Toradora!, Episode 21

Yeah, so I had kind of totally forgotten almost everything that happens in this episode, which was a good thing because holy crap that was intense on so many levels. Ami is all over this episode but, like with last episode, the predominant emotion we get from her, except for in a few spots, is angry. Really, this is just the logical outcome of everyone holding back for so long. They’re away from home, away from normalcy. It’s the perfect time for the status quo, no longer held up by their ordinary routines, to come crashing down.


0:51—Superior Ami-chan is superior.

1:10/1:11—I love all the smears they put into Ryuuji falling down.

1:16—And so, the symbol of childhood flies into the distance as Taiga collides with Ryuuji…just kidding, that’s just a sled.

3:02—There are two ways to read the title: 1) I’m unable to help myself, or 2) I can’t keep myself from doing something. As we’ll see at the end of the episode, it’s clearly supposed to be be the latter reading, but I think the first interpretation has some interesting implications, too, if you care to tease them out in relation to Taiga’s desire to become independent of Ryuuji.

3:32—Someone got really lazy drawing Ryuuji, but these are some big words from Taiga that really sum up her views on being alone. For Taiga, to be independent is to be functional and active without needing someone else.

3:52Toradora! really likes these split-screen backgrounds (we same one last episode with Ryuuji and Ami). This one I’m pretty fond of, as the divide between Taiga’s wilderness and Ryuuji’s civilization is a nice little riff on the things that make them so different and yet such complementary.


4:18—A nice thing for her to say.

4:24—But she also has to declare her independence from him. These last two screens have been a really nice portrayal of Taiga’s divided emotions right now. She’s pulled in two directions by her affection for Ryuuji and her “need” to stay away from him.

5:05—”What would that accomplish?” Noto yells. What good would it do them to have Minori solve the problem for them. There are people trying to face these things head on.

5:16—Didn’t Ami ask this of someone else before? But even as she’s jabbing at Kitamura, he demands that she just “Spit it out,” which is fair. Ami’s can’t claim the high ground while still couching all her words in ambiguity.

5:28—This has become a really great subplot to contrast with the main drama. Just as Taiga, Ryuuji, and Minori are clinging to the past, there are other people trying to move things forward and make changes.

6:10—This is the crux of the problem. Ryuuji can’t figure out what anyone else is thinking, but he doesn’t take any steps to fix that problem.


6:35—Minori wants the status quo for everyone, not just herself and Ryuuji and Taiga. She’s by far the most desperate of them all to see them stay at peace with each other.

7:09—But, at the same time, she’s undermining the stability of everything as she tries to push Ryuuji to a more permanent version of their current situation. Because if Taiga doesn’t like Kitamura, things both stay the same and change radically.

7:17—For Ryuuji, this would mean the status quo he’s been operating on since the beginning of the show has been destroyed. He can’t help Taiga get with Kitamura if she doesn’t love Kitamura any more.

7:53—Now’s not the time for Santa or UFOs. Finally, finally, we get an indication that Ryuuji’s felt something deeper than just passive acceptance.

8:53—Kitamura looks truly shocked.

9:15—He’s always been the straightforward one, the guy who looked at the fireworks and saw them for what they are. Love this guy.


10:20—Someone had a lot of fun drawing this shot.

10:24Toradora!‘s default “comedy camera” is back.

11:51—Torture for everyone! For Ryuuji, Taiga, Minori, Ami, and all of us in the audience!

11:57—I think Skeptical Ami might be Best Ami.

12:20—Ami sees all. Minori’s mask is at once strong and totally transparent.

12:29—She’s seriously just mad at everyone. Super cool how the shot closes the distance between her and Minori from 12:20.

13:04—Really mad. And she’s sick of it, so she’s finally decided to push until something changes.

13:34—Ami just captures the frame with her big lines.

13:59—She’s right, absolutely right. This is what Minori should have done. Drove the nail in the coffin, made her decision explicit to Ryuuji. Instead, she’s left the whole situation in suspension once again by refusing to take definitive action in any direction.


14:11—And then there’s this. Holy crap, she is furious, and with good reason. Besides all the hurt she sees happening around her, Minori’s indecisiveness is a gigantic barrier in between her feelings for Ryuuji. Of course, the irony is that Ami has masks of her own. These masks allow her to see through Minori’s, but at least Ami lets her masks down sometimes. Minori constantly refuses to do that. Not just with Ami, but with everyone.

14:29—Hahahaha then Ami drops back into her fake ditzy self for the apology, which seems genuine to Maya and Kihara, but which Minori knows is fake. She appeases her friends while still jabbing at Minori.

14:41—Just like with Ryuuji’s confession, Minori wants to pretend this never happened. In other words, she again refuses to allow change to happen. You can’t grow from an experience you’re pretending wasn’t real.

15:34—I love that he finds her playing in the snow, like a kid.

15:48—Ami’s got her own weights that she’s carrying around. So she considers “guilt all gone” to be a spiteful thing, huh? I didn’t read it like that when she said it, but I’m inclined to believe her intentions as she states them.


16:08—Isn’t this what she’s been demanding of those around her since almost the beginning? Realness?

16:29—There is so much packed into this line. Ami, as I’ve said, is sort of the “adult” stand-in amongst our main cast, and being an adult is hard. And Ami’s just a teenager, and she’s messed up. So she retreats to a childlike activity, even as she takes responsibility for what’s she’s done…like an adult ought.

16:55—Really good shot composition here. It’s looks nice, and the way the characters are staged says a lot about their relationship. Taiga is straight on from Ami, Ryuuji off to the side, and Minori is, of course, the farthest away. Ami relates to Taiga best of all, with Ryuuji at angles, and with Minori not at all.

17:17—She’s ready for it to all come out. Really ready. Ready to physically fight right in front of Ryuuji. I’m certain that if Ryuuji hadn’t been there, Ami would have just let it go. But she wants Minori’s mask to go down in front of Ryuuji, like her own did. That’s not to say she doesn’t have personal interest in breaking down Minori, but she still is at least partially motivated by her own feelings for Ryuuji.

17:41—So she’s going to push and break Minori’s mask no matter what.

17:56—”It’s not like you’re an actress!” Minori yells at Ami, which is funny because, yes. Yes, she is.


18:00—This is a nice way to set up the full scene of their physical location for us, and the scale of the mountains behind them sort of seems to trivialize their fight.

18:22—We get to see Taiga’s priorities in the clear right here. Right in front of her, two of her best friends are fighting, but she cares far more about Ryuuji’s happiness than she does about Minori and Ami’s fight. The old Taiga (festival arc Taiga) would have been upset about this, but now she’s focused on something else entirely.

19:27—A great line. Kitamura’s talking about Ryuuji’s worry over Taiga being lost, but I hear this as an admonishment of far more important things.

20:44—That’s right; she did this all for you.

21:16—About time. About time. About freaking time.



22:54—The combination of this scene and the lyrics from the ED were just slaying me here. “Make me strong…” “The fruit that wants to hurry up and turn orange.” Such a perfect expression of Taiga’s desire to be adult enough to pass over her own feelings for Ryuuji’s crush on Minori. But you can’t hurry yourself through childhood. It just doesn’t work that way, Taiga.


Let it be known that the lyrics to “Orange” (and really all the OPs/EDs) are just damn perfect for this show. As should be known by this point, Blast of Tempest is my favorite anime, and I once read an interview from Director Masahiro Ando talking about the significance of the OPs/EDs in the context of character relationships in the show. Toradora!‘s don’t have the same exact parallels to characters, but they sum up so many of the show’s core questions and themes beautiful that it’s impossible not to be in awe of the attention to detail given to parts those parts of the show that are usually just glorified advertisements for particular voice actors/actresses or bands.

And the fourth screenshot album is now available!

4 thoughts on “Toradora!, Episode 21

  1. One thing about Toradora, even though it’s primarily a comedy/romance, the fights in this series are even more brutal than they are in a lot of shonen series. Taiga and Kano’s fight was a no-holds-barred brawl that left both of them bruised and bloodied, and in this episode you can really feel the weight of Ami and Minori’s punches connecting.

    Nice to know I’m not the only one who likes the subplot with Kihara. I thought it was just me.


    • Yeah, I was actually recently talking about the fights and how Toradora! lets the characters look ugly as they do physically ugly things to each other. Takes some guts from the character designers and director, but it’s such an effective trick.


  2. @14:11 Ami is furious, surely. But look at her here. Ami is always depicted as unambiguously beautiful, even when she’s being emotionally ugly. Here her nose is wrinkles with what looks to be disgust. This is perhaps the most extreme we’ve seen her. Not off-model, but definitely expressing strong revulsion at Minorin’s avoidant behavior. Still, Ami is talking in code, so she’s hardly better.


    • There have been a few other times when Ami has looked really ugly (when she freaked out on her stalker, at the Christmas party talking to Ryuuji), and they’re all great moments because not even her most natural mask can totally obscure the violence of her emotions.


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