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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 previous 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.
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.
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.
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.
The only character that made it worth watching in my opinion was Inko but only because it taught me the Japanese word for 'shit'. But looking beyond an educational standpoint, there was nothing else to like about Inko, or the others for that matter. I tried really hard to like them, but it just never happened.
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.
All I can say is I tried. I really really tried to love this romantic comedy that anime fans all over the world fawn over like ants at a picnic. They eat this up claiming it to be the next coming of anime god saying how great the story and characters are, but to me I could never properly digest it. It's like throwing up something that did not taste necessary bad, but you will never want to eat it again. That is basically my feelings towards this anime in a nutshell. Now before any of you get too upset let me explain my reasons.
Romance and comedy are two of my favorite elements and the main two reasons why I love to watch anime. I grew up loving Ranma1/2 and other Rumiko Takahashi works and in my opinion very few animes ever come close to blending these two genres as good as works by her. (and trust me I have seen a lot of romantic comedies) So I went into Toradora with and open mind. Not gonna lie the premise is intriguing. Two friends trying to hook each other up with their friends and eventually falling in love. Love it now, how do they go about telling this? With drama. Ok. Wait a lot of drama. Ok.... REALLY INTENSE DRAMA. Uhhh. Like every person has a tragic backstory. Wait. REALLY TRAGIC FIGHTS and EMOITION ALL AROUND. What??? Sorry Toradora, but you lost me.
Ok let’s look at the characters now. Taiga looks so cute! Wait she a tsudere…the annoying kind of tsudere and...she has the most tragic story of all. They put her on a mountain and try to live off her throughout the entire show. Ok well now I'm not a big fan of her. NEXT!
Minori is cute funny full of energy and awesome. Oh and she’s loves our protagonist......which will never work out.....well thanks for that slap in the face anime. It’s like if they took Dory from Finding Nemo and made her fall in love with Marlin and did not treat her with any respect. That is the treatment they give Minori, the only character I really like and it sucks all kinds of ass. No it's all about Taiga folks, Taiga is the only character everyone should care about and if you don’t like her (as I did) you will not like this show (as I did). It’s a lot like the anime sailor moon where if you are not a fan of Usagi and Mamo you will hate the show because it is all about their relationship (for the most part).
The only thing I could find to praise about this show is the animation, music and maybe one or two jokes. The openings are really good too.
So basically don’t watch this show if:
But I suppose people are allowed to have different opinions and if anything this anime does get a two star in my book. It is far better than most romantic comedies out there and I can think of a lot worse. It just pisses me off that people can think that anyone can like this and take it as a personal insult if it is not in your top ten anime romances. So now I leave it up to you viewers. Watch the first episode or two at least (as I did) and if nothing satisfies or rings any bells, drop it (as I did). The pictures above should give you a good idea of what you are getting into. Some people may like this kind of romance, but not me. No matter how popular this show is I cannot deny my own personal taste because it will always override whatever else an anime has going for it. I would not ride this roller coaster again since I did not have fun the first time around. No matter how many people encourage me to do so.
Toradora! is a mediocre anime that has the least convincing love story since Tom Cruise's latest marriage. It stars one of the least likable copy-paste tsundere characters and a spineless doormat of a male housewife who has no balls when a girl is around. They are friends with generic happy girl and a best friend that is completely boring. There's also the selfish and manipulative model that ruins all chances for everyone to be happy and people are supposed to not empathize with, but is actually the single character that saves the series from being completely moronic and with the emotional range of a teaspoon.
Oh, they make the manipulative mean girl into a good person. Oooh! They make the tsundere actually be an insecure good girl deep down. Aaah! The couple that is obvious will get together from the start finally gets together after everything conspires against them. Oooh! It took them so long because deep down everyone is awesome. Toradora! makes me feel ill, yet the crowd goes wild over these trite cliches. I really wish there was anything that made me root for the couple instead of slapping them around.
The reason I picked up Toradora! in the first place was that Clannad actually managed to convince me that I don't have a heart of stone anymore. So in a way, the show managed to reaffirm the fact that my inner cynic was just resting. It woke up and forced me to sneer at every single detail of the show. The sheer amount of stupid that went into everything in the show makes me want to stab my own brain for suffering through it all.
This is a show which tries so hard to do the stereotypical teen romance thing that unless you have watched basically none before, it is just painfully obvious. Oh, don't get me started as how they use charcter stupidity and obliviousness to keep fake tension. Toradora! insults the viewer's intelligence so blatantly that even the lowest form of shounen manages to look intelligent next to it. It is all about love for those who have never experienced it, and an exercise in rubbing out all of what makes it a personal experience for those that have.
Writing (Story and Characters):
As some may have noticed by my mild words about the merits of Toradora!, the writing left me somewhat unimpressed. It is recycled and recyclable waste. Supposedly some people go for a show that has literally nothing unique or even remotely special about it. Perhaps some want only the tried and true, rather than something with character. The high rating of the show proves that the writing sure does know how to pander to the audience. I suppose that's somewhat good?
OK, perhaps that was a bit over the top. But seriously, the "funny" ugly parrot has to be the single most annoying thing ever. And it isn't funny. The characters are supposedly maturing, but they're doing it in the most moronic way. They don't stop being selfish idiots, they just become more socially acceptable selfish idiots by pandering to how everyone wants to see them. Without the manipulative model (who becomes just another character at a certain point), the average emotional development level of the characters would be a rung above flinging poop at each other. I really don't understand why people like them.
I'm taking it to an extreme again. The characters aren't that bad. They're just bad. The story is why Toradora! sucks. The generic school life aspect of it is so cringeworthy and yet so unimaginative at the same time that you just know that they didn't try. Maybe the manga was too smart for their target audience of giggling thirteen year olds. I don't know nor care. There is literally no excuse for something like this unless we are talking about setups for humor, but when the humor isn't funny then it does nothing. The story is so derivative that it is suspiciously like what a computer would generate as the average of all "romantic" anime.
So my words are a bit extreme. It takes a lot of effort to so clearly pander to what the viewers want in order to make more money. Toradora! has writing that is bland, unimaginative, and soulless. It is also great at achieving the cheap and safe "fun" that people are supposed to like. At some point, watching it became an exercise of morbid fascination as to when the mold will finally break, and then it ends.
Art (Animation and Sound):
I don't like criticizing the art when it is the writing that makes something so annoying. So, instead I'll give some completely valid reasons to hate the artwork of Toradora!. You can start with the fact that everything is so cookie-cutter standard, the artwork tries to be a product rather than something creative. Continue with the fact that as a product, it just doesn't hold a candle to gorgeous ones that do the school life and romance thing as well like Clannad or Angel Beats!. There is no attempt to dazzle, and by god does the blushing bride expression of the supposedly "deadly looking" male lead fail completely.
The yellow/orange/red palette is both dull and completely unoriginal, and is the exact opposite of what you should do if you want to make something feel lively. Toradora! has some decent(ish) depictions of movement, but the character designs are at times blatantly stolen from other shows, and when not just look completely unimpressive. The fact that they can't create distinctive looks for anyone is a failure. There is literally zero attempts at any artistic merit in the animation.
Well, if you thought the animation was bad, then you have no idea how generic the soundtrack is. And how some of the characters have particularly annoying voice acting. And the sound effects are so painfully normal that it sounds like they were using a sound kit from the 80s. Clever stereo positioning? You've got to be kidding. Toradora! has a fitting generic audio section that lacks anything that gives it any form of depth.
Does the artwork of Toradora! create a world in which the characters thrive? I suppose. The shame is that the world is as boring as it gets. That fits the writing well, though this is not praise in the least. This is like a somwhat duller version of the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise, which is somewhat fitting.
Toradora! was not enjoyable. People praised it, and I honestly listened to them. It wasn't quite bad enough for me to drop immediately, but just barely. If you find yourself enjoying this, allow me to recommend alcoholism. Stay away unless you have never experienced romance either personally or through something good.
really a pretty boring anime, I struggled to get through it, but it did have its moments! There were 2 or 3 things that were touched upon that really resonated with me, but that is me personally because of the truths of life I've discovered on my own, so generally I don't think this is worth watching. I would definately not devote another 8 or 9 hours to watch this again.