorious that feels like the best roller coaster I have ever ridden. Through the highs and lows of his journey, he remains a moving presence on screen, and the looming worry about the potential consequences of his returning memory makes it all the more engaging.

A theme that emerges early on in the series is one of identity, specifically dealing with the loss of one’s identity and the prospects of beginning life anew. Now, for Banri this is fairly obvious, as his amnesia has forced him to pack up and start fresh in an unfamiliar place. However, the same can also be said of Koko, who built her identity around a version of Mitsuo that only existed in her head. Thus, when he rejected her in the clearest language he could, her identity also falls apart and has to be rebuilt. 

Banri’s amnesia and this theme of identity become foundational for the series and drive a lot of the heavier moments that happen later on. During Golden Time’s latter half, Banri realizes that the re-emergence of his lost memories could also spell the disappearance of his current ones. This becomes more obvious when he begins to have episodes of remembrance, and the previous Tada, Banri reemerges. It is during this time he realizes just how fragile the current version of himself really is.

However, that fragility is not just his own. Just as much as she had built her previous identity around Mitsuo, Koko has similarly become inseparable from Banri. Thus, when it becomes apparent that the boyfriend she knows might not be around for much longer, she breaks up with him in order to save herself the pain of watching their identities collapse simultaneously. 

So much of what makes good drama and romance are the stakes. After all, romance itself can only be so interesting. What matters is what is happening around that romance. For Golden Time, those stakes are the relationships themselves. Banri doesn’t want to lose his entire identity again, and neither does Koko. To live a normal life in the face of the almost supernatural: that is the dream of these two star-crossed lovers. Sure, it turns out ok in the end, but it didn’t have to, and that fear of loss is powerful…


How do you all feel about Golden Time, and about romance anime in general? Let me know in the comments below.

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Update: AHO-Girl is the best thing I’ve watched this season. Here’s why.

Unfortunately, the shows I’ve chosen to watch this season have ranged from ok, to mediocre, to outright awful. I can’t really tell if this is because I did little to no research on the shows that I picked up, or if I just have really terrible luck, but I seemed to have gotten the worst of the bunch.

I know this because many of the of the other shows that I happened to not see, either because of lack of legal means to watch or because I just wasn’t aware of it at the time, like Princess Principle, Kakegurui, and Made in Abyss have all had their praises sung from the time they started airing.

Somehow, aside from AHO-girl and Tsuredure Children, I picked up three of the most terrible shows from this season. AHO-girl is the only show I could consider among these to be legitimately good. As I’ve discussed before here, it’s low brow humor is still very widely appealing, and in recent episodes, the jokes have expanded and only gotten funnier.

Meanwhile, the other shows that I’ve watched all suffer from an illness known as terrible. As I’ve discussed before on my blog, Classroom of the Elite and GAMERS! both lack a compelling direction for their narrative. Classroom of the Elite has more recently gotten wrapped in a somewhat unnecessary side plot that focuses on a secret idol named Sakura. She gives a testimony to help the Sudo, the classes’ drop out, avoid being expelled for beating up three upper classmen. This really felt like a departure from what started out as a really interesting and exciting premise.Classroom of the Elite

GAMERS!, which did a complete one eighty in terms of the direction in the first episode, turned into nothing but a somewhat funny, but ultimately mediocre ROM-COM. More recently, it has become a relationship Pentagon that is only as confusing as it is because apparently nobody in the show knows how to deal relationships in a serious way.GAMERS

I also recently have watched parts of In Another World with My Smartphone. While I may do a full review in the future, I can tell you right now that I am not a fan. In an anime landscape that is currently full of Isekai shows, this one really had to do something different to impress. Isekai Wa Smartphone

Not only did it not do something different, but it might possibly have inadvertently created the strongest characters of all time. Touya can use all of the worlds magic, has infinite mana, and can use his phone to increase the power of his magic. It’s like they took Kirito from Sword Art Online and said: “No, this guy needs to be more unbeatable!” I started a running joke between a friend of mine and me that Touya is pretty much the new god of this world and should be treated as such.

AHO-Girl, therefore, stands at the top of the shows I’ve watched during the summer 2017 season. It is a really good comedy and should be praised as such, but most of my picks this season were honestly just garbage, and I’ll probably be dropping most of them soon.

 

 

What Do Classroom of the Elite And GAMERS! Have In Common? Disappointment.(SPOILERS)

After watching episode five of both Classroom of the Elite and GAMERS!, I’ve noticed that both of the shows seem to be going downhill. I’m honestly not sure whether this is because of the source material, or because of the lack of directorial and writing skill, but either way its really not looking good for either of these shows.

Of the two, GAMERS! was the one who’s decline I was expecting. It had a strong episode one, and an interesting plot twist, but as I’ve pointed out on this blog before that twist really didn’t amount to much. Looking back, the show honestly might have been better if it had stuck to the plot it was setting up. At least, in that case, it would have been campy and fun.

Now, However, GAMERS! is nothing more than a mediocre Rom-Com. Its main appeal has become the intertwining relationships between Amano and the others. The problem with this is that in only five episodes, I haven’t had enough time to care. None of these characters have been on screen for long enough or been interesting enough for me to want to know who is going to end up with who.

I’m a bit more sad about Classroom of the Elite. It had an interesting premise about being locked in a school in which everyone thinks that they’re being treated like royalty when in fact they just being tested. When everyone realized that they had just made themselves poor by spending all their points, that’s when the show good have gone a thousand different routes. But, of course, the show has chosen to take the least interesting route.

So far, the show has tried to do everything while accomplishing nothing. It has meandered around, following a character story about Sudo that is not that interesting. The reason why they’re doing it makes sense within the context of the show, but it still isn’t as interesting as the writers would like to think it is.

It really is a shame that both of these shows look like they’re going to end up among the boring drivel of the rest of the season. They started out very well, but I can’t see a good ending with the directions they’ve decided to take. I hope I’m proven wrong within the coming weeks, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.

 

 

First Impressions: GAMERS! A Show That Knows How to Subvert Expectations.

I decided to watch GAMERS! on a complete whim. That’s it. There was absolutely nothing else about the show that was remotely interesting other than the fact that it was described as a show about gaming. Even when I started the first episode, I was convinced that the show was going to be a somewhat camp, slice of life about a nobody loser joining a gaming club and becoming a video game god, but boy was that not the case.

While GAMERS! may set itself up like the adventures of generic anime protagonist #3012, The show, within the first episode, becomes a ROM-COM where the most popular girl in school invites the main character Amano to join the schools gaming club, but gets rejected by Amano because he doesn’t like how the club plays games, telling said most popular girl Tendou that he doesn’t like playing games competitively. Tendou, who starts to develop a slight crush on Amano, feels utterly rejected. A lot of the comedy from that point on stems from watching the most popular girl in school start awkwardly stalking Amano as he starts to make friends outside of the club.

It was indeed surprising watching what I thought was going to be pretty standard anime garbage into something a little less conventional. From the moment of Tendou’s rejection I couldn’t stop watching, and it has so far been thoroughly entertaining.

The way it so far has played with the expectations that it has set up is fascinating. For example, when Chiaki was introduced, the expectation is that she would be the main rival to Tendou in getting with Amano, since Chiaki and Amano both love so many of the same games and often times share a very similar philosophy when it comes to how they both enjoy games. This, however, ends up not being the case at all, as much of the philosophy that the two share involves being passionate about games to the point of insulting each other over there disagreements.

Another one of the ways it flips expectations is with Amano’s first real friend Uehara. When Uehara is first introduced, he is made to look like he is part of the popular crowd, the group of people that wouldn’t dare associate themselves with someone like Amano. However, its been revealed throughout the first few episodes that Uehara has a past very similar to that of Amano’s current situation: an introvert who only wants to play games, and because of that Uehara decides to start hanging out with Amano.

Of course, none of this actually makes the show good, or bad for that matter. While the show does subvert expectations, and that does add to its presentation, it doesn’t feel yet like a show that really is going to stick with me for very long. One could even argue that the show subverts expectations for the sole purpose of getting attention, and while it has certainly caught mine, its not a tactic that creates quality art. If the show wants to come off as anything more than gimmicky than its going to have to make its characters a lot more interesting than they currently are.