Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review | Anime | Toradora!

TORADORA! : As a new school year rolls around, Ryuuji Takasu is faced once
again with the unfitting title of the school "delinquent" because of his
fearsome facial appearance. In class with him is his best friend Yasaku
Kitamura, and Ryuuji's secret crush, Minori Kushieda. Also in their class is
Minori's best friend Taiga Aisaka, who holds the school label of "The Palm-Top
Tiger" because of her terrifyingly fierce and stern demeanor despite her small
physicality. It just so happens that Taiga has a secret crush on Yasaku. Ryuuji
and Taiga begin seeing each other as a valuable ticket to their own respective
crushes, and agree to support one another in their pursuit of their love.

I had previously done quite a bit of research into this anime (and watched quite a few AMVs) and was expecting no more from Toradora! than just another shojo anime stuffed tightly with fanservice, ecchi, and just a hint of fanservice. I'm pleased to say I actually stand quite corrected. I'm happy to acknowledge that there is actually not as much of such content in this anime as there are in many shojo animes I've seen.

Toradora! is ranked #61 on's highest rated animes of all their thousands of listings, superceded by the Miyazaki classic My Neighbor Totoro, which stands at #60. Fan fiction and fanart suggest that this anime is borderline hentai (though, nowadays, you can't really hold any credibility to those), but this anime is not even ecchi. The only ecchi you're likely to encounter is from busty supermodel Ami Kawashima; you can thank her for any such reputation you take away from Toradora!

Toradora opens with the life of Ryuuji Takasu; living in a small apartment with his single mother and playing Mr. Mom by completing all chores and doing all cooking (eventually, we discover that he could even be bordering on OCD, as he'll lose the battle with his urge to clean any mess he encounters...especially unsorted socks). Ryuuji's a very determined and well-behaved student; however, he is feared by his school because of his "murderous eyes", and is therefore labeled a "delinquint" despite being a diligent student. For some time, Ryuuji has had a crush on his eccentric schoolmate Minori, after Ryuuji's best friend Yasaku introduced them. He has never had the nerve to tell her, and thus keeps his feelings to himself.

At the start of the new school year, he accidently runs into (literally) a girl in the hallway, and realizes it's Taiga Aisaka, the fearsome "Palm-Top Tiger". Though she is nearly half his size, she has no problem pounding Ryuuji for running into her, followed by a "watch where you're going."

Ryuuji returns home, and while rummaging through his school bag, encounters a letter addressed to his friend Yasaku, signed by Taiga Aisaka. Tempted and curious, he opens it. No sooner does he tear the envelope open is his apartment infiltrated by Taiga, armed with a kendo sword, determined to get her letter back after placing it in the wrong bag. His apartment, his belongings - and nearly his body - are thrashed by Taiga, before he finally calms her by telling her that her envelope was empty. Taiga tells him that she has a major crush on Yasaku and is embarrassed by this fact. Ryuuji steps in and assures her nothing is embarrassing, and does so by showing her a box full of mementos of Minori, and reveals his crush to Taiga, not knowing that Minori and Taiga are best friends. Taiga eventually goes home by walking onto Ryuuji's balcony, climbing over his railing...and climbing into her apartment window?!

The next day, Taiga and Ryuuji walk to school together (being next door neighbors and all), and along the way they meet up with Minori. It is at this moment that Ryuuji discovers how close Taiga and Minori are, and Taiga looks back at him with an almost evil smile curled up on her face. Ryuuji translates this smile as: "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Help me with Yasaku, and I'll help you with Minori." The adventure begins.

Though this may not hold a child's attention, I'd thoroughly watch Toradora before you make your decision. Ami Kawashima is certainly no help to the rating factor; she's seen several times in revealing clothing or bikinis, and boys make suggestive comments about her and/or what they'd like to do with her. One male character hears a scream and jumps out of the shower to investigate; other male and female characters look over and see he is naked, covered only by a towel he holds limply in his hands, and a girl jokingly takes pictures on her cellphones (calling them "scandalous nudies") right before he accidentally drops his towel (a male character grabs it and holds it back up before it fully falls; the girl mentions that "she thought she saw something black", the second male character quickly covers by saying she may have saw a seaweed ghost, as she saw a prank earlier involving a pile of seaweed hanging from a string.). A girl is embarrassed about being "flat" in a bathing suit, and so a boy creates fakes to go under the suit.

Armed with a bubbly and bouncy theme, Toradora! delivers a cross-pollination between Azumanga Daioh and Love Hina as Ryuuji and Taiga pursue their dreams of happiness - with disasterous results. It's up to Ryuuji to keep the peace before Taiga's ticking time bomb goes off and she inevitably destroys the setting around her in relief of her rage. Despite the satire and blunt comedy within, this anime also manages to show a sentimental side, perhaps even more than a comedic one.

While it may be too shojo for the gentlemen out there, fans of such animes as Love Hina, Negima?! and Azumanga Daioh may enjoy Toradora! just as much.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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