I think it’s kind of a good thing that I ended up marathoning this episode and episode 25 yesterday, because I was much more equipped to take notes when I wasn’t on the verge of tears the whole time I was watching. Of course, I teared up in places anyways, but that’s to be expected with all of the good stuff and painful stuff that happened in this episode. But the dam has finally broken on all of the pent up emotional suspension that’s been ongoing for almost twenty episodes, so the release is much easier to watch that some of the stuff that’s in between. We’re almost to the end, so let’s do this!
0:08—I’m telling you, this is Ryuuji’s arc and what we’re seeing in this moment is Ryuuji changing. To chase after Taiga means everything that implies: that he loves her, that he gives up on Minori, and that he faces the truth of his own feelings.
0:10—Which means that, after a long time, Minori’s last bit of hope that she can be with Ryuuji is gone.
0:17—Ami and Kitamura, ever the mature ones, watch on in adult-like calm as their rash friends run throughout the school. Maybe, in the end, it was Ami and Kitamura who were the parents, and Taiga, Minori, and Ryuuji were the kids…
0:45—Taiga jumping is pretty funny. Did she really think they would just let her go like that?
0:53—As Minori reveals the truth of everything, she’s backgrounded by pure whiteness. No stars, no hallways, nothing. Just her and the truth.
1:17—Minori wants to let Taiga have a choice, to let Taiga feel like she has the option to leave Ryuuji and to stay with him. As a friend, there’s not much more she can do than that. Of course, it’s not so simple for Taiga, but Minori is doing what she can.
1:36—Later, when Minori actually does cry, she’ll go back to the line she said to Ryuuji in the second episode: “Crying just means your heart has a nosebleed.” By the end of the episode, she’ll have had both kinds of nosebleeds.
1:40—If I remember correctly, I think this is one of the last times we get Toradora!‘s comedy camera angle. Using it here, though, isn’t telling us to laugh, but that we don’t need to cry. Which echoes what Minori is about to say in this scene.
2:02—A lovely, intimate shot of Minori. We normally haven’t got these kinds of shots on her because usually she keeps the camera at a distance with all the physical activity she usually engages in.
2:18—This bit’s a really good example of that. The still frame can’t capture it, but this whole cut was filled with really nice character acting animation and the camera has to back away to capture it all. Notably, here, Minori’s also a lot closer to her genki self when talking about her past.
2:45—There’s just enough room in this frame for one other person, but there’s no one there. In the very next shot, Ryuuji has a flipped version of this shot composition with empty space in front of him. Neither of them are what the other needs to fill in the space.
3:22—These are such tight, honest shots of her. It’s like her face is opened up for the first time.
3:29—There are many things that we can see, and sometimes it’s easier to see things about others than about ourselves. But if you can see something about someone else, you can help them along their way if you wish it.
3:36/3:37—Until this moment, I had never really thought of what a physical person Minori is. It makes sense, as she’s an athlete, but so much of her character is based on movement and physical proximity to other characters. In fact, this is probably the most physically intimate she’s been with Ryuuji, a fist touching his chin, a perfect expression of her residual frustration, hurt, and her honest choice to pull back and let him and Taiga be together.
3:53—A sad, sad, lonely shot. All the bright light from their conversation in the nurse’s office has given way to the shadows of the empty hallway.
4:25—Ryuuji really does understand everything about Taiga.
4:50—This is a promise he’s already made, back in the snow. That once he caught her, he would never again let her go. For Taiga, it’s a representation of how much she still fears her own feelings and how afraid she is of something good actually happening to her.
5:16—This is the first in a series of three really quick cuts (Yasuko, then Ryuuji’s widening eyes, then Taiga’s), almost one a word. Very effective in portraying the suddenness of the moment.
5:30—Wow, seeing Taiga step back from her mother when they’re still this far away says a lot about their relationship.
5:39—This is the question Taiga’s been trying to answer this whole time. The answer: not much. But she isn’t alone anymore, so the question now is meaningless.
6:03—We’re seeing the adults versus kids dyad play out in a literal way here, with parents and children yelling at each other. The adults (who have both been shot from the exact same angel in these last two shots) want the kids to listen, but the kids don’t want to. It’s a classic conflict, but Toradora! is about to obscure the distinctiveness of the sides.
6:19—First, we get an even shot of Ryuuji (presumably a kid) and Yasuko (ostensibly an adult). They’re on equal ground, and even though the background is split by the bar in the middle of the shop window, both sides are the same.
6:32—Then Ryuuji unloads on Yasuko. Sometimes, you say things that are right; but that doesn’t always mean it was right to say it. What we also see is that Yasuko’s choices as a kid are still impacting her even in her adult life. It’s impossible to divorce her childhood from her adulthood. Similarly, Ryuuji’s childhood has been invaded by the responsibilities of adulthood thrust on to him by Yasuko. Neither of them is truly a child or truly an adult.
6:54—Taiga and Ryuuji no longer need words to communicate. Their decision to run is nearly mutually instantaneous.
7:05—Yasuko is seeing her own childhood replayed in Ryuuji. She ran away from home, and now her own child does the same. Certainly, this is her greatest fear literally happening in front of her.
9:07—Her height is just a microcosm of how unfit she feels, of how small a piece of the new family she thinks she is. Also a very pretty shot.
9:32—This whole scene is awash in lovely shots, but this one is probably my favorite. They’re boxed in, together, in a tiny piece of the world.
9:54—These angled shots that include both of them are everywhere in this scene. They’re a couple now, and the camera keeps them together. We’re also seeing the theme of “Orange” crop back up again as Ryuuji feels guilty for being what he is: a kid. “If I hadn’t been born…” “If I were more responsible…” “If I were an adult…” You can’t become ripe before your time, and that’s a hard thing to accept.
10:30—Another gorgeous shot with a split screen background (light and dark, civilization and nature, close ceiling and open sky). Again, Toradora! isn’t so much about being a kid or an adult as it is about being both. I’ve talked a lot about how the split screen backgrounds can inform differences in the characters, but it’s still the nature of shot that both are contained in a single frame.
11:04—Wow this is adorable.
11:21—They then proceed to have the most nonsense conversation ever, like they’re both trying not to say the one thing they want most to say. For all the honesty they have with each other, they’re still just awkward teenagers when it comes to saying, “I love you.” They want to get married, and they can’t even say that to each other. Children, but children growing up. ^_^
11:48—We go from the wide open shots of the scene to a shot of Ryuuji in profile, just as his talk about their plans moves from general into the very personal. But putting it in profile directs our attention off screen, to where we know Taiga to be.
11:55—What does it mean to be an adult, huh? Is it when society says you’re an adult? Is it when you do “adult things?” Is it when you have a job, or are responsible, or anything like that? And does it really matter? The line between childhood and adulthood is arbitrary and incomplete, at best. But when you’re still a child, adulthood looks like something else entirely.
12:36—This is so Takemiya and so Toradora! to interrupt a confession scene with a relevant phone call like this.
14:06—”Never expected you to care this much,” Taiga grumbles at Ami. To which, this time, Ami only responds, “Please…” Please…there’s no reason we need to pretend we don’t know we’re friends. Just get in the bath.
14:35—Ami wants to hear this, both for herself and for Ryuuji. Once he says it, it becomes real for them both.
14:43—!!!!!!Heartstoppingly cute Ami just glows after he finally says it. She’s proud, happy for him, really happy for Taiga, and relieved that she can finally move on herself. If this shot doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.
15:13—Ryuuji suggested this, but he’s far more embarrassed about it that Taiga is. He may have changed, but he’s still the same old Ryuuji.
15:32—That’s a really interesting line that Ami directs at Taiga. It’s like she expects something else from Taiga, something more straightforward.
16:03—Taiga had, as I said, closed up. The ultimate form of self-defense: the lie that you don’t want anything.
16:15—In different words, Taiga’s echoing what Minori had decided herself. Now that she has Ryuuji, she’s decided that will make her happy and so she’s going to do anything she can to keep ahold of it.
16:31—Which makes it all the more difficult to see Minori literally hand over her dreams to her friends.
16:35—Even so, this is such an important thing for her to say. I think you’re wrong, but I’m going to let you make the decision for yourself.
17:42—You can only pretend for so long before it catches up to you.
18:18—You sure do. Pretending otherwise, Minori, is silly. It’s not wrong to cry. It’s not wrong to be disappointed or to be hurt. What’s important is that you get up and keep moving forward.
20:04—Silly stuff from Yasuko.
20:26—She’s an adult, but she’s got plenty of kid in her, too. Ryuuji’s still a bit trapped in the illusion that being an adult means you can’t be a kid, but he can be forgiven of that because he doesn’t yet know any better. You have to become an adult first before you can understand that you’re still a kid, just like Ami has.
20:43—What a nice visual representation of what Ryuuji’s saying. Taiga’s got her suitcase already to take on the “adult” task of eloping, but clothes are still popping out. They’re both still young, and that’s not something they can cover up with just “adult” actions.
21:16—Kitamura’s smile after this line hahaha. He’s so pleased with himself.
21:34—And Ami cracks me up, too. She sees that Minori’s still keeping some sort of a mask up, but she’s learned to be a lot kinder about it.
22:08—”Orange” doing more lifting for the show with the lyrics here. “Supposed to be,” is the key phrase. They’re eloping and the reality of that is anything but a miracle.
22:24—”The two shadows looked like they were holding hands.” There’s still a reflection of hope there, a bit insubstantial, but still filled with love.
22:29—I think this orange will turn out to be a sweet one.
23:03—It’s like…they bit into the orange (adulthood/eloping) and realized it was too sour (not the right way to go), so they come back, they stop running away, and they’re going to do something that will help them get ready.
And that, my friends, is the longest post I have yet written on this show. I don’t have many wrap up thoughts here, other than that I want to take a moment to really cheer for director Tatsuyuki Nagai’s fantastic work on this show. A Certain Scientific Railgun is the only other show of his that I’ve seen, but I have AnoHana and Ano Natsu de Matteru both on my plan-to-watch list. You can bet that both of those shows have been bumped up in my priorities after all the fantastic visual direction I’ve found in Toradora! I also did a bit of research and found out that Nagai is at least somewhat influenced by the Kunihiko Ikuhara (Utena, Penguindrum) school of directing, basically confirming my suspicions that Toradora! boasted a lot of similarities to other Ikuhara-influenced shows I’ve seen.
One episode to go! See you all tomorrow!