Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai
Writer (of original light novel): Yuyuko Takemiya
Animation Studios: J.C. Staff
Version Watched: Subbed
When it comes to Toradora I find it hard to decide where I should begin. Perhaps I should start by saying that I really enjoyed the series. I didn’t like all of the characters, I didn’t laugh at all of the jokes and sometimes decisions were made that made me want to scream with frustration, and yet none of those aspects stop me from calling Toradora a great anime. While there are a few identifiable features that really sold the series to me, I think Froggy-Kun may have been right when he suggested that there’s something a little unexplainable when it comes to just why Toradora is so charming.
Takasu Ryuuji looks damned scary. Even the teachers are afraid of him, with his height, strength and the way he glares at everyone that walks by. Compare this to Aisaka Taiga, A.K.A. The Palmtop Tiger, who is barely half his size and still scares the living daylights out of everyone she passes. Is it not fitting that these two would discover the people that nobody else sees hiding behind the misconceptions that have been piled on top of them by others? After a rocky start, the big blue-haired softy that loves to clean and cook, and the petite blonde bombshell (yes, we’re talking temper here) with ridiculous amounts of Dere beneath her Tsun shell team up to help each other get together with their respective crushes. They may succeed if they can ever convince their friends that they’re not actually a couple themselves.
Toradora features the oft-used mix of comedy, romance and drama to produce a slice of life story that never left me bored. You won’t find anything supernatural or even a little surreal here but you will, without a doubt, find an entertaining and heart-warming story that you won’t soon forget. As mentioned earlier, a number of the jokes either went over my head or just weren’t my type of humor, though that didn’t stop each and every episode from making me laugh out loud at some point. Toradora is also one of the first anime I’ve watched that caused me to desperately want two characters to get together, which should serve as a testament to how well it manages to influence your feelings as you watch. The last few episodes, while not as satisfying as they could be for various reasons, will nonetheless have you on the edge of your seats nearly screaming at the TV/Monitor/Whatever (I’m not saying I did that…not at all…). While not perfect by any means, Toradora did for me what many slice of life anime fail to do by delivering a compelling story that really makes you care about the characters in it and what’s happening to them.
Toradora is an exercise in character development. The two main characters especially undergo changes that are subtle but important, working along with revelations about their past and background to make them incredibly endearing. While I’ve talked to others that liked all of Toradora’s characters there were a few that simply rubbed me the wrong way with just how over-the-top they are, with some of them going so far as to deserve the term “cringe-worthy”, whereas others may have been alright if they’d had any impact on the story at all after their first few episodes (I’m not naming names, Kawashima Ami, but I’m sure you know who I’m talking about). Despite this, however, the two main characters were wonderfully done and more than made up for any of the characters that I actively disliked. In my opinion it is the two protagonists that make the series what it is and are certainly what I miss now that I’ve finished it. As a final note on the characters: Taiga is just too damned cute. I don’t think you’ll find the word cute anywhere else on my blog, which should say something about just how adorable she can be.
As far as the technical aspects go Toradora doesn’t break any new ground. The voice acting is as well done as most anime and the soundtrack, along with the animation, serve their purpose. If I had to pick any one feature that was done particularly well it would have to be the visual design of the characters themselves, though that’s really something that would have been in the original light novel anyway. While it doesn’t exactly influence the final score in any way, I have to mention here that there’s a very nice Christmas song slotted in mid-way through the series that I can’t stop listening to.
Summary – Toradora is funny, compelling and will touch your heart on multiple occasions, all in one package. Strong character development, especially when it comes to the two main characters, make it what it is, though others have expressed that the other characters are just as important. Despite its failings (of which there aren’t many), Toradora is an example of what slice of life anime should be.
Score: 8.5/10 – Good