NOTE: This review was posted on a forum I am active on in a thread about anime. Parts of this review may be affected by that. This review was written on September 20, 2010.
Finished it a week or so ago. I've kinda been putting off writing a review cause I'm not exactly sure what I'm gonna write about yet--but I'll give it a go. Life's been hectic for me with school + driver's ed, but I finally got all the legal junk figured out and am gonna go for my license sometime this week. I'm done with the course which was taking SO LONG each day, so I'll probably have more time this week, and hopefully I can get this done in one sitting. In the mean time, I've been enjoying Cross Game, and am about 1/5 through. For now though, I'll stick with writing about Toradora!
Funny enough, I'm writing this while listening to Clannad's OST. Ha. Also, jsyk, this review is spoiler-y. So don't read it if you plan on watching.
So I guess my main concern after I finished Kanon was, seeing as Mac and Ataru have always noted how amazing Key and it's works are, that I wouldn't really find anything else that was similar. It's not that finding something similar was the goal; the goal was just to enjoy watching another anime of course. But what was kind of odd about Toradora! when I started was the drawing style was different than I was used to watching for... eh, what was it? (13 + 25 + 24 + 24...) 86 episodes of Key's animation team's work. I didn't dislike the way Toradora's animation looked--it just had a completely different appeal to me than Key's did. And seeing as I wasn't all that worried about the animation style, I was able to go into Toradora! with a pretty open mindset ready for anything. I had no idea what to expect, once again. Usually turns out that way for me. I think it's also a good thing; if I had read a plot synopsis saying, 'Two odd-balls at high school have crushes on each others' best friend and agree to work together to help each other end up with the ones they love." I probably would have looked for something else and put the show down near the bottom of the list. So glad I didn't!
After Story is definitely my favorite anime I've seen yet--not that my list is anything grand. It's growing slowly and steadily, but After Story was so amazing that when I started Toradora! I was wondering if it would live up to After Story's high standard. I had just finished Kanon, and had picked up on a lot of similarities in the three main characters of Key's three main works: Yuuichi, Tomoya, and Otonashi. They were all not only alike in appearance, but their personalities were practically the same. They would all respond in very similar ways when faced with certain situations. Sure, they have their differences, but they're small. And I started picking up on that even during Clannad with only Otonashi and Tomoya, and then Kanon really slapped me in the face with it, like, 'Look! Ayu and Otona-- Yuuichi! just..." So I was wondering... is this something that Key does in all their works? I wonder if it's like that with Air? And I was also wondering if Toradora! would have a different character mindset.
Sure enough, Takasu Ryuuji turned out to be another incarnation of Yuzuru, Okazaki, and Aizawa! No, I wasn't disappointed. I loved the three main characters of Clannad, Kanon, and Angel Beats!. It's not that I was tired of their personalities--just wondering if Ryuuji'd be any different. Now yeah, he does have an obsession with cleaning and is delinquent-eyed, but other than that he's pretty close to the others mentioned prior. He also turns out to be such a likably hilarious guy. x)
Aisaka Taiga - Definitely the one you want to side with! I loved Taiga's character, especially her soft side. Around episode 17, I believe, is when the theme song changes to Silky Heart, and at that time, when I saw her smiling sweetly in the end of the song, I was like, "Woah! Taiga's being cute?! lolwat?!" And the scene where "Kitamura" is carrying her up the mountain is so priceless. I think that my top favorite moments of Taiga are there, as well as the scene where Ryuuji proposes to Taiga after she shoves him off the bridge, and she freaks out cause she was gonna propose, then gets all angry at him. After jumping off the bridge herself! XD And of course, the fight scene between her and Student Council President Kanou Sumire. That was just pure awesomeness.
Kushieda Minorin - For like the first three quarters of the show I wanted Minorin and Ryuuji to get together. I remember that well. I love Minorin, and her bubbly, slightly-ignorant personality. She's got one foot in the world and one foot out and is still living her life to her fullest, attaining her happiness with her own hands (oucwidt). I love how she's always got over 9000 jobs and still has time for everything. Two scenes that struck home with me and made me root for Kushieda were the gym storage room and the conversation between her and Ryuuji at Ami's lakehouse. The gym storage room was just so hilarious. We're a hot guy and a hot girl, the exact same age, both have secret crushes on one another, and are locked in a private gym storage room and can't get out. "We need to stay warm! LET'S PLAY BASEBALL!" ahahahaha! I could not stop laughing when she pulled that bottle out to use as a bat. Also, the scene where she first starts talking about seeing ghosts really convinced me that she didn't like Ryuuji at all. She completely changed the subject and started talking about her out-of-this-world jumbo in her head, yet somehow managed to make it seem as though she denied her crush on Ryuuji. Then finally when she's running after Taiga after the ZOMG-EPIC-EPISODE-23-SCENE where she gets mad at Ryuuji for lying about hearing what Taiga said... and she was like, 'Yes, I like Ryuuji! Always have!' My jaw just dropped. lul
Kitamura Yuusaka - Kitamura is really good at being dramatic and really good at being a goof-ball. I couldn't stop laughing at the scene in the train station when he and Minorin... ahem, greeted Ryuuji and Taiga. XD Funniest Kitamura moment was probably when he walked into the kitchen thinking that it was only Ryuuji there and only had like a hand towel to cover his entire body. Ahaha, Taiga nearly had a heard attack and Minorin was on her cell-cam asap. AND THEN HE DROPPED THE TOWEL. Rofl. Special memory of Kitamura goes for his confession to Kanou... That was a pretty great scene, but tbqh, I lol'd. xP Not my favorite character of all, but nonetheless, a great one.
Kawashima Ami - Probably my least favorite of the major characters, but not a bad one at all. She kinda went emo near the end for a reason undefined, but her behavior when they spent the holidays at her beach house was absolutely hilarious. Especially the shower scene. "You've got some nerve coming into the bathroom when a girl's in the shower. Hey, since we're alone do you wanna do it now?" "What!? Do what?!" "-pulls curtain- Clean the bath tub, silly!" Oh man, that was so funny. When she first showed up in, episode 3 was it? I really hated her, especially how she was trying to hide her personality from Kitamura when literally everyone knew. :P
Yasuko Takasu - MY FAVORITE CHARACTER.