I can only say... Wow. That was a hell of a ride. I laughed a lot, had a lot of "awww" moments, and even cried at the end. This has been hands down one of my favorite series ever, beating out any other anime or even regular television shows. The romance is well written and wholesome, the script is brilliant and funny, and the animation and characters are especially memorable. I'm no anime expert and this isn't quite a perfect show, but in my opinion, it's the closest I've found to one.
*THE REST OF THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS*
The characters of this show were amazing. Taiga, Riuji, Minori, and all of them were so well written and well voiced (I watched the dub and was blown away) and it really made them feel real. The interactions between them all were often hilarious, occasionally wholesome, sometimes sad, but always entertaining. Taiga could have easily been an annoying, frustrating protagonist, but she was portrayed in a way that made her much more likeable than you'd first think. I especially enjoyed Minori as a character, even more so when we found out that she has much more depth than just the "optimistic bubbly character". Hell, I hated Ami in the beginning and by the time the end rolled around, I thought she was pretty alright too.
The writing of the script was phenomenal for the most part as well. The jokes were legitimately funny and I found myself laughing almost every few minutes, even just at little things like the "Why do you say that?" "I said good morning because it's the morning!" joke. The show has some grate, extravagant gags and jokes but also some very lowkey, background humor moments and I appreciated that a lot. The way the story progressed was well done with near perfect pacing, and the show never got old. There were enough changes of pace to always make things interesting, like the beach house trip or the ski vacation.
Obviously, the romance between Taiga and Ryuji was adorable and the final payoff of their relationship was so worth it. I don't think I've ever shipped characters more than I have in this show.
In fact, I only have two complaints. The first is that in my opinion, the last two episodes were a bit rushed and felt like slightly weaker writing compared to the superb quality of the other episodes. The way that the forced "confession" at the classroom followed by the *actual* confession of Ryuji moved really fast, especially with the decision to run away right after. That made the big payoff confession on the bridge feel kind of rushed to me, but I guess the actual payoff of the show is in the last few minutes when Ryuji actually says "I love you." That moment was cute as hell, but like I said, it kind of felt a little off with those episodes.
And my second issue is also with the last few episodes. I completely understand why Taiga left and I thought it was the right thing, but the way that that and other events happen towards the end leave me really sad for some of the side characters. Minori, in particular. I might be biased because she was one of my favorites, but she really had a bit of a sad ending. She lost Ryuji and then lost her best friend without any goodbye. The rest of the class probably never sees Taiga again, and the whole friendship dynamic of Class 2-C ends up different without her. I guess that's the point of the show, though, that things end and things change and we need to learn how to accept it and make the most of life. Still, I felt kind of sad for Minori and the others. They deserved happy endings too. At least Kitamura got his girl at the end though.
But other than that, I can't complain. Toradora! was the first anime I watched, or rather, the first half was. I watched the first 13-ish episodes (to the end of the Lucky Man Contest thing) and took a month or two between so I wouldn't finish it all at once. I've watched other series between then and now, but honestly, none of them grabbed my attention and my love like Toradora! did. Am I sad that it's over? Yes. Am I sad that the ending wasn't quite as great as I hoped? Yes. But the show was one hell of a ride and was one that I don't regret. These characters, Taiga, Ryuji, Minori, Ami, and Kitamura and all the others and their stories and lives will stick with me for a long time, and now I think I'm going to go cry and take a break from shows for a few weeks.