Toradora!

Going with the criterion I set myself when watching anime (maximum of 100 episodes  as well as completed at time of watching), I found a new anime. This one was 25 episodes, unlike the usual 12-episode one’s I’ve been devouring. Before this I watched some really serious animes that dealt with important issues and problems, from terrorism, death, friendship, love and so on an so forth. Hence my sudden urge to watch something lighthearted and fresh.

Enter: Toradora!

The Title card (unofficial)

Toradora! is an anime series that ran from 2008 to 2009 and is based on a series of ten light novels released between 2006 and 2009. Now that facts are done with, onto the aesthetics and stuff. The story follows Takasu Ryuuji and his next-door neighbour Aisaka Taiga who meet on the very first day of high school. Following their meeting, they decide to strike up a partnership to help each other with their love lives. Why? Because Takasu is in love with Kushieda Minori who is Taiga’s best friend. And Taiga is in love with Kitamura Yuusaku who is Takasu’s best friend. Also, during the middle comes in Kawashima Ami who is a teenage model who transferred to their school. She also plays a major role but never really discloses her interests.

Kawashima Ami on the far left, Kushieda Minori with the red hair, Kitamura Yuusaku with the glasses, Aisaka Taiga with the brown hair and Takasu Ryuuji with the weird eyes at the back.

And that’s the story. No impending doom. No life threatening danger. It’s a teenage love story. But what sets apart this anime is how light it feels. While the plot if primarily about Takasu’s and Taiga’s love lives, the anime diverges quite alot on other matters. We see Kitamura’s love interest. We are introduced an egotistical teenage model who transfers to their school and briefly flirts with Takasu. We are introduced to the somewhat depressed 30-year old homeroom teacher who is jealous of all the love floating around. We also meet Taiga’s parents who have abandoned her. We meet Takasu’s child-like mother. So for the most part, rather than feel heavy and suffocating with affairs of the heart, this anime is actually rather lighthearted and comic. Which is perfect. Shoving emotion and feeling in the watcher’s faces with soap-opera lines and scenes would have been the most cliched thing the produces could have done and it’s exactly what they avoided. Points.

Moving onto the visuals, it’s nothing special. It looks clean and good and on the whole, it looks pretty realistic but then again, you kind of expect that from every anime that comes out. It’s nothing eye-catching but neither is it a disappointment. It’s okay.

The sounds are the same. You hear snatches of music occasionally but it’s the story and plot you’re more interested in. The soundtrack is vaguely good but then, it doesn’t jump out enough to deserve any special mention or praise. It fits in nicely and that’s all there is to it.

The characters are the other amazing thing in this. Each character is deep and real. Even the support characters. True, for the first episodes you might think that even the main characters are stereotypes. Takasu’s the delinquent, Taiga is the troublesome girl with the horrible temper, Minori is the school sweetheart and Kitamura is the handsome nerd who all the girls like. But after about five episodes in, you see differences. Takasu is obsessively clean and is an amazing cook. Taiga has a kind heart and thinks alot about other’s happiness. Minori is really into sports and is actually quite a tomboy. And Kitamura has love troubles too despite his popularity. And the egotistical model who transfers in is actually righteous and caring. She just hides it under an arrogant face.

The anime isn’t for everyone though. It’s comedy is not the typical anime comedy that’s filled with the outrageous facial expressions and the slapstick moments. It’s a finer type with smart remarks and wit. So naturally it had me laughing out lout. In fact, it’s one of the few anime that actually made me laugh out loud now that I think about it. Huh. It’s plot is rather simple and if you prefer a plot that has more depth in it than a teenage’s love life, then steer clear. The artwork is average so if you’re looking for brilliant, clear and eye-catching animation and scenery, this will disappoint you.

Here’s a picture of a cat. Or a tiger. Cause tigers are awesome and cats belong on the internet.

But if you’re looking for an anime that focuses on a simple plot and simple characters so much that they shine, then this anime IS for you. It’s got comedy, it’s got amazing characters and it’s got an ending you either hate or like. (I didn’t like it) So queue up and watch it.

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