I may have let slip in my season preview for Golden Time that I wasn’t terribly fond of Toradora, certainly compared to everyone else. That’s not to say I hated it though. It was above average, certainly better than most high school romance anime, and a whole lot better than everything else that’s not Nodame that JC Staff have done in the past 6 years. Golden Time promised to be Toradora without the high school setting or the tsundere, the two blandest things about Toradora. Plus it didn’t have Mari Okada on the script so maybe this wouldn’t have the same awful drama writing. I was willing to break my usual rule of not watching anime by JC Staff and give this a shot. So, did JC Staff actually produce a good anime for a change?
Lordy me, where to start? How about the production quality? Something was terribly wrong about the sound levels in this episode. The background noises, such as the low-level chatter in a crowded room, were louder than the main dialogue. The background music drowned out the main character’s voice on several occasions. It wasn’t like it was wailing violins that we were supposed to be impressed by or anything like that. It was the same irritating bouncy 5-second music loop that all these high school romance anime have. Whoever was in charge of the sound levels for TV broadcast clearly fucked up.
The animation looks like it came out over 10 years ago. Specifically in the early days of the full switch to digital animation in the early 00s. I’ve been watching anime from that era recently and there’s a lot of weird animation quirks that look really bad. The movement looks awkward like they don’t really understand how movement and perspective works, making the characters look like they’re just mimicking walking motions while someone shoves a stick up their arse, kneels below the bottom of the screen and waves them about to give the impression that they’re moving forward. The movement is mirrored in both characters, so they have the same walking animation. A walking loop is a pretty good sign how much thought the animators put into bringing out the character’s personality in their movement. From this I gather that the animators on Golden Time put in zero thought.
I’ll pick the first episodes of a bunch of TV anime from 2003, since I’m going through 2003 anime so have a bunch on hand. Chrono Crusade, Wolf’s Rain, Twin Spica, Kaleido Star, Gunslinger Girl and Last Exile. Of those, Last Exile and Wolf’s Rain were big budget productions back in their day so obviously look better, albeit a little alarmingly so. Gunslinger Girl and Kaleido Star are also much better animated with far more natural looking movement and art design. Chrono Crusade is only marginally better, but has the bonus of actually looking cooler with more unique character designs and background art due to its setting. Only Twin Spica looked not as well animated, and even then it’s not that far off Golden Time. So maybe saying Golden Time looks like it was animated in 2003 is unfair on anime from 2003.
As for the content itself, I find it HILARIOUS that Golden Time tricked us all by pretending it was different by setting the story in college but in fact it’s the exact same fucking high school setting in everything but name. It’s the same opening format. Guy with absolutely zero personality whatsoever goes to his new
high school college complaining about how he’s late. Yuji Everylead the bland then meets a new friend with lady problems and has to run away from numerous clubs trying to get him to join. He starts cycling through a series of haremettes, all of whom he develops a minor crush on at first meeting.
He might end up with any of these beguiling ladies, although why they would want to end up with The Blandest Man in the Universe is beyond me. But as the opening credits rather unsubtly hints at, he’s going to get together with a character who is channelling Yuno from Future Diary except without any of the acknowledgement that she is horrifying. She does have an actual personality though, which is better than everyone else in the show. However I had some twitter conversations with people who have read the source material and they say this yandere start to her personality goes away really quickly and she becomes pretty generic. The one thing this show had to call itself different and it plans to disappear soon. Terrible production quality, generic story, bland characters. I should have stuck to my “don’t watch JC Staff anime” rule.