Alright, main character introductions are over, time to move the plot along a little bit! For me, this was the “Taiga’s such a jerk (or other words)” debunking episode. I don’t know if it’s just the her tsun-ing stands out more, but she has a ton of really vulnerable moments in this episode that I feel get overlooked. And then we just have Ryuuji being heartmeltingly kind and making me want to cry.
0:29—Yasuko says “people,” but I hear “families.” Sharing a meal together like they are is such a family thing to do, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Inko is the foreground of this shot—after all, she’s sort of the symbol for how, no matter how beat up or ugly you are, if you’re family, you’re family.
2:57—Taiga makes a face at this line, which is framed comedically, but even though she heaps on a little more abuse after this, her voice loses its edge.
3:21—She goes back to tsun-ing after this, but she’s letting down her guard again, telling Ryuuji about what’s really important to her.
3:40—Again, Minori is so essential for keeping Taiga out of the realm of being totally insufferable. She gives us a chance to see Taiga interact with someone besides Ryuuji, and really affectionately at that.
4:03—Yui Horie’s voice + Minori’s genki personality is just a match made in heaven. One of the big reasons I’ll probably never be able to convince myself to watch the English dub. I just love Hocchan’s voice wayyyy too much.
4:20—Oh man, that look she gives him. And it’s such a high school girl thing to do: “You want something? Sure, you can have it. AFTER you get me what I want.” Because Taiga essentially steals Minori right out from under Ryuuji’s nose, walking away with her just the way he wants to.
4:43—Just an excuse to post a twintails Taiga screenshot.
6:40—And we get a little bit from Ryuuji on Taiga’s virtues. (Yes, she has them!)
7:44—I’ll never understood why the cookies went out the window when she was falling backwards, but whatever. Ryuuji catches the right thing (and Taiga uses his first name here).
8:41—But seriously! Taiga has so many vulnerable moments in this episode.
9:10—This gesture always gets me, because it’s really so kind. Ryuuji eats the cookies and I tear up.
9:26—It’s like he instinctively understands exactly how to relate to Taiga.
10:41—Really, Minori hides behind her persona far more than Taiga does. Taiga gets embarrassed easily, but she’s not afraid to tell people what she’s thinking. Minori, on the other hand, has to dive into the absurd to beg Ryuuji to take care of her best friend. That being said, Minori really is a wonderful friend to Taiga, begging Ryuuji to take good care of her.
11:03—More comedic camera work. This angle is soooo unnecessary for the moment, but it’s so overdramatized that it just adds to the comedy of the situation.
11:34—A genuine apology from Taiga. No tsundere, just authenticity.
13:02—This is such an incredible moment of vulnerability for Taiga. You don’t freak out like that in front of just anyone. Sharing the motivations behind your anger is NOT an easy thing to do because it depends on a whole lot of trust that the other person won’t just freak out and abandon you.
13:28—This is the age old complaint of the teenager, but thanks to the set-up of her hot anger and Rie Kugimiya’s acting (one of the many stellar performances she has in this show), it holds a lot more weight than simple angst does.
13:34—And he steps in. Again, understanding her through his own life experience.
14:19—This sounds harsh initially, but her actions in the b-part of the episode reveal her intentions.
15:12—Some nice visual irony here. The rice cooker is empty with Taiga there. Now that she’s gone, it’s full. Something’s missing in his life, but the rice cooker seems to say the opposite.
15:49—And here’s the clarification for Taiga’s earlier line. She’s making space between her and Ryuuji so that everyone, especially Minori, understands the truth.
16:19—We get this narration from Minori and see again just how genuine and thoughtful of a person Taiga can be.
17:49—”You don’t like him?” Oh.
18:36—And this right here is exactly why I love this show so much. Ryuuji smiles at her success in being able to express her feelings. That’s what real love looks like: wishing the best for someone else unreservedly, without any thought about yourself.
19:46—Damn. What a way to get turned down. Because of how he says it, it comes off as kind, not cruel, but it’s still crystal clear what he means.
22:18—Thanks to the overlapping ED and this, I’m actually crying right now. I’m going to be such a wreck when we get the heavy hitter episodes.
And that’s all we’ve got for episode two. Have we debunked the myth of Taiga just being a nasty tsun yet? That’s not to say I don’t understand people being annoyed with that part of her personality, but man, you have to close your eyes to a lot of her vulnerable and honest moments in this episode to only come out with “Taiga’s such a —–.”