The excellence of Toradora! Spreading some love

I’m quite behind on this one, both in terms of people in general blogging about it and ME blogging about it. I watched this over the summer of 2009 after it finished airing. It just never got my spirits up for a post. But then, a sudden development: rewatching Princess Nine led to some WEIRD connection in my brain which led to me rewatching TORADORA! And now I feel the need to continue spreading the love for Ryuuji and Taiga. Since I know I would have trouble being objective on this one, I finally get a chance to do an essay style review again!

Toradora is one of those shows that when you divide it into categories like Plot, Characters and Music it just seems to fall apart in your hands and you start to wonder “Why the HELL is this good?” One of the mysteries of the universe, my friend. So let’s approach Toradora from a different angle.

I’ve often seen this compared to Lovely Complex, probably because of the original set-up where the main characters like each others’ best friends. But while it pains me deeply to say this, Toradora does this WAY better than Lovely Complex (which sounds like a hentai name, and is beginning to make me feel awkward; time to shorten it to Love*Com).  Love*Com just uses this as an obvious prop to get Otani and Risa together. Hell, it only takes like 2 episodes for Risa to realize Otani is way cooler than his friend. However, in Toradora this is not the case. Ryuuji and Taiga actually become friends. Like really friends. Not “We’re the awkward couple” friends. And while it’s still quite obvious that they’re supposed to end up together, it’s done in a gradual and more realistic way. For some people this is just aggravating, and there are cases where it would be aggravating for me too. But it works with Ryuuji and Taiga.

There is definitely drama in Toradora, but it never gets to the point where you’re throwing your slipper at the screen. The characters are rational, praise the lord (though Kitamura did kind of suck by around episode 15). Maybe you could call this a more man-ish shoujo. Damn, that sounds like I’m saying men are more rational. Not even slightly what I mean. Forget that, okay? What I’m trying to say here is that in Toradora the classic shoujo cliches are noticeably missing. No uber-bitch jealous rivals. No god-awful misunderstandings. If there are misunderstandings (damn the things to hell) the characters behave rationally and more like how I would than Momo from Peach Girl would. And though Ami might first appear to be an uber-bitch, we soon see how that turns over. AND it only takes one episode. Because of Ryuuji and Taiga’s kick-ass-ness, it’s not even slightly painful.

Speaking of TAIGA’s kick-ass-ness, let’s move on to the best anime fight ever. Screw mecha, this is what deserves the awards.

Obviously they weren’t prepared to have the budget for a fight scene so the animation was  bit weird, but it didn’t bother me too much. Especially since the rest of the show had quite nice art and animation for something of this genre. And about genre… would this be the same genre as Suzumiya Haruhi? Because it definitely doesn’t feel like shoujo, it almost feels like it’s aimed at guys or at least both. I don’t usually like to classify things into genres obsessively, but Toradora made me wonder.

The fight was just… classic. I felt like the whole show was sort of classic, but at the same time it felt really fresh. A new classic? Or maybe just my whole avoidance of popular mainstream shows again? It’s true that if you never watch mainstram stuff it feels fresh at first.

One other thing I wanted to mention about Toradora was the element of parents and family. Now with most shows you have either overwhelming, American soap opera-like family drama between kids and parents OR you have the shoujo parents that never, ever appear or get mad when their kid is out all hours and never seems to do her homework. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that habit many authors seem to have of leaving out pieces that are inconvenient for them. It’s kind of like when you were little and you wondered how come people never went to the bathroom in movies or books. Toradora avoids both these fates with finesse. A big part of the ending is the realistic dynamics between both Taiga and her parents and Ryuuji and his mom. At first it might seem merely like pointless added drama. But in my opinion it all supported the realism that keeps showing up in Toradora. Like this is what would ACTUALLY happen. Of course it’s a little exaggerated, but it IS an anime for crying out loud.

Anyway, I’m not trying to bring up new points here, or pick apart the show and bitch about the little irritating parts. I just want to spread the love a bit for a show that’s been widely debated over when it’s best just watched and enjoyed.

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