Episode Reviews

Anime x Lit Crit: Toradora! 11

Yay…unintentional hiatuses. It’s been about a month since my last post. School has started and life has been nice; I’m merely trying to find a balance between the many, many things in life that I want to be doing. Anyways, here’s the newest episode commentary on Toradora!!

Primes: Finding balance in life while blogging? What a coincidence… 

Ah yes, what Primes linked is the post I requested! Though unrelated to this Toradora! episode, Primes’ post on how he manages to blog while having a day job and a big family to take care of is quite something.

It’s the cultural festival episode! This episode starts by re-introducing side characters we may have already forgotten, including Toradora’s own spinster homeroom teacher (Yuri-chan or something?) and Haruta-kun.

toradora 11.1
Hi Haruta-kun!
toradora 11.3
Dunno who she is, but she’s basically Fujinon and I like it.
toradora 11.4
How dare a side character look so important?
toradora 11.5
Go Yuri-chan, crush em!

If this is any other anime, I’d start thinking “hmm…I smell a filler,” but come to think of it, the latest episodes of Toradora! are a bit like a series of filler episode ideas developed into actual plot-driving content. The pool, the holiday mansion, and now – cultural festival!

Primes: That’s a good distinction about filler-turned-into-plot, which I’d like to see more series try doing.

I do feel like anime that play with filler tropes are a dime a dozen these days, but Toradora! is pretty special in that it feels a lot more…natural and earnest? It’s the whole subversion vs. deconstruction argument again, and I think we’ve both agreed previously that Toradora! is subversive rather than deliberately deconstructive. This episode is a bit different from previous ones though, in terms of how it parodies strategy/battle anime tropes openly. I’m sure that means that the next episode is going to be very fun. As this episode is mostly setting up for the actual event, I don’t have as much to say about it. Educated predictions: people will fawn over Ami, Ami and Taiga will fight, Minori will be spreading silly happiness everywhere, Ryuji will mediate and clean up messes, Kitamura will pop up randomly here and there.

Primes: We’re still keeping track of how many predictions you get wrong, aren’t we? ;-p

Ah, yes, that seems to be a thing that’s going on… (^▽^;)

Primes: There are some ominous undercurrents in this episode, though, beneath all the silliness. Like when Ryuji tries to ask Minorin a follow-up question to her statements about UFO’s (which you and I discussed in an earlier chapter of this collab), and she dodges the question. (And by “dodge” I mean “ignores completely”.) Then Minorin throws out the following epithet as she runs off:

toradora 11 absit omen

“Absit omen.”

It’s a pithy little Latin phrase, roughly translating to “Perish the thought”, or more literally “Let the omen begone.” Today, “omen” has come to mean a potentially threatening foreshadowing; but in Latin it meant much more. An omen was a sign that could indicate that the boundaries between the human and divine realms had been violated, which in turn meant disaster was nigh. The fear of violating the sacred boundary was the great concern of the ancient Romans, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that their entire religion was built around making sure this didn’t happen.

Now, I don’t think Minorin had all this in mind. Still, it’s a curious choice to use a Latin phrase in a Japanese high school. I would expect English and French to crop up here, and if Latin made it in it would be by way of one of these: A phrase like et cetera is so common in English we hardly think of it as being Latin anymore. But when was the last time you heard someone throw around “absit omen” in casual conversation, or any conversation? (Though now that I’ve suggested it, I’m going to see if I can do just that this week! Feel free to join me!) So I think the choice to use Latin, particularly this Latin phrase, has to have some greater significance.

It is a sign—an omen, if you will.

And indeed, we start to get omens. For starters, Minorin herself gets a hilarious nosebleed when trying to pitch doing a haunted house for the cultural festival. But if we focus on the humor of it, we might miss that she is on the verge of literal hysteria and has to be calmed down by a classmate. She is breaking down emotionally.

That’s so interesting! Yes, I will totally join you in using “absit omen” this week… Surprised that I didn’t catch the phrase when I was watching that episode, I went back to re-watch that part again, and found that “absit omen” was in fact a choice made by the English subtitles team. What Minori said was “kuwabara kuwabara” (桑原桑原) – a phrase you say to ward off lightning, apparently. I would say that “absit omen” is a pretty close translation!

Then there’s the incident with Taiga’s dad… 

toradora 11 taiga's dad

And we get to see Taiga’s dad this episode. I personally found the tension between Taiga and her dad less interesting than Ryuji’s reaction to it! Taiga’s dad is an irresponsible parent who still has affections for his daughter, and naturally, Taiga transforms her feelings of abandonment into anger towards her father. Ryuji gets mad at Taiga for rejecting her father, before realizing that his frustration is not because of Taiga, but because his own father is dead and will never return. His self-awareness is what I think makes him a special character.

Primes: I think you’re spot on with Ryuji’s self-analysis. If I were watching this show for the first time, though, I’d be more suspicious of the dad. I mean, he shows up now that he’s separating from his current partner: Does he just want to live with Taiga because he’s lonely, or perhaps just because he wants a roof over his head? Both are pretty selfish reasons. But maybe this doesn’t foreshadow anything: It could go either way… kind of like an omen. 

Well, I definitely don’t have a lot of respect for Taiga’s dad as a character as of right now. I do think the affections are real, but at the same time, he seems unquestionably selfish and irresponsible.

toradora 11.6

I also found it interesting that the towel hanging in Ryuji’s kitchen says “Vaisravana’s Heaven.” This would have been better translated as “Bishamon’s Heaven,” as it is “Bishamon” rather than its Sanskrit counterpart that would be familiar to the average Japanese person. I like how the anime chooses to compare Ryuji’s kitchen to some sort of Buddhist heaven – a haven for Taiga? Upon some research though, my impression of Bishamon being a scary-looking god is confirmed. He looks nothing like the sexy lady in Noragami! According to Wikipedia (is Wikipedia my favourite source now?), Bishamon is a guardian of the North, Wealth, Knowledge, and War. A just and benevolent figure who constantly carries a fierce expression – sounds kind of like Ryuji, doesn’t it?

Primes: I would never have noticed this reference if you hadn’t pointed it out. Does this have any connection, you think, to Taiga’s comment that she’s going to put Ami through “all kinds of hells when she passes through Samsara!” 

Ooh, that’s an interesting parallel there. I don’t know, but I love the idea of it!

As much as I’m good at ignoring bad art/animation, I feel like the character art fell apart a little noticeably in this episode. I hope they’d made a recovery by the next episode!

5 thoughts on “Anime x Lit Crit: Toradora! 11

  1. Ah man, I should have checked to see whether the Latin was part of the original! So much for my interpretation…

    Oh well, I had fun as always! 😺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As one of my favorite shows, this breakdown of the episode has open my eyes to things I completely missed. The Latin phrase and the expression on the towel adds hidden gems (like Easter eggs) to the episode. I was smiling ear to ear over here.

    Great post

    Liked by 1 person

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