Collab Projects · Episode Reviews

Anime x Lit Crit: Toradora! 21

Things…escalated.

Primes: Yeah, this episode put escalators on its escalators.

toradora 21.1
Love this expression

The episode kicks off with conflict among Kihara, Glasses Guy, and their respective friends. Then Ryuji goes spilling everything about having a crush on Minori to the guys, the guys sneak into the girls’ room (and accidentally abduct Taiga), and the girls are spilling MORE tea. One shock after another.

Primes: Yeah, I’m still not sure why the guys grabbed Taiga. Any ideas? 

I was honestly wondering that too. It does make Taiga an accomplice, but how could they be so confident that she wouldn’t just burst out? I guess they didn’t have much time to think.

toradora 21.2

Ami tries to get Minori to define Taiga and Ryuji’s relationship, and gets triggered when Minori plays dumb (like always). She then tells everyone about how Minori rejected Ryuji, and asserts that Minori liked Ryuji all along, and only rejected him out of consideration for Taiga.

Primes: Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that the eavesdroppers (Taiga and the boys) didn’t discuss any of the things they overhead at all?

Another very good point. Perhaps they did and it was off-screen. More likely, nobody wanted a foot in this mess, and those who were already getting swallowed in the mess were afraid?

Now, I’m a gullible watcher who tends to take “reveals” that come from characters as canon (I suck at deducing the killer in Conan episodes), but I have my doubts about Minori having romantic feelings for Ryuji. There were no signs!

Primes: Agreed.

Minori’s whole attitude towards Ryuji’s feelings seems to be dominated by denial and guilt. If she were in love, wouldn’t there be at least a little self-serving desire?

Primes: My sense is Minori feels something, she’s just not certain what that is. It’s tempting to categorize emotions in clear little boxes, but we rarely experience them as such. One of the points of genius in Toradora is that it shows the dark confusion of our emotions as we actually experience them. The emotions are not in service of the plot, as sometimes happens in lesser stories where the action requires certain oversimplified emotional causes. Rather the complex and ambiguous emotions drive the plot. And that feels more authentic to me.

You’re certainly right.

Back to that thing about magnanimity. It’s like all the main characters are striving to reject personal feelings for the sake of others, sometimes to the point of denying their own involvement in interpersonal matters (see Kitamura’s questionable obliviousness to the Kihara fiasco in the beginning of this episode, or Taiga’s vanishing in the end to retrieve a damn hairpin). That is, everyone except Ami. Which is probably why Ami is so pissed off these days.

toradora 21.3

Primes: Do you find that you like Ami more as the series goes on? I certainly do. 

You know, I actually don’t have strong feelings about her. Despite how grating she can be sometimes, I often forget about her part in the story because she hasn’t been that central to the Ryuji-Taiga-Minori triangle (?) lately.  I might even had liked her more when she was superfluously sadistic, but this is an interesting change.

Ami grills Minori in hopes of forcing her to admit to feeling something, possibly because she can no longer put up with being the only one who’s “selfish.” But Minori’s protectiveness over her friend group as she knows it is too strong, and a bad fight breaks out. Right before this, Minori says something about Ami always “crossing the line.” If this figurative “line” is what keeps everyone’s friendship in harmony, then isn’t it ironic that by putting up a brutal fight in defense of this “line,” Minori is essentially crossing the line herself?

Primes: And Minori throws the first punch. Han Solo would be proud.

toradora 21.4

By the end of this episode, there is absolutely no more room for denial. Taiga even inadvertently confesses her feelings to Ryuji, which he HONESTLY should have known about long ago. Ami might have regretted her harsh words in the middle of the episode, but she is getting what she wanted now… all the masks are coming off.

It’s about time. The “erase my feelings to make me stronger” sentiment is getting too heartbreaking.

Primes: Which is one reason why the second opening song, “My Silky Love”, is so on point for this part of the story. 

I can bring myself to do anything. 
That’s who I’m supposed to be.
But I just can’t break down this wall no matter what. …
A forgotten scar left in my heart,
And I suddenly felt it sting deep inside. 
I have to say that I love you someday,
Or it’ll keep making me weaker.
All of Toradora!‘s songs are quite addicting. “My Silky Love” may be my favourite though.
toradora 21.5

9 thoughts on “Anime x Lit Crit: Toradora! 21

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