Tada Banri returns home to a warm welcome from his friends and Koko re-visits the status of their physical relationship. Mitsuo comes clean to everyone about Linda and asks for their help as he decides to film the Festival Club for his club project.
Alright, time for some real talk: one of the all too convenient byproducts of setting most anime romances in high school is you can make it slightly easier to avoid the characters having a physical relationship. Once you hit college age, the plausibility that two people in love haven’t hooked up gets thinner and thinner. You could chalk this up to a number of cultural differences, the perceived value of innocence and female purity, the meaning of the word moe itself etc, etc but the point is anime characters almost NEVER get any, and if they do it’s only heavily implied and never directly acknowledged (see: Monogatari series).
So it’s in that context I find it fascinating how Golden Time has handled the physical relationship between Tada Banri and Koko. The first time the topic came up they did a masterful job demonstrating that they were not ready to take that step. This gave a later, more serious scene a bigger impact when Koko tried to force herself on Banri out of desperation. Quite a bit has happened since those two incidents though, and I’m a little more ambivalent on how the matter is handled in this episode. While lesser series would have put the issue on the shelf having already dealt with it, I think it’s great Golden Time made sure to bring it back up. On the other hand, as goofy and awkward as they may still be, I think it felt like the two of them were ready but were interrupted with a convenient excuse. I’m cool with a series saying wait until you’re ready, but this felt like a compromise under pressure from what everyone else is doing. Would it really have hurt anyone if they had simply faded to black once the decision was made? I think the scene could have gone either way.
As for the rest of the episode, the focus is continuing to shift over to Mitsuo and it’s turning out to be more intense than I was expecting. One of the things I love about Golden Time is how the characters aren’t totally oblivious and can actually perceive other people’s feelings. Whether it was Mitsuo getting the idea that Tada Banri wasn’t ready to say what happened between him and Linda or Linda picking up on Mitsuo’s feelings, these characters feel infinitely more real than your typical anime romance. I also love the honesty. Mitsuo went ahead and opened up about Linda without getting all mopey about it, and LInda’s self evaluation as she tries to figure out what to think about Mitsuo was fantastic. I’ve mentioned it before but I think those conversations are this particular writer’s strong point, in both this and previously in Toradora.
Bringing us back to the big picture, I still feel like sorting this thing with Mitsuo, Linda, and apparently Chinami is considerably lower stakes than the drama between the main three earlier in the series. There is the struggle of Tada Banri deciding whether he wants to put a ring on it, but even that seems like a foregone conclusion. I really have no clue how this could lead to any kind of climax bigger than the one we already, but as Golden Time continues to deliver week after week I can’t wait to see what they have in store next.