Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
The content meta online is so weird. It is like, did you click on this because of the title, the featured image? Idk, but since you’re here, how about I give you a much more nuanced take on Toradora than what I implied.
Even as weebs become further divided by fandom and sub-culture, I think one thing most of us can agree on is that we all have our comfort media. whether it be an anime, video game, manga, etc., there are always certain series that bring out a sense of either nostalgia or just straight happiness.
Though I would not necessarily call Toradora a comfort anime in that same sense, I have, for a while now, been finding myself happiest as an anime fan while revisiting some of these shows which I have a fond memory of. Toradora certainly invoked some warm feelings, but I had a hard time remembering why exactly that was, at least until now. While it feels difficult to point out a lot of what the show does exceptionally well, it is also is hard to find a lot of weak points.
For example, the series sits at a whopping 25 episodes, which may not seem like a lot given that others like Kimi no Todoke have stretched on for longer, but there are also tons that have dragged with lower episode counts. Yet, there is never a moment in Toradora feels that feels wasted. Character arcs are started and resolved in ways that, though might come off as shallow to some, resolve in a satisfying way.
The main cast is a drama machine, by which I mean they are a series of interlocking parts which function together smoothly after being oiled by the first few episodes and the introduction of Kawashima. From there, goals become solidified, but the character’s relationships continue to be fluid.
The line that divides good romantic drama from bad or corny can often feel invisible. After all, who or what decides whether dialogue or character interactions feel natural or not largely depends on prior context and the progression of those characters. Still, very few moments if any throughout Toradora feel forced or unnatural given the events which happened before.
When the crew gets back from their beach house extravaganza at Kawashima’s and Taiga looks longingly at Ryuji before she dashes to catch up to him, it feels correct. The two spending time with each other as a way of helping the other get with their best friends naturally brings them closer together. There is never a moment when the two are supposed to fall in love, but between Taiga’s increasingly nonchalant attitude towards Kitamura, and Ryuji’s obvious jealously about the rest of his class wanting to see the two together, nothing has to be said.
Of course, one of the biggest hints the series gives about its romantic direction is the fact that Taiga gets rejected by Yusaku, and that Taiga herself rejected him a year prior, during their first year of high school. It is definitely within the opening episodes of the series which feel the most “high school romance,” and what I would probably call the weakest part of the series. There is a reason I started my re-watch last year and did not finish until this one.
Yet, I would be reluctant to say Toradora has a bad episode. Again, relative feelings of “cheese” are entirely subjective and often have a lot to do with what we consider embarrassing, but even that “cheese” has a purpose because it effectively sets up more powerful moments later on. The strangeness of Ryuji agreeing to secretly take photos of his best friend for Taiga is an act of kindness which shows how much he is willing to care for her.
Another element worth touching on is the absence of parents in the lives of the main characters, a trope that occurs commonly in anime but in Toradora that serves a stronger purpose. For Ryuji, the absence of his father creates a need for self-reliance as well as a desire to take care of others, something that Taiga becomes the receiving end of. Taiga, meanwhile, has only her deadbeat dad, and as a result desires a normal life, one in which she can rely on someone instead of having to act tough.
What this ultimately creates is a series in which the two main characters are self-reliant. They are forced to rely on each other in order to get their initial love interests (Kitamura for Taiga and Kushieda for Ryuuji). However, it is this reliance on one another that ultimately makes them realize just how much they care for each other.
I could go on for a while, and indeed I probably will in a future post. There is so much about Toradora worth talking about. Still, I would like people to be able to read this post to its finish, so I will stop for now.
What is your opinion on Toradora? Let me know down in the comments.
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