So, if the last episode was about Minori and Ryuuji’s crush on her, this episode is about Kitamura and Taiga’s crush on him. Really, though, we got a lot less information about Kitamura this episode than we did about Minori last. It’s not really that much of a surprise given how open Minori seems to be, but in comparision, Kitamura is something of an enigma. I think he’s the type of person I’d like, but always feel nervous around. This episode also had kind of a lot of nice visual details, so you’ll see more of those cropping up here than in past write-ups.
0:57—Truly, this is the only reason to get out of bed some mornings.
1:46—”For some reason…” It’s adorable how unaware she is of herself. She knows she’s got a crush on this guy, but can’t mentally connect love=nervousness=shaking.
2:00—So, Ryuuji, how far are you willing to go in creeping on your best friend, eh?
3:59—Man, I hope so.
4:19—This is actually a really great way to use internal monologue. It’s what Ryuuji would actually be thinking in this situation, so it’s not a lame narrative trick to spit out exposition. Instead, it actually adds to the comedy because he says exactly what we’re all thinking. It’s a nice little trick to connect to the audience.
5:13—Last episode it was Taiga staring at Ryuuji’s lovestruck faces; this episode, he gets to do the same to her.
5:20—I know this is kind of trivial, but look at the variety of poses they used for the crowd here. It was the girl grabbing her arm behind her back that caught my attention. They didn’t have to draw it like this. It probably would have been easier and faster to draw them just standing straight. That’s a gift from the production side of this show.
6:14—56, not 59? Is she doing this on purpose? It’s hard to tell.
7:18—And the kaichou gets a real zinger in.
7:34—Thankfully, Kitamura is there to utilize Armpit Carnival, the superior Noble Phantasm available to only the bravest and the strongest of high school students.
7:51—If you’re watching the Japanese, “Da fool doth…desu…dooth think…” Hilarious.
8:38—Can’t see it in this still shot, but there was a ton of extraneous movement in this hallway shot: students waving, walking, talking. Again, normally you’d see that done in still frames, but we get a bit of a gift from the animators here.
9:10—The group is starting to form!
10:09—…what the heck are you talking about, Minori?
12:05—Like this one! It’s super quick, but cute and funny.
13:57—Really, how can you hate this girl?
14:02—These shots are so important to have. It’s just a tiny smile from Ryuuji, but he’s smiling at Taiga’s happiness. When she’s happy, it makes him happy.
15:26—I love Yasuko and Taiga’s chemistry together. And notice how quickly Taiga jumps at the opportunity to be praised. It’s just a tiny rice ball, but the moment Yasuko says something nice about it, Taiga is claiming it. Just like she says later in the episode, she wants to be appreciated and even something as small as having her rice ball be called “cute” is enough for her. Again, there’s a certain tragedy to this that gets absorbed into the cuteness/funniness of the moment. If Toradora! is effective emotionally later on, it’s because it lays out the groundwork so subtly beforehand.
16:59—This was the first time in the rewatch where I wasn’t really sure what Taiga was thinking. Usually, I feel like she’s more or less an open book, but she comes off kind of inscrutable in this seen, especially after she stares unhappily at the pictures. Of course, it’s because we don’t have all the information yet at this point.
18:41—Trust is what you do, not what you say. She’s trusting him to make the decision for her, and that’s kind of a big deal.
19:21—Nineteen minutes to the bombshell line.
19:59—This is a beautifully framed shot.
20:04—Ugh, yes, this is always how it works. After all, someone telling you they like you immediately makes them seem pretty decent in your eyes. You know, if they like you, they have to have at least okay taste in people.
20:26—This is weird for Taiga to hear, but what does this say about Kitamura? Why would he be attracted to someone who flaunts their anger? Oh. Remember what I said earlier about Kitamura being an enigma and last episode about his indiscriminate kindness? We’re attracted to the people we wish we could be like, and Kitamura is telling Taiga and us that he wishes he could be like her.
20:51—And we’re back to the appreciation thing again. Kitamura told Taiga he liked her for being exactly the way she was, and that’s something she’s apparently been craving. Of course she would fall for him!
20:59—Even if Ryuuji isn’t connecting the dots totally, this is such a devastating line. Taiga’s talking about not feeling appreciated and his mind flips back to her apartment, which he’s continuously describe as “empty” and “like a dollhouse.” It’s kind of subtly in your face, but the entirety of what’s meant by the line is obscured by Ryuuji’s (and the audience’s) lack of knowledge.
21:22—It’s something she’s holding on to. Revolutionary Girl Utena might call it “something eternal,” and for Taiga it’s a moment she wants again: the feeling of being loved.
21:58—”If wonder if being appreciated holds a special meaning for Taiga.” Ryuuji, you’re getting there. Keeping working this around in your head.
22:24—Okada, you slay me with this nonsense. You want to give the most potent line of the episode to freaking Inko at the very end? Man. Man. Man. After everything that’s happened in these final minutes, Inko says, “It isn’t so bad.” I don’t know why exactly, if it’s just the melancholy of the that final scene on the rooftop or what, but this line really just hit me.
So, that’s the end of this one. It was kind of a backloaded episode in terms of the more serious content, but we’re still getting so much small information out of the comedic bits. I would love a chance to read the original LNs alongside the scripts for the show. As much as I love Blast of Tempest, I pretty much consider Toradora! the best thing Mari Okada has ever worked on (although I haven’t seen a few of her other popular shows like Hanasaku Iroha and Sakurasou).