Anime x Lit Crit: Vampires and Valentines (Collab with Primes)

Hello, wonderful readers! As you may already know if you follow Negative Primes from Curiously Dead Cat (go follow him if you haven’t; he’s awesome), Primes and I are starting a collab project. Our nice and catchy title comes from the fact that we both blog about anime and chose English lit. as a college major, though Primes is definitely my senpai when it comes to literary criticism (he actually read my term papers for me)! As for the latter part of the title… we each recommended an anime to each other, and while mine for him was Shiki, Primes suggested Toradora! for me.

Primes: Thank you for the kind words, Moya! 🙂

So without further ado, here comes our thoughts on the first episode of Toradora!

Toradora! is a bit of an anime classic. Out of the titles Primes’ suggested, I ended up choosing it because I’ve been given the name “tsundere” at one point, and am quite interested in looking into the archetype. Taiga is definitely not the prototype tsundere, but she sure is a famous one.

toradora 1.1

The episode opens with Ryuji narrating his depressing day-to-day life, with Taiga mirroring his views by continuing on the narration where Ryuji leaves off. The dual-protagonist musings remind me of the opening of Mawaru Penguindrum’s earlier episodes. Here we are at the start of a new day, and here are two people who yearn for change but don’t feel like life is going to give them what they want. It’s this whole idea of “fate,” to draw further parallels with Mawaru Penguindrum.

Primes: I admit I’d never heard of Penguindrum until now. The Infallible Wikipedia describes it as follows: “A terminally ill girl named Himari Takakura is miraculously saved from death by a strange spirit who resides in a penguin-shaped hat. However, in exchange for extending her life, the spirit tasks Himari’s brothers, Kanba and Shoma, to seek out an elusive item known as the Penguindrum with the assistance from a trio of strange penguins.” It’s extremely well-reviewed so far as I can tell. Unfortunately it looks like it’s only streaming on HiDive for the moment, so I’m not sure when I will be able to watch it.

Despite how pathetic the narration makes our main characters sound, this episode is definitely not short on energy. I didn’t realize just how many memes and reaction faces come from this anime until I watched this episode. I swear, I recognized about ten of them. It is an exaggerated rom-com after all!

Primes: Including the meme on my very first blog post. 😀 

angry

Something I found interesting off top was how Ryuji perceives his life as being “fake.” The question I have is what’s so fake about it? So far, I get that he’s sick and tired of his life and is greatly misunderstood by everyone at school for being a “delinquent.” I don’t see him pretending to be something he is not as of right now, but perhaps I’ll find out later on.

Speaking of pessimistic beginnings, Ryuji’s house is infested with mould, and Taiga’s house is full of dust. Mould grows in damp and stuffy places, while dust piles up when a space suffers from disuse. Ryuji’s life sucks because of monotonousness and his inability to make effective changes; Taiga’s life is a mess because there’s no one to tend to her physical and emotional needs.

toradora 1.2

Primes: Wow, I hadn’t made that connection! I wonder if it’s significant that Ryuji can clean up Taiga’s house but can’t keep his own free from mould… 

Hmm…that’s a good point. He can change other people’s lives, but not his own. I suppose that’s where they need each other.

I’m liking the amount of energy in this anime. I often find it hard to suspend disbelief in anime in comparison to manga, but the physically impossible feats accomplished by characters in this episode were all entertaining to watch. Perhaps it’s because of the pleasantly simple art style.

Family is another interesting topic the episode gives us a glimpse of. Taiga’s is absent, and Ryuji’s seems highly dysfunctional. Ryuji’s mom is someone who needs to be babied, while his dad was (I’m guessing he’s dead) a yakuza leader whom Ryuji greatly despises. Ryuji lives in his dad’s shadow, as people keep comparing him to his terrifying father. It’s a classic trope – surpass the father to find yourself! Let’s not go Oedipal on all of this…

toradora 1.4

In Ryuji’s case, it’s about constructing his own identity, and perhaps, having other people validate that. Reputation can mean everything when you’re in a place like high school. Would I say that Ryuji is an insecure person? Not really… but he sure lacks assertiveness sometimes. That’s quite the male romance protagonist trait in anime. To balance things out so that Ryuji and Taiga still feel somewhat like equals, Taiga lacks all the life skills that Ryuji has. Still, their relationship can easily lead into an S & M situation that is seen as perfectly fine in the anime world. Ryuji actually agrees to be Taiga’s dog! I wonder how the series is going to handle this later on.

Primes: I think it’s handled quite well: As you’ll see (and without putting any spoilers in), both characters undergo a lot of development and maturing. 

Alright then, I’m looking forward to how it unfolds! Prediction: they’re going to have a huge fight at some point and realize many things after it.

toradora 1.5

So far, this is certainly a fun series to look into!

Primes: I certainly found it so, and also thought it got a bit profound as it progressed. (To our readers: If you missed the first post of our collab, you can find it here.) Now I feel compelled to go back and watch Toradora again! Thank you for suggesting we collaborate, Moya!

Thank you for the suggestion, Primes! I’m starting to re-watch Shiki as well (with my mom too; she’s loving it).

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15 thoughts on “Anime x Lit Crit: Vampires and Valentines (Collab with Primes)

  1. Interesting…
    Never really got into Toradora, even though I watched it the whole way through a few years ago! I thought it was okay, but nothing spectacular.
    Anyway, I’m looking forward to how this plays out. (But first, I have to sleep through my study hall! I’m a zombie after going on vacation and need some more rest!)

    Liked by 1 person

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