There’s no doubt that Toradora’s been a great ride through most of it’s run, suprising at almost every turn by defying expectiations and turning to be a good harem/romance/comedy series despite what someone could think at a first glance. Much like the characters themselves, the show had a depth that could only have been seen by those (many) who were able to look past the fact that Kugimiya Rie was voicing another tsundere loli. Or loved that fact and watched the show solely because of it. >_>
There was nothing too amazing about Toradora initially, but then again few shows have started out by completely capturring their audience. It was simple, a light-hearted romcom with charismatic characters that were easy to like. Once the show had sucked us in with a good first impression, it immediately started demonstrating a technique that’s not mormally present in the romantic genre: subtley. There were lines of dialogue and key scenes that resonated strongly with the viewer, allowing us to empathise with the characters and their, as of then, friendship with each other. From the “shed” scene in episode 3 to the “pool scene” in epsiode 8 the show we were continuously shown twists on traditional stereotypes. It maintained a balance of comedy well, along with messages on the nature of friendship . Although, this is more in retrospect. Back then I was too busy drooling over Minori and Taiga.
But when the show returned after it’s break, it was never as impressive as episode 13 was. Most of this lies in the shift in tone towards the romance that becomes more impressive later on in the series, since with romance there always comes, especially in teenage dramas, angst. Don’t get me wrong, this was only testament to how deeply the characters felt about each other, but Kitamura completely dragged down the show for reasons I best express in RAEGHATE here. There was also the fact that Ami was being so two-faced about her feelings; it’s all fine and good that she’s so perceptive but it doesn’t count for squat if she’s unable to say the truth herself. Combine that with Minori angsting as well and, outside of the resolution of Sumire’s arc (aka ToraGARa) there just wasn’t the same amount of charm that there used to be in the show.
However, the ski trip relieved some of my doubts about the series returning to its former greatness. It’s like we had the same excellent dialogue from the first half, as well as the symbolism etc but the shift in tone from friendship to love was just utilising it to a different (arguably better) extent. Episodes 20 and 21 felt like the boiling point of the series, the culmination of all the tension and feelings that had been builiding up for so long, and the payoff at the end of 21 was more than worth it.
Though conclusion was irrational almost to the point of irritation, this was the point in Toradora where, though it aimed for the heart in expense of the head, I didn’t care. Though around 50% of what was said in this post was actually honest problems that I had with the ending, it doesn’t change the fact that I enjoyed it immensely (kissing scene = win).
Despite it’s problems, Toradora is still an enjoyable show (whichi is all that counts really), primarily because of the strength of the characterisation that’s rare in not just romance but in a lot of anime these days. I just wish that Ami got more love and Kitamura had died by the middle of the series.