Toradora!, Episode 4

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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?

10:45/10:46—Some cute in-between frames here. There were actually quite a few nice character acting moments in this episode, like Taiga freaking out at Ryuuji over the pictures and other times…

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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).

4 thoughts on “Toradora!, Episode 4

  1. Finding it really interesting so far the way the show’s framed Taiga and Ryuuji’s respective crushes. It’s really easy to see why Taiga likes Kitamura and why Ryuuji likes Minorin. And not just in an “I can see why someone would fancy this character” way. In an “I can see why this specific character would fancy them.” You’re absolutely right about Taiga just wanting someone to appreciate her for who she is, it’s pretty obvious she’s affection-starved. So when Kitamura offered her that… But of course, that means she’s essentially crushing on a shadow. An ideal. It’s the same with Ryuuji. It’s been showcased plenty that he’s a pretty shy, awkward guy, who has a bit of trouble with people. So when he sees someone like Minorin, who appears (because it’s pretty clear there’s more to it than that) to be so brave, so outgoing and so bright (seriously, that smile could prevent wars) he can’t help but be drawn to her. As you said above “we’re attracted to the people we wish we could be like”.

    But that’s the beautiful thing, because it’s so easy to see why they like them, it’s also really easy to see why things wouldn’t really work out between them. Kitamura and Minorin are fantasies. They represent something to our leads, a hope of what you could have or who you could be. You can’t ever hope to be with a person like that, it’s over-idealised, and it’s something that would fall apart once they start seeing them as a person instead of an idol. And I know this is a bit pre-emptive, but there doesn’t seem to be any chemistry between our dance partners the way there is between Ryuuji and Taiga. They seem to be lead along by their crushes rather than the give and take they have with each other. And those two don’t know it yet, but they really fit together! That scene in episode two when they attacked the lamp post (best scene in the show at this point, imo) was really illustrative of why they work as a pair. Two frustrated kids unhappy with their lot in life, lashing out at a metal pole. They understand each other, and they’re so similar, and they haven’t realised how much they’re beginning to impact each other… It’s just great stuff.

    So… Yes, thank you for the great posts. I’ll probably not be reading the rest until I’m finished the show since I’m worried the talk of foreshadowing will lead me to something I haven’t already suspected, but if it keeps up at this level I can totally see why this’d be a favourite of yours.

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    • I think both Kitamura and Minori have the sorts of luminescent personalities (at least outwardly) that very naturally lend themselves to being idealized. They are just so much of what they are that they feel whole, and for a couple kind of broken people like Taiga and Ryuuji, they are easy to crave. Chihayafuru and the admiration Chihaya has for Arata will never not pop up in my head in these sorts of situations, but Toradora! certainly realizes that it isn’t in chasing an ideal that you really find love.

      & that’s cool! I hope to see you around in the later posts once you’re down and I really hope you enjoy (dare I say love?) the rest of the series. Imho, it gets better and better as it goes along. Between Utena and this, you’re watching some really darn good stuff right now.

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  2. With every episode, Taiga and Ryuji building an intimacy that seems invisible to them. They’re so busy sweating and shaking over their crushes, and find respite, if not calm in each other’s company. Like whemleh says, they’re focused on these ideals. This show progresses so nicely. I’m aslo using these entries as a refresher while you guys catch up. Thanks again for the screen captures.

    I can’t help but wonder, with “Really, how can you hate this girl?”, and a couple earlier remarks, if you have read the same foot stamping diatribe I stumbled onto online 🙂

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    • They say a good romantic relationship is built on the foundation of a good friendship. That’s what Taiga and Ryuuji are building.

      Ah—so are you and your wife paused in your re-watch right now, waiting for us to catch up with you?

      & I don’t know if we’ve read the same stuff, but I think people are so willing (or so desirous to) to just read Taiga into the archetype that they just go “I hate her” and skip over everything that’s good about her character (which there is a ton of).

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