Archive for October 26th, 2008

Toradora!: In Which I Am Reduced to a Bucket of Pudding

What I wouldn’t give to be that bucket of pudding. I hope it’s free of high-fructose corn syrup, though…

I have just watched Toradora! 4, and it was glorious and awesome and pudding. As a side note, it’s probably best to mention that I’m watching the series raw, explicitly on purpose, for listening practice, something which I do not normally do. It’s fairly easy for me to understand at my level of comprehension, whatever that level may be, so if something weird comes up, it might be that, although I try to make sure I’ve gotten the mportant stuff down right.

At this point, I no longer particuarily care how “accurate” the anime is in comparison to the Takemiya Yuyuko novels. The anime might be different, but that doesn’t make it worse. In fact, it might make it better–yes, I quite like books, and, yes, I quite liked the novel, but the anime seems so much more lively than the novel. It’s partly because it’s a filmed medium–visuals, voice, and music combine to form an experience that is more engrossing than a textual one–but also partly because of the exuberance the anime oozes. I did like the novel, but it wasn’t exactly exuberant (in the way the anime is) in the way I generally recognize exuberance in textual form, which is entirely my fault for a) being a native English speaker and reader and also for finding P.G. Wodehouse hilarious b) not reading the novels in their native Japanese, since the page or so I did read (“read”) in Japanese had a certain exuberance in the language that might not carry over in translation well (or, at least, the translation I read) and c) perhaps I just forgot since it’s been months since I did.

I think it’s this exuberance that’s winning over fans from places it might not have won fans over from, especially from those predisposed against the series due to Kugimiya Rie’s casting as Taiga. The very story about why I elected to watch the series raw demonstrates this effectively, I think: my intention was to get the raw of the first episode and skim through it to get a glimpse of the series in action. I started off intending to skip through large portions of the episode, but I never actually skipped parts of the episode because I found myself mysteriously engrossed in what was going on. In short, my Toradora! watching experiences thus far have resembled this:

except I’m not a cute girl (OR AM I?).

It’s that very exuberance and forthrightness on the part of all the staff involved. The main cast does a spectacular job on everything: Kugyu as Taiga is astounding, Horie Yui turns in an amazing performance as the delightfully loopy Minorin, and Majima Junji is probably doing the performance of his career thus far right now. The animators’ choice of a bright, vivid palette, and the near-constant motion contribute a great deal to this feeling; so, too, does the overall direction and writing, which guide all the previous elements into the completed product that is Toradora!

I think it’s this very feeling of exuberance–of giving everything your 110%–that contributes to the observation cuchlann made about episode 3: the show has the uncanny ability to make you forget (or, at least, not really care) that you’re in the middle of a “cliche.” Cliches exist because they’ve withstood the test of time, and they work, and the difference between “hackneyed” and “originality” tends to be less how few cliches one uses, but ratherhow one uses said cliches. The writing of Toradora! itself can deftly dodge cliches, as I learned from reading the novels, but the penchant of the animation staff to revel in (rather than restrain) the almost over-the-top mechanics of Toradora! means that the series’ true power is able to shine through.

The sad reality of Toradora!’s excellence is that I’m now left with a horrible, horrlble problem: a resounding affection for Taiga, because how can one not like Taiga at this point (that’s rhetorical, don’t answer that), and a bad case of Minorin love, because she’s the exact kind of the excessively-genki type of girl who reduces me to a quivering blob of pudding. In a bucket. Being consuimed by Minorin herself.

I am conflicted and torn. I just hope it doesn’t end up becoming some kind of crazy wacky Civil War, except Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant are actually cute girls.

I need a hug. And an お~は~ or something. Please?


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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October 2008