At last, Toradora is over. It became my favorite and most anticipated Fall ’08 show right after Gundam 00, and would’ve been my top one if not for my mecha bias.
I first came across Toradora when my friend recommended its manga for me to read. I asked him for more details, and he said it had a tsundere as a main character. I’m ambivalent towards tsunderes (I’ve had some good and bad run-ins with them), so I checked the first chapter out, was intrigued by the premise, and would have kept on reading if not for the announcement of an anime adaptation.
And so I bravely plunged in to the anime. My expectations were rather low–much attributed to the naysayers who scoffing at yet another J.C. Staff-Rie Kugimiya tsundere show. By God, how wrong they were. Toradora continually gave the middle finger to the irrational haters, and delivered quality entertainment every week. It was funny, it was sweet, it was a refreshing rom-com with a male protagonist whom I didn’t wish to strangle for his lack of manliness.
It was mostly a once-in-a-week endeavor for me. I’d watch the latest episode, comment about it in certain places, and move on with my life. And then the cultural festival arc started. The drama seeped in, and the show got serious. Episode 13 became one of my favorite episodes due to a very sweet scene that I rewatch every now and then. “This,” I said to myself, “is why I watch anime.” By that time, Toradora became an instant favorite in my eyes.
I thought my admiration for the show couldn’t rise any more, but the succeeding arc proved me wrong. It was the turning point for the show, the part which most people agree on being the high point of the series. It also sneaked in a Chekhov’s Gun (the hidden 2nd picture of the cultural festival which Taiga bought) that was only made clear in the final episode. I found the element of friendship very strong–Taiga didn’t push Kitamura into running for student council president just because she was infatuated with him. Shallow attraction aside, he was a friend who fell down and looked pitiful. This is real, beautiful friendship at work.
The Emorin arc (as I like to call it) was weaker than the last two ones, but it gave me heart-wrenching pain during the failed confession episode, which was worth it. I’m such a masochist.
Then there was the ski trip, the slapping, and its aftermath that led to the end. Melodramatic the last part of the show may be, I thought it was still good, despite the misgivings of other people. I liked the last two episodes, from the chase scene to the disappearing Taiga act. The shots of Minorin running along the corridors were beautiful, and I giggled like the fanboy that I was during the indirect kiss.
I enjoyed the ending. It wasn’t utterly fantastic, but it worked. It ended the story definitely, leaving no place for After Story shenanigans. Such a thing would ruin it.
I’ve no complaints with the production of the show. The important scenes were all animated well, the music, while rather unobtrusive with the mundane tracks, steals the stage during touching moments (Ame Iro Rondo is my favorite OST track), and there’s great voice acting all around.
Given that, Toradora is not flawless. If you’re going to troll the show, there’s plenty of material to work on. However it’s very good, better than most people thought it to be (myself included), and I’m thankful for this anime. I can see myself recommending it to friends who are in need of decent high-school romances, or those on harem rehab.