Collab Projects · Episode Reviews

Anime x Lit Crit: Vampires & Valentines – Toradora! 14

I realized that I watched this episode long ago and even saved all the necessary screenshots, but forgot about it until now. At least we’re just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Primes: Yay! I’m excited for us to be back in business! Is anyone doing anything special for Valentine’s Day? I wanted to take my wife to the opening of the Battle Angel Alita movie, but she’s not keen on it. Guess I’ll be sitting alone in the movie theater.

I wanted to go to that Alita movie! Or even just to eat a simple dinner somewhere…but work is work and Thursdays always suck for me. Let us know how the movie was!

Onto Toradora!. Rumours about how touching Taiga brings happiness have been spreading throughout the school like wildfire. Haruta-kun, don’t tell me you started this new trend too??

toradora 14.1 haruta

Primes: This reminds me of how, when I was growing up, somehow my family got this tradition that rubbing the belly of my youngest sibling would bring good luck. Has anyone else heard of a tradition like this? Or was I raised, as I have long suspected, by a pair of unparalleled oddballs?

Um, you were probably raised by a pair of unparalleled oddballs! Then again, my dad used to tell me that if you point at the moon with your finger, the moon is going to come down and slice off your ear, so I don’t even know. (I slept with my hands covering my ears for a week straight!)

So people touch Taiga and Taiga, as expected, gets pissed off and retaliates with violence. Meanwhile, Ryuji and Minori share an awkward moment before a bulletin of photos, because one of the photos featured the two holding hands and Ryuji desperately wants to purchase it. Ami scoffs at all this pubescent behaviour. (Wait a minute…wasn’t she getting in fights with Taiga an episode ago?)

Primes: Not sure you can draw too much of a conclusion from that: After all,Taiga fights with everybody! Just kidding, you’re right.

In every episode of Toradora!, there’s always at least one quiet moment where a character finds themselves far from the madding crowd and reflects on the fact. Ami’s declaration that the others around her are “childish” is a reminder to the audience that she still hasn’t overcome her problems with fitting in. Instead of admitting it, she labels others immature and assumes the role of an incidental adviser, pointing out Ryuji and Minori’s awkwardness and even offering her teacher counsel.

toradora 14.2 insult
Great insult.
toradora 14.3 minori gacha
Minorin…what gacha do you play?

toradora 14.4 mature

It’s when she randomly pops up again to offer Ryuji meat-selection suggestions that her disguise begins to fall apart. (What does Ami know about feeding a family of three?) Ryuji reminds her that she herself is childish because she substitutes real meals with candy, and this seems to have the effect of reassurance on Ami.

toradora 14.5 ami immature

After subtly caring for Ami, Ryuji goes home to cook for Taiga and his mother, and Yasuko casually describes Taiga as “family.” This episode is a warm and simple one about finding a place of belonging after that hectic cultural festival arc. Ami attempts to put on a mature front, and Taiga behaves more childishly than she feels. In a sense, they’re just using opposite approaches in hopes of being acknowledged as a “child” – someone in need of love and care. Just as Taiga’s appearance in the episode ends in the loving arms of Yasuko, Ami is last seen talking to her mom on the phone, reporting that she’s happy with her current life.

toradora 14.6 family

Primes: If there’s one theme that seems dominant in this episode, it’s “What is happiness, and how do we get it?” For example: Will a boy/girlfriend make me happy, and can I find one by rubbing Taiga’s head? What I find intriguing about how this theme is treated here is that it doesn’t take the approach of “I got what I wanted but I’m still not happy.” Like, say, King Midas. Instead, it goes down the road of “I didn’t/can’t get what I want: Is it possible for me to be happy anyway?” Can I find happiness if Taiga won’t let me rub her head? If no one treats me as an adult?

This is where I think Toradora! is pretty grounded in realism. As an episode that seems sandwiched between arcs, Ep. 14 doesn’t attempt to offer a consoling sense of finality. To me, none of the characters are ready to be treated as adults yet. As they strive for independence, they’re also longing for acceptance and shelter. Taiga and Ami seem to have found this shelter (or at least, been reassured of its presence/availability). The one who most exemplifies the crisis you mentioned (“Is it possible for me to be happy anyway?”) is probably Kitamura. His appearance in this episode is brief and ends in a bit of a cliffhanger. Can’t wait to see the dynamics between him and the student council prez!

Perhaps this episode is more appropriate for Family Day than Valentine’s Day, but it’s a fuzzy and charming end to a freezing weekend. So excited that it’s snowing, but I once spent 5 hrs trying (and failing) to get to school in the snow and I’m a little scared…

Primes: Holy Carp! 5 hours is very long for that. Aaaaand I was going to write more, but the power just went out. Over to you, Moya!

Ah, um, you okay there?? I’m happy to report that I only spent 1.5 hrs coming to school today. Don’t know what else to say at the moment, so I’ll leave it here.

valentine from moya

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, whether you’ve found that special someone or not!


12 thoughts on “Anime x Lit Crit: Vampires & Valentines – Toradora! 14

  1. That was a fantastic read!

    Let me know how the Alita movie goes (if you ever decide to watch it). Been itching to check it out, but can’t cause I’m working on Valentine’s Day 😩

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ryuji telling Ami she was “such a kid” was a revelation for her. I don’t think anyone had ever spoken anything as honest as that to her before.

    Too bad for her that she was in competition with Taiga. There was always only one partner for the Dragon, and that was the Tiger.

    Now I want to rewatch the series again…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure Ryuji has said quite a few honest things to her before too, but you’re right, probably none before Ryuji. It’ll be fun if you rewatch the series along with me and Primes!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is really interesting, the show seems very philosophical and shares quite a lot of insightful thoughts. Ami’s declaration that the others around her are “childish” is a reminder to the audience that she still hasn’t overcome her problems with fitting in. Instead of admitting it, she labels others immature and assumes the role of an incidental adviser, pointing out Ryuji and Minori’s awkwardness and even offering her teacher counsel. = I very much have to agree with this. That makes a lot of sense. I’ve been bearing that in mind when reading books when a character feel like they don’t fit in. It would be nice to see a character just admit that they’re socially awkward instead of blaming it on others, that when you accept yourself and you can grow. Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

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