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Hello AnimeVice, It’s me M, back after a long, long winter break here to give you my newest review. Those who may have listened to our newest podcast (which you can find here) might remember us discussing the 25 days of Toradora. It’s a challenge from the /a/ board of 4chan to watch one episode every day of December until the 25th episode coinciding with Christmas. I’m not a big 4chan fan, but the challenge was something I was totally down for; so after much stalling here’s my review of Toradora /a/’s “greatest love story ever told”, supposedly.
Toradora was a J.C. Staff anime released back in 2008 when the standard format was 25 episodes a season and dragons ruled the land. Reportedly the “greatest (anime) love story ever told”, following the relationship of nice guy Takasu Ryuji, nicknamed the dragon because of his grim face and name, and the mood swing queen Taiga Aisaka, nick named the palm-top Tiger for being small and fierce. Both learn that they have crushes on the other ones best friend and team up to try to put the other together with their crush, forming about four love triangles on top of each other by the 20 episode. It’s a romance comedy, not a comedy romance meaning it focuses on romance.
Toradora is easily one of the better pure romance anime’s out there; I feel completely fine with saying that. The edge Toradora has over other romances is simply how charming the characters are. Every character regardless of importance is unique in terms of personality and grows on you despite usually rough introductions. This is especially true with the main character Ryuji who, despite his often cases of plot stupidity, found very relatable and personally easy to connect to. This makes the romance more important to the viewer and allows the whole plot to be more meaningful. The story isn’t inherently special, but that charm goes a long way. Comedy is also not that bad with some pretty decent slap stick comic bits (and even a few not so bad fight scenes). The art is sharp, if generic, and the message about looking for what’s real and not martyring your own happiness is a nice, while maybe not intended, deconstruction of the generic anime romantic triangle bullshit.
The problem with Toradora is really just two cancers that I just can’t ignore. Romance stories unless compiled with something else don’t make very good 25 episode series. While I’ve always preferred the 25 over the 12 episode rule of thumb, there just isn’t enough natural conflict or story devices to pull a full 25 without using every trope and ever excuse the story can get to drag its feet kicking and screaming. The next major issue is just how emotional the show tries to be. I don’t mean emotional anime isn’t great; Anohana made me cry like a baby at the end and Bakemonogatari’s best episode is its emotional peak at episode 12. The issue comes when every episode past the half-way point tries to have a big emotional climax, including a scene involving someone crying. This is not hyperbole. I’m 100% serious nearly every single episode. It just isn’t natural behavior considering what’s going on, a big crying fit between a few of the characters in the last couple episodes? Sure, but to the degree it happens is just silly. It gives you the distinct feeling that the entire cast is nothing, but a bunch of four year olds.
Although it starts with a fantastic first couple episodes, the series begins to draw on too long and completely runs out of steam by the end. Even so it’s one of the better feel good romances and does a good job providing you with charming, likeable, and relate-able characters, even if all of them can be children sometimes. All in all I like Toradora, although it’s far from the “Greatest love story ever told”. Toradora ends with 3.5 handicapped parrots out of 5.