Toradora OVA

March 23, 2012

Gosh, it felt like a long time since Toradora came out in late 2008. I guess with the advent of Blu-Ray discs, they decided to re-release the TV episodes at the end of December 2011 in this format complete with a box set. And in the mean time, throw in an all new episode. Whether it’s for old times and nostalgic sake for the fans or a shameless way to make extra few bucks from a past popular title. Either way, people who have watched the series then would welcome any new episodes so hence I decided to watch Toradora OVA for the former reason.

From the way this episode is played out, I am thinking it must be taking place somewhere in between the series instead of after the TV series has ended. That’s because Taiga is still wearing their same school uniform as opposed of a new one we saw at the end of the series while Kitamura is still in school instead of heading to USA to study. Plus, there weren’t indications that Ryuuji and Taiga had gotten that close either. It’s like they’re still just friends. The focus of this OVA is bento. You read that right. Those Japanese boxed lunch perfect housewives wannabes would devote themselves in preparing every morning for their loved ones. Don’t get the wrong idea that Ryuuji is some kind of housewife wannabe or that he is gay. Because he always makes meals for his irresponsible single mom, Yasuko and Taiga herself, it is natural he takes pride in what he cooks and prepares. So much so he has his own dignity and confidence in his housewife abilities. No kidding.

As the OVA starts off, we see Ryuuji and his pals preparing to have one of those boring lunch time meals in class. Till Kitamura shows up to reveal a super huge bento pack. The guys start laughing. Is this a joke? This attracted the attention of the girls as Kitamura opens the bento to reveal a sumptuous meal fit for a king! Both genders start laughing even harder! Seriously, is he kidding? Apparently not. Seems his grandma made it for him. However this starts annoying Ryuuji because of the high calibre of the bento which is supposed to be just home made. Kitamura invites everyone to help finish his bento since he doesn’t want to give a wrong idea to grandma that he is ungrateful. Seems that it isn’t just the looks that is astounding, but the taste as well. Delicious! Taiga seems hesitant but only because she is rather shy in wanting to eat the lobster meat. Ryuuji thinks she is rude in aiming for that luxurious meat but Kitamura allows her. So how does it feel to have a piece of heaven in your mouth? Later as Ami takes a drink at the vending machine (not sitting between them?), Ryuuji comes by to ask more details about Kitamura’s grandma. The odd thing is why is he putting up an evil scary face?! Upon learning that old hag is Miyo (I guess he knows who she is), he gets pumped up to do a superior bento next time.

Next day in school, Ryuuji invites Kitamura to have lunch together. Judging from Kitamura’s bento, he thinks it will be plain and sweet victory is his because Ryuuji used fried pork chops from yesterday’s dinner leftovers while Kitamura’s bento is just several onigiris (Miyo made it because Kitamura requested for it). Suddenly he notices something different with the onigiris. When Kitamura tastes them, he finds them all very delicious. Some of them had several fine stuffing and one of them was his favourite tuna mayo filling. Ryuuji is left to lament the fabulous fried food he wanted to make due to Miyo’s influence and since he wanted to play by the rules, he made fried pork chops yesterday so he could mix it with eggs for today’s bento. Because of this, he had fallen into the repetition trap. Later while he is shopping for ingredients with Taiga, he is so obsessed with making his next bento that the ingredients for making dinner could wait! Noticing the junk Taiga got in the trolley, he gets an idea. Next day in school, Ryuuji is instructing Taiga to make a perfect cup noodles with hot water. Everyone wishes they had cup noodles too and once more, Ryuuji thinks victory is his because Miyo wouldn’t understand young people like them. Till Kitamura shows up also with an instant soup in hand. He thanks Ryuuji for having hot water. Because of his meeting today, grandma made him some sandwiches so he can have his lunch on the go and gave him an instant soup cup confident that somebody in class would be eating cup noodles. Well, she was lucky her predictions came true today. Taiga thinks sandwiches are cool so Ryuuji refuses to let her eat the cup noodles and snatches it back! Later Taiga visits the diner Minori works as part time as the latter gives her and extra large serving of fries. It’s not like she is going to fill herself up with carbohydrates but I guess she didn’t have a chance to eat the cup noodles. Though Taiga notes that she would’ve been fine with any normal bento from Ryuuji. Minori teases her that she can’t survive without Ryuuji’s feeding.

Back home, Ryuuji has made some magnificent dishes but feels it isn’t on a level he can compete with Miyo. He thinks up of several ideas to make the ultimate bento till his pet parrot Inko eating leftover food scraps gave him an idea. He is going to make something piping hot and fresh. Next day during class, the homeroom teacher Yuri smelt something coming from the back of the class. Also hearing some noise beneath the cloth, she takes it off to reveal a rice cooker! Oh Ryuuji, this is too much. While this really whets the appetite of the class, they start laughing at Ryuuji for doing something extreme. Ryuuji finally admits he is the one who brought the rice cooker as a last ditch attempt to save the nearly cooked rice but Yuri isn’t fazed and unplugs the machine. Hear how Ryuuji screams in despair! Depressed Ryuuji laments all his efforts to waste while Taiga talks out with him. He thinks he broke his own rules he set and even so didn’t win. Taiga tells him that he should blame himself for the failures and the mess so she hands him her bento. Inside, several onigiris she made. Can she? Well, Ryuuji did teach her how to make some so at least she can handle this. Upon tasting it, why is Ryuuji shivering? Taiga tastes one herself and realizes it is too damn salty! To stem this problem, Ryuuji mixes it with dashi and some chervil. Taiga eats it and finds it very tasty because of the plum filling. Then Ryuuji realized. Miyo made bentos with Kitamura in mind for him to be happy. The onigiris were his request and the instant soup and sandwiches was because she knew he had a meeting during lunch. Taiga finishes the bento meant for Ryuuji and is even hungrier than before. She feels she wants to have a big feast. She starts suggesting several extravagant meals she had in mind but Ryuuji will eat the onigiris she made as it is. She thinks he was being insulting. Ryuuji narrates a bento is made for someone you’re thinking of. Someone special. In that sense, it will be delicious no matter what. Ryuuji and Taiga are having a bento lunch together with their pals as Ami forces Taiga to feed Ryuuji while their cheering friends watch on.

Food For Thought
I guess for a standalone OVA that does not have anything more to do with the plot of the TV series, it is pretty okay and fun by itself. For those hoping to see Ryuuji and Taiga get closer to each other, don’t get your hopes too high up. We don’t see much chemistry and drama that brought them quite close together as a couple at the end of the TV series (there was a time they eloped together!). So that’s why I felt that this OVA wasn’t set after the end of the TV series. Another hint is that they used the first opening theme and first ending piece of the TV series, Pre-Parade and Vanilla Salt respectively so it’s an indication the setting of this OVA may be the most at halfway point. And I thought when an OVA is made, they usually come up with new songs but I guess it’s either they want to save budget, couldn’t get anyone to do it or the original ones are still popular (the bouncy Vanilla Salt still remains my favourite theme after Orange, the second ending theme in the TV series).

There is no romance factor unless you consider Ryuuji’s romance with bento as one. In fact you could say that a big part of this OVA is about Ryuuji and his worries about making the best bento to surpass Miyo. Even with all the best ingredients in the world, if you don’t put your heart and soul into making it, it won’t taste anywhere near delicious or even passable. I remember Kitamura being the crazy and eccentric guy in the series (weird sign gestures, dying his hair, acting as a topless Santa, etc. Yikes!). He seems pretty toned down here though he is still the cool and calm person we all know. Minori is still bubbly and lively but since she didn’t have much screen time, in a way it seems she too is pretty much toned down. And Ami? Not enough screen time to show her b*tchiness. So have this bento themed OVA make you hungry or at least wanting to go rewatch the TV series again? Maybe if they put in some chocolates and sweet stuff, I may have another go. There’s always room for desserts.

Toradora

June 14, 2009

I think there is a trend and tendency to use Rie Kugimiya for any anime characters that fit the tsundere loli category. Like many of the previous animes which she voiced, the character’s personality, looks and sounds like how many otakus would view a typical tsundere loli. Personally, I too think that her voice fits such characters and no one would ever match her voice. All hail Rie Kugimiya as the queen of tsundere loli! So as such, it is very fitting and no surprise if she did such a role in Toradora.
 
This show is one of those romance comedy drama genres and the plot may not be unique as there are a whole lot of such genres out there flooding the market. The series may remind me a little of Ranma 1/2 in terms of the few love relationships between the characters and while this series doesn’t have many characters as the said comparison, you’ll get a feeling and gradually learn who likes who as the characters are gradually introduced.
 
In one corner, we have our main protagonist Taiga Aisaka whom as many seasoned viewers will be able to recognize is the tsundere loli of the show. She may be petite but her temperament is short. You don’t want to be at the receiving end of this girl whom other students nicknamed her as Tenori Taiga (Palmtop Tiger). On the other hand, we have the male protagonist guy, Ryuuji Takasu. He has a reputation for being a delinquent. Partly because of his eyes. Uh huh. Since they are so ‘mean’ looking, others tend to stay away from him and yeah, he has no girlfriend too. So put these 2 together and that’s how the name of the series came to be. Tora is Japanese for tiger as Taiga’s name would sound like one while Ryuuji’s name means dragon as the ‘dora’ part in the title. Well, I guess it’s better than naming it Tsundere Tiger, Smitten Dragon. Haha. Just kidding.
 
So this is how the slightly complicated love relationship works out. As seen in episode 1, it’s the start of the new semester and Ryuuji is happy to know that he is in the same class with the girl he secretly admires, Minori Kushieda. Viewers have got to love this bubbly and positive ever smiling cheerful girl and because of so, it makes her queer but loveable. Problem is, Minori is best friends with Taiga. And she too happens to be in the same class as Ryuuji. Ryuuji’s initial encounter with Taiga in the hallway has the petite girl punching him in the face. Clash of the Titans? On the other hand, Taiga too has a secret crush. He is the bespectacled Yuusaku Kitamura. Just like Minori, he has an unusual positive behaviour but not as extreme as he. Guess what? Kitamura is Ryuuji’s best friend. Ah yes. They both love each other’s best pals. Besides, you can see Taiga ‘freezing and paralyzed’ whenever Kitamura gets close or talks to her. So obvious. Hey, she’s still a normal girl in this sense.
 
Thus it all started when klutzy Taiga accidentally putting her love letter for Kitamura in the wrong bag. Ryuuji’s bag. Taiga starts attacking him in class but since she can’t get it back, she leaves in a huff. Ryuuji only realizes then when he comes home and finds the letter in his bag. That night as he is sleeping, he hears someone coming into the room. He thinks it can’t be his mom, Yasuko, who is out working late. He’s correct. It’s Taiga. She’s here to kill him with her wooden sword! Since she can’t forget about that embarrassing situation, the other way is to silence him! At this point, Taiga may loosely resemble several past tsundere characters she played. Like Shana because of her "Urusai!" lines. Like Louise because keeps calling Ryuuji a dog. Like Nagi because well, she’s a rich girl. Not until Ryuuji points out her letter’s contents is empty, did Taiga stopped attacking. The duo had a chat on love bla bla bla and Taiga accidentally finds out Ryuuji’s crush on Minori. He’s like keeping a box of mementos of her? Stalker? Anyway, Ryuuji introduces Taiga to his pet parrot, Inko. Now, this weird bird has a crazy face and viewers may think that this bird may go into some sort of seizure anytime.
 
As Ryuuji promises to help Taiga get close to Kitamura, Taiga agrees to compensate for the damage she has done to his house and leaves. The next morning, Ryuuji gets a call from Taiga and the shock of his life. She just lives next door to him. It’s an odd sight to see a huge luxury mansion overshadowing the little abode. Their place is so close that you can actually leap into each other’s place in a single jump. Don’t try this anyhow, okay? Ryuuji is further surprised to see Taiga’s place all messy and dirty. Because Taiga lives alone all by herself, I think Ryuuji must be feeling sympathetic that she’s living in some large doll house and proceeds to clean up her place, much to Taiga’s surprise. He even cooks her a decent meal. Note that Ryuuji is quite good ‘housewife’ material because he does the cleaning, cooking, washing and shopping in his household. Yeah, I’m not trying to run down Yasuko, but that young single hostess bar mom is kinda ‘useless’ so Ryuuji has to take care of such things. Another person I want to mention is their homeroom teacher Yuri Koigakubo. She may seem like a normal teacher except that don’t just go talking about lovey-dovey stuff or relationships. This boyfriendless teacher gets depressed about her single status and may exhibit her twisted nature by taking it out on her class sometimes.
 
In episode 2, Taiga becomes a regular over Ryuuji’s place and Yasuko takes a liking for her. Because of the proximity they live in, they go to school together and almost causes a misunderstanding from Minori that the duo are a couple. Rumours of this start soon spread throughout school while Taiga’s attempts to get closer to Kitamura backfire due to her clumsiness. It gets worse when Minori and Kitamura gave their blessings to the couple. At the same time, Ryuuji concludes that he has to help Taiga get closer to Kitamura first if Taiga is to help him get closer to Minori. Taiga is fed up with the rumours and trashes the classroom, making all the students apologize. Outside, Ryuuji is surprised to see Taiga confessing her feelings to Kitamura. He asks her opinion of Ryuuji. Well, she doesn’t hate him and is grateful for the things he has done. In the end, Kitamura says how she puts on an interesting face when she’s with Ryuuji and that, they can only be friends. In short, he rejected her. After Kitamura leaves, Ryuuji goes to talk with Taiga. Amazingly she didn’t cry although I know deep down she is heartbroken. Since he can’t leave her like this, Ryuuji states some idiom about only a dragon can be together on equal terms with a tiger which earns him a kick. A start of a new level in their friendship?
 
In episode 3, Ryuuji is mesmerized by the beauty of Minori who is playing baseball and is the club’s captain. He is snapped out of it when Taiga beats him up for staring too much at her best pal. I guess because Taiga has been eating over at Ryuuji’s place, it’s naturally that his rice cooker breaks down so they go eat out at a restaurant. To Ryuuji’s surprise, he finds Minori working there part time. But this isn’t the only part time job she is on. Why, she has several of them. Simply because she has the time and energy. Ah, those youthful days better spent like this than wasting it away (like watching anime…). The next day, the duo spot Minori in another one of her part time jobs, some sake shop. Ryuuji takes this opportunity to get closer to her by volunteering to help out, dragging Taiga into it. As Taiga go do deliveries on a bicycle (she can’t cycle by the way), Ryuuji and Minori got trapped together in the storeroom. Night falls and it seems their calling has been futile. But Minori refuses to give up and Ryuuji learns her reason for cheerfulness is to defeat her weakness. That’s looking at things in a positive light. As they finally decide to climb out through the high window, Ryuuji comes face to face with a pissed Taiga who is looking all over for him and thinks he has been slacking. A little ruckus causes Taiga to fall into the storeroom. Now the trio are trapped…
 
In episode 4, Ryuuji offers to help Taiga take some photos of Kitamura, seeing that all her photos on him are very blur. Yeah, she gets excited whenever she’s close to him. Even at a distance. We learn that Kitamura is the vice president of the student council and the head is Sumire Kanou, in which Taiga doesn’t get along well with. After the photos are developed, Ryuuji offers to laminate 1 photo for her, Taiga is having a hard time choosing which one, so she tells him to pick one. When Ryuuji bumps into Kitamura later, the former learns that Kitamura has several pictures of Taiga because he once liked her. Wow. So why did her reject her then? Is it because of retaliation? I mean, when Kitamura confessed to Taiga back during junior high days, he was rejected instantly. Ryuuji confirms this when he speaks to Taiga. She mentions that her instant rejection of Kitamura was due to the suddenness of everything. However she soon came to regret her answer and developed a liking for him. Finally Taiga decides that the 1 photo she wants laminated is that face of Kitamura when he confessed to her. Ryuuji notes that they both should be more honest with their feelings. Is he the one to say?
 
In episode 5, I guess Ryuuji’s frequent patron to the restaurant is to see Minori at work but unfortunately she’s off on that day. Taiga is showing him a bag in a magazine and Ryuuji happen to notice the model in the magazine, Ami Kawashima, is right here in this restaurant. Right now too. Not only that, she is Kitamura’s childhood friend. What are the chances of being one with a famous model? Though Ami is seen as a polite and nice girl, Kitamura takes Ryuuji away to observe the girls from afar. Ami’s true nature is revealed to be stuck up, manipulative and spoilt as she tries to verbally abuse Taiga. But does Taiga give a damn about that? She slaps her face giving some mosquito excuse. That’s when the guys came back and had to split. To make things worse, Ami is a new transfer student in their class and she wins friends over easily with her fake friendly personality. Kitamura tells Ryuuji that he doesn’t hate Ami’s character and wants others to see it in hopes that she will stop lying. Minori thinks Ryuuji has abandoned Taiga for Ami and she did a very funny ghostly impression as a warning to him right in the middle of lessons! See it for yourself! Ami continues threatening Taiga for this and that and though Taiga doesn’t really bother about it until Ami mentions about Kitamura hating her for it. Ryuuji goes to console depressed Taiga at her home and is soon back to her normal self. Later that night as the duo go out to shop some groceries, they spot Ami acting suspiciously in strange clothes. Like how celebrities are trying to hide their cover in the presence of the public. Taiga notices a statement in a magazine which states Ami’s temporary break from modelling and she grins because she thinks she can use what she just saw against her.
 
In episode 6, Ami reveals that her transfer was to get away from some stalker. Too late. He’s here. Continuing to stalk. Ami takes refuge in Taiga’s mansion but since she is back to her stuck up ways, Taiga decides to test her with impersonations of other people. I don’t know what or how she did it but she was damn tired the next day after doing it consecutively for 150 times! World record? Because of that, Taiga will use this as a threat against her and calls Ami ‘stupid Chihuahua’. Kitamura requests Taiga and Ryuuji’s assistance to help Ami make friends without her fake behaviour. After school, the gang did some community service by picking up garbage around town organized by the student council. Ryuuji and Ami ended up together and separated from the rest. Then Ami gets alarmed when she spots the stalker and goes into hiding. Taiga and Minori show up and the stalker starts taking pictures of the duo. WTF?! I thought he was an Ami obsessed fan? Taiga is annoyed and beats the crap out of him as he tries to escape. Ami is amazed by Taiga’s attitude and not to be outdone by her, Ami too goes after the stalker. Later as Ami and Ryuuji goes back to the latter’s house, Ami tries to get closer to Ryuuji and teases him if he wants to know her true self. You can pretty much guess that Ami’s body language isn’t fake that she is starting to like Ryuuji. But in great timing, that’s when Taiga comes in. Showdown…
 
In episode 7, as Minori calls from outside if Ryuuji or Ami is in there, Taiga lies and says that they are not. This prompts Ami to wonder if Taiga won’t accept any other girls in Ryuuji’s house other than herself. But this episode has the gang going shopping for swimsuits (dragging along reluctant Taiga) for the upcoming class swimming event. So if you’re wondering how flat chest Taiga is, you’d be surprised to know that when she puts on her swimsuit, the chest part sinks in! Holy sh*t! Over underdeveloped! Taiga is happy to learn from Yasuko about some drinking ingredient to make her breasts bigger. So Ryuuji decides to help her out by sewing some padding in her swimsuit. The next day, it’s no surprise that Ami is an eye catcher with her desirable physiques while Ryuuji’s handwork succeeds in fooling everyone except Minori. You know, Taiga tying up her hair into round buns make her look like Mickey Mouse. Then Ami gets a little playful and nasty as she throws Taiga into the pool. Ryuuji then realizes that Taiga really doesn’t know how to swim as she is struggling like a drowning rat. Ryuuji dives in to save her and notices 1 of her pads is falling out and manages to put it back in place. Not before some embarrassing moves. Luckily nobody else saw it. Or else… Back in the classroom, Ami and Taiga are having a heated argument so Minori steps in and suggests a swimming challenge to solve everything.
 
In episode 8, the condition if Ami wins is that she’ll whisk Ryuuji away to her summer villa leaving Taiga all alone. With the odds stacked against her, Taiga continues to persistently train under Ryuuji’s guidance. Ryuuji goes talk to Ami at the school’s vending machines and it occurred to me that Ami likes to sit in the small gap between the vending machines. It’s like her personal space whereby she feels at ease. To each his/her own. Ryuuji and Taiga continue their training at the indoor public pool, tickets courtesy from Kitamura, since the next few days continue to be raining. Because of Ryuuji’s ignorance, Taiga gets upset and kicks the pool table. She thinks he is acting like he knows how she feels in her heart as she leaves in tears. Back home, Yasuko tells Ryuuji that Taiga isn’t the kind of person who would hate people. Race day arrives and Taiga shows up with lots of floating device. A funny sight. But they’re all not to help her in her swim. Before the race starts, Taiga did an underhanded thing by throwing many of them at Ami and unstrapping her top to immobilize her! Because of that, she gets a head start. However her ankle sprain caused by the kicking off the pool table is acting up on her return leg and Ami is catching up. Taiga is adamant to continue but Ryuuji is knocked unconscious into the pool when some of the boys are pushing around. Taiga forfeits the race to go save him. When Ryuuji regains consciousness, he finds Taiga a little angry as she screams how Ryuuji is hers. I wonder why nobody else jumped in to save him. Though Ami won, Taiga, Minori and Kitamura insist on tagging along to Ami’s villa. Can’t argue about that.
 
Ryuuji and Taiga both wake up from a horrifying dream in episode 9 whereby they’re both married to each other. Since Taiga lost her badminton game to Ryuuji, she has to help him get closer to Minori. The quartet arrives at Ami’s villa and while the rest go have fun at the beach, clean freak Ryuuji decides to clean up the villa. After their curry dinner, Ryuuji and Minori end up washing dishes together and later as they look at the stars, Ryuuji asks her if she has any boyfriend. But Minori avoids answering it by asking if he believes in ghosts. I think Minori is trying to subtly say something about her inability to find feelings of love through her speech about the existence of ghosts. That night after Ryuuji and Taiga grab some late midnight snack, they return to his room to find strands of hair and sticky substance on his bed. Same with Taiga’s. Then the room and balcony doors start making banging noises as the 2 grip each other in fear.
 
Because of that in episode 10, the duo stayed awake all night. Day breaks and the duo soon discuss their plan with Kitamura and Ami to scare Minori since she dislike horror stuff. Ryuuji and Minori are alone together chatting as Ami eavesdrop. At the beach, Ami wonders why Ryuuji is going to great lengths to woo Minori and since he refuses to say anything, Ami refuses to help him out. Part of the Minori-scaring plan is for the gang to enter a dark cave in which Kitamura has set up some scary traps prior to it. However his traps aren’t that scary either. Ryuuji then notices a sticky substance but Kitamura says he didn’t plant that trap. The group ended up being separated with Ryuuji and Ami alone together and lost. Ami thinks Minori doesn’t suit him when they hear screams of Minori and Kitamura. When they regroup with Taiga and Kitamura, they learn that Minori has disappeared further into the cave. Kitamura soon follows suit. Upon seeing the strands of hair, Ryuuji and Taiga starts to panic. Until it’s revealed that Kitamura and Minori are just playing a prank on them, including the ones in their bedroom. Uh huh. They noticed their strange behaviour in trying to scare Minori earlier on and that’s when they decide to show them how the real stuff is being done. Besides, Minori says she loves horror stuff and stating that she disliked them was more of a psychological thingy. Later that night as everyone watches the fireworks, Ryuuji goes talk to Minori. He expresses his wish to help find her a ghost. She indicates her intention to find out why Ryuuji would do all this for her, his kindness and after searching for all the UFOs she will… But I think Minori was trying to say she would fall for him but Ryuuji cut her off and the fireworks start.
 
The school cultural festival is coming up in episode 11 and Kanou is thinking of making this the greatest event before bowing out. The class is debating on what to do which includes a maid cafe and a cosplay cafe but the final draw turned out to be pro wrestling play. Huh?! Did Yuri have a hand in this turnout? By the way, I need to mention several supporting characters which happen to be Ryuuji and Ami’s classmate and friends. They are Kouji Haruta, Hisamitsu Noto, Maya Kihara and Nanako Kashii. But this episode sees Taiga ignoring repeatedly phone calls from her dad. Ryuuji learns that Taiga isn’t on good terms with him because he ‘abandoned’ her to live in the mansion all alone. Because of that, Taiga notices her allowance being sent from him has been stopped. Ryuuji has been sent by Taiga to go meet him instead. The guys talk things over at a cafe and he thinks that Ryuuji is his daughter’s boyfriend. He proceeds to tell Ryuuji that the reason Taiga hates him was because he moved in with a new wife and Taiga was forced to leave. However he intends to leave her and wishes to be reunited and start anew with Taiga. When Ryuuji goes home, he tries to explain this to Taiga but she refuses to listen. The next day in school, everyone in class is roped in for their lines for the play. The plot is real weird and has Ami the heroine saving the world from evil aliens played by Taiga and Ryuuji. After school, Taiga goes home and notices her dad waiting at her mansion. She kicks him in the crotch and goes to Ryuuji’s place but Ryuuji forces her to go meet her dad, citing his own case whereby he couldn’t meet his even if he wanted to. Taiga believes him and goes to meet her dad. Ryuuji wonders if he has done the right thing.
 
Taiga continues to spend more time with her dad in episode 12. Taiga wishes to switch roles with Ami so that her dad who is coming to watch her play would get to see her good side. But when Minori finds about the recent developments between Taiga and her dad from Ryuuji, she becomes disgusted and upset. Minori thinks Taiga is being deceived by her dad and this makes Ryuuji a little angry. He thinks she doesn’t know what’s going on and she tells him back the same thing. Later Ami goes to cheer him up and offers her advice. Ryuuji goes home to learn from Yasuko that Taiga is going to move away with her dad. When Taiga comes home, she wants Ryuuji to apologize to Minori and it isn’t about whether he was right or wrong. The festival play starts and you can say even though it is hilarious, it was a huge success. Ami vs Taiga. Yeah, it’s the best chance to take out on each other. More importantly Taiga’s dad didn’t turn up at the festival at all and when the class celebrates the play’s success, Ryuuji notices Taiga looking disappointed because she didn’t get to play the lead role once.
 
In episode 13, the classmates learn that Ryuuji has sewn a dress for Taiga for the school’s beauty contest. The eagerly anticipated beauty contest starts and Taiga is looking quite pretty herself. However Ryuuji receives bad news. Taiga’s dad SMS him saying that he won’t be able to attend the festival and he has even aborted his plans to live with Taiga. Why that creep! Ryuuji realizes that he has been wrong all along and notices Taiga’s gloomy face. As Ami calls for Taiga’s no-show dad, Ryuuji tries to save her by starting to clap. This is followed by Minori in tears and the rest. Though Taiga wins the contest, Kanou decides to spice things up by proposing a race in which the winner earns the right to dance with Taiga. Ryuuji decides to enter this race as he thinks the only person who can be beside Taiga is him. The race is tough with desperate guys singling out Ryuuji. Minori enters the race too but she holds back the other guys so that Ryuuji could win. He refuses to do so and takes Minori’s hands as they both cross the finish line together and at the same time forgive each other. During the festival dance, Kanou is seen talking to Kitamura while Minori tells Ryuuji how a similar thing happened to Taiga last year whereby her dad stood her up the last minute. Minori did the same thing as Ryuuji did but in the end she felt disappointed. They both apologize to each other before their classmates pull them into the dance. Finally Taiga gets to dance with Kitamura.
 
In episode 14, rumours that whoever touches Taiga will be granted happiness. Also rumours about Taiga and Kitamura dating have surfaced even though Taiga hangs out more with Ryuuji. The festival photos are up for sale and as expected Taiga chooses the one whereby she dances with Kitamura while Ryuuji prefers the one he crosses the finish line together with Minori. Meanwhile Kanou says she has something important to tell Kitamura. After school as Ami bumps into Ryuuji at a supermarket, Taiga encounters Kitamura at the riverside. He seems to be worried. Taiga goes home and is embraced by Yasuko upon learning about the rumour. Yasuko notes how the trio are like a family, causing Taiga to feel touched. Ami is seen talking to her mom over the phone and expresses her wish to stay as she has made some friends. I guess she has partially changed too.
 
Something is really bugging Kitamura in episode 15 as he isn’t his happy self recently. He vehemently turns down the offer to be the next student council president, something which everyone expected him to be. The next day he turns up in school with his hair dyed blonde which gets him into trouble with the teachers. So what’s eating Kitamura? Though Ryuuji and Taiga suspect something must have happened during his talk with Kanou, Kanou notes that if it is so, she is disappointed in him. Ryuuji and Taiga try to find Kitamura at his home but he’s not in. When Ryuuji comes home, he is shocked to see Kitamura at his place. He ran away from home? Having sleeping over at his place, the next morning, Yasuko chases the trio out of the house for being too noisy. It was funny to see Kitamura getting punched in the face by sleep talking Taiga who thinks he is Ryuuji. The trio spend the rest of the day together like playing caged baseball. When they return, Yasuko plans to dye Kitamura’s hair black again upon finding out what happened from his parents but he runs away. The next day in school, with Kitamura still not wanting to be the next student council president, Taiga decides to run for presidency and bring her reign of terror to the school. Perhaps an attempt to change Kitamura’s mind to save the school?
 
Despite all this, in episode 16, Kitamura sticks to his decision of not contesting. Ryuuji then finds out the source of Kitamura’s weird behaviour. Kitamura has a crush on Kanou but she is going to study abroad in USA soon. He goes to find Kitamura sitting at the riverside. He reveals that the reason why he joined the student council was so that he could impress her and since she is going away soon, he feels all this are for naught. You thought he was in love with Taiga, right? Yeah until he was rejected, soon after Kanou appeared before him and gave him some words to boost his self confidence. That’s when his feelings for her started. Well it makes sense why Kitamura wanted to be Taiga’s friend in the first place. With that, Kitamura is back to his normal self and decides to contest for presidency. However Yuri says that he hasn’t submitted his forms yet which means technically Taiga will be president if he hasn’t done so by the deadline. Ryuuji and Taiga confront Kitamura and is being told that he would quit anyway. Not until Kanou shows up and lectures his foolish actions. She gives him the form and wants to see what kind of student council he will be running. With Kitamura as the new student council president, the next day of his instalment, instead of giving his opening speech, he confesses his love for Kanou and wants her reply! But Kanou quickly dismisses it and says how he is such an interesting guy. After that, Ryuuji catches up to Kanou and wants to know why she didn’t reply him but Taiga tells him that Kitamura is crying. Taiga decides to settle this herself. She enters Kanou’s class and challenges Kanou to a sword fight. While trading blows, Taiga calls her a coward but Kanou in tears explains that she knows Kitamura is the kind of idiot who would do anything she’d ask him to. Because of that, she has to be strong and not be a fool himself. By that time, Kitamura has heard her and expresses his thanks for all that she has done and that he is glad to have fall in love with her. Soon Kanou leaves for USA and Taiga is suspended for 2 weeks. In that period, she has to write an apology letter to Kanou but the letter contains ‘baka’ only as Kanou gives out a heartily laughter.
 
After Taiga and Kitamura, now it is Minori’s turn to get depressed in episode 17. She is spacing out so much that she isn’t concentrating on her baseball match and made silly mistakes. Christmas is approaching and it seems Taiga has garnered a few fans after her fight with Kanou. Noting that there is no progress between Ryuuji and Minori’s relationship, Taiga decides to help out. Now that Kitamura is free from his depression, he has become an even quirkier guy. Greeting face flat on the floor? Plus, he has been dubbed the God of Broken Hearts and offers advice to those people with relationship troubles. Like Yuri. This guy has sure changed. Has he? He also announces a Christmas party and Taiga thinks this is a good chance for Ryuuji to confess but Minori says she won’t be attending. At the restaurant, Haruta and Noto tries to pair Kitamura and Taiga to sit together since they believe Taiga likes him seeing that Kanou has dumped him. They think Ryuuji doesn’t know this. Oh he does. And too well of it. As they are walking home, Kihara seems to drop hints to Ryuuji that Taiga is more suited for him. This prompts Ryuuji to think that Kihara likes Kitamura but she didn’t reply as she rushes to catch up with the rest.
 
As everyone prepares for the Christmas party in episode 18, Haruta and Noto are trying to make Kitamura and Taiga spend more time with each other. Because Ryuuji doesn’t like how everyone is playing cupid, Ami remarks that Ryuuji is like playing a father’s role and wants him to stop. Partly because Ami feels he should let her inside her heart as well. The final preparation of the Christmas tree is nearly done as Taiga puts a glass star on top as its finishing touch. As they awed by the magnificent sight of the lighted tree, a baseball comes crashing in and knocking the star off. Minori is devastated to learn that it is her fault and forces guilt-ridden self to patch up the shattered pieces. Ryuuji offers to help though he says it is for his own reasons. After finishing and putting the tree up for the second time, Minori apologizes and leaves. Ryuuji invites her to come to the party but she refuses. However Ryuuji promises that he will be waiting.
 
In episode 19, Ryuuji tries to contact Minori but she doesn’t answer. Taiga gives Ryuuji a suit once belonging to her dad for the party. The party starts and we see Kitamura dressed up as a topless Santa in suspenders. He’s gone crazy ever since that day, eh? Ryuuji is on the lookout for Minori and is feeling anxious because there is a present he wants to give her. Then Ami and Taiga surprises everyone by singing a duet on stage. Have they become this friendly to even plan such a secret performance together? After the performance, Taiga leaves for home (she called Minori and told her about Ryuuji’s promise) and Ami is still annoyed that Ryuuji is playing Taiga’s father. Ryuuji then leaves the party. Taiga is home alone and thinking about meeting Santa when a bear Santa comes knocking her window. Though she is happy but realizes that he is Ryuuji once the head gear comes off (he borrowed the gear from some guy in the streets, trading it with his suit). Ryuuji doesn’t want to let Taiga spend Christmas alone but Taiga tells him to go back and wait for Minori. After he reluctantly leaves, Taiga breaks down and suddenly realizes that she can’t bear the thought of being separated from him. She runs out of her home in tears screaming his name. Not far away, Minori sees what is happening. Outside the school gates as Ryuuji waits, eventually Minori turns up. Her usual indirect speech about not wanting to look for UFO and ghosts anymore before going away. Ryuuji realizes that he has been dumped.
 
It’s the New Year in episode 20 and Ryuuji has caught a cold. Also everyone is looking forward to the hot sunny beaches of Okinawa for their school trip but Yuri informs them that since the hotels have been burned down, it’ll be replaced with a snowy skiing trip. Ryuuji soon recovers and finds out the bear suit he borrowed from was from a guy in his school as he returns his suit. He remembers that he has left the present for Minori inside its pocket, a hairpin. At a cafe, Taiga reveals to Ami that Ryuuji has been rejected by Minori. Next day, Ryuuji meets Minori on the streets and she is her bubbly self. Sly Taiga plays a trick on them when she comes running from the back, throws her back at Ryuuji and tells Minori to grab him and zooms past them. In her response, Minori quickly grabs Ryuuji’s hands before realizing the prank and gets flustered. Ryuuji and Minori had a little chat as they walk to school. In class, Kitamura has divided the class into several groupings. Kihara isn’t happy with the current grouping which has Ryuuji, Taiga, Ami, Kitamura, Noto, Haruta, Kashii and herself. The gang gathers at Taiga’s place for the school trip’s assignment and are amazed at her mansion. Ryuuji notices Taiga is able to talk normally with Kitamura without having all that stammering and blunders. Minori then praises Ryuuji for changing Taiga, something which she didn’t had the courage to do since her last visit to her place before her dad’s incident. Minori wishes how all this would continue forever. On the day of departure, Ryuuji is determined to find out Minori’s true feelings.
 
The gang arrives at the ski resort in episode 21. Noto and Kihara argues about the latter always trying to be around Kitamura and Kitamura himself is blur to the obvious on what they’re fighting about. Ryuuji learns that Taiga had met with Kitamura during New Year’s Day and notices Minori is wearing his hairpin as she has received them indirectly from Taiga. Because of that, I guess it’s Ryuuji’s turn to be depressed so his guy pals go ‘disturb’ him until he can’t take it anymore (funny Kitamura faking a fart on his face!). They learn that Ryuuji has a crush on Minori and has been rejected on Christmas day. So Kitamura suggests asking Minori herself the reason as they drag Ryuuji into the girl’s room. Luckily no one was around. They heard footsteps of the girls coming back and hide in the closet but only find Taiga coming in. They too drag Taiga into the closet when the other girls came back. The guys and Taiga overhear the conversations between Ami, Minori, Kihara and Kashii whereby Ami taunts Minori about rejecting Ryuuji. This causes Minori to be upset as they broke into argument. I think I’ve never seen Minori with such a serious and angry face before. Thankfully, the other girls broke them up. The next day as everyone is skiing, Taiga and Minori’s sled crashes into Ami and she thinks Minori did it on purpose. Another argument soon turns into physical as the rest tries to stop them. Minori’s hairpin is dropped during the fight and Taiga decides to go look for it herself but slides off the slope. A heavy snowstorm soon occurs and when Taiga doesn’t return, Ryuuji, Kitamura and Minori go looking for her. Ryuuji spots the hairpin and unconscious Taiga at the hill slope bottom. He carries her on his back and that is when he heard her speaking semi-consciously. Taiga thinks Ryuuji is Kitamura. She apologizes and wants ‘him’ to take away these feelings as her wish from the God of Broken Hearts didn’t work. In the end, she confesses how she loves Ryuuji. I guess this explains why she isn’t nervous around Kitamura anymore.
 
It’s back to school in episode 22. Ryuuji is recalling the Taiga saving incident so much so he screams out her name right in the middle of class. Uh huh. How embarrassing. Taiga is currently recuperating away with her mom. Ryuuji tells Kitamura what happened and requests him to pretend to be the one who saved Taiga. At this point in time, the students are to hand in their form of their future careers. While Minori has found a new part time job in a ramen store, Ryuuji thinks he can’t afford higher education but Yasuko insists that he continue studying as she thinks something will work out (meaning Yasuko will soon work longer hours). A short flashback which sees how Yasuko comforting young Ryuuji who is saddened by the lost of his dad. She’s being optimistic by saying she’s some kind of super mom. While Ryuuji is thinking about the times he spent with Taiga, he gets a surprised when she turns up at his doorstep. Looks like her injury wasn’t as bad as it was claimed. She’s spending some good time with her mom and the reason she’s knocking on his door is because she forgot her house key and decides to go through his place via window (kids, don’t ever attempt her ‘tiger’ jump anyhow). Though she notices the hairpin in his box, she assures him that he’ll be with Minori. Taiga then tells him about the weird and embarrassing confession dream she has while being semi-unconscious but Ryuuji pretends to tell her that it is just that and nobody heard what she said, making her feel relieved.
 
Valentine’s Day is approaching in episode 23. Yuri is advising Ryuuji and Taiga about their future career. Taiga isn’t interested because she thinks she’s a rich girl and doesn’t have to do anything while Ryuuji maintains he can’t afford it. Ryuuji then meets Ami who turns down a modelling job for the school. He learns that she planned to stay in this school for a short term only but decided to stay after learning of Taiga’s true inner feelings. Ryuuji then receives a call from Taiga that Yasuko has collapsed due to overworking. As Yasuko rests back home, Ryuuji feels guilty for what has happened. He and Taiga decides to help out by being Yasuko’s replacement at a part time bakery shop selling cakes. During their shift, the duo are shocked to see Haruta with a girlfriend. Things do change. They also see how Noto is quite concern about Kihara as Taiga says directly in his face if he has a crush on her, causing him to panic. Seeing that business is slow, Taiga calls Ami for help. Ami is disappointed she called her for such a menial thing and leaves but Taiga ‘threatens’ her. The nearby crowd recognizes Ami so the latter has no choice but to help out by using her celebrity status to buy one. With that, the crowd follows her actions and business increases. After their shift is done, Taiga goes to give chocolates to Minori, Kitamura, Ami and Ryuuji as appreciation for looking after her. When Taiga thanks Kitamura for saving her, Minori realizes what’s happening as Ryuuji hasn’t told her about his pretending plan. Upset Minori confronts Taiga for not showing her real feelings. Ami and Kitamura block the exits so Taiga can’t escape. Taiga is at breaking point as she says all she wish for is Minori’s happiness but Minori disagrees because she herself can only decide her own happiness. Ami and Kitamura allow Taiga to escape. Minori decides to go after her while Ryuuji is in a dilemma of whether to chase after her. He wonders what he’ll do if he finds out how Taiga feels about the feeling she wants to hide.
 
Ryuuji decides to go chase after Taiga with Minori in episode 24. While looking for her, Minori did say how she liked Ryuuji all the while. I guess the hallway is pretty much empty for her voice to echo that far. They couldn’t find her and ended up in the infirmary since Minori tripped during the search. There, Minori tells Ryuuji about the hairpin he wanted to give for his present but she decided not to accept it. She implies how Taiga likes him and says her farewell. Ryuuji agrees and continues running out of the room. Taiga is on her way to her part time job and is surprised to meet Ryuuji. After their shift, they talk things over but their moms intercepted. Taiga’s mom isn’t happy she’s taking up a part time job and wants her to come back with her and of course that girl disagrees. Ryuuji also gets into an argument with Yasuko which ended up with mommy in tears. They both ran away in the end. At the bridge, they continue their talk and Ryuuji says that in 2 months he’ll be 18 years old. By then he’ll make Taiga his wife. Of course she got flustered. Before they both could finish confessing, Ryuuji gets a call from Kitamura to get his ass over to Ami’s place. There, the gang learns that Ryuuji and Taiga plan to elope. Though it’s wrong, they decide to help them out like Minori giving her part time wages as a start, Ami her key to her villa and Kitamura some train tickets. Minori decides to stay at Ami’s place to ‘patch up’ their relationship. After the rest leaves, Minori breaks down. Ryuuji returns home to find a note left by Yasuko saying that she is staying over at a relative’s place and has brought Inko with her. More like ran away, eh? The day soon comes when Ryuuji and Taiga are absent from class and because they have packed their stuffs and are taking a train to Ryuuji’s grandparent’s place. They’re pretty surprised to see their grandson and his wife.
 
Yasuko rushes to where Ryuuji is after receiving a fake voicemail from Taiga in episode 25. We learn Yasuko’s relationship with her parents was strained and hasn’t seen them in 10 years. Of course after some scolding, they reconcile. Ryuuji also learns from Yasuko that she isn’t married to her dad. When she was pregnant with him, daddy ran away with another woman. Though everyone wanted her to get an abortion, Yasuko remained steadfast in keeping her baby and raised Ryuuji to how he is today. That night Ryuuji and Taiga got a little intimate as they practice exchanging marriage vows and they kissed several times. Soon the trio head back to their own homes as a family. Taiga is back at her place and thinks the scathing voicemail from her mom is funny. Believing she loves Ryuuji and needs to change, she leaves a farewell note to Ryuuji because she doesn’t want to run away anymore. The next day in school, Yuri announces Taiga has quit school to follow her mom, much to the surprise of the other classmates as they start texting to her. Later Minori confronts Ryuuji and slaps him for returning alone but Kitamura stops her. Though Ryuuji wanted to bring her back by any means, he believes her trust in him and can the only thing he can do now is to accept it.
 
As Ryuuji visits Taiga’s ex-room and goes through the stuff she supposedly forgot to bring, he gets an SMS from her. Her other classmates also receive the same picture SMS. A black star with a single sky. Minori interprets this as Taiga’s will to do her best and the sky will connect them together so long as they shine. Then they go in search of the broken glass star and took a class photo to send back to her. Note Kitamura is topless. WTF?! Ryuuji is seen stating that tiger and dragon will always be together line. Although they’re separated, he feels that he’ll leap through space and time to be with her. The final scenes show Inko finally able to say its own name and the graduation day for the gang. As Kitamura is going to pursue his education in USA, the legend of Palmtop Tiger who brings happiness is born among the lower classmen. Outside, Ryuuji thinks he saw Taiga in a classroom and rushes there only to find her hiding in a closet as a surprise. Ryuuji confesses that he loves her and causes her to fluster. Taiga head butts him for saying such embarrassing things. Some things don’t change.
 
There is a short 5 minute clip called Toradora SOS which has the characters drawn in their chibi form. Plus, the girls have animal ears and tails and the storyline is somewhat comical and doesn’t bear any significance to the TV series. It’s about Ryuuji and the 3 main girls having some Torako and meat spaghetti duel. A lot of ranting which I don’t really understand or care about. Anyway the winning spaghetti as concluded by Kitamura is… well, more like a draw. As the girls are on their way home, Minori says SOS could mean Strawberry on the Shortcake. Lastly a short section called Today’s Inko in which that weird parrot tries to say several stammering words like shokupan (meal bread), Chopin and panties. That bird is so weird…
 
As expected, I anticipated that Ryuuji and Taiga would be a couple in the end. Though it was a little unexpected that they had to be separated but their brief reunion was enough to end the series on a good thing. What started out as a plan to hit on each other’s best friends turned out into an unwitting fate which attracted them together. That’s what you get for hanging around and relying on each other almost 24/7. With this love relationship solved, I guess the rest too would fall into place like Ami and Minori having to give up Ryuuji and Kitamura perhaps is still bent on pursuing Kanou. Not too sure about Noto-Kashii or any indication that Kashii is giving up on Kitamura.
 
Minori is still my favourite character because of her positive and bubbly behaviour. Her liveliness never fails to bring a smile on a my face especially when she makes those ghostly ones. But even so, her cheerful exterior sometimes to a certain extent hides her troubled self. As the series progresses, the main characters do develop from their initial personalities. Like how Taiga doesn’t think that she’s alone now. Ami is a lesser arrogant brat and at times she does give good advice and opinions to Ryuuji and Minori. Kitamura is still the helpful student council president he is but can be a little crazy at times. Yasuko may not be the most responsible single parent and her behaviour is still child-like but she still cares for Ryuuji and what it takes to keep her family together. What more could I say about their pet parrot? Hey, I also noticed that as the series progressed, the other people don’t seem to fear Ryuuji’s scary eyes anymore. So you see, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
 
There are some issues which I’m still pondering about like the reason for Minori’s gloominess isn’t really explained. Or perhaps I wasn’t paying attention. Was it because she realized that Taiga’s heart belongs to Ryuuji? What about Taiga’s dad who wanted to move back into her daughter’s life and then abandoned her at the very last minute? Maybe he still sees her as an eyesore but it’s a good thing we never heard of him after he left. Better to stay that way. Away, that is. I noticed in the series a coffeehouse called Sudoh-Bucks, which is of course a parody of the popular Starbucks. Of course its logo is slightly different but you can make out that it’s a slightly different design than the real one. Are they trying to subtly promote the brand or avoid copyright infringement? I remember Ryuuji did mention how they could get sued.
 
As mentioned, Rie Kugimiya did another splendid job voicing tsundere Taiga. Need I list down her other tsundere roles? Go do a little research yourself. It’ll be much fun. I also like Yui Horie voices Minori and because of her exuberant and cheerfulness in portraying her character. She is famous for previous roles like Tohru in Fruits Basket, Kotori in Da Capo series and Eri in School Rumble. Other casts include Junji Majima as Ryuuji (Aoki in Kodomo No Jikan), Eri Kitamura as Ami (Saya in Blood+), Hirofumi Nojima as Kitamura (Ranmaru in Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge), Rie Tanaka as Yuri (Maria of Hayate No Gotoku) and Sayaka Ohara as Yasuko (Alicia in Aria The Animation).
 
Yeah we’ve heard it many times before that love works in mysterious ways. And even though the main protagonists didn’t end up with their intended crushes, but at least they still found love with each other. A relationship between a tiger and a dragon, now that is one mighty awesome, influential, commanding, majestic and dominating combination, don’t you think? I can think of a few celebrities with the Chinese word dragon or tiger in their names or nicknames and even emblems and logos with such creatures. I wonder what would be the significance between say, a rabbit and a duck? Don’t laugh. Just think Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, no? What about a coyote and a roadrunner then? I think it’s pretty obvious…
 

Toradora