Toradora!, Episode 2

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

5:46/5:53—Ah, the power of high school crushes. Minori’s just finished saying something totally unintelligible, but all Ryuuji can think about is how jealous he is that another guy gets to pass a basketball back and forth with her.

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).

8:21—Yes.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

21:22— ^_^

Toradora!

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 —–.”

5 thoughts on “Toradora!, Episode 2

  1. I left a comment earlier, but left the page before pressing the button. Essentially, thank you for the write-ups and the screen captures! I’m reading your Toradora! observations to my wife with whom I’m re watching this time. We’re both enjoying your insights.

    Even this early in the show we start to see a deep intimacy building between Ryuji and Taiga. It keeps building, but they have no idea. Wonderful!

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    • Wow, thank you. This really means a lot to me. I’m super glad that you guys are enjoying them (and how cool to be able to watch with your wife)!

      Definitely leaves me with a little motivation to keep on doing them! ^_^

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  2. “Have we debunked the myth of Taiga just being a nasty tsun yet? ”

    I’ve seen this online. Pay no mind, Taiga is large, she contains multitudes.

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  3. Yay, episode reviews for one of my favorite shows!

    I get what you mean about not wanting to hear someone else voice a favorite character. I never want to hear anyone else besides Kana Ueda voicing Rin Tohsaka in the Fate series, for the same reason. It’s not a problem for me with Toradora though; I watched it in dub when I bought the new box set this summer, and I like it, especially the woman who plays Ami. I can’t think of her name at the moment, she’s a pretty new VA, but she really nailed that role. My favorite Yui Horie role is Ayu in Kanon, but she is really good here too.

    What I hate about the whole “Taiga as tsundere” argument is that I feel like it misses the whole point of her character, and in a way of the entire series. Is she? In the strictest sense of the term I suppose so, since she is an emotional rollercoaster and she often covers up her softer feelings with harshness (although unlike the typical tsundere she’s not taking it out on the actual object of her affection, Kitamura). But one of the major themes of Toradora is that to have a real relationship with someone, you have to get past their facades and your initial assumptions and get to know and understand the real person beneath that veneer. To dismiss Taiga as just another tsundere without taking a closer look at her is making the exact same mistake that Ryuuji and Taiga make about their crushes, or that most people make about Ami – taking the surface impression as the end-all, be-all. Taiga isn’t just tsundere because the author decided the series needed a tsundere, like so many of her brethren in lesser romantic comedies. She’s a sad and lonely kid who grew up with (let’s be frank) pretty lousy parents who effectively threw her out of the house, she’s tremendously insecure about herself because she’s so small, and she’s received very little love and understanding in her life from anybody besides Minori. Under the circumstances, it’s hard to blame her for being guarded with her feelings and having trouble opening herself up to people. Her tsun-ness is an instinctive defense mechanism to protect herself from being hurt; I don’t think it’s part of her true nature.

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    • I mean, it’s really not that I’m married to the Yui Horie’s performance as Minori specifically. Sure, I consider it one of her best performance because of the range she displays throughout the show, but it’s more just that I love listening to her voice and not listening to it when I could be just seems…silly.

      As for the tsundere thing, I think it’s just that her behavior aligns with what people have been given to association with the trope and thus they categorize her by the trope or try and make her fit into it, rather than actually allowing her to be her own character. And she does violate a lot of the typical tsundere expectations in terms of the occasional viciousness of her words. She doesn’t exist in the comfortable, “I-it’s not like I made these cookies for you, baka~!” realm that people have been trained to expect tsunderes to reside.

      And, of course, welcome to the blog! I hope you enjoy the rest of my posts on the show. I really love it, and writing about it in this level of detail has been a really rewarding experience so far.

      Like

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