This is what I’ve waited almost two full seasons for.
With a pedigree promising something more fulfilling than the typical romantic comedy, I’ve been waiting 21 episodes for something really amazing to happen in Golden Time. And all the while – at least for the past dozen episodes – I’ve been disappointed. There were hints of something really good in the story, but it’s remained hidden beneath false starts and fuzzy focus. But now things are becoming suddenly clearer as relationships become more complex.
There’s so much to talk about in episode 22 (and 21, too, in fact), but I’ll simply share three spiritually-related ideas that came to me as I watched:
1. We All Suck
When the first episodes of Golden Time aired, I was convinced it was a classic in the making – after all, it shared the same source author as Toradora, my all-time favorite series. What made Toradora! special to me was not the style, though that immediately hooked me and kept eagerly anticipating each episode (and on a side note, that which is largely lacking in Golden Time) – it’s the depth of the characterization and the foibles (and realism) of the characters.
And boy, do these characters have some issues – our leads are an amnesiac riddled with anxiety and prone to running away from his problems and an obsessive stalker who is trying to work past insecurities and selfishness to be someone better than she is. They’re joined by a group of supporting characters who are similarly damaged (if less so).
The frustration I have with these characters and their actions is actually more reminiscent of another series other than Toradora – their deeply flawed selves remind me of Suzuka, another series that was hard to watch, but which had me glued (over and over and over again) – and partly because of this truth: we all have sin in our lives and we all do things which hurt others. Golden Time, just by being, demonstrates our human condition through it’s characters.
2. Promises, Promises
If there’s something I’m bitter about (actually, there’s plenty!), it’s how easily media (and RL individuals as well) make promises of love and devotion. For a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which is what I discussed above, it’s difficult to make a promise of a “forever love” and keep it. The same is true when we make promises out of love to God. Nana-sempai gives us some solid wisdom regarding either case:
No one can promise they’ll be together forever.
Oh, gosh, this reminds me of college and the passion of college-aged Christians. Their pledges to God know no bounds – promises of devotion, promises of ministry, promises against sin. And almost inevitably, they fail. I’ve been there.
When we make promises to God, we do it out of our own power, and oftentimes out of our ambition. But our imperfection may lead us to break our bonds – we’re human, after all. And generally, the younger we are, the harder we fall – we just don’t have the experience and wisdom at that point of our lives, as Nana points out:
Well, I believe there’s no such thing as a 20-year-old who knows what they should do.
This is where grace comes in – we too often, also, beat up ourselves when we fail. And while we shouldn’t make rash oaths to God, we should also remember that His grace is sufficient when we’re unable to do that which we’ve committed unto Him.
3. Who I Am
Although it’s again stressed in episode 22, it’s certainly true that throughout the entire series, we see the recurring theme of lack of identity. Who are we? Are we two selves if such an accident occurs? What’s our true self?
I’m afraid this is going to come off as corny, but I’ll say it anyway. The Christian life is lived out of devotion for the Savior, though the riches we gain are also immense – and one of those is a solid identity in Christ. Whatever changes occur in us – the loss of a girlfriend or the loss of friends, for instance – won’t negate who we are in Christ. Though I admit, the idea of amnesia and it’s eternal consequences in a tricky one.
Tada Banri’s situation is an interesting one – while it connects to us (to me at least) through ideas like the one above, it’s also peculiar and certainly unenviable. But even as things begin to really fall apart, it’s seems that the convoluted path of this series is suddenly leading toward a conclusion that’ll be satisfying for Banri, and for us. And though the ride has sometimes been mediocre, I’m now from and center and ready to get to the final destination.