Toradora!: Aim for Love! (even if it’s not where you think it is)

Okay, so, she’s not got her arms crossed like she’s the Gunbuster rising from the Excalius (which still would have been totally in keeping with Minorin’s character) and she is, in fact, pointing at a supposed UFO, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take the screencap out of context and apply my own meaning to it!

I have just gone through episodes 8 and 9 of Toradora!, both quite good episodes and focusing on the strengths–the bold characterizations and the energetic pacing, while dabbling a bit in the more introspective sides of various characters–that continue to turn Toradora! into a powerhouse juggernaut of military proportions that is steamrolling over everything in its path and taking a decidedly Minorin-esque pleasure in said destruction.

As pointed out by Author before he jumped ship because he liked Ami too much (a bizarre proposition; not an unfair one if one’s enjoyment hinges on the character, perhaps, but certainly a bizarre one) and by several people thirsting for information on the blue-haired vengeful vixen of Toradora!, Ami, I felt it only proper to at least belatedly address the concerns brought up by my usual method (i.e. completely making everything up, or stating the blatantly obvious, and/or both), and, perhaps, episode 8 will serve my purposes nicely.

Episode 8, of course, is the SPORTS SHOUBU which is, of course, a swimming match between Ami (who can swim) and Taiga (who can’t). This leads directly to Ryuuji training Taiga in the fine art of failing to drown, and, of course, giving and entirely misleading pep talk in a rainstorm. It’s the misunderstanding (or, rather, the effect it has upon Taiga) that perhaps points to the incredibly obvious role of Ami in Toradora!: through her own machinations, witting or not, she brings out Taiga’s jealous side with perfect ease. Ryuuji suggests, by way of encouragement, that he’d really like to go to Ami’s summer home and how deplorable a situation that would place Taiga in during his absence, which Taiga instantly assumes means he really does want to go to Ami’s summer home with just the two of them and that he certainly isn’t trying to give her an extra incentive to win the contest.

All is made well (sort of) before the Moment of Truth, and after throwing insults and innertubes at the bikini-clad siren, Taiga takes the lead, only to suffer from Anime Character’s Leg Cramp at Inopportune Moment in a Swimming Pool-itis, leading a concerned Ryuuji to step in to save her from drowning again (interpreted by Taiga as “I really want to go to the summer home so please stop winning”), releasing her to make a furious last-second attempt to win, only to be foiled by a horrible and as yet unknown desire for her to save Ryuuji from drowning himself (turnabout is fair play, it seems), leading to tearful breakdowns of presumed emotional complexity.

And, while the insinuation that Ryuuji might get to spend an intimate vacation with Ami at her summer home is enough to send Taiga into fits of rage, she seems to have no qualms over the bond shared between Kitamura and Ami. The fits of rage could be explained away by the fact that Ami has a knack for showing up Taiga, forcing the two of them into a one-upsmanship contest, no doubt Taiga’s own internal explaination for these events. Of course, from her own assertions, Ryuuji is merely her “dog”, so, therefore, people who are not Taiga or Ryuuji wonder just why she’s so worked up over Ami putting the moves on him in a very not-subtle way.

I’m fairly certain, then, that Ami is the catalyst for the entire series, or, perhaps, the foil–without her, it’s entirely likely that a good deal of the relationship progress between Taiga and Ryuuji would not have been made, leaving them stuck in limbo where, for all their understanding of one another, they’d still be essentially stuck at the launchpad, lacking an external impetus to actually press the “launch” button (which, of course, is the hardest to find button on the massive control panel) for the rocky ride out of the atmosphere. WIth Ami, however, we start to see the shades of complexity arise in this strange love pentagon. The more Ami pushes Taiga, the stronger the bond between her and Ryuuji seems to become. Which is all as it should be, as that which does not kill only makes one stronger.

Other interesting note: it just occured to me that the creation of the relationship between Taiga and Ryuuji is, more or less, how many strong relationships in real life are formed: you don’t go out hunting for love, for love is insane; it shows up, instead, when you least expect it, in your apartment late at night, clobbers you with a kendo stick, and demands you to return its love letter to someone else. And it most certainly doesn’t look like you thought love would look like. The pursuit of happiness is a tricky one indeed.

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4 Responses to “Toradora!: Aim for Love! (even if it’s not where you think it is)”


  1. 1 lelangir 28 November 2008 at 1:10 am

    It does seem like Taiga and Ryuuji constitute the central dynamic, and that the other three people are third party instigators that power the self-production of the T/R duo. That’s not to say those other characters can’t be developed, they surely are, though classifying characters in distinct groupings leads for interesting ways of analysis and products thereof.

  2. 2 Ryan A 28 November 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Tiger X Dragon, I think its a big surprise to the duo that they do have something, as opposed to the other characters who already see it … there’s a lot to be seen in the development, and it’s just damn promising.

  3. 3 OGT 28 November 2008 at 6:28 pm

    @lelangir: The other characters are, in fact, getting development–we already know that Kitamura liked Taiga, but has since abandoned that concept; similarly, that Minorin seems to have issues stemming from the fact that the concept of “love” and people who are in it seems extremely distant from her own person–and, perhaps, she is masking her inability to understand this concept by acting like a lunatic. And Ami, more or less, is trying to get Ryuuji to like her as her, rather than as that hot model in the magazine.
    ..
    @Ryan A: I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop on either Taiga or Ryuuji about what’s going on, and then summarily screw everything up in time to be patched up for an ending to end all endings, or at least until the second season. There better be a second season.

  4. 4 cortana 29 November 2008 at 1:29 pm

    ARMPIT SAIKOU!


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