Toradora!

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ThePatches's avatar By ThePatches on Jul 27, 2009

Story

Sometimes, honesty is the best policy. Toradora! takes what seems to be a typical anime conceit--two mismatched friends trying to help each other win love in high school--and plays it straight. The final product combines ensemble comedy, drama, and romance with pretty visuals, creating a touching and believable shounen romance.

Toradora! tells the story of Ryuuji and Taiga's friendship. The domestic, level-headed Ryuuji has fallen for the vivacious and optimistic Kushieda Minori, childhood friend to Aisaka Taiga. The tsundere Taiga, meanwhile, crushes on Ryuuji's upbeat buddy, Yuusaku. When Taiga and Ryuuji discover their coinciding interests, they form a friendship around gaining the affections of each other's friend. In the beginning, the series uses this alliance between Ryuuji and Taiga to establish a lively dynamic between five friends--Taiga, Ryuuji, Yuusaku, Minori, and Ami--that achieves a perfect equilibrium of comedy, animosity, and friendship. Just as in real life, however, the accumulation of events small and large changes the characters, and comedy gives way to drama.

Toradora! executes its drama with the same integrity and directness that it put into the comedy moments in the earlier part of the season, but occasionally falls short of the mark. Unfortunately, the writing and direction managed to somehow bungle what should have been Taiga's pivotal moment in the Xmas episode, and the execution of her final decision in the story left something to be desired. But that aside, every major emotional moment save the one mentioned above touched me in a way I hadn't expected, including one of the best kiss scenes I've ever seen in any visual medium ever.


Animation

J.C. Staff dropped the ball a little on consistency as some scenes appear rough around the edges. But the occasional quality blips won't stick in anyone's mind, since Toradora! also delivers some moments of genuine beauty. The character designs on the whole are simple but attractive, and each each character's animation helps to communicate his or her personality: Ryuuji's slumped posture, Minori's exuberance, and Ami's haughty cool can be read equally well from their body language as from their dialogue. Far and away, the most visual sugar gets sprinkled on Aisaka Taiga; whether she be sleeping, toweling her hair, or using a doughnut as a halo, she looks fantastic.


Sound

The extremely personal character drama demands a competent voice cast and Toradora!'s proves more than equal to the challenge. Each of the multifaceted leads requires exceptional attention to detail and sensitivity to character development, but three performances stand out in my mind. Aisaka Taiga is arguably the most complex tsundere lead attempted by Kugimiya Rie and the "Queen of Tsundere" expertly brings her character to life. Kugimiya navigates both the comedic set pieces of the series' first half and the later dramatic portions with equal skill. Horie Yui delivers the layered and effervescent Minori with perfect timing and energy, deftly transitioning from genki girl into neurotic semi-breakdown and back again. Lastly, Ryuuji's mother, Yasuko, gets an expert reading by Ohara Sayaka who ably shows both the childish and motherly sides of her character when called for by the script.

Of the pitch-perfect score, the first OP, "Pre-Parade" deserves special mention. Kugimiya Rie performs what I consider to be a spot-on tsundere J-Pop tune. The pattersong in the bridge gets stuck in my head for days despite my inability to sing along with it.


Characters

While none of these characters achieves a "perfect 10", the core group does come darn close to the mark. All five main characters develop in stellar fashion by making foolish mistakes for real reasons and then trying hard to deal with the consequences. Taiga, while a textbook tsundere, doesn't show Shana's (Shakugan no Shana) simple-mindedness or Nagi's (Hayate no Gotoku!) penchant for delusion. Instead, Toradora! features a female lead with a difficult (not troubled) past who wants desperately to love and be loved. Ryuuji isn't the typical doormat-tsundere-sidekick either. He struggles with an overprotective, indulgent (and self-indulgent) mother and wants only to bring happiness to those he cares about, regardless of the cost to his own well-being. Minori, far from the typical genki girl she appears to be, covers a boatload of neurosis with willpower and attitude.

While the Minori-Ryuuji-Taiga triangle forms the heart of Toradora!'s central plot, the two remaining group members, Yuusaku and Ami, complete the picture. Kitamura goes through his own personal ordeal midway through the series, showing a surprising amount of balls and undergoing an almost hysterically typical rebellion before regaining his footing and becoming simply some of the best comic relief in any series I've ever seen (and is as a result the only male anime character I prefer to see shirtless). Finally, Ami who all but withdraws from the group in the second half of the series, grows into the adult she never expected to become, demanding honesty from her friends and closure for herself in one of the most rewarding micro-scenes I've witnessed.


Overall

The people I've seen talk about Toradora! tend to get fixated on either half of the show, which is a horrible mistake. Taken as a whole, this work's honesty and humor paints a picture of high school romance and heartbreak that rings true. The loving, detailed visuals, laid back atmosphere and modest scope make the series a perfect introduction to the romance genre and a standout anime in its own right. No matter how angry it makes me at one moment, the next scene or episode has me singing its praises. In short, Toradora! is a lot like it's subject matter: In turns hilarious, rambling, confused, charming, and foolish, but ultimately a worthwhile and heartwarming experience.

8.5/10 story
8.8/10 animation
9/10 sound
9.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
budda22's avatar By budda22 on Nov 9, 2010

It is a masterpiece of an anime and is very funny. The storyline is quite well done and the characters are funny, cool and you just cant stop watching this anime once you start. It makes you want more and more. Its got its own style, even though some other anime's resemble it in many ways.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
kanamekakashi's avatar By kanamekakashi on Mar 15, 2011

The drawing is nice. The story is also nice but not very original because it slips into sterotyped patterns (love triangle, the abuse of slave/pet role, etc.)  The ending terribly SUCKS, but the climax is intersting when they realise their love for each other (the «runaway» part). I Also like the vulnerability of the protagonist when she has to put a pride aside in certain situation.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8/10 overall
Jymjak's avatar By Jymjak on Sep 5, 2010

I started out weary of this being an overly cutsy shoujo, but was pleasantly surprised! I loved Ryuu, and Taiga, and the supporting cast was diverse and hilarious. With shows like these, you know not to come in expecting to be shocked at the final outcome of who hooks up with who, but there was a bit of a twist with this one, which I like.

I highly reccomend this if you like comedy, or romance anime. Its sort of like Clannad without as much drama, but a pinch more comedy.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
CrazyBeverly96's avatar By CrazyBeverly96 on Oct 11, 2014

Let me be honest here. I was really excited to start this anime. I had heard so many people say positive things about it. I heard that the relationships were portrayed in a very realistic way. I heard that it was touching enough to make someone cry. Topped with the fact that the premise of the show reminded me of Lovely Complex (a great romantic comedy), I thought for sure that I, like many other anime fans, would come to adore this popular anime and enjoy it immensely.

 

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

 

By episode 9, I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying this anime as I kept getting annoyed with the characters. By episode 11, I decided to take a break from this show for a while because it was boring the heck out of me. Eventually I got back to it but I still wasn’t happy about where the story or the characters were going so I marathoned my way through the rest of the show, just so I could get it over with.

 

I really do not like Toradora! It wasn’t my thing and truthfully, I was very disappointed with it.

 

Story: 3/10

 

This is basically the same story you’ve heard over and over before. A boy and girl who fight often, learn that they secretly like each other’s friend and make an agreement to help each other get with the person they like, then, after many disagreements and time alone, they fall in love with each other instead. Except, this time, it was decided that the female lead should fall into the tsundere trope and show off her massive tsundereness by doing whatever the heck she wants and have no one who is willing to stop her from becoming the next Haruhi Suzumiya. Besides Taiga, there is also Ryuuji, who can’t think for himself or stand up for what he wants because he’s too busy being a goodie-goodie-two-shoes, abiding by what other people want, and fulfilling his unrealistic obsession with cleaning everything and talking to germs. Then there’s Kitamura, who is unhelpful and attention-whore. And there’s Minori, who claims to be Taiga’s best friend but does nothing to help her. And lastly, Ami, who takes advantage of the fact that she is a model so she can get away with being a bitch.

 

The romance here was just too forced because there was no reason for ANYONE to like or even love ANYONE ELSE in the show. I felt that I was just going through awkward scene after awkward scene. In the beginning, I was trying to look past the awkwardness and look forward to the drama later on, but I soon realized that nothing would change. This continuous awkwardness made both the drama and comedy seem very forced. I never laughed during any of the jokes because I just didn’t find them to be funny at all. It just made the characters seem like superficial brats who made a big deal out of the littlest things. I did not feel the least bit sorry for their little sob stories either. A strong character would have sucked it up and moved on, but these people find it necessary to shout about their problems for the world to hear in hope that Santa Claus will come and make everything right for them.

 

You see, before I even started this show, I had my own idea of what was going to happen. I thought that the story would begin with Ryuuji and Taiga having some sort of misunderstanding and hating each other because of it. Then, through a few accidental interactions, they would learn that they are both sick of the way their superficial classmates and irresponsible parents treat them. They would soon after, come to respect each other and decide to be true to themselves and to each other. Then they would become the rebels of the school and look their superficial classmates in the eye and say, “If you can’t accept us for who we are, then we don’t need you”. They would go off together and do all of the fun things they want to do without a care of what anyone else thinks and fall in love. I think that the story would have been much better if it had went in this direction instead of having Ryuuji and Taiga be as superficial as their classmates and having them want to please everyone and have the “ideal” school life.

 

I mean seriously! What pissed me the most is that Ryuuji and Taiga don’t have any ideals of their own. They are so obsessed with what others think of them. They are so willing to follow what everyone else wants and just can’t say ‘no’. If Taiga was reading this, she would probably deny everything I’ve said about her and kick me in the face but there were various scenes where she would cheerfully and willingly give gifts to people who have done nothing for her, force people to become friends with each other when one of them or both of them are acting like jerks, and without objections, takes the role of damsel in distress and offers herself as a prize to Ryuuji for winning a race at school. These are not the kinds of scenes that would make me root for a character that apparently I’m supposed to admire. Come on! Something similar to this was handled far better in Kare Kano. Yes, I am aware that in my review for Kare Kano, I criticized it more than I praised it despite liking the anime as a whole, so now I will tell you one thing I liked about it. After the main characters Yukino and Soichiro decide to be true to themselves, they do not simply look for another way to be what their classmates want them to be. They still hide their real personalities during the early part of the show due to Yukino’s pride and Soichiro’s insecurity, but eventually they become comfortable enough that their real personalities just come out naturally and they can still be happy at school even if they lost their pervious popularity. Here, we had characters who could be who they are and not let the judgments of their classmates restrain them, they also had some decent character development. I cannot say that Ryuuji and Taiga have developed at all because they just conform to what others want them to do regardless of how unreasonable it may be.

 

So really, there’s no place in the anime where I can say that I truly enjoyed story. It’s a shame.

 

Animation: 6/10

 

Something I’ve noticed about myself is that when I watch anime, I tend to like a show’s animation better if I like the anime and I usually hate the animation if I hate the anime. I don’t want to rate the animation in Toradora! low because the animation is actually of good quality. So I’ll give it 6 points out of 10. Hey, it’s not perfect either.

 

Sound: 5/10

 

Another thing about me is that I tend to not like a character’s voice if I don’t like the character. I’m actually a fan of Rie Kugimiya, Eri Kitamura, and Yui Horie and I know that they were really doing the best that they could to make the characters engaging. But, because I lost any connection or care I had due to the faults of the characters, their beautiful voices were not enough to save them.

 

Character: 3/10

Minori is the show’s “genki girl”, she runs around screaming and shoving things in peoples’ faces expecting them to be impressed. I’m not sure why Ryuuji liked her as he never gives a clear explanation. If I was a boy, I certainly would not like her.

 

Ryuuji might be considered the most tolerable character on the show but his lack of personality and obsession with germs and girly stuff both bored and disturbed me.

 

Yasuko is Ryuuji’s mom. She claims to be a good and responsible mom, but all she does is laze around the house in little clothing and beg Ryuuji to cook her food that will make her breasts bigger so that she’ll get more tips at the local strip club. Then she tries to dictate what he will do in the future without asking him what he thinks. Then again, since Ryuuji doesn’t think much, maybe it was better for her to do that.

 

Yeah, not really my thing. I can’t bring myself to like these characters no matter how much I try. They just don’t interest me.

 

Overall: 3/10

 

I’m sorry. I really tried to like this show. I mean I really, REALLY tried to like this show. After reading so many reviews on just about every website, I tried to agree with all the people saying that this was one of the greatest animes they have ever seen. I even thought there was something wrong with ME for not seeing what everyone else seemed to see in this show. I’m not trying to bash any Toradora! fans out there, I’m sure you have good reasons for liking the show. Heck, I even have a friend who likes this show a lot. I think this just goes to show that there’s no such thing as an anime or anything out there that EVERYONE is going to like. So, I’m standing by my opinion which I have written here in this review. As for all the Toradora! fans, if you would like, you can comment on my review and explain to me what you like about it. Then, maybe I’ll have a better understanding on why Toradora! is so popular.

 

I’ll end this with a few recommendations for better anime with romance in it:

Durarara!!: Not really a romance anime, but what little it had was well done and cute.

 

Mirai Nikki: Nice complex romance with more than one couple

 

Vampire Knight: A better protagonist involved in an interesting love triangle. The secondary love story was cuter though.

3/10 story
6/10 animation
5/10 sound
3/10 characters
3/10 overall