水曜日 Wednesdays' Wanderings

美しく最後を饰りつける暇があるなら、最後まで美しく生きようじゃねぇか ?

[In-depth Review] Toradora!

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[Synopsis] Thanks to the menacing look in his eyes, Ryuuji Takasu has a reputation as a dangerous delinquent in his school… even though he is responsible, generous, and dedicated to house chores. In his same class the petite Taiga Aisaka shares the same reputation, although more justifiably so. When one day Ryuuji accidentally discovers that Taiga has a crush on his friend Kitamura, he also reveals his crush on her friend Minori Kushieda to Taiga as well, and makes the unwitting promise to help her, the most aggressive girl in the school, in her attempt to build a relationship with Kitamura. And thus begins a tale of school life romance and drama, which became easily one of the most popular series of 2008 – and justifiably so.

[Story: 8.0] Toradora is, dare I say, undisputedly one of the most popular series of 2008. And it’s not hard to see why, provided one watches past the initial episodes of misunderstandings, love triangles and such, that is. Because although Toradora began with plenty of elements common in its genre, it ended off as more than just a typical romance comedy. The series isn’t just about romance, as it deals with relationships not limited to the typical love scenarios and gimmicks prevalent in most school-life shows. There isn’t much to really comment on the story, as the plot itself is rather straightforward and simplistic.

I personally also like the use of a bookend (or framing device), such as how the way the show started mirrors how it concluded; it may be a minor thing, but it does contribute to the overall feel of the series, in that it helped in creating the mood of a finale with proper resolutions. And it’s an excellent resolution as well and I like the dialogue being echoed at the end – if there’s anything I’ve got to complain, it would be that I didn’t get the ending that I wanted. I was shipping Ryuuji and Minorin (despite the very obvious series title).

[Characters: 9.0] What’s enthralling about Toradora is none other than its cast, each of who has their own distinct personalities that are well explored during the course of the series. Without a doubt, the cast is astonishing, growing (and shedding) past their archetypes and are shown as individuals with depth. For a start, there’s Minorin: beneath the eccentric and ever-energetic persona, is a girl with a surprisingly complex emotion and disposition – something one doesn’t usually associate with the genki girl archetype. Similarly, despite the initial setting of Ami being the school idol with a snarky attitude, she was gradually portrayed as not only sympathetic, but can be quite a good friend as well. Even Kitamura has his own share of drama to deal with, showing that indeed, being the vice-president of the student council and class representative isn’t a ticket to being infallible after all (breaking quite a few anime conventions in the process).

Most notable of course, is none other than the titular pair of protagonists. Ryuuji, being a nice guy deep down, whose main quirk is being someone with an obsession for cleaning and housework in general, creates an interesting contrast with Taiga’s brash and clumsy actions. Some of the interactions those two had in the later part of the series can be both poignant and heartwarming. Overall, their actions and how they open up to their friends are what determined the dynamics of the show.

[Art: 9.0] Toradora, despite being a romance comedy, actually had better animation quality than a certain Fantasy series also made by JC Staff and released also in the same year. Now that’s saying a lot for both shows. As a compliment to the studio, Toradora’s art quality is fantastic. Apart from the great character designs, much effort is evident in things such as the subtle twitch in facial expressions, the gestures and fluid movements, which are all very well done. These are made all the more pertinent in the later part of the series when it’s more drama-heavy, thus aids in amplifying the mood of the series. For example, refer to the scene between Taiga and Sumire – that alone is a testament to the studio’s success.

[Music: 9.0] The theme songs are all fantastic, with the two OPs, Pre-Parade and Silky Heart being very catchy and addictive, making good use of not just their voice-acting skills, but also as singers. The bgm isn’t anything impressive, but they suit the series just as well and the choice of tracks is fine too.

[Summary] With a cast of endearing characters and a nice blend of humor and drama, Toradora is certainly entertaining and worthy of its hype. It may not offer anything new to the genre, but it does it well. High re-watch value, too.

Personal Overall Rating: 9.0

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