Toradora!: anime review – It’s not just love…it’s life

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.

Rating: A


Title: Toradora!
Genre: drama, romance, comedy
Release date: October 2, 2008 – March 26, 2009
Episode: 25
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai
Animated by: J.C.Staff

17 responses to “Toradora!: anime review – It’s not just love…it’s life

  1. I should watch Toradora. It really sounds interesting in that it not only goes deeper than high school romance into family issues, but gave them unconventional backgrounds. Anime of this genre usually need something extra to make me want to watch it, and Toradora seems to deliver with its alternative social class.

    Adding to my watchlist.

  2. Glad you got around to watching this amazing series (but I’m sorry you were sick).

    “It’s about life, not just about love.”

    Well said. Toradora! touches on so many aspects of the lives of young people – family, friendship, misunderstandings, relationships, school, planning for the future and overcoming the past – it has so much going for it, in addition to very fleshed out characters. I really should rewatch it one of these days.

    • Glad you like my post!
      About my sickness, in addition to the physical discomfort, I also feel out-dated. Getting H1N1 right now is so ‘last year’ o_o

  3. Toradora was a pretty good show. It was mostly comedy at the earlier parts but turned on the drama in the latter episodes. Like you, I thought the ending was a bit ridiculous, but it was still the best show I watched during the two seasons which it ran.

    • Tobe honest, I could have easily say that the ending was a disappointment. It was a little strange. But the show had built up really well and I ended up being optimistic:)

  4. Wow, I’m glad to hear that Toradora could have helped you get better faster (it does have an uplifting effect on people, doesn’t it?). The characters did make the show, especially since they were as imperfect as they come, but still managed to make the best of their situations. Those characters made the show so much better than just a generic romance.

    • Yeah, brilliant characterization is one of the most essential part of any show. I think it helped me feel better despite my poor physical condition :)

  5. With a twist on an old story, amazingly absorbing characters, and lots of humour, drama and romance thrown in, Toradora! manages to be a great addition to the anime world, having one of the most different conclusions than other anime of its type would ever have.

    Toradora! is a great anime that should not be passed up. Taiga and Ryuuji are two people you will definitely become attached to. And who doesn’t want to see the only two beasts who can compare to one another, a tiger and a dragon, try to figure out their lives?

  6. Excellent show. This is how a modern romance/comedy/school life anime should be.

  7. Toradora! may be classified as a romantic comedy, but it definitely takes life seriously. I actually stopped watching the series for a few weeks after the episode that aired where Kitamura was starting to have some love issues. Lots of heavy drama at times, but that helps to add depth to the characters.

    On a different note, pretty cool that the seiyuu for Minori and Ami are guests at AX this year. Nice timing for this post!

  8. I started this series right when it started airing, I immediately adored Ryuji. But I went into episode 2 and got myself some TERRIBLE subs. So I decided to wait until it was all out before I started watching it again. Now here we are 2 years later and I’ve forgotten to go back and watch it. I should do so soon.

  9. Please, if your going to watch this type of anime DON’T watch Toradora first, because if you do, the other anime’s won’t be as much amazing.

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