Rie Kugimiya returns to voice yet another loli-looking tsundere. This time she even fuses some of her older catchphrases. Shana’s urusai + Louise’s bakainu = Taiga’s urusai bakainu. Isn’t it nice when they mix selling points? Anyways, if you don’t like loli-looking tsunderes voiced by Kugimiya, then chances are you will not like Toradora… Ok, I am overreacting on this one; although the highest selling point of the show is her. It’s like saying CLAMP, or Shimbo, or Toriyama; you are going to watch it because they are in the production.
Anyways, this is yet another romcom, albeit with twists in the formula that makes it stand out from the lot. The main duo is in fact in love with the best friend of one another and they only team up to scheme various tricks in order to win the love of their friend. Yet they are so close to one another all the time that everybody thinks they are in fact a couple, which is also the main trouble generator of the show. I must say I don’t remember any other romcom with this twist and in a way it feels fresh. This of course counts only for THE PREMISE of the show, as the plot is otherwise following the usual tropes of the genre and the stereotypes, and even ends as you probably imagined it would.
Now, before I move on I must say that during my junior high years there were several events that were close to this premise. A girl would send her friend to talk to the guy she likes as a spy of sorts, learning information about him and what he thinks of THAT girl. If the answers were positive, then her friend would reveal the truth and the boy would send his own friend to inform the girl if he is interested or not. The rest are of course done in the normal private manner. As juvenile as it sounds, we used to that a lot and it was quite funny and a source of great gossip; it was even funnier when we were pulling April’s Fool’s pranks of this nature. But in all cases this was not something that lasted for more than a few months for each case and above all if one was pressured to reveal the truth, he or she would reveal it to the whole class or deny it and thus lose the chance forever. Well, that is not what happens in the show; they keep trying to indirectly attract the attention of the other one but always mess up or chicken out or just DON’T SAY ANYTHING. The premise is stretched out to last as much as possible because of their indecisiveness, which is not different than any other romcom. I guess a short story about teenagers in school can only be a gangbang hentai…
Another element that appears to be a twist in the genre is that the main character (whose name is not important to mention) has a killer’s look which makes him scary to others, even when he is a good guy inside, who cooks and cleans all the time. Once again, he looks more interesting than the usual dork with glasses but is otherwise not any better in opening up his feeling to others. Instead of crying and running away, he just pretends he doesn’t care. He also allows to be constantly beaten by Taiga without fighting or even speaking back, like all of his brood does, which in effect makes him a lame male specimen. A few bitch-slaps would be more than enough to see who is the bakainu here.
As for the lead female character Taiga (whose name is very important to mention since chances are you are watching this show just because she is voiced by Kugimiya) is as far as personality goes the typical violent tsundere loli who tortures and abuses the main lead to cook and clean for her any time she feels like it. In other words she is what all those paedophile masochist otakus go so crazy about. Yet I must say that she feels far more likable than most of her brood since she is far more down to earth as a character and not TOO violent with the lead male (whose name is not important to mention because he is not voiced by Kugimiya). Since the story does not involve superpowers like in the cases of Shana or Louise, she is not a super chick which solves all her problems with violence or huge energy beams. And since the main issues of the show are everyday romantic teen misunderstandings, she again feels far easier to sympathise.
The secondary cast consists of a variant number of characters, each one colourful and easily memorable for his or her personal body language and attitude. They help to further flesh out the main duo and make the whole setting more likable as well. I consider them worthy to pay notice to.
The plot is not exactly amazing as it consists of the usual situations we see in such shows and to an extend most of the show is dead time based on a premise that is stretched out because the characters are unable to just come out and tell the truth right away. Because if they did, this would be a hentai feature. Even the pacing is not so good all the time as several events feel slow or unimportant, while the ending is pretty much predetermined from the start. Yet it ends in a solid manner (even if it took its sweet time to do so) and is thus rewarding if you follow it to the end.
Next are the production values, a thing most don’t care about since it only matters if Taiga is cute enough to buy the huge pillow with her in undies on it. They are ok albeit nothing amazing. There are no artistic cinematics or there is not much detail given to characters and backgrounds, and the setting is the typical Japanese school we all know by heart after the myriads of times it has been shown. The soundtrack is pop songs, which automatically makes it bad for not being Rock, Metal, or Jazz… Ok, I am joking; pop is simply not appealing to me… because it’s pop; an easily digestible genre for the easy to please masses. Did I tell you I am a demanding (snob) viewer? Anyways, I am fond of artistic works and as such if it ain’t like Kare Kano in looks or like hack//SIGN in sounds, it doesn’t get a high five from me.
Overall, it easily ranks as one of the top anime romcoms to date for making twists with the formula, having characters with unique and colorized personality, having a finale instead of open harem ending, and above all for having a loli-looking tsundere voiced by Kugimiya. It is definitely an above average anime and highly entertaining if you like the genre. Some events that feel unimportant or that are done lazily may make you lose interest from time to time but as a whole it does far better than most of this type of shows and I recommend it to you all… And don’t forget to check out the doujins; there is no indecisiveness there and we all know what that means. HABAHABA after five pages.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic school setting)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (average)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 2/2 (solid)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather typical but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (predictable and simple but there)
Catharsis 2/2 (solid)
VALUE SECTION: 8/10
Historical Value 3/3 (all famous)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you are into the genre)
Memorability 3/4 (quite memorable for its overall solid plot)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 2/3 (generic nut well presented)
Characters 3/4 (they are ok for their generic roles)