Well these specials made me angry. Toradora! is my favorite anime of all time so I figured that if anyone was going to find enjoyment in even a loosely related production like this, it'd be me. I was willing to forgive a lot just to see Taiga and Ryuuji again. Unfortunately all I got to see here was several stock chibi characters that happened to share names with characters from Toradora! screech completely random crap at me. My expectations were abysmal for these specials so for them not to be able to reach even that low bar must be some sort of achievement.
Story: I'm going to "spoil" the first episode for you. They eat spaghetti. That's it. Nada más. This section gets a score of 0.5 because there is some continuity through the four episodes in that all deal in some degree with food so that's something I guess? I wish I could tell you more about the story by maybe picking up on some context clues from the dialog but, well I have no idea what the characters were saying. I could read their words, but I have no idea what was going on. In the first episode alone there are three random lectures that have no meaning in the context they were given: one about the differences between northern Italy and southern Italy, one about English heterographs for the word "meat," and a final one about the marriage traditions of Laos. Yep, I didn't make any of that up.
But of course this is a chibi/super deformed parody of the series right? Isn't it unfair for me to expect a story? Well first this is only a parody of Toradora! in the sense that the characters share the same names as those in the series, these specials borrow the name of the Toradora! series, and it's goofy like a parody should be. These specials have nothing to do with anything that actually takes place in Toradora! It's a collection of randomness that shamefully seeks to legitimize itself with the brand name of a popular and successful series. If you want a chibi parody of a popular series, go watchtor the Shakugan no Shanatan specials. While the genre doesn't really appeal to me, I have to admit that those specials really seemed to fit into the same universe at Shakugan no Shana, a feat that this series does not replicate.
Of course all of this could be forgiven with some good humor. After all, isn't that the point of chibi/super deformed specials based on serious animes? Well chalk up another failure for Toradora! SOS! There is no humor here. The "jokes" are too dull to even be recognized as such at their best and flat out annoying at their worst. It amazes me that someone was paid to write this stuff.
Animation: You've seen one chibi/super deformed production, you've seen them all in terms of animation. Everyone is a caricature of their respective characters from the series with tiny bodies and big heads. The drawing is lazy and undetailed and character models will tend to move as if they are cut-out pictures that glide across the screen. This is all about par for the course when it comes to this genre of anime so I'll give it an average score.
Even given the excuse of being a chibi production, I must say that these character models are pretty ugly
Sound: Terrible voice acting all around; the speech of every character is unnaturally fast, completely meaningless, and usually shouted in a high-pitched squeal. I honestly can't even say whether these are the same voice actors from the real series as the audio was just one giant mess of squeaks and gibberish. I had a tough time following what the characters were saying (or trying to say at any rate) even with subtitles and several pauses so I could try to re-read the text for any semblance of meaning so I can't imagine how bad it must be for people who watch the raws of this series. Even when the characters speak in a relatively normal voice, the speech sounds horrible forced and phony.
At the very least, they could have put in a song for the closing credits (there is no OP). The anime ending with a 10 second credit roll in complete silence was a jarring contrast to the constant noise of the rest of the episodes, though not an entirely unwelcome one. Thank God this series is only 20 minutes total. Any longer and I might have developed a splitting headache.
Characters: Are you sure these are the same character from Toradora!? They've been completely stripped of any characteristics that may make them likable or even recognizable. But this is just a chibi/super deformed parody of Toradora! you say. That's no damned excuse I say. Look again at Shakugan no Shantan for inspiration. The creators there kept what made all of the characters unique and actually over-exaggerated their personality quirks to great effect. This allowed for the existing relationships to continue on through the specials without the creators having to spend any of their limited time reintroducing characters.
The path taken by Toradora! SOS! is to erase the characters. The only similarity between these characters and those of the real series is a vague physical resemblance that the chibi animation style wasn't able to completely obliterate. Honestly, replace these characters with Females A, B, and C and Males A and B from any stock of anime characters and you wouldn't notice any change. I'm not even going to bother discussing character development.
The lowest score I've ever given for characters was a 0.5 based on the idea that "well even these terrible characters are better than having no characters." I can't even say that much for this garbage and if the system would let me, I'd give it a 0.
Overall: There is absolutely no reason for anyone to ever see this. There is no story, there are no characters, the audio is far worse than silence could ever be, and the animation is bad even for episodes of this genre. There is also no connection to Toradora! in any of this. And lest one reader think "well maybe he means this is just so bad that it's good," no, I mean this is just a stupid rip-off of Toradora! that I would pay to have erased from my memory. I don't want anyone commiserating with my suffering or anything like that. Consider this review akin to the warning sign next to a nuclear waste dump. You can ignore it, but damn me if you won't regret it. Stuff like this is almost enough to challenge my faith in anime as a medium of art/entertainment.
Story: The only reason why this score is as high as it is because of the food. I really love my food. Therefore, that was the only redeeming quality of this four episodes. The food which wasn't even done well. I know that parody aren't supposed to stay completely true to the anime but this was just awful and not funny. At most I might have got a half laugh/smile. The entire episodes didn't make much sense and the only connecting theme was the food. I love Toradora and I hate to see how badly they messed up with these specials. There is nothing special about them. They're not even so bad that they're funny. They're just bad. Also, the Inko part at the end is just creepy.
Animation: They're all chibified but are only cute half the time. I liked the little added details like the dog ears but it could only do so much. The rest of the background was mediocre and the food looked abysmal. Just not well done and I know it was supposed to be a parody but the animation did nothing to heighten humor. It just failed like the plot.
Sound: I'm not sure if they kept the same voice actors because the voices were not that good. The music was mediocre most of the times and they used my favorite piece (Lost my Pieces) in the most inappropriate time. It didn't make it funny so it just failed. The ending seemed out of the place.
Characters: Annoying for the most part. I LOVE my Toradora! cast and these people were not them. They're were probably going for super exagerrated forms of the original characters but they ended up with a group of annoying people.
Overall: I was so excitied at first to hear about Toradora! special. I thought I was going to get more Toradora! goodness but I all I got was a waste of 20 minutes. If you loved Toradora!, you're probably going to cry when you see what they did with this (in a bad way).
Oh God, why did I watch this...? *Sigh* It's not bad, it really isn't. It was just... Boring.
To start off, unlike it's parent series Toradora!, which revolved around a love dodecahedron of sorts, SOS focuses on... Food. While this is interesting at first, it soon looses its panache. There isn't really much plot to talk about. It's just talking about food and saying that it's delicious.
The art as well isn't great. As this is more or less a gag spin-off, the character models are all very chibi and seems a bit reminiscent of Haruhi-chan. What's interesting about the character designs is that the girls all have something that relates to their nicknames. Taiga, the Palmtop Tiger, has tiger ears and a tail, Ami, also known as Stupid Chihuahua has dog ears and a tail and Minori has... a flower? The boys don't have anything though, which is a bit sad.
The backgrounds also are very simple, keeping an undetailed version of the backgrounds from the series with people in the background just being gray blobs.
As for the characterization itself, all the characters maintain the personalities they would have had around the middle of Toradora!, but with any hints of drama taken away of course. The main problems they have is that they do roughly the same thing, from dialogue to actions, in every episode.
The soundtrack as well is very similar to the original series, though it only uses the more upbeat tracks and it isn't very noticeable anyways. The voice acting is the same as Toradora! though and the actors do great with the given material.
Some people will enjoy this, some people won't. If you've watched Toradora! beforehand though (which you should considering this is a spin-off) you will probably find something in this to enjoy and luckily it's not a long show so it doesn't have time to get too boring. Chances are though, you'll know from the first episode whether or not you will enjoy it.
With that said, I give this delicious "Strawberry On Shortcake" a 6 out of 10.
this series is 5 episodes long and around 5 mins each and as a whole it's a parody of the main show, where each of the regularly appearing characters essentially had one of their defining traits turned up considerably
what plot? what is this plot you speak of? all this is about various Japanese health customs and a bit of info on various foods
all the characters are essentially drawn in a super deformed way and with minimal animation
they're all portrayed as extreme versions of themselves relative to the main show (i.e. Taiga being known as palmtop tiger now has tiger ears and tail, etc) and of course Ryuuji being a cleaning and cooking crazed character pretty much summed up the entire show.
this is one of those spoof shows that's designed purely for those who happened to MARATHONED the entire main show in one sitting and acts as something akin to light dessert, considering that this is a DVD special they aren't bad but don't watch it as a standalone; otherwise it's rather odd...