Golden Boy

May 29, 2004 on 6:12 pm | In Golden Boy | 1 Comment

Oe Kintaro, twenty-five years old. Tokyo University Department of Law drop out. However, he withdrew from school because he had mastered the entire curriculum.
Since then, he has been changing jobs numerous times, learning about life. Riding his favourite bike, Crescent Moon, he keeps on moving. And perhaps someday he might save Japan, or even the world.

Ecchi comedy with a heart of gold! That’s what this is. Funnier things in all the land were not likely to be seen … at least not with as many breasts as this anime has to boast. In each of the six episodes, Kintaro takes on a new job. From a software developer to an animation runner, Kintaro learns all sorts of new things in the pursuit of knowledge and beautiful women clearly far beyond his grasp.
The story sets itself up for episodic formula, but it rises above that. The recurring jokes are of the variety of “Oh no!”, not “Not this again.” One of the best episodes involves Kintaro protecting the girl instead of chasing her. The plots lend themselves to fun, but the great thing about Golden Boy is that the characters are all fairly realistic and the stories make complete sense.

Kintaro frequently entertains the idea of sex with his employers, but above all he wants to do a great job. He can learn anything quickly and then apply the knowledge. But because of his frequent flights of fantasy and being caught more than once caressing toilets, everyone thinks he’s stupid. Perhaps, in fact, he is the smartest man ever to have lived! At any rate, he’s full of surprises. The women, although prone to violence, are never really the shrews so common in modern anime “romance”. Kintaro’s ability to breeze through their lives and show them what they’ve been missing out on is admirable.
The way that things change is just great, and something very important happens in each episode. The kindness of Kintaro, not always evident to the women, shines through at the right junctures. A man who can learn computer programming on a keyboard he made out of paper is a force to be reckoned with.
It would be wrong to spoil the concepts of each episode, but the final episode – about anime – is of special note. It’s a love letter to an industry which is, nine years after the fact, now gone. Cel animation pretty much isn’t done anymore. The insights into the way anime production used to work, and the genuine passion of the staff, made for a great episode. The digital revolution just doesn’t have that romance about it, but Golden Boy did allow for that way to be paved.
That episode just proves what a labour of love some of the better projects have been. Essentially, Golden Boy makes one proud to be an anime fan, even when the characters are debating the finer points of breast illustration.

Character designs and key animation are by Kawamoto Toshihiro, who went on to do the same for Cowboy Bebop. His chief job in the Golden Boy project was to design sexy women and a hell of a lot of hilariously stupid faces for Kintaro to pull. He succeeded admirably, although the OP was perhaps too good. The serious nature of a man getting ready to bike out into the world does not match the happy mood that Kintaro is permanently in, but everything featured in the program is right on the money. Episode five is the one to watch if you want to see the closest you’ll ever get to seeing Faye Valentine doing naughty things (with motorcycles, no less. Motorcycles!).

The ED song, Study A Go! Go! captures Kintaro’s attitude perfectly … although the idea of studying being fun seems fairly alien to me. But this song, by the Golden Girls (not those Golden Girls) themselves is fun and sincere. Otherwise the music is good, but not memorable.

The women are voiced by some pretty high profile seiyuu, including Inoue Kikuko acting against type as the swimming instructor of “the savannah”. Kintaro himself is voiced by Iwata Mitsuo, who got his big break as Akira‘s Kaneda, of all things. His ability to balance his passion with … well … his passion is marvellous.

Golden Boy, despite Kintaro’s disconcerting obsession with sado-masochism, is a joy to watch. It’s not just titillating and funny; it’s also very warm hearted. As special an anime as you’re ever going to find about a master of all trades who makes women the world over fall in love with him … after beating him up a bit first. Top rate anime with ecchi to boot, Golden Boy is a great title from ADV’s “sunny” OVA catalogue.

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