Alright, time for the Minori introduction episode aka the so much Yui Horie episode! If you didn’t already know Kana Asumi was my favorite Japanese voice actress, you’d probably be fooled into thinking Hocchan is my favorite and, well…it’s a pretty darn close race. Anyways, Minori really has a lovely personality (and I consider this beyond her simple genki-ness), and getting to see it on full display here is really a treat. Pretty hard to blame Ryuuji for staring, even if he should probably stop.
0:24—Housewife Ryuuji is on the job! Geez, they’re such an old married couple already.
1:03—Minori’s such a nice counterpoint to Ryuuji and Taiga because she’s so incredibly charismatic and both of them are kind of socially awkward sometimes. I mean, all the kids in this show are awkward, but Minori at least is better at faking it than most of them.
1:17—Definitely not the worst reason to fall in love with someone.
1:53—Taiga is unimpressed by your sentimentality.
4:03—Again, Toradora! nails the oddities of high school crushes. The moment Ryuuji hears her name, his attention’s caught.
5:13—The reversal here is a bit comedic and, again, reflective of how high school love works. Just a bit earlier he was kind of weirded out by Minori’s “job” as a cell phone decorator, but now he finds it like the Best Thing Ever. After all, she’s so quirky and unique!
6:21—Taiga gets him here for selfish reasons (food), but she still did him a favor.
7:09—I really love how Toradora! will just casually drop in critically important lines like this. You don’t have to have seen the show before to know that this is probably a key to at least a part of Minori’s character. Why does she work so frenetically? Why does she do everything she can at 120%?
8:42—And here’s a nice turn. To this point, Ryuuji’s been right on the money with all his assumptions (it’s no coincidence that he defaults to family problems as the most likely reason for Minori’s behavior), but Taiga’s right in this case. You don’t get to know people by guessing at what makes them tick. You have to let them tell you. I really like what she sarcastically says after this, “I’m the only one who truly understands her.” That’s such an attractive illusion of exclusivity, and when you have a crush, you want to find that special connection between you and the other person, something to bring the two of you together as if it were fate.
9:35—Shinobu Oshino, is that you?
10:22—This is pretty funny stuff. “Omg if she sees me and I don’t look perfect omg omg.”
11:24—Moving past the sexual harassment that just happened (although I admit I laughed), Minori’s freaking everywhere! I’d buy that fish stuff if it was her selling, by the way.
12:17—Taiga’s face says, “You shameless…” Ah, love, prompts the most beautifully rash decisions.
12:42—Part-time jobs are the best!
15:27—Say what you want about Taiga, but she does try hard. At everything she can.
15:58—And this is the difference between Kitamura and Ryuuji, already made obvious. Kitamura pretty much embodies indiscriminate kindness. It doesn’t matter who you are, he’ll be nice to you. To someone like Taiga, that’s a hard distinction to make. Ryuuji’s kindness is much more focused on individuals.
16:19—Not a bad line, especially for someone like Taiga to hear.
16:49—Again, look how damn hard she tries. She complains about trying, but she can’t keep herself from doing it. It’s impossible not for me to cheer for her; not necessarily in love, but just as a person finding her way in life.
18:22—I love how Minori just smashes through Ryuuji’s attempted gallantry. He’s ready right away to do the “gentlemanly” thing and give her his coat, but Minori doesn’t need others to warm her up. She’s like a sun all on her own.
18:54—How do you keep your own spirits up when you’re scared to death?
19:35—How can you not love this girl? How can you not love the spirit and the will to find the bright spot wherever she can? There’s a saying that courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to face fear and overcome it.
20:41—Geez, she’s eccentric, but nothing stops her from putting a positive spin on things.
21:19—Man, that’s such a telling shot and Ryuuji doesn’t even know it. He sees her as surrounded by light, but just look at it. She’s alone, everyone staring at her from a distance. Such a nice way to subtly undercut his narration.
21:36—Orrrr, we could just blatantly undercut it with some tsundere comedy.
21:57—10/10 landing for Taiga and this episode.
And that’s the end! Ah, what a lovely thing it is to get to listen to so much of Yui Horie in an episode. She really gets to display a lot more of her (vast) range in this episode, all the way up to Minori’s top genki levels to a few short lines in her lower register. Pretty cool to go straight from that into the ED song she sings, too.