Anime x Lit Crit – Vampires & Valentines: Toradora! 10

So I’m back! Thanks to my partner Primes and anyone who keeps up with this series for having so much patience.

Primes: Welcome back! We’re glad you survived your intense summer coursework! 

Thank you! 🙂

The fact that I more-or-less predicted the course of this episode may have affected my enjoyment of it a bit, but it was still a pretty fun one. To accelerate Ryuji and Minori’s romantic bonding, everyone other than Minori makes a plan to scare her in a cave so that Ryuji can put on a rescue act. Obviously, nothing’s going to go smoothly in a rom-com!

toradora 10.1 kitamura creepy
Basically that glasses guy in Maid Dragon?!

Kitamura’s Expedition Crew! It’s not the first time I’ve noticed this, but it seems like Kitamura is the only one I address by surname in these reviews. Like, he’s just so not a Yusaku? Perhaps it’s because he barely ever gets called by his first name in the series until Ami shows up, and I’ve already settled with “Kitamura” by then. Kitamura-kun – still a distant and unfathomable character by ep. 10.

Primes: I can’t keep their first and last names straight, so I just call them whatever I feel like. 😀

By the way, Kitamura announces as they enter the cave that they’re going to find “the two-headed golden cobra”. I did some digging around on the net but could not find the source of this. Anyone know what he’s referring to?

I have no idea! Possibly a game reference from somewhere?

toradora 10.2 ami yandere
Ami will make a good yandere in another show.

And so, the crew of five gets separated and Ryuji, Prince Charming as he is, goes after Ami, who slyly chooses to take a shortcut. She makes an act of getting lost and becoming scared, but it’s so bad that Ryuji is surely the only one who can fall for it (see, fashion models aren’t all actresses). Ami eventually comes to acknowledge that Ryuji still cares much more about Minori than her, and gives him a pretty important talk on equality in love.

According to Ami, Ryuji is like the moon while Minori is like the sun, which is why he would “burn away” under her presence. And in addition to that, the sun and the moon simply can’t coexist in the same sky. Ami is suggesting that she is more equal to Ryuji than Minori is, but while that may be true, they aren’t exactly “equals” either. Ami is always attempting to manipulate Ryuji in some way, and although Ryuji is never wholly susceptible to her charm, there’s definitely a power imbalance there. The dragon is the only creature equal to the tiger? I’ve mentioned that I have some issues with accepting this premise, but we’ll see.

Primes: One of my favorite lines in this episode comes out of this conversation, basically that adoration of another person isn’t a good foundation for a romance. Pedestals are for statues, not people. So what is a good foundation? I think that’s one of the fundamental questions of this series, and at different times we get different answers. So here, for example, Ami proposes the “equal footing” foundation. We as the viewers don’t have to take her word for it or agree with her; we should however think on it. In my experience as a long-time married man, the ‘equality’ thing is good but potentially misleading. There are times when one person needs to take the lead and times when the other person should: It’s not so much level ground as it is a solid see-saw.

Hmm…the part about somebody having to take the lead is pretty true. For example, I am indecisive as heck, and if I have a partner who’s the same, we’re going to go hungry the whole night because we can’t decide on what to have for dinner.

bleach aizen admiration quote
Also, Toradora! rephrased my favourite Aizen quote.

Moya, can you shed some insight into the “sun vs. moon” imagery? It seems pretty obvious that the sun never burns up the moon no matter how close they get in the sky. Is there some myth or legend behind this?

I thought about that simile for a bit too. I feel like every culture has some sort of sun-chases-moon story. It also seems like the sun is masculine and the moon is feminine in most myths I know. We have Apollo and Artemis, the concept of Yin (male) and Yang (female)…oh, wait, wait. In Japanese myth, Amaterasu is the sun goddess and Tsukuyomi is the moon god! Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu are siblings, and their separation in the sky happened because Tsukuyomi offended Amaterasu very badly by killing the goddess of food, Uke Mochi. Amaterasu definitely sounds like the sibling in control, and here we have the first moon-chases-sun story that I’ve discovered! I don’t know if I can comment on much based on this, but I feel like the sun and moon are both represented by immortal figures in the stories I’ve come across, so neither can really destroy the other. Ryuji and Minori’s relationship isn’t exactly governed by desire and repulsion, but if you want to compare Ryuji to the guilty Tsukuyomi and Minori to the omniscient Amaterasu in this episode, I can kind of see that.

Ghost talk pt. 2! And of course, Minori teamed up with Kitamura because she wants to be the one to show Ryuji ghosts. You see, Minori’s relationship with ghosts is quite complex:

  1. Finds it hard to believe in ghosts.
  2. Loves ghosts.
  3. Wants to see ghosts.
  4. Wants to prove to others that ghosts exist.

Cynically idealistic? A few days ago, I learned about the concept of “second order science” from an intern meeting. From what I understand, it is science based on the premise that the experimenter/researcher is themselves a part of the experiment, and the role they play in a greater context is factored into consideration (as opposed to the traditional understanding of science, where the experimenter is excluded from the experiment). Hey, perhaps that’s what Minori is – a first order romantic. She’s enthusiastic about love and wants to know all about it and reveal it to the world, but is somehow personally distanced from it. Sounds like a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but that’s the vibe I’m currently getting from her.

Primes: That’s really curious. I want to know about second-order science.

I think you’re probably more or less right about Minori and her take on romance (i.e. “ghosts”). I’d describe her as caught in a tension between wanting it and being concerned about it for some reason (maybe a past experience?). I’m going to go out on a limb here: It seems to me that when we humans are uncomfortable with our heart, we move too much into our head. Not wanting to feel emotions, we become hyper-intellectual. (Apologies to our non-human readers: In no way do I mean to marginalize you or your experiences.) That may be what’s going on here with Minori.

Of course, there’s an alternate explanation for Minori’s behavior. Remember the big reveal at the end—that she acts all scared of certain things because she likes people trying to scare her? It’s a sort of reverse psychology. Maybe she’s doing the same thing with love, talking about it as uncertain of its existence because she wants someone to prove it to her. (Not necessarily Ryuji, though.)

Hmm…both of these explanations make a lot of sense. I guess at the end of the day, Minori wants love, but is somehow unable to be the one to take action, and must wait for a “ghost” to be shown to her? What’s she doing trying to show Ryuji a ghost though? Oh well, there is clearly no perfect interpretation of Minori’s character now, and I wouldn’t try to narrow it down to just one.

And that concludes this episode of Toradora!. It feels so nice to be thinking and writing about anime again!

Primes: See you next time, everyone! 

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4 thoughts on “Anime x Lit Crit – Vampires & Valentines: Toradora! 10

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