Toradora is based off of some romantic comedy light novels written by Takemiya Yuyuko. From October ’08 to March ’09, an anime adaptation aired. It was brought to us by J.C. Staff, the same studio behind Shakugan no Shana, Yami no Matsuei & Hachimitsu to Clover. So, this could be terrible, really good or bland, based on that. The anime version’s writer doesn’t help narrow things down either. It was handled by Okada Mari. She’s worked on such anime as Canaan & Kuroshitsuji II. So, let’s take a look and see if this is one of J.C’s better works, or at least entertainingly bad like their work on Garzey no Tsubasa.
Ryuuji has romantic feelings for his classmate, Kushieda. Kushieda’s best friend, Taiga, has a crush on Ryuuji’s best friend, Kitamura. A fact that Ryuuji learns when she mistakenly leaves love letter in his bag. Ryuuji and Taiga become friends, planning to help one another in order to make their romantic dreams come true. Next stop, shenanigans.
The biggest flaw with the series is that its relatively unique set up for a rom-com becomes progressively more clichéd and predictable as the series progresses. In fact, a lot of you will be able to guess how the series ends just from applying romantic comedy logic to that short description. It’s a shame because the early stuff can be fairly amusing. The series also has its share of always so “wonderful” jokes about a girl hitting a guy. Although, in all fairness, they aren’t as prevalent in Toradora as they are in certain other series. The main romance is also quite bad with a convoluted love… heptagon… no, hexagon and with several overly melodramatic moments leading up to it.
Moving on to the positives. To reiterate, the early episodes are pretty entertaining and there are some genuinely funny moments in there with clever set ups and good pay offs. Seeing Ryuuji and Taiga try to help one another leads to quite a few good jokes.
The characters in this aren’t particularly complex, but they’re perfectly functional for a comedic series and most of the main cast get their share of good comedic moments. Where the series really excels is with the developing friendship between Ryuuji and Taiga early on. Although, the series sets about ruining it in the second half.
The animation in this is pretty good. Granted, they don’t have to do much with it since most of the series takes place in a rather generic townscape and at a rather generic school, but it has some strong details and the characters do look unique. The series also has some success at using lighting to set the mood at various points. It’s a nice little detail.
They got some good actors for this series. Kugimiya Rie, Majima Junji, Horie Yui, Nojima Hirofumi & Kitamura Eri are all fine actors. I won’t claim that Toradora shows any of them at their absolute best, but there’s enough for them to work with that they can show their skills. The music is pretty mediocre. There’s nothing that really sets it apart from the music of any other romantic comedy.
There are points in the story where it definitely seems like Kushieda has feelings beyond friendship for Taiga. But as the series continues and becomes more trite, it becomes apparent that that isn’t the case.
Toradora is a series with a strong start. In the beginning, it has a lot going for it. A legitimately different premise. Some strong comedic scenes. A good dynamic betwixt Ryuuji and Taiga. However, as the series progresses it gradually eliminates all of that. It tosses it away to make things, to be completely frank, boring and generic. Instead of taking some risks, Takemiya decides to play it the safe, dull route we’ve seen in every romantic comedy ever made. As a result, the series squanders its early good will and ends things on a disappointing note. I sill wouldn’t call it a bad series but I would say it ends up being as mediocre as Hachimitsu to Clover. My final rating is a 5/10. If you really like the standard rom-com clichés, you’ll probably like it throughout. If you want something unique in any way you’ll spend the first half of the series thinking “this could work if they don’t decide to bog it down with obvious clichés” and the second half pressing your palm against your face a lot. Next week I’ll look at Sword Art Online II.