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
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
jcemmanuelrasco's avatar By jcemmanuelrasco on Nov 22, 2010

Toradora! is a Romantic Comedy anime that surely you'll have fun watching although you might ask something which I don't think anyone know. "Wheres Season 2?" yes you might ask this but unfortunately I don't know. Others say there is no season 2 because the manga ended as well. Even if so Toradora is MY NUMBER ONE ROMANTIC COMEDY ANIME.

 

|*| To begin with, The Story is remarkable It'll make you search season 2 in google and find nothing, believe me i've tried. Going back to the story, Its Amazing, Its Great, Its Entirely Awesome. The Story starts from mostly comedy and slowly ends with Drama which is my kind of anime, The first few episodes will make you laugh and it'll make you excited while the last few episodes will make you wonder, it'll make you wish , it'll leave you even more excited for the next episode until its finished.

 

|*| The way the Anime was Animated was great although there are times in the series where you'll see how the Animation was un-perfected. Like the fist fight scene.

 

|*| The way they present the characters are amazing for starters you'll have a first impression of them at the start of the series but you'll eventually see their "true Colors" as you go from an episode to the next episode. Their character definition is also amazing. Who would have thought that they'll end up with the wrong partner? (Whoops Sorry Spoiler).

 

|*| As for the sound, they used some great background music which will really set the mood for you and it suites the situation happening in an episode =)

 

Overall I give this Series a 9/10 I recommend you to watch ony 3 episodes a day to keep the excitement going =) or you can watch it all in one night provided you don't have classes the next day.

10/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 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