25 Episodes -
Original run from October 2, 2008 to March 26, 2009
Disclaimer: This is my first review proper for the general population of HF (Outside my blog). So, any constructive criticism is welcome. I did my best to assure a nice read but I'm sure I've some aspects to improve.
Ah, Toradora! This is the kind of anime that sooner or later you will hear about. Especially if you’re into romantic comedies. So, the questions are: is it as good as they say? Or is it as boring and shallow as you are thinking? Well, I’d say it’s not great but not bad either. Keep reading to find out why.
Let’s begin with the technical aspects.
The art style is a delicious mix of two worlds: Shojo and Shonen, with a clear preference for the former. The vivid colors and high quality animation blow other romantic comedies out of the water. Even the action scenes are nicely done.
In the sound department, there’s some strong voice acting here: The seiyuu can deliver both comedy and drama in a believable way. Hearing Taiga’s lustfully voice when she’s staring at Kitamura’s pictures is always a joy.
On the other hand the music is so-so. The tunes just do the job most of the times, and none of them is particularly memorable. Now, both sets of Openings and Endings are cool stuff, with the first one being my personal favorite. Maybe because the second set won’t come until episode 16, and that left little time to get used to the new theme.
Now, let’s talk about the story: The series starts off a little rough, with Taiga and Ryuji, who look like your typical main couple of this type of stories: Taiga is the tsundere girl begging for a guy to tame her; And Ryuji is that guy with an undeserved bad reputation. Even more, it just happened that they lived next to each other, so they can be together all day. Duh.
You must wait until episode 5 for the show to become interesting, after the introduction of Ami, a teen idol in hide. This character made me realize something that wasn’t all that obvious at the beginning: Toradora! is more than just the main couple.
The supporting characters really make this show stand out. Especially the trio of Kitamura, Minorin and Ami. Minorin is the hyperkinetic best friend of Taiga that cheers the series from the very beginning with her LOL moments; Kitamura gives a comic relief that Ryuji personality doesn’t allow all times, and Ami is like the most mature and relaxed character of them all.
Now, I have to say that I enjoyed more the “High School” feeling of Toradora! than its romance premise.
It’s really nice to recognize those great small bits of school years: Characters toying with each other, doing silly pranks and jokes, and talking about wacky dreams and stuff. Even the most tertiary characters are there to put that “Lovely last year class” feeling that’s so rewarding to see in stories like this. Scenes showing the awkwardness prior to a dancing festival, or a final trip and the emotions that it arises in characters like Minorin or Taiga, really remind me of the best parts of the otherwise tedious high-school education.
And besides that great aspect of the show, there’s love of course. But before you are rewarded with it, you must endure the middle-arc of the series. Oh, God. That is Toradora! darkest moment.
This anime enjoyed a very comedy-centric style with a bit of romance until episode 13 or so, when Taiga’s father comes into scene, and something there just told me it was the calm before the storm. I was right, just one episode later, all of a sudden the series makes a complete shift to teen drama, and it’s not handled very well.
Somehow, episodes 14 to 20 feel the same like the character epilogues of Tales of Legendia.
That is, the story focus on one supporting character after another, developing their conflicts for a couple of episodes and then moving on to the next target.
It’s rather predictable and becomes tiresome soon. Minorin, Kitamura and Ami, characters you learned to like and care about are given the melodrama treatment. These guys used to be fun fellas and now they are crying all over the place and Toradora! becomes something embarrassing to watch. These episodes are a test of your tolerance to corny situations.
So, it’s surprising to see how the show makes a complete recovery when all those sub-arcs are done. Out with the melodrama, in with a more compelling romantic setting. The last 5 episodes are Toradora! at its best.
Once the supporting cast became BFF with everyone and isn’t crying anymore, the series finally focuses on Taiga and Ryuji and things get more serious and dramatic (in a good sense).
So, by episode 25 everything comes to a very pleasant conclusion. Because, unlike many harem/romantic comedies Toradora! has a finale that doesn’t feel forced or rushed. Be sure to keep watching after the credits roll, as the last couple of sweet minutes are shown.
Oh, wait, I can’t make a Toradora! review without mentioning Inko-Chan, that stupid and scary parrot of Ryuji. Whoever thought the sick bird gag was a smart joke to play for the entire series should be punished with fire. Inko-Chan is the only C class element on what is a much better series.
As rewarding as a romantic comedy can be, Toradora! doesn’t shake the ground of genre conventions, but, it still manages to be a heartwarming experience, with characters that come alive and pop their heads above the generic tropes and a story that, in despite of a convulsed mid-arc, is satisfying and completed. This series will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, if you keep watching until the end.
Final Score (not an average): 72%