Review: It was the weekend that I was ill. To my disbelief and horror, my throat swab test indicated that I had H1N1 influenza 2009. I was literally bed ridden and lost my appetite. I slept eighteen hours a day and when I wasn’t asleep, I watched Toradora! I finished the entire series within four days and that was the time it took me to gain back my health. I believe that watching this anime somehow helped speeding my recovery. Now you must be thinking ‘Wow! This must be a really great series!’ And you know what? It is.
Writing a recap is probably the most boring part about Toradora! because its plot is very generic and in some aspect, almost non-existent. It’s just high school life of two misunderstood persons; Taiga and Ryuji. The story has all the familiar elements usually found in high school romantic comedy; the pool, the summer vacation, the beach, the test of courage, school festival etc. Nevertheless, thanks to the extremely well portrayed characters, it’s never boring and the anime remains fresh through and through. The small incidents happening in each episode only make the viewers know more and more about these people and how their relationship develop. I simply can’t help falling in love with them.
As I have stated, the whole series is all about characters and on that part, the show does everything right. The characters are very alive and multi-faceted with unique weakness and strength. In most anime of this genre, one of the main couple is always perfect or at least superior to the other. But in Toradora!, both Taiga and Ryuji are severely imperfect and generally misunderstood by everyone because of their appearances, images and behaviors. None of them are rich, none of them are especially good looking and they both have defective family.
What impresses me the most is that Toradora! doesn’t exclusively deal with high school romance like most of other anime of the same genre. Toradora! thoroughly explores all the important aspects of high school life. It’s about life, not just about love. Families of Ryuji and Taiga are one of the most influential factors to their lives and their decisions.
Talking about family, I especially love Ryuji and his mother Yasuko’s subplot. They form a seemingly defective family because their pattern of living defies what the society considers as successful. Ryuji is a good student with good grades but he decides not to go on to college. Yasuko gets pregnant in her teens, runs away from home and now working in a bar. Everything about this family seems like a failure at first but the anime deftly demonstrates that they are happy with their lives. Going to college is a choice and not doing so is not a crime. Making mistake in the past and working in a bar is not a failure. They love each other and they successfully create the best family anyone can hope to have.
I was surprised when Ryuji and Taiga decided to run away from home during the final part of the show. I was a little skeptic about that scene because I thought the show would end with the two living happily ever after somewhere far away. It would be completely unrealistic and a bad example for teenagers (I sound old, I know). I was not only relief of how things turn out in the end. I was also mesmerized by how mature the ending was. Taiga and Ryuji really has grown up. Instead of running away from all the problems, they face the problems head on and try to sort things out. It’s a slow process but they believe in each other and they never rush or blindly put their love before living properly.
Conclusion: Toradora! is a romantic comedy and a character driven show in its finest. The anime takes life seriously but never forgets to laugh.
Genre: drama, romance, comedy
Release date: October 2, 2008 – March 26, 2009
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai
Animated by: J.C.Staff