With the cast fully assembled now, we’re fully prepared for rom-com shenanigans (which are quite funny this episode, if I do say so myself), revealing character moments, and maybe even a little bit of drama. It’s pretty impressive that, at this point in the show, a lot of things are pretty darn obvious. Ami’s cryptic and shades a lot of her words with her ditzy act, but she’s not all that hard to read. Ryuuji’s steady and consistent, as he’s been thus far. Taiga’s the easiest to read out all of them, even in the midst of her emotional confusion. Kitamura and Minori are the real wildcards at this point, which is actually somewhat odd given how early they were introduced—as I’ve said elsewhere: I remember the end game, but how exactly we get there is a mystery to me.
0:22—I’m pretty sure this dream is just Yuyuko Takemiya having some fun teasing both the audience and the characters. The punchline, “They’re yours,” is hilarious, but this line always gets me just a little bit more.
2:54—Interesting to see Taiga taking the lead here, making plans, and trying to take an active role in pushing both their relationships forward.
3:07—The really cool bit of this scene, though, is that they have this conversation casually, out in their street clothes, standing across a badminton field from each other in a park near their houses. It’s another expression of the nature of their relationship and how familiar they are becoming to each other. The shift in location (notice the conversation doesn’t happen in Ryuuji’s house, like most due) expands the scope of their relationship.
4:14—Man, Taiga’s really excited about this.
4:20—Yfw your friends are idiots.
4:24—Kitamura’s laugh here makes me laugh every time. It’s like an altered ojou-sama laugh tailored for a man and it’s hilarious.
4:48—I love the way Ami’s drawn in this shot. All of her clothes and her body posture say, “confident,” but her eyes as she wonders where the others are say, “worried.” She’s a model and a con artist, but she’s still a teen going on a trip with her friends.
5:23—You know when someone keeps making the same joke over and over again?
5:29—As much as I love Taiga (or perhaps because I love her), Ami’s jabs never fail to strike me as funny.
5:53—Hocchan, please monologue more.
6:17—Keeping Kitamura’s serious face in the frame when there’s really good character comedy going on elsewhere is an interesting choice. He’s paying attention to a lot of things here, not getting caught up in the nonsense going on around him.
6:48—I am certain this would not work on Taiga, so it’s interesting that she suggests it for use on Minori.
7:58—That’s our boy.
8:58—That’s a pretty telling line from Kitamura, even if it is somewhat couched in ambiguous, surface-level terms. It’s also interesting that Ami doesn’t seem especially pleased to have him there. Kitamura has his own agenda for this trip, that much is certain, but he’s keeping the exact details quiet. It somewhat seems like he’s there to try and hold Ami off of Ryuuji, or at least that’s what Ami seems to think.
9:28—What are they even doing, letting both of their crushes drive off together?
10:12—….meh, here we go again, right?
10:27—Such a great joke, and great delivery by Ami.
10:32—This has been Ami Kawashima, deconstructing cliché anime rom-com tropes for your viewing pleasure.
10:41—Here we get another bit of comedy containing important information. Ryuuji goes immediately from the bathroom and whines to Taiga, basically begging her to take care of things for him.
11:40—A cool perspective shot, makes use of some interesting lines and different levels to create a little bit of visual tension.
12:17—This is a metaphor.
12:31—More humor obscuring poignant character interactions. If there’s been any doubt that Ami cannot read Ryuuji’s feelings, it should be eliminated right here.
12:57—Dunno how that’s an excuse, Kitamura, but whatever.
13:12—Not only is this funny, but it’s so expressive of everyone’s personalities (even Ami is flustered here). It just seems impossible for me not to love this kids and their energy and passion for being alive. And look at the curve in that floor!
13:58—There Ryuuji goes again, smiling at other people’s happiness. I’m also reminded of Ami’s earlier line, “If you keep giving Taiga special treatment, other girls will hate you.” It’s just the reality of the game Ryuuji’s playing. He wants an exclusive relationship with someone (Minori), so if he wants that, he’s got to remember the way he acts around other girls. The same principle applies other directions, too. Ryuuji’s not Kitamura; it’s not in his nature to be the same sort of nice to everyone. His kindness is personalized and, in a sense, exclusive.
14:29—Shoutout to the NIS translators here: “Hells yeah!” is such a perfect line for Minori.
14:54—The curves in the lines that show up all over this show are starting to feel distinctive to me.
15:50—Ami essentially gets rejected here, and she’s not happy about it.
16:20—Can anyone doubt that stellar cleaning skills are the way to Ryuuji’s heart?
16:53—Man, I love this shot. She’s averting her eyes from him right here and we don’t get to see them either. Adds a touch of melancholy to the conversation from the start.
17:08—Here’s another, and it’s really made by Minori’s positioning looking away from Ryuuji and Ryuuji’s head looking downwards. It’s indicative of a pretty big disconnect between them.
17:33—But look at this one! It’s like there’s a bold line drawn in-between them; there’s now a connection present that wasn’t before.
17:45/17:52—What kind of optimism drives a person to think this way? Or is it rather that to think any other way would simply plunge her into despair? An undercurrent of sadness that runs through this line…
18:15—Because even the most relentless optimism has its limits.
18:21—Again, it’s about the delivery. If you’re rooting for Ryuuji (as I certainly was at this point on my first watch), this should be a fist-pumping moment of triumph. But it’s not. It’s actually kind of heartbreaking, because it’s not about Minori being single. It’s about her confessing that her optimism thus far has not been rewarded. Just look at all that empty, lonely space behind her.
18:45—And then there’s this brilliant sequence of still frames layered under Ryuuji’s little speech about ghosts: “Amazed by their first experience” for Taiga, as she lays in bed with the first person to acknowledge her real self in the same room, with the person who amazed her enough to make her fall in love.
18:51/18:54—Taiga’s simple. Ami’s not. She gets both denial and hard work. Because Ami’s the type of person to pretend she hasn’t seen something wondrous, even as she kills herself working to try and see it again. This is a spectacular bit of directing by Tatsuyuki Nagai, appropriating the text of Ryuuji’s conversation with Minori to deepen our understanding of the other characters.
19:25—Are they really still talking about ghosts?
19:34—And we get a variation on the shots from 17:08 and 17:33, but with all the extraneous background cut out. This conversation, at the very least, has drawn them closer together, even as Ryuuji basically makes a confession of love to Minori. I’m a huge sucker for these kinds of conversations that infuse the character’s casual conversations with their raw, but hidden, emotions.
20:09—Taiga’s hungry, but it’s Ryuuji that she comes to tell even the smallest details.
20:48—This is an incredibly intimate moment, as Taiga moves from kicking him to gently resting her feet on his back, telling him her fears.
20:56—Taiga said she doesn’t understand herself, but she’s starting to develop the awareness of herself that can help her to do just that.
21:05—Where’s the light in her life?
21:16—She’s really, really trying hard…and slowly, maybe, starting to understand.
22:04—Another visual trick you can’t see with the still shot, but along with the curves and the bed and desk pinning them in, the camera’s zooming in, creating the illusion that they’re trapped. Together.
Whew, that was a long one, maybe the longest of all the episodes so far! This episode does a lot of legwork for a lot of different relationships, while also keeping up the comedy, and displaying some of the best visual direction I’ve seen yet in Toradora! I do remember what happens with the comedy parts of next episode, but I’m pretty sure there’s lots more coming.
As is probably obvious from the time I spent writing about it, Ryuuji and Minori’s conversation on the deck was the highlight of this episode for me. Combining some really superbly subtle dialogue with excellent direction really enhanced the whole scene by conveying information by way of both visual contrast and symmetry. Plus, we got a whole lot of Hocchan in that scene! ^_^