We did it! After 2 years 2 months and roughly 2 weeks, NegativePrimes and I FINISHED REVIEWING TORADORA! Sorry for the all caps, I couldn’t restrain myself.
For those who didn’t start following the project from the beginning (which is probably all of you reading this), this collaboration started in April of 2018, and was officially titled “Anime x Lit Crit: Vampires & Valentines – Toradora!”, because we had been reviewing Toradora! on my blog and Shiki on Primes’s.
Primes: If you *have* been following from the beginning, put your hands up!
We’re still hoping to resume Shiki whenever Primes has access to the anime, so stay tuned.
Primes: Not a good time for Crunchy to lose the rights to it.🤬
The “Lit Crit” part was because we both have some background in literature (Primes is actually a PhD). I’m not sure this project turned out to more “lit crit” than my ordinary reviews, or if I was really thinking about lit crit at all as I went on, but we had fun and I hope you did too sometimes.
Primes: Maybe the real literary criticism is the friends we made along the way.
Yes, unlikely as it is, I did make a few friends specifically through Toradora! Love you all.
I’ll soon put out a master list of all our Toradora! episode reviews on this blog, so check it out if you’re interested. But without further ado, Toradora! 25!
An interesting detail about the start of this episode is that it’s the exact same as Episode 1 – two sparrows chirping on electric wires.
Primes: Hey, I missed that! Cool!
Whereas Episode 1 then cuts to Ryuji finding mould in his bathroom and internal-monologuing about how things never seem to change, Episode 25 starts with Yasuko running past the two sparrows and panting. Nice framing that really shows how dynamic this series is.
Primes: And how things have changed from the seemingly static world in episode 1.
The rest of the episode features Ryuji, Taiga, and Yasuko finding closure to different things. You’d expect a series finale to be about closure after all, but it still managed to throw in one huge curveball. Before we get to that though, wow, obligatory kiss scene!
Primes: uWu, as you kids say.
I swear I’d already forgotten about the whole rom-com deal (wild, considering that the main characters just got engaged) and was plainly not expecting something this cute.
Echoing last episode sentiments about uttering words out loud and mutually bearing witness, this episode tosses in a mock wedding scene.
Primes: There’s an old cliche in the West that a comedy ends with a wedding, a tragedy with a funeral. (Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labours Lost” is worth highlighting as that rare comedy that explicitly doesn’t end with a wedding.) Whether or not the western trope had any influence here or not, the mock wedding allows the series to wrap up with a symbolic wedding (without violating age of consent laws!).
Yes, it certainly prevents me from having to search up fan-fiction. Though if you’re a Toradora! fanfic writer, self-promotion is welcome under this post.
The fact that Taiga is the one who proposes it and that Ryuji is the more flustered and unprepared party is pretty interesting to think about. Isn’t Taiga the so-called “textbook tsundere” – one of several such roles that made Rie Kugimiya the famous “Tsundere Queen” among voice actresses? Taiga being a tsundere was probably the only thing I knew about Toradora! before starting, and the main reason I decided to check out this anime classic. But come to think of it, she really doesn’t stay an aggressive tsundere for that long, and there are many more tsundere moments in this show that don’t involve Taiga (it’s actually usually Ami who pretends to hate the people she likes).
Primes: Perhaps we could say that Taiga is the perfect tsundere. Think of it this way: If someone is the most tsundere possible, they must either stay unchanging, or change and thus become less of a tsundere. And Toradora is about people changing if it’s about anything at all. Taiga in a sense transcends tsundere-ness on her way to becoming a more complete and mature person.
That is fair. I guess I expected tsundere-ness to be Taiga’s defining trait before I started, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it isn’t the case.
I knew better than to expect the entire episode to be a happily ever after, but Taiga leaving like that certainly left me anxious until the last few minutes. Ditching dinner when someone specially prepared tonkatsu for you?? I get that it was a hard decision and that staying might tamper her resolve, but it was a poor move, and I’m proud of Ryuji for not being beaten down by it.
After Yasuko’s satisfying reconciliation with her parents (or unofficial in-laws, I couldn’t confirm which side the Takasu grandparents are from?), it’s Taiga’s turn to make up with her mom. A surprising twist, because of how little her mom appears both in the series and in her life, but justifiable thanks to the excellently executed voicemail scene.
Primes: To me, it seemed pretty clear they were her blood relatives, as the husband berates the wife for “always” spoiling Yasuko.
Mhm, I feel like that makes sense too. Idk why my initial assumption is that they’re from Ryuji’s dad’s side – maybe the last name tripped me up. And the fact Yasuko gave him his dad’s watch as the token of recognition.
I like how Yuri-sensei just has no control over the classroom and everybody walks out after the shock about Taiga. Maybe class was ending or something, but Yuri was certainly still there. Taiga sends all her classmates an unexplained photo of the night sky with a single star in it, which Ryuji interprets as a symbol of Taiga’s hope to give things her best. At Ami’s suggestion, the whole class takes a picture with the broken-and-mended Christmas tree star.
Primes: For those who may have forgotten: A “classroom” is a place where, long ago, people used to meet to learn in person. Back when meeting in person was a thing.
Thank you. The kids who are reading this post for a history project in the future may find the note helpful.
Here I feel like praising again how the class in Toradora! is probably one of the best high school classes in anime. There’s such a sense of unity, and each side character who has ever gotten a line also has a name and a bit of personality. Haruta is my best boy, out of the entire series.
Finally, after a time lapse that put Ryuji and his peers in their final year of high school, Taiga reappears in a classroom locker (a perfectly natural habitat for the loli-sized) and Ryuji finds her and confesses his love on the spot. Taiga gets exasperated about how he did so without considering the mood or waiting for an opportunity, but the series abruptly ends with the line “that’s how it works,” uttered by all five main characters in a chorus. A little corny, maybe, but I adored it.
Primes: 🤧 I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Life isn’t perfect, but it works…just like how my posts aren’t good, but they function!
Primes: That’s hilarious!
Overall, I really commend Toradora! for breaking down rom-com conventions with playfulness and sincerity, and never going for the sarcastic/cynical route as it confronts various tropes (e.g. the harem, the genki girl, and happy endings). I do love my satirical parodies, but it’s refreshing to see Toradora! not do that. In fact, if I had watched Toradora! without reviewing it episodically, I’d probably be surprised if anybody called it subversive or genre-bending, because it’s not an anime that likes to call attention to its smartness.
Sure, the characters have their fair share of deep and melodramatic dialogues, and I don’t always enjoy watching them philosophize so abstractly, but as a whole, Toradora! is a decent balance between realism and anime-logic comedy. There isn’t a character I relate to particularly strongly, but I can see how so many would find the cast relatable and lovable. They grow on you, and I expect that I’ll enjoy the characters even more if I re-watch the series in the future.
Primes: Re-watching it this time has certainly allowed me to notice more than I did previously!
A big thanks to Primes for recommending the anime and sticking to this collab for so long. Come to think of it, we went from barely knowing each other (wow, can’t believe I randomly asked a cool person to start a collab when I was a newbie blogger, and left most of the planning to him too) to being good friends thanks to this project.
Primes: Ah, you’re making me blush! I’m glad you did. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you (and you, too, readers!), and have been glad to have an outlet for writing about anime while talking time off from my own blog.
Until our next collaboration, thank YOU very much for reading, and we hope to see you again in the comments!