“Toradora!” is a surprise hit for 2009, beginning as a harem romance and ending with immensely dramatic dialogue.
The story begins like a conventional love story. Episode one introduces us to Ryuuji Takasu, a typical high school guy who holds a secret crush on Minori Kushieda, a female baseball team captain. Kushieda’s friend, Taiga Aisaka, is a bratty young girl who has a crush on Takasu’s best friend, Yuusaku Kitamura.
Ryuuji and Taiga team up together to convince their own crushes to love them. However, they don’t seem to listen. In fact, their classmates all think that Ryuuji and Taiga make a cute couple.
We clearly see how this series will end after episode 20 or so, but the journey there is really the real meat of the series. When you look at the series as a whole, the real conflict is focused around the main characters’ family lives.
For starters, Ryuuji has no father. His mother lives alone, working as a barmaid at night. The short Taiga, on the other hand, was kicked out of her house by her wealthy parents. She lives alone in an apartment.
And by fate, these two characters just happen to live next to each other. Although they united to fulfill their own goal of winning the hearts of the people they love, their true happiness comes from their struggle for independence.
The series turns even more rowdy after Ami Kawashima, a popular teenage model with a split personality, transfers to their school. She has a crush on Ryuuji, leading to plenty of romantic entanglements. By episode eight, the anime plays out like a violent harem, with plenty of girls fighting over Ryuuji and Yuusaku.
However, these characters are not iconic, like the harem fantasy in “Love Hina” or the slapstick comedy couple in “Lovely Complex.” Sure, Taiga and Ryuuji begin as a comedic duo, in which Taiga usually beats her friend up like mincemeat whenever she feels insulted.
However, the story dialogue is turns this love story into a sort of sports film, without all the sports references. Taiga and Ryuuji become the victorious couple overcoming the problems within their family. Even when their angst turns into public despair, they eventually reach triumphant moments of revelation by the end of the show’s run.
The series is not available in the U.S., but the series has plenty of buzz following its 25-episode run.
DVD publishers will definitely want to license this series. If anyone wants to find a solid romance anime with characters who actually grow in maturity, give “Toradora!” a try if it comes out on DVD. You won’t regret watching it.
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