It’s a new school year and Ryuuji Takasu discovers not only is he in the same class as his best friend, Yusaku Kitamura, but also Minori Kukshieda whom he’s had an undisclosed crush on for quite some time. Along with Kitamura and Minori is Minori’s best friend, the “Palmtop Tiger”, tiny Taiga Aisaka whom, despite her small stature, takes nothing from nobody. Taiga is secretly in love with Kitamura and she and Ryuuji, despite an oil and water relationship, agree to mutually support each other in their quests for their heart’s desire. Source: AnimeNewsNetwork.com
Toradora was a rather difficult two faced anime to write a review on. To me, first 8 episodes gave the impression that Toradora was more school relationship and slice-of-teen-life than comedy. The comedy didn’t seem to be able to hit my funny bone at first and felt rather lacking which does help viewers derive that Toradora is not a fully slapstick comedy romance wannabe. But rather something which will be able to bring depth to its characters and if fully utilized, stand out to be a better title than the other competitors. (I was really expecting a funny series based on some blog reviews I read)
Aisaka Taiga plays her role a little too well. Taiga could have cut some slack after sending out the message to viewers that she is playing a rather stubborn-headed girl being all bossy and such, not forgetting being General Clumsy. But no… she has to continue communicating by kicking lamp posts and screaming, punching, kicking at people and tables.
Takasu Ryuuji is just plain sweet and sugar spice, way way too thoughtful. If he could show a little more retaliation, just to make him resemble a human more than a dog. Ryuuji’s character felt oozing with originality but Minori, Taiga and Kitamura will feel pretty stereotyped. But then again, having stereotype characters doesn’t and will never bother me so long as the anime is good.
Kushieda Minori is one… random… girl. Early in the series, Minori gives the impression of a rather simple minded character being all smiles 24/7 and would definitely make fans hope that she isn’t as shallow as she seems. Nothing to worry about though as fans will really get to explore Minori’s character later on. Even though she was the mostly lively of the bunch, she was also the one who made my heart ached. Real~~ly ached.
Kitamura Yusaku is just playing it too darn cool. I absolutely hate him. Kawashima Ami was also playing it too damn cool, hiding her own feelings and instead trying to force other characters’ feeling out.
Miraculously, all the negative attributes I mentioned for each of the characters above somehow disappears with each passing episode. Minori gain depth, Taiga got less and less irritating, Ryuuji started to reconsider his own feelings and confusion, Ami started showing a softer side, and even Kitamura managed to grow on me. Absolutely unbelievable!
What I hated most was how everyone seems to forget what they said. In one episode Ami says she was not going to hide behind a façade anymore. Next episode, and there was no change in her personality! Ami was still being all fakey nice-nice. In another episode, Taiga actually screams out loud that Ryuuji “belongs” to her in front of the whole class. By the next episode, again no change! As though everyone forgot about it. What’s that about?!!
I really couldn’t ask for more animation wise. It’s not super, but it’s clean and clear. Nothing fancy was added for the sake of “just” adding. Anything more and it would probably have spoiled the mood Toradora was trying to cultivate. The first opening theme, “Pre-Parade (プレパレード)” by Rie Kugimiya, Eri Kitamura, and Yui Horie, felt like a Hongkie rap style sing-a-long and it took me quite a while to take a liking to. As for both ending themes, they weren’t bad at all and got me to take a fancy for it instantly. “Vanilla Salt (バニラソルト)” by Yui Horie and “Orange (オレンジ)” by Rie Kugimiya, Eri Kitamura and Yui Horie.
Episode 1 to 3 help set up the script properly introducing its main characters and the main supporting ca
sts. And later, episode 5 and 6 did a good combo in bringing out Kawashima Ami, also a main character. Initially showing her façade and later telling the reason why she has to hide behind the façade, to hide her weakness.
Things really turn around in episode 7. First time throughout the series, Taiga actually apologized. A single sincere “Sorry” and instantly I start feeling attached to this series. The whole anime actually felt lighter as there was hope for Ryuuji being more than a “Dog”. Coincidentally, it was from the same episode that I really enjoyed the comedy.
“Fake Breast Special Force”
Turning point of this series is definitely between episode 7 and 8. Taiga was finally showing some weakness. Not those illogical silly random weaknesses mind you, I was referring to the weakness of the heart as she expressed feelings for Ryuuji in a rather unorthodox but touching way. I think the production could have spread the message out between more episodes as it felt like they tried to cramp too much into this 2 episodes. But from this point on, every episode was epic!
Episode 10 is a really nice setup as Minori starts to open up to Ryuuji. Alas my prayers were answered! And more depth is added to Minori.
The following episodes showed another story and explained more about Taiga’s family and her background. What I find absolutely great about Toradora is that no matter the story and who the related characters were, other supporting characters would always have a sufficient role to play, making sure that no one was redundant. Which was really apparent in this story arch. I could have sworn that Toradora was going to make episode 13 the last episode.
Episode 16 was another perfect story with the previous episode doing the perfect setting. Making sure no tears are spared when the climax unfolded. It was just… too… beautiful… when Kanou revealed her true feelings.
And at the end; Ahhh… The beautiful ending, a little tricky, but still beautiful. Really made my heart melt. I really wish I could talk about it, but I’d just spoil it for you guys. So I’m just going to hold it all in and hope you guys don’t miss out on this absolutely heartwarming 5-Star. Toradora is the one title which has managed to form a perfectly balanced love-hate relationship between viewers and itself. First 8 episodes bring out some hate and after that it’s epic all the way.