Wow. That was good.
Ok, so I do have a slight bone to pick – I cried. No, really. In a public place no less, since I made the mistake of watching this in the student center. “What’s the harm?” I figured, “Its not Clannad, so it’s not like I’ll cry over it.” Bah, what complete optimism… although I cried because I was so happy for them, not because anything sad. It just all worked out so well, but not in an unbelievable way, either.
One of the really enjoyable things about Toradora was how much the characters grew and matured over the course of the series – these characters went from being kids to being young adults, truly. And it wasn’t simply limited to Taiga and Ryuuji; our supporting characters, too, were able to undergo this transformation. Ok, so that might be doubtful on Kirihara, but Kitamura, Ami, and Minori, and to a lesser extent Haruta and Yasuko (granted, Yasuko’s case was a little different given that she was already an adult; I suppose it was more she resolved some of her old conflicts as opposed to matured, since its a bit strange to speak of an adult character maturing, even one such as Yasuko). These characters changed! They weren’t static! There are a lot of series that should take note of this.
Honestly, the outcome of the show was pretty predictable. However, although I know it’s cliched, it is true that the journey matters more than the destination (“I’ll get there, it better be worth the trip”). Many shows have predictable end-points, but making the intervening time interesting isn’t the easiest task in the world.
Toradora also was helped by its strong cast of characters. We started with a few archetypes, but they were fleshed out to the extent that they didn’t simply act as stock characters. Let’s be honest – how many shows have a small, fierce, tsundere-ish type like Taiga? How many have misunderstood guys like Ryuuji? Bitchy girls like Ami? But their development wasn’t merely left to these details; it was expanded beyond that to the point where we were actually looking at human characters, not pen and ink sketches. It also helped that both Minori and Kitamura were genuinely weird in many ways (I actually kind of thought from the outset that they would’ve made more sense together than being paired with Ryuuji and Taiga).
Look, I loved this show, but I’m genuinely trying to not just babble incoherently about that fact. One of the ways that I can tell that I loved it is that a few episodes back I began to feel bummed because I was going to be saying good-bye to the characters pretty soon. And I will miss the characters quite a bit, but I think that the show ended perfectly; any more would’ve been too much.
To get a little detail-oriented, I really loved the kissing scene in episode twenty-five. They were actually legit kissing and really enjoying it! Come on, like this isn’t rare in this genre, or in anime in general. Kisses so often look really artificial in anime, and just don’t look like the participants are terribly engaged. But here I felt convinced that we were looking at two young people who are genuinely in love with each other.
Any doubts I had from Toradora from the outset were completely misplaced; this was a great series that, while it certainly played by genre rules, managed to transcend the expectations of said genre. I think I’m even going to go hunt down the light novels now.