So, all the key players have been set. Now’s the time where you start letting character drive the action of the story, and that’s exactly what happens here. It’s also really interesting in the overall structure of the story that the last two episodes have essentially been a mini-arc for Ami spinning directly out of her character introduction. By the end of this episode, she’s already in a very different place personally than she was at the beginning of episode 5. The real her is out and so now we just watch how that spins everything else in new directions.
0:18—I remember when I used to say that…
1:11—This is the Urmove, the greatest of the Great Techniques.
1:22—Kind of fun how this shot is composed from this odd angle. A fun shot for a fun scene. The whole thing feels kind of…bendy…to me. Which is not at all a technical term for cinematography but that’s what it makes me think of. Maybe because the walls are curved…
3:39—YUP IT IS
4:48—The act goes down for a second here, but this is an easy one for Ami to reincorporate back into her fake persona. After all, it’s easy to act scared when you really are.
5:31—Most people have something they’re running away from.
5:44—Taiga’s pretty quick on the uptake, especially if it means a chance to goad an enemy.
5:53—And she runs a pretty quick trick, one that works on both the fake and the real Ami.
6:28—I like how, even though they aren’t on what anyone could call civil terms, Taiga still shows Ami (what I assume is) the designated cultural politeness.
6:54—Another really, really sad line that Toradora! subsumes into kind of a half-comedic situation.
7:05—I’m sure this was beyond Kitamura’s wildest hopes for this experiment.
7:51—Another cool overhead shot (which I’m just now realizing is a variation of the Haruhi Shot), although this one is really nicely divided by the rule of thirds, with Taiga very much in control of the shot.
8:41—I don’t even know what that would look like.
9:53—I really love the way her body language is drawn in this shot. She’s facing away from the entire table, isolating herself, and her facial expression matches her line perfectly. It’s actually a really honest moment for Ami, although it’s hidden from the others.
10:50—You need good people sense to be a good con artist, which Ami is—and it lets her read a little bit into Taiga and Ryuuji’s relationship, figuring out things beyond what’s being told to her. It’s another moment that sort of levels the playing field between Ami and Taiga because it’s Ami knowing things understanding things about Taiga and what makes Taiga tick.
11:33—She’s still acting for Ryuuji, which kind of has stretched the believability that she still thinks he doesn’t know she’s acting after all the moments in which her real personality has emerged.
12:06—Kaichouuuuuuu plz step on me i’m a trash bag
12:48—Ami really does get some real zingers out.
13:22—Well, that’s one good way to clue people in that you’re acting.
14:11—It’s like, here we go, but she pulls back right away, again pushing the believable limits of how many times she can break in front of Ryuuji and still think that he’s buying her act.
14:32—So he tells her. I don’t think this is an easy thing to say to someone, to tell them to stop being fake and start being real. It’s often much easier to just accept the masks people wear without challenging them
14:53—Because, when the masks crack, it kind of hurts to see it happen.
16:17—She’s not just hiding from others; she’s hiding from herself and her own frustration at what she perceives to be her own weakness.
17:31—There’s some pretty hilarious irony here. Sure, Taiga hasn’t done anything to this guy…
18:22—Ami gets to see someone she hates do the very thing she hasn’t been able to do.
18:56—Yes, this is what Toradora! is all about. It’s about people being people, trying to fill in the gaps, seeing other people and wanting to be like them, learning from them, and changing because of them. It doesn’t matter that Ami hates Taiga; Taiga still can show her what to do. It doesn’t matter than Taiga has ripped apart Ami’s facade; Taiga still can prove something to her, can still show her the way. It’s a beautiful, beautiful statement on what it means to be in relationship with other human beings.
19:29—The first step to changing yourself is to understand what you are right now.
20:02—Of course, not all change is necessarily good change (unless you like your yanderes).
20:19—That’s a lot of pent up anger, frustration, and fear that she’s letting out here. It’s an emotional watershed for Ami, a chance for her to say, “How I’ve been isn’t okay and I don’t want to do that anymore.”
20:59—And change is always freaking hard and really damn scary. You don’t just change yourself on a whim; it’s a long, difficult, and frightening process. And that’s okay.
21:32—Somebody always wants what you have.
21:50—Whoa that’s one heckuva hypothetical. And a pretty critical one for Ami to be asking. Ostensibly, she’s asking about romance, but really she’s saying, “Will you accept me and acknowledge me as I am? Even if what I am is awful?” Which kind of begs the question: what does she really think about herself?
21:58—That’s not the face of a casual hypothetical question.
22:12—Character (Ami craving acceptance) drives action (Ami making the advance on Ryuuji) drives character drives action: Taiga now has to choose how she’s going to respond here and it’s all set up by Ami acting out of her character.
So, we get our first real cliffhanger of the show this week, with Taiga staring at Ami and Ryuuji in what one might call a “compromising position.” I actually have no recollection of what happens next, so I’m kind of excited for this next episode to see how everything goes down. The wheels have started turning and I’m very much ready to enjoy the ride.