I came into Toradora! knowing nothing about the plot or characters. My mind was completely open and I had no expectations. The only quality that attracted me to it was the character design, that reminded me of Shakugan no Shana (a manga I'd just bought), which makes sense considering both are produced by J.C. Staff. I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful story and memorable cast.
This character driven tale is perfect for those anime viewers who love series that focus on character development, rather than a development of action.
The plot boiled down is a bit clichéd; a girl (and guy) misunderstood by their peers slowly open up and are accepted. I could name a few right now with the same basic idea. What sets Toradora! apart is its rich cast and attempts to break the romance comedy mold. It both failed and succeeded to break this mold. In many aspects it is what you expect a romance comedy to be, dramatic, funny, and romantic. The difference is the way Toradora! executes these themes. This is really something you must see for yourself to understand.
Without giving too much away, I would like to say I was displeased, only a little, by Toradora!'s ending. It seemed pushed into the last few episodes. In addition, I'm a spoiled child when it comes to romance animes, and the couple I wanted to be together was not in the end.
As I first mentioned, I was drawn to Toradora! because of the character design. I don't usually insert pictures into my review, but I feel Toradora! deserves it.
Simple but cute, right? I especially loved Ami's design, but that is no surprise considering she is a model.
I enjoyed the bright, vibrant colors in Toradora!. They matched the overall tone of the series well. There were a few scenes that were less pleasing to the eyes than others, but altogether J.C. Staff did a wonderful job. Less emphasis was put on the background. Which is logical because the series main focuse is the characters.
I am no expert when it comes to the sound portion of anime, but based on my limited knowledge, Toradora’ music was well picked. Though the openings and endings are not especially memorable they are cute songs. As for background music it was used for nothing more than setting the mood.
Our main character, Ryuuji, is one of the strangest male protagonists I’ve come in contact with. He is a genuine nice, easy-going guy and a neat-freak You’d think he would be popular, right? Well he isnt. Ryuuji inherited his absent father’s delinquent appearance, making all his peers fear him. Even with all his good points he is not without fault. His passive nature becomes an unspoken internal problem. Watching his struggle to stand up for himself and grow up was one of my favorite aspects of the anime.
Taiga is the second main character; a small tsundere who makes up for her size with her punch. Like so many tsunderes she has many different layers to her that you want to unravel. As for originality, there isn’t much of it. Go to any other anime with a tsundere and you will see many similarities. That is one of the difficulties of working with characters like Taiga. With so many others like her, you lose a sense of uniqueness. Even though you can find other anime characters like Taiga she is fun to watch and likable.
Now onto the fantastic supporting cast of Toradora!. Minorin is Taiga’s best friend, and one of the few people who understand her true nature. She cheerful and upbeat, providing the comic relief for the series. Minorin never failed to make me laugh with her hilarious antics. Her demeanor made her an instant favorite. She is unexpectedly deep, but her airhead front disguises it well. When Toradora! ends you can’t help but feel like you were left wondering about her and her feelings. Minorin's story was never really put to an end.
Next we will move to Kitamura. He is Ryuuji’s best friend, and just like Minorin, is one of the few who sees the real Ryuuji. He is one of the least memorable characters. He was used mainly for emotional support and a way to move the anime forward whenever a character seemed at a cross-road.
Last is Ami, my personal favorite. When we are first introduced to Ami she gives off a cool, kind-hearted, adult like aura. She is already a professional model and an instant hit when she transfers to Taiga and Ryuuji’s school. Problem is, she is the complete opposite of what she lets people see. Much like the other four characters, Ami is hiding her true self behind a mask. Her actual self is quite immature, demanding, and cruel. Usually such harsh characteristics would cause dislike, but not so with Ami. She becomes the most believable and well developed of the cast. Her ability to perceive people’s actual emotions is a moving factor in Toradora!. She demands that the rest of the cast realize their hidden feelings and confront them.
The characters are the greatest aspect of the anime and cannot get enough praise.
Toradora! is a quality choice for any anime watcher and a must see for every romantic comedy fan. You are sure to enjoy the comedy and the quality cast. In the get go it may be slow, but stick with it and you will be not regret it. I hope this review convinced you to add Toradora! to your “Want to Watch” list.