Did somebody say ‘girl fight’?
One of things I’ve enjoyed about Toradora has been its ability to set itself apart from the rest of its genre – a pretty mean feat when one considers what a terribly crowded field that already is. For example, when looking at the basic facts, it becomes apparent that Toradora is, in fact, harem… and yet it never feels that way (something which Kanon and Clannad even couldn’t manage to avoid at the end of the day). Yeah, we have three girls who like the same guy, but there are more complicated relationship dynamics at play here that makes it more complex than simply that. Add in the fact that the characters aren’t merely one-note archetypes, and you have a lot that contributes to Toradora’s ability to dodge the harem feel.
But, I have to admit, another thing I’m really liking about Toradora is the violence.
Wait, what? No, really. Violence is pretty far down on the list of things one would notice or mention about Toradora if asked to sum it up, but the violence in Toradora is interesting by the very nature that it has been thus far entirely perpetuated by females.
Alright, so, generally harem shows have a large amount of violence generated by females… but the difference is that the violence is utilized for comic effect, and almost always against the male lead – oh, Tsundere-chan just smacked Milquetoast-kun for accidentally walking in on her changing! Haha, Moe-chan just kicked Loser-kun in the crotch because he tripped and fell face-first into her chest!
However, Toradora gives us some pretty intense female-on-female violence. And, honestly, its pretty visceral, which is what really separates it from general anime convention – yeah, women can be violent in anime, but you’ll notice a really big trend: either she’s a mahou shoujo beating some inhuman enemy with sparkles and pink, or she’s a girl with a gun shooting from around a corner. That the ladies of Toradora actually lay hands on one another marks it apart from these, because its very rare that one sees two girls whaling on each other in an anime.
The violence itself is also, as I mentioned, fairly visceral. Girls slapping each other in anime isn’t uncommon by far, but here we have not just slapping, but punching and kicking, too. The damage inflicted is also worth mentioning, because it isn’t merely a red handprint on the face, but actual bruises; their hair is messed up, they look physically disheveled. This is how people really look after a fight, not neatly pulled together like a girl who has been slapped by another does in anime. See the below examples from episode fourteen:
Mm, yeah, I’d say they’re not entering a beauty contest any time soon.
You could make the argument that this realistic depiction of female-on-female violence is part of the overarching approach Toradora has been pursuing – namely, one of realism. One feels like this could’ve happened to them when they were a high schooler, or could be happening at any high school in the area (admittedly, Ami is a bit extraordinary as regards her whole modeling thing, but it isn’t out of the question).
Anyway, I personally like it because I’m a weirdo I myself got into fights in middle school and high school – girls fight. Really. We do. And it isn’t just us clawing each other’s eyes out or smacking each other, we will punch and kick, too – I’ve been there (although I never looked as bad as Kano does in the above because I always owned everyone’s asses). Its more interesting than watching guys whale on each other, too, since, please, we ALWAYS see that in anime. Gotta freshen it up once in a while, you know?
Actually, I have noticed a very, very small trend toward depicting female-on-female violence in such a manner as of late. Sadly, I can’t for the life of me recall what my other example was that I was going to cite, as I originally intended to write this up after episode sixteen of Toradora when Taiga and Kano beat each other up… but was lazy and didn’t, and only ended up doing it now because I was presented with another opportunity, a.k.a. Ami and Minori started in on each other. Fail on me for not making some sort of list of the other shows featuring such brutal female-on-female violence. I do recall a few years ago someone commenting on how Pretty Cure (the first season) seemed to have more in common combat-wise with the likes of Dragon Ball than Sailor Moon – that it was more physically centered than one usually got from mahou shoujo fare, but this doesn’t seem to have become a trend (even later seasons of the franchise excised this element).
On an unrelated note, I was actually expecting Kirihara to smack Noto when the two were squabbling early in the episode. I was pretty annoyed that all she did was cry. I didn’t think she was too terribly irritating like a lot of fans have felt she is, but that she just put her face in her hands and started crying really set me off of her. Totally lame, chiquita, totally lame – there’s no way you can keep up with the rest of the ladies of this show if you can’t manage to fight well, geez.
Well, guess I’ll just end on that note, and give you one more frame of Taiga-on-Kano crime for the road.