I’ve watched so many depressing material the past few weeks that I thought it was time for me to have a change of pace. I wanted to have some stupid fun and some laughs; this is where director Hiroyuki Kitakubo and writer Tetsuya Egawa’s (who also wrote the manga) 6-episode OVA anime series “Golden Boy” comes in. The series was released between 1995-1996, and sure, anime has developed and advanced significantly the past decade or so. Surprisingly, “Golden Boy” is able to stand on its own, and even if some may see the animation to feel a little dated, it is always the competency of storytelling that can really engage an audience rather than snazzy CGI effects.
The anime series follows a young man named Kintaro Oe (Mitsuo Iwata), who had dropped out of college because he had mastered all of the curriculum and wants to learn from the school of hard knocks. As a result, he becomes a sort of a ‘freeter’ and would take on any job from being a janitor, a servant, a swim instructor or even a noodle cook just so he could gain knowledge. He repulses women at first, because of his awkward behavior and appearance, and yet, somehow, he succeeds in winning their hearts. And yet, due to his own sense of honor, he never really manages to take advantage of this situation.
The anime series takes focus on Kintaro; just how he interacts and how he gets into several different situations. In a nutshell, “Golden Boy” is a story about life and how one journeys through it. Despite its goofy and awkward nature, and its focus on humor, the series does have several moral themes that it promotes. The episodes may all begin with Kintaro developing an infatuation with a woman or a girl, and it may be easy to dismiss this as another harem anime. The disdain or the interest of the females become the basis of the plot, as Kintaro becomes easily dismissed as clumsy, idiotic, or even a pervert. The females around him often disapprove of his demeanor, and often try to prove their superiority to Kintaro who is a male. I guess the writing by Egawa wanted to communicate the mistake of judging someone because of outward appearances, since Kintaro is incredibly clever and resourceful. I could also say that the series may carry some commentary as to how stereotypes play a part in Japanese culture, just how some men are seen by women and how women are seen by men within stereotypes. Life can be deceitful, filled with lies, and a need to stand superior; but only those who stand firm on their principle and remain humble can ever truly change his world.
I do have to admit, that it would be easy to dismiss “Golden Boy” as another one of those anime series that serves up ’fan service’ since it does have quite a good number of sexy scenes and even nudity. But these things were proven to be integral parts of the plot, as most of the humor is derived from situational elements. It is when Kintaro comes across women in a very awkward moment, the interactions become silly, goofy and quite funny as jokes around Kintaro’s libido, snot jokes and imagination take its central focus. The gags almost always revolves around his fetish for toilets (after the women had used them), exaggerated expressions and thoughts, and several comical entries in his notebook. He understands “C” as a message for sex, he draws several explicit details of the women he encounters and that his head cannot turn 360 degrees. It may be easy to dismiss such things as being sexist, but really that is the whole point of the series. Females can be sexist at times, and maybe men are just perceived to be perverts even when they really aren’t. Noriko’s (Yuki Shiratori) story was a fine representation just how women can be taken by flowery words (the words "I Love you"), fancy cars and clothes, as is the same with Kintaro as he is one over-sexed young man who just loves the female figure. Men are around to impress and this makes them easy to manipulate. Agree or not, the writing does get all the messages into one’s head.
The animation was pretty good for an anime series more than a decade old. The character designs fit each personality and character and the voice cast did a superb job. The set pieces and layouts may appear simple, but they were rich in detail as one pays attention to the 6th episode, I became very impressed. With all the sexual references, the series has the familiar bouncing boobs, there is a lot of crotch shots (my, the animated swimming sequence was so cool), panty shots, cleavage shots and even some silly…well, ‘accidents’; all were made to generate laughter. I do have to admit that I found the animated designs of Reiko, Ms. President, Naoko and Ayuko pretty voluptuous. It all went to the limit and came real close to hentai anime with a nude woman who gets off on a motorcycle.
“Golden Boy” is an anime series made for fun and to generate laughs. I found myself laughing because of the silliness, and unlike anime such as “High School of the Dead” and “Dusk Maiden”, the fan service and sexy scenes were part of its narrative that I felt like I was watching an animated “Sex is Zero”, “American Pie” or “Van Wilder” that it just encourages laughter. I also have to commend the creators that they were able to practice a sense of restraint, as they did not allow the series to grow longer than it should. It did its job in the expression of its idea of a wanderer who touches other people’s lives without even knowing or waiting for its reward. “Golden Boy” is no doubt a classic, and one should see it even once just to see the rewards of mature anime filmmaking. Highly Recommended. [4 Out of 5 Stars]
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Golden Boy (ゴールデンボーイ, Gōruden Bōi?) is a Japanese manga series by Tatsuya Egawa about a 25-year-old freeter, pervert, and "travelling student" named Kintaro Oe (大江錦太郎 Ōe Kintarō). The manga was originally serialized in Shueisha's Super Jump starting in 1992, with the first collected volume released the following year. Parts of the manga were adapted into a six episode OVA series produced by Shueisha and KSS in 1995, which was subsequently released through ADV Films in North America in December 1996. ADV's license of the series expired in 2007, however, and in November 2007, Media Blasters acquired the license to it. Media Blasters has confirmed that the dub produced by ADV was kept. Kintaro, despite having met the requirements for a law degree, left Tokyo University without graduating. Golden Boy depicts his living the life of a free spirit, roaming Japan from town to town, job to job. During his travels, Kintaro meets several women whose lives he dramatically changes, despite poor first impressions. He constantly observes and studies the people and events around him, recording his findings in a notebook he carries on his belt. The Golden Boy OVA has been positively received by English-language reviewers, but it is widely known for its mature content: while the OVA is not strictly a hentai animation, it does feature instances of partial female nudity, orgasms, and female masturbation. In contrast, the manga becomes almost pornographic starting in the second ...