Toradora! – 01
What the hell? I’m picking up non-listed shows for this season? Yeah, looks like it.
Toradora! opens up with a young man giving up trying to style his bangs according to the advice of a style magazine. As he scoots about his apartment, he narrates about how everyone would do just about anything to get their hands on something totally novel to them. A second narrator, shown to be a girl waking up in a rather large bed somewhere else, muses that the world purposefully hides such things from people for so long so that they put some effort into striving for it. However, as both narrators put it, people will eventually find a way to break through and find a way to what they desire.
After the title card, our young leading man, Ryuu Takasu, bustles his way through the apartment and slips into his school uniform. His roommate, an unnamed and rather buxom woman, asks him to draw the curtains before he leaves but has it quickly pointed out to her that ever since the large condo complex next to them was completed they’ve never been able to get much sunlight. Apparently Ryuu’s taken exception to having such a hugeass building next door since it’s been contributing to the apartment’s rampant mold problem and his piercing glare at it invokes a flirty comparison to his father by his roomie. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the surly young man shows that he has no love for his old man and stomps out of the room.
On his way to school, Ryuu’s intimidating complexion forces two classmates who accidentally bump into him to surrender their wallets. He doesn’t really want to take their cash, but the fact that he has a scary face only serves to have people jump to conclusions about his personality.
Later on, Ryuu arrives at school to look up what class he’ll be joining for the upcoming year. His screwed-up killer expression gets him into more trouble as other students nearby begin to take notice. Luckily for Ryuu, his old friend Yuusaku Kitamura shows up to bail him out of even more embrassment.
Ryuu and Kitamura head over to 2-C where they meet up with yet another familiar face, the peppy Minori Kushieda (impeccably delightful voicework by Yui Horie). Her can-do, over-the-top character’s a rather stark contrast to Ryuu’s stoicism; this and the hinting of Ryuu’s possible crush on her’s looking more and more like one of the corners on a possible love triangle/square/other-polygon-of-some-sort.
Eventually the three break up their little get-together and Ryuu tries to make his way down the hall when he bumps into short girl with long hair. The hallway’s immediately buzzes with whispers and gasps as the students gather to see which of the two delinquents will win out in this face-off. Ryuu hears one of the female students refer to the short girl as a “palm-sized/palm-top tiger,” a description that he finds to be quite accurate… just as she acquaints her fist to his piehole.
Fast forward to just after a class session and Ryuu looks over his shoulder as Kusheida tends to the girl who knocked his ass down earlier, Taiga Aisaka. Despite his looks, the rest of the class eventually begins to figure out that Ryuu isn’t really a delinquent and leaves well enough alone. However, the case isn’t the same for Ryuu’s teacher who’s clearly a bit rattled at having to do career counseling with someone who looks as scary as Ryuu.
The counseling session runs a bit late and Ryuu has to hurry back to the classroom to get his things before the school gates are locked up. However just as he pulls the door open, a couple of desks and a locker crash about the room. The locker door bangs open and out pops Taiga who then for some reason goes to try and stop Ryuu from taking his bag and leaving.
Strangely, after a short confrontation Taiga calls Ryuu an idiot and leaves just as abruptly as she appeared. Bewildered, he ends up cleaning the mess left behind in the classroom.
Later that night, Ryuu ends up coming across a picture of his dad and reveals a bit more about him: looks as if he was a womanizing yakuza thug and that Inko was his main squeeze before he passed away.
Anyway, he opens up his bag to find that the reason Taiga tried to prevent him from leaving with his bag was that she accidentally slipped what appears to be a love letter to Kitamura in it. Ryuu accidentally breaks open the seal (a flimsy sticker) and happens to read some of the contents through the thin envelope: “…that person…” Admirably, he puts the letter away and heads off to sleep.
It’s now the middle of the night when Ryuu hears some noise in the other room. He groggily gets up thinking that it may be his roomie, who’s revealed to be Yasuko Takasu (most likely his stepmother, as he never addresses her as mom), coming home from her job as a hostess at a bar. However when he investigates, he finds that the sliding door’s been opened and in the glass is a reflection of the intruder, a small girl.
Ryuu quickly twists around in time to fend off a slash from her wooden sword. He breaks free and quickly flicks on the lights to find that his attacker is none other than Taiga, complete with a runny nose from her cold. After wiping her snot off on a nearby shirt and tossing it at Ryuu, she continues her barrage of tsuntsun around the room.
Eventually, Ryuu calms Taiga down enough by bribing her with dinner to talk things over. He eventually tries to set her perspective straight by showing her his lame attempts to confess his feelings to the girls he’s liked over the years, but it only manages to backfire on him when Taiga confirms that Ryuu’s been crushing pretty badly on their classmate Kusheida. The two end up bickering loud enough to awaken the Takasu family’s pretty gnarly looking parakeet, Inko.
The two eventually broker a deal: if Taiga’ll leave before Yasuko returns, Ryuu’ll help her to get her feelings across to Kitamura. Furthermore, Ryuu’ll be losing his dignity by becoming her lapdog (great, this is Zero no Tsukaima all over again). The two part for the night, with Taiga oddly addressing Ryuu by his proper given name, Ryuuji.
The following morning as Ryuu’s preparing breakfast, he gets his first command from Taiga to head out to the veranda to find that she lives in a condo in the hugeass building next door!
He arrives with more food to calm her down only to find (surprise, surprise) the place is a huge dump. The atmosphere is noxious and the contents of the sink are obscene enough to warrant a mosaic. The sheer nastiness of the place flings Ryuu in a rage and sends him flying in to her bedroom only to find her sleeping peacefully.
Her place is large, but it has an empty feeling, a profound sadness to it… something that Ryuu aims to change by playing confidant as well as housekeeper and… dog?
Toradora!… Ugh, as a few other people have noticed, this is pretty much Zero no Tsukaima‘s fourth season. Y’know, the one where Louise has lost her powers and Saito’s become fugly beyond all help and everyone’s in Japan? Seriously, at least Kugimiya acknowledges the similarities between the two shows tongue-in-cheek by linedropping a master-pet reference from ZnT. Oh wait, that’s pretty much a set play in every bitchy tsundere playbook out there…
Man… I have no idea why I keep coming back to these kinds of shows; you know at the very end the tsuntsun turmoil will eventually end with a big deredere payoff, but it’s getting to be somewhat of a broken record at this point in my viewing experiences. But damn, I’ll be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that rom-coms like Toradora! don’t share some chemical properties with crack cocaine. Just keep the physical comedy a-comin’ and toss in a few novelty characters (this show seriously needs more of that crazy ass parakeet Inko) and I’ll be back in line next week to get my fix.
I’ll give some thought to blogging this regularly if more of that damn bird and/or Kushieda/Hocchan show up in the next episode or two. With Tantei Senshi Sunred being reviewed lukewarmly and no subs for it, I may end up swapping it out for this.