“Don’t Look Back”
This week’s episode: my favorite thus far and is the saving grace that’ll keep me hooked on this show for another cour. What made this episode work so well?
It could be that the focus of this episode was clear and focused–instead of dancing around with other people’s side-stories in a half-hearted manner, we instead gained great development in the main love triangle of this series. None of this half-assed comedy that’s been more to awkward effect than light-heartedness–we received straight up drama that properly developed and set into motion some of the main conflicts that will thoroughly define our main cast. The clarity that this episode brought was refreshing in what has been a season of disjointed events that didn’t really add up–it nicely tied up all the events of the triangle thus far, propelling them into its current form for the next half to tackle.
However, it also probably had to do with the immense character development exhibited by Koko and Banri, for better or for worse. Koko gained major points this episode for her heartfelt struggle to be a good significant other to Banri. It makes sense now the conflict that she held in her heart–all that silence was all for Banri’s sake, to the point where she had faith that he would come clean in the end. Though we’ve seen similar efforts from Koko in restraining her obsessive energies, it was this emotional display that definitely nailed it down. She had every right to be angry at Banri and to leave him right then and there, but her faith in his words and her ability to reflect on the situation impressively lead her to act otherwise–a strong hugging display of affection that reflected both her uncontrollable jealousy and her immense hope to make this all work out. The crowning development here to top it all off was the admission of their current state of relationship–empty and eventless. As something that’s bothered me this entire series, it is great to see the show itself acknowledge the currently weak development of Koko and Banri’s relationship. I cross my fingers that this will reflect a stronger emphasis on Koko and Banri forming meaningful memories together.
Banri too had his own significant developments, though not all of them necessarily positive. Though he handled the fallout of being caught in a promiscuous position that was obviously beyond, “being along with a girl,” this event painted Banri’s losing battle against his past self–literally. His inability to fully let go of the past. His admission that his feelings for Linda return to him. His weak will to get caught in the moment. Banri’s faithfulness is something to be monitored as we continue the show through winter. As it stands now, it is completely in the air whether he’ll stick to his dedicating to severing the past. What if Linda finally cracks and becomes honest with herself? What if old Banri regains control again and unravels all of new Banri’s efforts?
As it stands now, Banri and Koko could live a happy life together (and undoubtedly will in the end), but what stands in their way of their future is the past, something that Koko and now Banri clearly recognize. The show has finally given us a clear direction as to where it wants to go, and that’s one thing–Linda’s struggle to let go of the past. Banri and Koko are happy to move on with their lives and discard their respective pasts, but what about Linda? Of all the characters in the show, it is Linda who has the hardest struggle of letting go of her past, though she’s the one who shows it least. From our perspective though, the constant flashbacks and visual cues (hidden eyes always hint at something more) hint at otherwise. It is hard for us to take whatever Linda says at face value, and as such a main focus of the next half of the show will focus on how Linda’s facade will eventually break down from pressure and how that breakdown affects Linda and Banri’s relationship. It’s a pretty predictable route, but having a clear sense of direction from the show is worth the tradeoff of having a fairly predictable outline. After all, it’s not so much the end goal, or even the path to get there, but rather it’s mostly about the theatrics done to travel the path towards said goal. How exactly will Linda leak her true feelings? How will Koko’s character continue developing and will we see her dedication falter from all the pressure? Will Banri, in the critical moment, choose his girlfriend over all else, or will circumstance cause him to act otherwise? These are all questions that are up in the air for the second half to reveal, and it is these questions that have allowed me to continue watching this show despite its flaws.
I have really flamed on this show more than most would expect and for long periods of time I did not look forward to blogging this show. The terrible filler, the disjoint development, the awkward character interactions, and above all the bad flow of story made covering this more a chore than anything else. For a J.C. Staff romantic comedy, I set my standards high, but those standards were quickly squashed beginning with episode three. With this mid-season end though, I have brighter prospects for the show if the development continues on like this. There will be significant roadblocks such as developing the rest of the severely hollow cast (I’m looking at you 2D-kun…why do you even exist in the story), but if the focus stays on what this show does well–developing the love triangle–then I believe things will work out just fine.
Golden Time from here on out is on break until January 11th, leaving us a good chunk of time to digest this first half. It’s still in discussion, but Guardian Enzo may or may not sub in for me for the second half of the series, since his tolerance for the show’s fault seem to be much higher than my own. It all depends on what the winter lineup is like and what shows we respectively wish to cover. Stay tuned to the Winter 2014 schedule for more details. Either way, thank you dear reader for following thus far, and it’s been a pleasure reading all of your thoughtful comments for this series. The show has garnered a polarizing response from what I’ve seen, so it has been my privilege to see various people voice their praise and/or criticism for the show thus far. It reminds me of how diverse we all are in our tastes and tolerances, and reading your responses has helped mature my own view of the show. Thank you again for following along and commenting, and I hope to see most of you guys next year!
Happy New Year and Happy Holidays,