Golden Boy started as a serialized manga in 1992. Written and illustrated by Tatsuya Egawa, one of the most unique manga-ka of all time in my opinion, Golden Boy explores the life a “freeter” (someone who travels around doing odd jobs for a living). The anime adaptation was produced in 1995 and adapts the first, and arguably the best, volume of the manga. The anime was directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo, who previously collaborated with Satoshi Kon in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Katsuihiro Otomo in Roujin Z.
The backbone of the show and what makes it so enjoyable is the eponymous Kintaro Oe, the “Golden Boy.” Prior to the beginning of the series, it is revealed that Kintaro once studied law at Tokyo University. Despite acquiring all the required credits, he grew weary of mere book studying. Thus he drops out prior to graduating and becomes a freeter. Kintaro now spends his days traveling across Japan and taking on odd jobs, all in the effort to “truly” study the world and what makes up the human condition.
The key comedic element is obvious from the cover art. Kintaro Oe, despite harboring the IQ of a genius, does not look like one. He is, in fact, a pervert to the most extreme degree. Each chapter of the manga and its corresponding OVA episode features Kintaro taking up a different job, usually in the company or employment of a beautiful woman. Each time, his pervertedness gets the better of him which usually ends with him being unceremoniously fired and dismissed. However, due to Kintaro’s unrelenting resolve, he is able to make all the women he meets eventually fall for him. When they finally do, it is always too late as Kintaro is off to his next part-time job.
Golden Boy meshes adventure, comedy, and slice-of-life into a masterpiece. As a form of entertainment, Golden Boy is unmatched. The downfall of the show is that due to the H-scenes from the manga from volume 2 and upward, the anime adaptation was forced to stop at 6 episodes and create an original ending. While the ending is decent and can stand on its own, I would have liked it if the producers followed the manga and went further with the story. If Studio Feel can pull off a full 12 episode season of Kiss X Sis (on television no less), why can’t Golden Boy do the same?
Final Thoughts: 8/10
I will be the first to concede that Japanese anime as a form of entertainment cannot compare to American animation when it comes to the comedic department. Granted, this claim is based primarily on the fact that I grew up in America and as such I am more aware of its customs and popular culture. Anime these days that claim to be comedies (aka K-ON) are not funny in the slightest. They may procure a slight chuckle, or in most cases an “Aww” or a “HNNNG,” but as far as pure laugh-out-loud entertainment, British and American humor completely obliterate most of what Japan has to offer. However, that is not to say that great comedies exist out there. There are to this date, three shows that have intentionally made me laugh in such a way as if I were watching an episode of The Simpsons or Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Golden Boy ranks in at number one, followed closely by Detroit Metal City and Cromartie Highschool.