Toradora is one of those series that shows up on a lot of people’s Top 10 Anime lists. Is the praise warranted? My experience with the series was a long one (since it took me quite a while to get through it), but overall it was an enjoyable experience. In the end, it seems the best thing about the show is the cast of characters, which makes it a bit ironic that this was my biggest problem with the show at first.
Over a year ago, I wanted to watch a romance of some sort and ended up learning about Toradora, a highly-acclaimed romcom. I watched about eight or so episodes before I decided to put it “on-hold,” since it seemed very hit-and-miss to me. There were some parts that amused me, but I didn’t see signs of any kind of real romance developing. And the characters all seemed rather one-note for most of these episodes. Taiga was constantly nasty and demanding, and Ryuuji was always giving in to her every whim (and for seemingly no good reason). Side characters Minori and Yuusaku were funny, but impossible to take seriously at all. And newcomer Ami was intriguing, but still rather difficult to like. Overall, I felt the execution of the show was all right (great animation, music, and atmosphere), but I didn’t see much point in following the lives of these characters.
I was planning to try watching more of the show after having a bit of a break, but I ended up getting caught up in lots of other anime, and kind of forgot about Toradora. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I was recommended the show from multiple bloggers, that I decided to give it another shot.
Perhaps I was too harsh on the first third of the show, but from that point on… Toradora became really, really good. The plot become more serious, and a number of romances were developed in rather intriguing ways. And most of all, the characters became much more fascinating! Taiga, Ryuuji, Minori, Yuusaku, and Ami were each shown to have multiple layers of depth to their personalities. As I came to learn of their hopes and aspirations as well as their fears and insecurities, I began to care much more about the anime in general. And interestingly, their interactions become more hilarious as well. Every episode became a very enjoyable experience.
Taiga is considered by many as one of the prime examples of the tsundere character archetype. At first her coldness was very irking to me (if not downright frustrating), but eventually it becomes more clear why she acts the way she does. On top of this, her warm side gradually becomes more apparent as the series goes along, which gives a strong feeling of progress for her character. Meanwhile, Ryuuji starts out as kind of a flat character, with only his quirk of having the appearance of a delinquent despite actually being a really nice, dependable guy. But as the series progresses, he has several relationships to deal with–much of which forms the heart of Toradora’s plot. Will Ryuuji be able to get together with his love, Minori? Can he continue to keep things stable at home with his disconcerting single mother? And what is it that keeps Ryuuji going, assisting Taiga in her efforts to win Yuusaku’s love?
Minori and Yuusaku also become more interesting in the second half of the series, when the “hidden” sides of their personalities are revealed. And with five main characters, hints of romance for several possible couples allows some speculation on the viewers’ part. The character Ami especially adds an element of surprise to the storyline, as she turns out to be surprisingly perceptive of each of the other characters’ thoughts and feelings. Her character is fortunately developed in interesting ways as well.
All in all, Toradora is an enjoyable romcom with not only lots of really funny moments, but lots of dramatic and heartwarming ones too. Though for me it took some time for the show to really get going, the twists and turns of the second two-thirds of the show really make it a worthwhile anime. It may not make it into my top ten, but I can understand why many fans would be moved by the engaging development of the show’s main characters.