Today’s major theme: you cannot escape the past.
Banri and Linda
This ship that isn’t to be is the most glaring example of this week’s theme. From the hints that we’re given, things are far from resolved between these two. For Linda, her final claim about the past–towards the end of the episode–comes full circle with the beginning of this episode. We can make quick assumptions that Linda is obviously lying, but I think there may be more than a simple answer to this complex scenario. First, can we really trust ghost Banri as a reliable narrator? Though he does question the validity of Linda’s words within the flashback, his extent of information is still limited like any other character. Second, can we even trust Linda? One of the major wrapping themes I liked about this episode is the foreshadowing of revealing Linda’s character by exploring the past–she herself stated that, “we haven’t changed.” If her younger self had questionable truth to her words, it leads us to believe that the Linda of today could very well be making up words to save Banri and herself a whole lot of troubling heartache. Are you guys really open to saying everything? Have you guys changed at all? Who is it that really wants to go back to the past–is it just Banri, or does Linda also yearn for the times when she’d protect Banri above anyone else. The convenient sneakers, the nostalgic thoughts of Banri late at night–what exactly are her feelings for Banri, if not a simple desire for friendship or a romantic interest? Sometime in the future these answers are going to explode in our faces, where the unsustainable nature of Linda and Banri being so familiar with another conflicts with Koko’s dedication. Speaking of which…
Mitsuo, Chinami, and Koko
This trio’s dynamic continues to baffle me. How can Chinami put up with Koko’s attitude when she’s obviously the one suffering from Mitsuo’s spineless attitudes? We saw a rare glimpse into the Chinami that lies beyond her cheerful demeanor this week, where she’s most likely suffering through her own internal problems. Perhaps she’s waiting for Mitsuo to actually give a proper confession, or maybe she’s simply looking to live out her life fully through the good and the bad. Either way she’s been getting the short end of the stick with Mitsuo being lost and Koko continuing to stumble in her mannerisms (though both of them are getting better at a slow rate). My heart almost dropped when she almost broke her camera, since it seems akin to breaking her character as a whole. That camera will prove to be an important plot device in the future, as it will most likely become a convenient reminder to some character in the future.
I do wish that they expand on Chinami’s character after Linda’s developments, because I’d very much like to see what’s ticking behind that smile of hers when people treat her like a secondary character. To Mitsuo, she is both freedom from Koko but also his shame in being pressured by Koko to confess. To Koko, she is a bad influence to her childhood friend, even though she herself did nothing to Mitsuo that wasn’t called for. In fact, it is probably only Banri who has treated Chinami the best, though at the same time has also interacted with her the least. But where are her reactions to all of this? Where is her introspection? For the most part, we don’t know how she really views everyone–her cool-headed and non-reactive demeanor makes it hard to judge her true feelings, even more than Linda. Of course she had a tipping point here today (who wouldn’t?), but that soon reverted back to a rushed and clumsily handled reversion back to the status quo. Let Chinami express herself freely, because that girl deserves way more screentime than she gets right now.
Though paced much better than previous episodes, Golden Time still has its slip-ups with pacing, especially in developing Chinami and Mitsuo as characters. So far Koko, Linda, and Banri have been sufficiently developed, but sadly it’s at the cost of the rest of the cast. With Linda finally open about herself though, I expect that we will soon see a shift in character focus as we change from wrapping up Linda’s troubles to more Chinami, Mitsuo, and poor overlooked 2D-kun.