At long last it's time to hit the beach for Banri, Koko and friends!
Of course, holidays do have a tendency for swapping any idyllic fantasies of how things will pan out for the col, harsh truths of reality, and that's certainly how this journey pans out for the group. While Banri and Koko opting to meet Takaya in the wrong place is a minor error and the car's malfunctioning air conditioning is little more than an irritation, delays in both reaching and then finding Oka before collecting Mitsuo and setting off are further built upon by vast traffic jams as far as the eye can see. Add a downpour of rain and it looks like the entire trip is about to be rained off.
Still, at times like this Tada can always be relied upon to look on the bright side and make the best of the situation, and he duly does this here, dragging Koko out to goof around in the rain until the rest of the party join them. Suitably soaked, the group heads off for food, and by the time they're done the sun is shining once again, allowing for the fun and frolics they originally made the trip for, playing on the beach, letting off fireworks and all. By the end of the day all and sundry are exhausted, and with Koko taking up the driver's seat she's reliant upon Banri to keep talking and keep her awake. Easier said than done, as the group's fatigue threatens to prove lethal...
For the most part I really enjoyed this week's Golden Time - having followed this group of characters for so long now, it was satisfying to see them get together and take a trip, and equally satisfying to be presented with a trip that is a far cry from the perfect blend of distilled fun that makes for the average beach episode in anime. On the flip side of this, I'm a little wary of the show's reliance on "ghost Banri" at this point, who seems to have gone from a portion of Tada's subconscious to something being hinted at as a deity of Haruhi-esque proportions. I really hope this gets ironed out and explained away as coincidence as it doesn't do Golden Time any favours - the events depicted in this episode would have worked perfectly well without his pseudo-supernatural presence, whereas his appearance threatens to derail any sense of the narrative being believable. Putting that aside though, it does feel as if Golden Time has found its stride, so I really hope it doesn't slip over the coming weeks.