Toradora!, Episode 16

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

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.

Toradora!

20:58Everyone 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.

9 thoughts on “Toradora!, Episode 16

  1. @ 12:54 Kano casts no shadow. She’s a demon. 😉

    @14:56 Perhaps without malice, but with out a shred of empathy either. And the ‘Fun Guy” bit comes of as belittling Kitamura. She may have Kitamura’s best interests t heart, kind of in the same way a parent will throw their toddler into the deep end of a pool and say “Sink or swim”

    @18:06 The storm inside Taiga here. Pain, perhaps envying Kitamura’s feelings for Kano, Fury for Kano rejecting them, fury for hurting a dear friend.

    The last scene is a bit of a release-valve, an effort to prevent Kano coming off as a villain. It almost works.

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    • I don’t think the “fun guy” line is really that belittling. Once again, she’s trying to save him from himself, to help him save a little face in front of this crowd of his classmates. She’s acting like an “adult,” even if it means hurting herself and others.

      I dunno if other people see it the same way as I do, but Kano’s never felt like a villain to me. She’s just as tragic as the rest of them.

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  2. Interesting Kano want’s to be an astronaut. There is a VERY similar character in Space Brothers (albeit male) who ends up not making the cut. The reason: his inability to depend upon others.

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  3. You know, I thought I knew two things about Toradora going into it. The first was that Taiga and Ryuuji get together. The second was that Taiga and Ami have a massive blowout at some point. I wasn’t quite right about the second part…

    I can see why some people would call this the weakest arc. The conclusion got a little crazy, which could put people off. I personally thought it was awesome from Kitamura’s confession on. Crazy, angry, emotional stuff. Disregarding that though, this arc just feels off as you watch it. I think this is something very present in the second half as a whole, even when it’s being light hearted it’s got this oddly harrowing bent to it. Like there’s always something simmering under the surface, ready to blow. Like it did here.

    I really think you’ve nailed why this is in your first paragraph. They’re young people unintentionally hurting each other. Even when there’s nothing going wrong there’s this sense that the characters aren’t really being honest with each other anymore. And the thing is they can’t be honest with each other because they don’t know any better. What everyone wants is very skewed and uncertain at this point, even they don’t actually know what it is. They’re dishonest with each other because they’re dishonest with themselves, and they don’t really realise it?

    It’s really obvious with Taiga and Ryuuji. Notice how little fuss is made over their crushes these days, and how reluctant they tend to be to do anything about it. It’s because their feelings have been changing without them realising that it’s happening. Taiga doesn’t know it, but this is the episode where she completely gets over her feelings for Kitamura. Yes, I think that punch-up was symbolic.

    Anyway I think this is why everything from Kitamuras confession on works quite well. It’s really emotionally honest. Everything said and done is by characters who know what they want and are actually able to admit it. And the raw emotions displayed as a result are really cathartic. Kitamuras stunt, and Taiga throwing all the feelings she’s had for him into one last explosive outburst, it just felt goood to see, even if it’s all a little OTT. Slowly losing my train of thought but GAHHH this felt good.

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    • I think the feeling of something simmering also comes a lot from Taiga. I wrote after the end of the festival arc that I thought the pain she experienced in that night caused her to close up. I still stand by that and I think her blowing up like she did her is representative of just how much she’s been holding back since that time.

      She really hasn’t been as angry or as “tsun” as she was early on in the series (something that gets emphasized even more in episode 17), but it’s not like she just stopped having emotions. So where are they going? I think the audience is uncomfortably (and perhaps subconsciously) aware that all is not right with Taiga, primarily, and with everyone else, too.

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  4. I freely admit that on my very first watch, I didn’t like this story arc as much as I did the others. Re-watches had me appreciating it a lot more though, and I actually think it’s one of the stronger arcs in the entire anime, even if it’s also probably the least popular.

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    • It definitely is the least popular, at least from what I’ve seen. But I think it takes a lot more work to understand than some of the others. The emotion of it is less explicit until the very end. But as an exercise in slowly building up to something, it’s quite good.

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  5. It is one of the show’s weaker arcs IMO, but weaker by Toradora’s standards is still an arc that would be the highlight of the season for many other shows. I am inclined to agree with one reviewer I saw who argued that the main character of this arc is really Taiga more than Kitamura. There’s a lot of focus on her thoughts and feelings in these two episodes, and she really learned some valuable lessons, plus seeing her campaign for President was priceless.

    “Guilt all gone?” Amazing how many layers can be packed into one line of one brief scene – touching on Minori’s feelings, Ami’s feelings, Taiga’s feelings, issues of self-denial, communication (or lack thereof), and making assumptions, the first hint of a possible conflict simmering between the two girls…am I missing anything else?

    “6:56 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?”

    Whoa, did I just accidentally stumble into your review of the latest Yuki Yuna episode?

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    • Hmm…Taiga as the main character? Well, she is the one with the monologue at the very end of the episode. I guess I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’m not sure I agree all that much, either. I guess I just see Kitamura as too much of a thematic centerpiece in this arc to wholly discount his role as the main character.

      & no haha, I’m behind on pretty much every simulcasting show I’m watching right now. But I did have a feeling YuYuYu was going in that direction.

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