Collab Projects · Episode Reviews

Anime x Lit Crit: Toradora! 23

Phew! Finally, an episode that builds up to some satisfaction.

Primes: Wait, does that mean you were unsatisfied with the previous episodes? I’m going to go cry now… *jk* This episode is among the best emotional moments in the series, for me at least.

Well, no, but at the end of most episodes before this, I’ve felt like kicking some character or another (sorry, I’m an impulsive viewer), but now people are finally starting to do things right!

toradora 23.1

Carrying forth last episode‘s subject of visible vs. invisible, this episode opens with Taiga showing people her forehead wound, claiming that “seeing is believing.” Despite this playful exchange, I think Taiga and others really are making progress in confronting the vague and invisible stuff in their lives.

Primes: Do you think they’ll finally see the ghosts and UFOs they believe in (to use Minorin’s imagery)?

No, but I think they’re gradually becoming okay with not having ocular evidence for everything.

toradora 23.2

This episode contains a surprising amount of sharp dialogues that don’t actually end in conflict. Taiga, especially, is getting self-aware. I’m just not just talking about “I’m rich so I don’t actually need a job” here (sheesh Taiga, we know). Taiga, the quintessential tsundere queen, declares that she wants a “normal” love life. Ryuji takes things one step further than usual by challenging the notion of “normality.” Finally, they’re getting closer to dispelling the myth of “normality”?

Primes: That’s just one example of the “lecturing” the characters give each other in this episode. It’s like a classroom, except each character thinks they’re the teacher lecturing the others.

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Primes: Can you imagine the cacophony if that happened in real life? And in fact, that’s the setup for most of the conflict in this episode.

Taiga’s not the only one who wants to live this fantasy though. While her shoe is being held hostage by Ryuji, Ami reveals that she never wanted to be popular, but only desires a normal high school life without constantly having to transfer schools. This is already kind of out of character, but even more surprisingly, she confesses her frustration at failing to play the role of saving Taiga. Saving Taiga from whom, or what? From her wrecking her own love life? How?

Primes: From the heartbreak of her falling for Ryuji because of how he takes care of her, without him realizing it as he continues to act in that way. What Ami refers to as “playing house”.

It’s just curious that Ami would see it as her job to do any of this, and that the only approach she knows is…(un)constructive criticism. I am reminded that as popular as Ami is, she doesn’t know how to maintain healthy long-term friendships. That’s probably also where Ami identifies with Taiga–they’re both awkward people who resort to aggression when they’re frustrated (Taiga is physical while Ami is verbal).

toradora 23.5

Side note: it was funny watching Ami get owned for once (the shoe throw was hilarious). Twice, actually. Twintail Taiga is way too powerful…

Primes: I thought you young people spelled it “pwned “. Am I wrong? ๐Ÿ˜œ

Oops, showing my age here!

Another big thing in this episode is shouldering responsibilities for other people, which of course, Ami was going for with Taiga. At the start of the episode, Yuri-sensei reluctantly gives the good old lecture on how being an adult marks the end of placing blame on others and the start of taking responsibility. I think our characters have always been too good at the latter, while constantly blaming themselves only…

Primes: There’s the lecturing theme again!

Ryuji’s upset at himself for Yasuko’s potentially work-related illness, and when he goes out in a distraught state and Taiga chases after him, he blames himself again for dragging Taiga into his mess. Nope, Ryuji’s not leaning in! Well, maybe he’s starting to, thanks to Taiga.

Primes: How so? Doesn’t “Leaning in” mean to be engaged with the persons and issues before you?

Lol, sorry for referencing a stupid meme that is no longer relevant by the time I finished compiling this post. I used it rather sarcastically, because I don’t truly think Ryuji is affected by toxic masculinity, but a few scenes in this episode were inviting me to draw solid and dotted green lines.

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Ironic, isn’t it

That last part, where everyone who was assembled by Taiga unanimously turned on her instead, was everything I could hope for. For those following our episodic reviews without seeing the show, that’s going to sound concerning. But they cornered her with all the best intentions…

Primes: An intervention, if you will.

toradora 23.4

Finally, Minori reclaims the share of responsibility that Taiga insisted on silently shouldering–the responsibility for her own happiness–which is thought to depend on Ryuji. Her speech leaves Taiga speechless, so Taiga dashes away in angst (oops, Ami “failed” at guarding the door).

Now all that’s left is in Ryuji’s hands. Goddammit Ryuji, go chase her, what are you waiting for? Stop acting like a dumb harem protagonist and get into your damn show!!!

Primes: Right?! Remember one definition of tragedy: A protagonist in one kind of story who acts as if in a different one. If Ryuji continues to act the role of the “dumb harem protagonist”, tragedy will strike. In a sense, then, Ami plays the role of Tiresias or Cassandra, trying to warn the “hero” of the danger. (And often using cryptic words like the Greek Sibyls.)ย 

Oh, that Tiresias scene really annoyed me in Oedipus Rex. But yes, I like the comparison. It’s hard to dissociate Oedipus from motherf***ing jokes these days, but in terms of ignorance, Ryuji is almost up there with him. It’s not all about what you can/can’t see, Ryuji!

Primes: One last question: Taiga is very clear that she reused the boxes from the chocolate she bought.

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What, then, happened to the chocolate that was originally in the boxes? All you Sherlocks out there, time to get cracking!

My guess is that she melted and remolded them. That’s how Valentine’s chocolate is usually made for the Japanese chocolate-giving tradition, though you’d usually melt baking chocolate and not fancy ones like these. Nobody has the time (or resources) to truly “make” chocolate from scratch! Interesting that she insists on claiming ownership over the product, if this is the case.

The end is in sight! It sure has been quite the ride.

6 thoughts on “Anime x Lit Crit: Toradora! 23

    1. Haha, the shoe wasn’t actually thrown *at* her, but away from her. Ryuji grabbed her shoes before she could put them on and threw them as far away as he could. ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Like

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