I’m starting to remember just why this show is so painful and so amazing. The end of this episode was pretty much emblematic of what the fundamental story of Toradora! is: this is a show about young people trying their best to be good and hurting themselves and each other because they don’t know any better. This dualism of childhood versus adulthood that is really starting to make itself felt is thus all the more relevant because we’re watching our main characters in a liminal state—fluctuating (sometimes in a single moment) between acting like children and acting like adults. But the reason we can’t hate them is because they’re trying. Really hard. So, let’s see how their struggle occurs as we finish off Kitamura’s arc.
0:26—An accurate portrayal of my real life vocabulary when distressed.
0:33—I love this shot; it’s dramatic/staged while still preserving the normalcy of the moment. Kitamura is framed in the middle of the crowd, but behind him a few students pass through the gates.
3:24—Ryuuji has just said that they aren’t leaving Kitamura a choice, but really, they are. They’re giving him consequences for both decisions that he didn’t have before.
3:37—This isn’t blind faith; Taiga knows this to be true of Kitamura.
4:05—More cool crowds details from the production team. The one I’m looking at here is the girl with her arms around her presumed boyfriend in the foreground of the frame.
5:18—So, this is Ryuuji’s reaction to realizing that Kitamura was in love with the president and is doing all this in despair over her impending departure and the destruction of his plans to prove himself. To be honest, I kind of agree with Ryuuji here. Kitamura has responded really badly to this situation. As with most such reactions in this show, his emotions and the way he’s acted on them are understandable. But that doesn’t mean they’re good or healthy.
5:50—But someone’s beaten Ryuuji to the punch (bwahahahaha sorry I couldn’t resist)
6:08—He’s made a bad decision, but in some sense, this isn’t his fault. Part of growing up is realizing and dealing with the difficulty of your emotions and with the painful reality that you can’t control everything.
6:19—Yet another shot with the characters to the left of the screen and a vast open space on the right side of the frame leading off to the unknown. Times are changing for these kids.
6:56—This is a temper tantrum. Kitamura’s been incredibly childish in this arc, perhaps more so than we’ve seen any other character in this show be yet. For all that, how can I not sympathize with him? What else are you supposed to do when you can’t control the world around you but try to bring the unsympathetic universe crashing down?
7:29—What is with it with the characters in this show actually remembering things that happen to them? Is this really anime?
8:29—Awesome. This is what being an adult means, Kitamura.
9:00—Ryuuji protecting Taiga’s feelings.
9:51—He’s made the choice, and is now showcasing his brilliant laugh.
10:31—…or not. To be honest, I don’t see this as a choice. He’s just giving up, refusing to face the pain of the situation. Again, can you blame him for wanting to run away from something that hurts him? No. But it still won’t get him anywhere.
11:23—The fact that Taiga’s rejection of Kitamura ended up with him falling in love with Kano while Taiga ended up falling in love with him…controlling anything in this life is pretty freaking hard.
11:42—Look at this shot. Do you believe she was his saving angel or what?
11:59—I love how similar Kitamura’s relationship with Kano is to Taiga’s with him. Just as he was a light to Taiga, so Kano was to him.
12:54—Even here, the composition and direction of the shot implies the light comes with Kano.
14:10—Does this kid do everything at 110% or does he? I have to appreciate how hard he tries. Just like everyone else in this show.
14:56—Ugh, the way people in this show get turned down…dammit, it’s hard to watch the way she says with, totally without malice.
15:16—Amid cheers, up on stage, just like Taiga, Kitamura has to face down his pain. It’s inescapable, but at least he’s here. He took the step, made the choice. Tried.
15:20—Ryuuji’s got plenty of reasons to be hurting for his friends (for Taiga, for Kitamura, and for the non-answer Kano just gave).
15:55—This is such a difficult line to swallow. So much of Toradora! is about the importance of being honest with yourself and others, and we see so much damage occur from people hiding their true feelings. Yet, Kitamura’s just been honest in an incredibly raw way, and he’s still in pain. So, in a way, Kano’s right. But I think Toradora! wants us to know that living in honest pain is better than living with the pain of masks.
16:14—This is one of the prettiest shots I’ve seen in this show yet. Taiga’s colors are hot and bright and accented all the more for all the cool colors everywhere else.
16:21—Like Minori passed Taiga off to Ryuuji, realizing that she was no longer the one who could stand by Taiga’s side through everything, Taiga passes Kitamura off to Ryuuji. And, just like with Minori, this is an incredibly unselfish action. Taiga gives up her own desire to be the one at Kitamura’s side, understanding that Ryuuji is the one who ought to be there. There’s something to be said here about how many people Ryuuji can support without much support himself, but now’s not really the time.
16:39—Dammit don’t make that face that face is full of pain just barely hidden
16:45—Another great shot. A lot of light outside, but a lot of darkness, too, close by in the corner of the frame.
17:08—This is one of only a handful of internal monologues we get from Taiga, but this one knocks it out of the park just like her thoughts at the culture festival. I think it also reveals where Taiga’s feelings on Kitamura truly lie.
17:24—Just like Ryuuji ended up racing to her in a physical display of support, Taiga is about to do what she can to reach out to Kitamura. We’re about to get a physical expression of everything she’s feeling. She’s starting to crack open again, to let everything out. It’s no coincidence we see the open sky above her.
18:06—I have to love this girl. Have to love how honest she is, even if sometimes her honesty can only be expressed through violence.
18:45—Oh man, Taiga.
19:13—Is she really shouting at Kano here? Or at the her she sees Kano as?
19:33—She sounds like Ami here. She sounds burdened with responsibility, with worry about thing beyond just herself. She sounds like an adult. But she’s not being honest, and she’s hurting herself in the process of trying to help others.
19:40—I’m so glad Ryuuji is here with Taiga in this moment.
19:54—Minori has to be terrified here. I think she’s seeing exactly what she fears will happen if she lets down her mask.
20:24—Ugh, everyone is hurt all over again and there’s nothing that anyone could have done about it.
20:58—Everyone is hurt. Of course they’d shade this all in red.
21:05—What does Ami do? Forget about what she says. What does she do? What do her actions tell us about her? Here, they tell us that she is one freaking fantastic friend.
21:26—”Guilt all gone?” And here goes Ami, doing the same thing Kano’s been doing. And she’s hurting herself doing it.
And thus we come to the end of what is widely declared as one of the weakest arcs of the show. Having done this rewatch and these posts, I’m pretty heavily inclined to disagree with that assessment. Sure, the poignancy of the emotional effect isn’t quite the same, but that’s to be expected with an arc dealing primarily with Kitamura (who is the least fleshed out of our five leads) and a side character like Kano. Everything else, though, is pretty damn good stuff. Our ongoing themes got examined from different angles and Kano has provided clarity to what “adult” side of the child versus adult dyad stands for.
I do really like that Taiga’s final letter to Kano simply reads “Fool” and that Kano laughs heartily at it. The two of them have reached some kind of understanding, one that I think stops short of invalidating either of their positions.