Feeling rebellious toward his overprotective mother, Souma Mitsuya, a first-year high school student, only cares about his violin and his hospitalized grandfather. On the night his grandfather's condition suddenly worsens, an earthquake hits, sending Mitsuya to 1921 in the Taisho era…
I really enjoyed this manga! Although my Japanese is probably so-so and it's likely I didn't understand the finer points if the dialogues, I understood the story and I could tell it was very well-done for its genre.
The art was very consistent (if you liked the art in just about any panel or even on the cover you'll probably like it throughout the entire manga) and had an appealing clean feel. The character development was really satisfactory, and my favourite part of this manga was getting deeper into the characters and seeing their feelings change and grow. The pace is gradual, not too slow and
not too fast, although I was surprised when it had already ended by volume 8! I was expecting a somewhat longer run...
If you're looking for graphic BL this is definitely not your manga, but it's got a very touching story more along the obsolete "shounen-ai" genre lines, which is what I read it for. Despite the historical setting, this is also not really a historical manga. That's not to say that the taisho era is not a part of this story! It'd be more accurate to say that it is a manga with a "historical setting" which is woven into the background of the story (and is pretty accurate as far as I can tell) but aside from the generation difference is not directly involved in the plot. (As a side-note, there is also nothing really supernatural outside of the time skip, so it's fairly realistic otherwise.)
Overall, I would recommend this manga highly to anyone who misses lighter BL or just wants to read a good character story or something set in the taisho era. It's easy on the eyes and suspenseful - I found my self in love with every one of the characters, and worrying about what would happen to all of them next!
Ah, Golden Days. When I first finished this series, I thought of it as quite good, but I simply could not get it out of my head. I continued to ponder over the questions about life and death that this manga brought up, until I eventually raised my score to a 10. I don't give 10's lightly.
The plot of Golden Days seems, on its surface, a bit silly. There are plenty of ludicrous media out there that use time travel as a gag device, to pull a character into amusing or exciting circumstances without dealing with the implications of such a plot device. Golden Days
doesn't do that. When Souma Mitsuya, a Japanese teenager from the mid 1990s is sent back in time to the year his great-grandfather was also sixteen—1921—he reacts realistically. Mitsuya happens to look exactly like his grandfather, Yoshimitsu, and Mitsuya is mistaken for the missing Yoshimitsu and taken to live in his place. Yoshimitsu is actually a nobleman in Japan's now-abolished aristocracy, and he and his sister Yuriko have been taken care of by the aristocratic Kasuga family since the death of their parents. The Kasuga family also has two children, who have been raised alongside the Soumas—Jin, also sixteen, and Aiko, twelve.
Mitsuya doesn't know why he is in the past, but has a final message from his grandfather: “If I could turn back time, I would certainly run to save him... Jin!” But save him from what?
Mitsuya falls into Yoshimitsu's place uncomfortably at first. He goes through withdrawals for modern food and technology, and doesn't understand many archaic Japanese cultural practices. But Jin, who was very close to Yoshimitsu (and had unrequited feelings for him), guides Mitsuya through some of his troubles adjusting. Jin begins to wonder how he can have feelings for both Yoshimitsu and Mitsuya...
There are innumerable wonderful subplots going on simultaneously. Kei, Mitsuya's older cousin and Yoshimitsu's other grandson, has also been sent back in time. He finds work at a coffeehouse and begins to fall in love with a waitress there, all while wondering if it is okay for him to seize happiness in this time period, or if he will change history. Yuriko, Yoshimitsu's sister, tries to avoid an arranged marriage so she can reconnect with her childhood sweetheart, Kunimi Hayato. Aiko encounters discrimination because she is half-Japanese (she and Jin have an Italian mother) and tries to befriend the son of her governess.
Ultimately, the slice-of-life tone escalates to a mystery, as Jin and Mitsuya learn about the reasons Yoshimitsu ran away from home, and reaches a tightly plotted climax that changes everything.
Golden Days defies being neatly labeled. Please don't be scared off by the Shounen Ai tag—this manga is more like a shoujo with a boy's love subplot than a true shounen ai. You will really miss out of you pass by it just for that reason, and you might even like it. It is quite different from most other shounen ai/boy's love stories, and not at all steamy or sexy. Just cute and sweet, but never "fluff".
The characters are wonderful, they all felt so real and in their world. Mitsuya looks pretty, but he's also kind of scrappy and doesn't hesitate to throw a punch if it's needed. Jin hides his troubles with his charming behavior. Not only that, but for a series that starts out feeling like a slice-of-life, it is actually tightly packed with very little that might be called “filler.” It's full of symbolism and foreshadowing, which won't all be apparent until you read it a second time. The first volume mirrors the last so well, it's clear that the mangaka planned the entire story from the start. And the ending doesn't hold back either. The characters face realistic and inevitable fates.
Yes, as a love story, Golden Days is quite sad, but it is also a beautiful coming-of-age story about understanding life and coming to terms with death. I hope you'll enjoy it too.
I was not expecting to love this manga so much. I liked it after I read it, but the more I thought about it the more I loved it. I think it is my favorite manga, and I can't imagine a better manga, now that I have read it. It feels perfect, and there's nothing I would change about it.
My grandmother died when I was fifteen. Perhaps this is part of the reason this manga touched me so much. Mitsuya is faced with losing his beloved grandfather at around the same age.
More than ten years after she died, I found a scrapbook from her college
years. Reading it, I saw a different woman from the one I had known. She was young, younger than I was, and in some ways it seemed like she was still alive as that young woman through the scrapbook.
When Mitsuya travels back in time, he is able to see and live through his grandfather's life at 16. He gets to know all the people that his grandfather loved, and becomes attached to them as well.
Golden Days begins with Mitsuya being sent back in time as a result of his grandfather's deathbed wish to save his childhood friend. Mitsuya is transported back in time during an earthquake, where he immediately sees the boy who was in the picture his grandfather showed him. Mitsuya is mistaken for Yoshimitsu (his grandfather) and believed to have either amnesia or multiple personalities. He is accepted into the place his grandfather occupied, and meets three people who were very important to his grandfather: Yoshimitsu's sister, Yuriko; Jin, the boy he is supposed to save who has unrequited feelings for Yoshimitsu; and Jin's little sister, Aiko, a cute little girl who must dress as a boy because her insane mother believes her to be her dead twin bother.
There are a lot of small plots going on, but they are all resolved by the end. I was surprised especially by what Jin is supposed to be saved from. (Mitsuya is also not expecting this, and keeps believing that Jin needs to be saved from physical harm).
The plot and romance do not really get started until about halfway through volume four. They are both really well set up from the small, almost slice of life chapters that occur before. Though we do have something major happening in the first chapter (Mitusya being sent back in time), the chapters afterward are very carefully setting up the situation necessary for the end.
The plot that finally appeared at the end was somewhat unexpected for me, despite it being set up since the first volume.
The protagonist's love interest is another boy, but it this is handled in a realistic (in my opinion) way. I think that people who do not normally like this genre could easily enjoy this manga. It is oftentimes more of a historical mystery or drama rather than a romance.
The art is very good. I prefer the black and white on the inside to the colored art on the outside. The historical furniture, architecture and clothing are very detailed. I feel that Takao has a talent for drawing the facial expressions of characters that display a lot of emotion without going overboard.
I loved the way my impressions of the characters changed as I read. After finishing the story and rereading the beginning, I found there were a lot of things I had not noticed before reading the ending. The characters and their relationships develop slowly, so the characters that Mitsuya doesn't know anything about become very close to him as his time in the past goes on (I think he is in the past around six months).
The ending is bittersweet (more bitter than sweet, actually), but I really liked it. It is one of the three manga I have read that made me cry at the ending.
Overall, I felt that the themes of this manga were about letting go of things. We cannot continue our lives if we hold onto the past. We can never hold on to anything in this life.