So, Ryuuji’s just made some terrible decisions that could have left this relationship in shambles, but this time it’s Taiga who has bent to preserve an uneasy peace between them. As I said yesterday, I’m not exactly sure how this arc concludes, but my instincts and the phantom of my memory seem to be telling me it won’t be good. At least, that’s what I was thinking before I actually started to watch the episode. But when a certain moment hit, I remembered how everything was going to end up. So, let’s get to it!
0:26—This is what a creative watershed looks like, folks.
3:20—I can’t help but be annoyed that Ryuuji is still so focused on her dad, rather than on Taiga, especially after the realization he had last episode. He should be asking her how she’s feeling, not continually praising her father.
3:32—Which makes me really glad that Taiga says stuff like this. She’s being pretty honest with him here, but is Ryuuji actually understanding what she’s trying to say? This whole situation has been built on Ryuuji’s lack of understand and I’m not sure it can be resolved without him coming around.
4:29—THANK GOD he finally actually notices this. It’s easy for her dad to drive back into her life, but Taiga’s the one who’s doing the hard work here. She’s the one who had to open herself up and trust her father again.
4:52—This is such a nice moment for describing their relationship. Her lights go on, he knows she’s home.
5:31—Everything Taiga is doing here (going to Ami for help, especially) says this is a Big Deal.
5:44—Whoa. Minori stuttering? That’s a first for her. Usually she’s so confident in everything she does. Is this a sort of fallout from the events of vacation?
6:17—It’s pretty adorable to see how eager Taiga is to see Ami eat one of the macaroons. And the way she pleads is much less a sort of “eat it so I can get my favor from you” and much more “eat it I want you to eat it.” It reminds me of the way Taiga responded to Yasuko’s compliments about her cooking.
6:52—That’s not good.
7:09—It’s easy to forget because we see so much of Taiga and Ryuuji together, but Minori is Taiga’s oldest friend. She still understands and knows things about Taiga that Ryuuji doesn’t. And given Ryuuji’s track record in understanding Taiga’s situation with her father, I’m inclined to trust Minori here.
7:17—Minori’s almost in an overdrive defensive attitude about Taiga.
7:28—But is she, perhaps, also blinded by what she thinks she knows about Taiga’s situation? Are either of them really thinking about Taiga here?
7:54—NO HE WASN’T HE WAS THINKING ABOUT ANYTHING BUT
8:08—This is really sad. Taiga is desperate, really desperate to have the two people she loves most in the world get along. It hurts her to see Minori and Ryuuji fighting, which is why she responds almost instantly to their shouting match. This is the second time in two episodes that she’s been hurt by someone else’s emotions.
8:25—Gotta love that Ryuuji flees to Ami’s hiding spot, the place where she can let down her guard.
8:53—There are some serious layers in that line. I think it’s obvious by know that Ami suspects Minori isn’t the person who Ryuuji really has feelings for, but she’s still pushing him, trying to get him to be real with her.
9:08—She’s right. Ryuuji has been out of character for so long with this whole deal, and now he’s complaining about Minori. There’s still something messed up with his attitude about the whole situation, and I think I’m starting to understand what it is.
9:40—Man, Ami really pushes him hard, doesn’t she?
10:04—She says this with her back turned, but turns around once before she goes.
10:38—Yup, forgot about that twist.
11:06—His response is just, “O-oh…”? How long is he going to continue to fool himself?
11:26—Again, he’s not even certain enough to state it. He has to ask. Here, I think, is the revelation of why Ryuuji continues to act so weird about this thing. Despite the fact that he realized he wasn’t doing any of this for Taiga’s own good, he’s now successfully convinced himself that he wasn’t wrong, that this is a good thing, despite all the contrary evidence.
11:36—This is the story of learning to admit that you were wrong. In the past three scenes, Ryuuji’s just been hammered by people presenting all sorts of reasons for why this thing with Taiga and her father is a bad deal. Minori uncharacteristically freaks out, Ami points out his own strange behavior, and now his mother claims Taiga as part of their family.
11:58—We return to the earlier, comfortable scene when Taiga returns, but this time the window is dark. Just one more thing out of place.
12:31—Dammit, Ryuuji. There it is, super obvious. He refuses to accept his error.
12:46—But this time, Taiga is trying to teach him out of her own experience. She’s living out the very thing she tells him to do. “Apologize and forgive?” She’s tried to do that with her father at Ryuuji’s insistence and now she wants him to do the same.
13:02—OMG even the city has curves. I really need to look up the art direction for this show.
13:55—Look at where Taiga’s priorities are, despite the festival, despite everything going on with her father: she still wants Ryuuji and Minori to make up.
14:13—Gotta love their cute (some people might call it flirtatious) banter.
15:12—There’s both hope and dread in this shot for me. A little bit of light in a dark room.
16:41—Fun curves and smears in this shot.
18:05—There’s a lot of great comedy in the silliness of the wrestling match script, but probably my favorite moment is right here as Ami really lets her guard down and giggles over all the adulation she’s receiving from the crowd.
19:23—A cool shot for a big line: this is the first time we actually, explicitly find out that Ami agreed to change places with Taiga. Structurally, it’s placed near the very end of the episode, so when the kick in the gut comes, it’s that much more immediate and painful.
19:45—Taiga looks from Ryuuji not talking to Minori to her empty phone. This is really a painful situation for her. When she probably needs support the most, she still has to worry about her two best friends being in a fight.
20:31—Taiga’s still hoping, but by now we the audience know what’s going to happen.
20:54—Hello, very idiosyncratic style, what are you doing here? This whole little sequence has a few more animation quirks than anything else this episode, which seems like kind of an odd place to use your talent, but whatever, it’s good comedy.
21:48—Taiga’s still, with everything that’s going on internally, focusing her priorities outwards.
22:17—And here we end. Ouch.
This is a tough episode to watch because it’s obvious from almost the very beginning that Taiga’s father isn’t going to show up. So all the fun stuff that happens is constantly undercut with the tension of feeling the inevitable coming and watching Taiga obsessively and hopefully check her phone again and again. It’s pretty hard on the heart, because the constant reminders of hope getting dashed again and again just lead you to a place where the final stroke, seeing Taiga on the verge of tears, confetti on her head in the midst of a celebration, is just painful.
I didn’t quite make it to the end of the first cour with my Imgur albums because these past few write-ups have been so long, but here’s the next one for all your Toradora! screenshot needs!