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Toradora!: Never Play Cupid in High School

Am I talking about this because I just finished it? Or because of all the season two rumors? I’ll let you decide.

When was the last time you were truly surprised by something? Like, you thought you knew what to expect but then you got something completely different that’s even better? Something so wildly unique that it immediately dug into your heart and mind and refused to let go?

Cause I’ve never had that happen. Nope. Not at all. Now let’s talk about Toradora! for absolutely no reason whatsoever!

All joking aside, this show genuinely blew me away! Going into it, I thought it was going to be yet another cute romantic comedy with no proper conclusion. I only watched it because I needed something cute to watch. And I definitely got that! But I also got a holy-fuckton more!

I now know why this show is a classic. I have reached enlightenment.

Story: When Two Idiots Find Love

Literally nothing I could put here would do this show justice. Trust me, it is so much more than its premise might lead on!

Ryuji is a nice kid with a scary face and a cleaning compulsion. One day, he has a chance run-in with the most feared girl in school: Taiga Aisaka, the Palm-Top Tiger, who also just moved in right next door to him! The two share a similar problem: he’s in love with her best friend, Minori Kushieda, and she’s in love with his best friend, Yusaku. Together, they aim to set each other up with their friends and fulfill their romantic desires!

Sounds cute, right? Well, it is! And then it tears your fucking heart out, waves it in front of your face, then stomps on it with steel-toed boots labeled ‘SADNESS’!

Not to mention intense! This show gets crazy, dude! People are screaming at each other, getting up in their faces! There are even some straight-up fistfights! In fact, this show has one of the coolest, most well-animated fight scenes I’ve ever seen! AND IT’S A ROMANCE SHOW!! This shit’s fucking nuts!!

But just being crazy doesn’t make the show good. If the characters aren’t good and the story they tell isn’t interesting, that insanity is dead on arrival. Luckily, this is one of the most compelling, well-written dramas I’ve ever seen!

The biggest one is that it isn’t entirely focused on romance. It also explores themes of family, envy, attachment gone too far, and more! Not only do all of these give extra depth to the main plot, but they’re strong enough to be their own stories! They’re absolutely incredible!

All of these characters are surprisingly depthful! All five members of the main cast seem like simple romantic tropes on the surface, but they all conceal a huge amount of depth! Taiga may be a troublemaker and quick to violence, but that’s only a persona she displays to hide how lonely she feels; she also has a heart of gold, being very generous and selfless a lot of the time, which goes a long way in making her likable. Kushieda seems like a typical plucky, hard-working athlete, but she also has a vicious temper, and she’s far more mature than she lets on. Ryuji is kind to a T, but he’s also dense and hesitant; not just to act on his feelings, but to make basically any decision at all!

The side characters, however, aren’t all that interesting. Most of them boil down to one-note gags. Granted, they can be pretty entertaining; the teacher has some pretty great jokes all through the story! But others are just… exhausting. Like that one boy who’s whole character is ‘stupid and horny’. None of them are even that important to the story! They’re just an extra bit of fluff; sometimes good, sometimes not.

In this case, the good definitely outweighs the bad!

Oh, and can I bring up one thing that I loved? The fact that this is a romance story where characters don’t start dating at the very end of the show! Rather, they do that in the last few episodes! Instead of dragging out the ‘will they won’t they’ for a few episodes longer than it could last, they decided to utilize them getting together as a tool for extra, more intriguing drama! Plus, it leads to some of the most genuinely satisfying and heart-warming romantic moments I’ve ever seen!

And then it tore my fucking heart out. But then it left me with a nice little taste right at the last minute. So, in this case, I guess I can forgive it.

Also, that ending is perfect. It’s an incredibly satisfying and conclusive finale that wraps up all the various plot-threads perfectly! Before I finished it, I was excited by the prospect of a second season. But now that I’ve seen it, I honestly don’t think we need it; the ending we did get was just so good!

Unless the manga goes in a completely different, better direction. I haven’t read it. At least, not yet.

I’m sure if I really thought about it, I’d be able to find more to complain about. But as of me writing this, that’s pretty much all I’ve got! On a writing front, this show is downright spectacular!

Presentation: Romance at its Most Animated

My most common complaint regarding romance anime has been the animation itself. There have been exceptions, like Kaguya-sama: Love is War. But practically every other show in this genre that I’ve reviewed, I’ve complained about stiff, unappealing animation.

And then Toradora! burst through my door and bashed me in the head with a training sword. That doesn’t sound like a good thing. But rest assured: it totally is!

This show can best be described as ‘deceptively cute’. When everything is calm, it’s kind of adorable! The character designs are all nice, the backgrounds all look lovely, and it’s super colorful! But then two of the characters decide to beat the living hell out of each other and the animators just go fucking nuts! This show has some pretty jaw-dropping sequences of animation!

Soundtrack wise, this show is… just okay. It has some really nice tracks, but none of them are especially catchy or memorable. They fit the story well and they’re nice to listen to. But I won’t be hunting for the OST like I’m possessed.

Also, the timing of it is pretty hysterical at times. Like the time the Christmas song kicked in right as a character realizes he got rejected with the words “It’s Christmas”. If that ain’t fitting, I don’t know what is.

Conclusion

I’ve known about this show for a long time. But up until a few weeks ago, I had little interest in actually watching it. As I alluded to earlier, I had absolutely no idea what this show was really like.

But now that I know? I can never go back! I love this shit!

If you still haven’t watched Toradora!, then I’d highly recommend you do so! It’s an exceptional show, easily one of the best romantic dramas I’ve ever seen! This is a damn good show that absolutely deserves the reputation it has! It’s a true classic!

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’ve got a certain manga to hunt.

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