「ナイトエスケープ」 (Naito Esukeepu)
About an 15 hours ago, I was excited to watch the show I was looking forward to every week. 15 minutes into the show though, I felt despair and a dissonance within myself. Golden Time is a show with marvelous potential and a good setting, but what’s going with the pacing and development? I’ll admit, I got too much into a rage and disappointment that I had to sleep it off, but let’s proceed forward seeing what the rundown on this show is so far.
Golden Time is Fresh.
Before I go into what’s wrong, let’s focus on what the show has done right. For its college nature, Golden Time correctly strikes just how college life is. There is less of a struggle to worry about formalities and having good grades in a high school and more a focus on developing meaningful and authentic connections, whether through extracurricular activities or perhaps romance. The drama matures as people phase away from their high school years, and are less about lashing out in emotion and more about talking things through in a constructive manner. In fact, I was surprised when Mitsuo didn’t outright slap Koko when she was harassing Chinami, but instead sternly told her to get lost (without yelling too).
It’s also grand how each of the characters has many layers to hide or display, where those layers are constantly changing as the story progresses.
Mitsuo, despite his distancing away from Koko, admits that their bond isn’t something to be taken trivially and that he does care for her well-being. However, he still cannot deny the fact that Koko is an unstable and clingy individual that constricts his freedom. Both of them are displayed to us as a seemingly dissonant perspective, but it’s definitely understandable.
Banri, though still pretty beta-type at this point, is a great representation of how outsiders view this dissonance with maturity. Banri understands both Koko and Mitsuo’s concerns, and though his struggle to support them both ends up in a whole lot of inaction, it is clear how much time he’s put into considering each character’s scenario.
Meanwhile Koko…I’ll get to her later. The fact is that the show does a great job, even a superior job fleshing out these mature characters who are constantly developing and exposing their inner thoughts, that it’s a refreshing break from the naive “let emotion reign” style that often encompasses romantic comedies. However, this is where my own conflicting emotions about the show begin, where I begin to despise the director for throwing off the flow of this show. Once I reminded myself that Kon Chiaki–who happened to direct the show Arcana Famiglia *shudder*–I realized this show could possibly be going in a very bad direction.
Golden Time is in the wrong hands.
I don’t normally dislike staffers. Really I don’t. I’ve managed to avoid most disappointments in the staff for ruining a production, but Kon Chiaki…perhaps she is the first that ruined my expectations. She is a controversial director, whose works can range from being pretty good to outright clunk. Unfortunately, I’m seeing that this show may be leaning towards the latter, where only the source material is holding up the quality of this show thus far.
Let me explain: the pacing is unacceptable. The character developments are clunky and forced. Developments of the side characters are happening behind the scenes, leaving out key development points to flesh out their traits. Hell, even some scenes seem so randomly placed to progress the story, where it ends up being abruptly cut by the ED.
In short: the pacing is out of whack and the focus is blurred.
For the long of it, let’s focus on Koko. She holds potential to be a great transforming character who learns from her mistakes, and she most likely will as the story matures a bit more. She even has many moments where she self-reflects and admits the facets of her character. However, in her current state, it is really hard for me to sympathize, much less emphathize with her. Though it astounds me that Koko can act like such a well…high schooler in college, her problems as a character go well beyond that.
I wouldn’t have a problem if Koko was a complete asshole or a saint, but I do have a problem with painting Koko as an ambiguous individual without properly explaining why her less desirable traits pop up. We’ve been “told” Koko acts the way she is–Mitsuo has been her anchor for who know show long–but in reality we haven’t “seen” it at all. Amidst all attempts to make Koko likable is a downpour of her stubborn and purely emotional character. It’s hard to start investing in her character when the show feels the need to keep jumping from sympathetic moments to reprehensible ones, even if it’s supposed to make a point of her volatile nature. What I want to see from the story is illustrating why she focuses on Mitsuo so much, instead of telling us through long bouts of dialogue. When Koko brought out those books, it felt less about explaining her actions but rather a forced attempt amping up her crazy dedication.
Though I can’t clearly articulate it myself, the pacing of the show seems to have trouble flowing from its comedy to its drama, as well as from one scene to the next. In transitioning from episode three to four, we transfer over from the aftermath of escaping the cult to returning back to school, where the only transition was a panning shot of our couple being saved. Immediately after that, we are suddenly presented with Chinami and Mitsuo getting along quite well, and right after that, we see Koko getting in the way, even after her long exposition last episode of self-realization. It is hard to attach to one image of Koko when the show tries showing us so many faces of her in rapidly alternating scenes, where each scene seems so detached from the others. I really do want to sympathize with Koko, but the show leaves no time for us to digest any new developments. Even I’m still digesting Banri’s sudden departure back home after confessing to Koko, which seems to have started a whole new thread of drama right after this one ended.
What do you guys think? Am I just being crazy here with my discomfort with the show’s pacing and development, or do you guys share some of my sentiments? For a different perspective, I suggest reading Enzo’s take on the episode–I think he articulated his thoughts much better than I did.
Sorry again for the delays, but things should sail smoother from here on out.