Toradora!: Christmas on Valentine’s

Tears of a Tiger

Tears of a Taiga

It seems so strangely appropriate to catch up with Toradora! on Valentine’s Day, despite the fact that the three episodes I caught up with revolve around Christmas Eve–yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is The Christmas Episode of Toradora!, but, keeping with the standard Toradora! tradition, it does The Christmas Episode correctly but backwards. In fact–although I am no expert on Christmas Episodes, this one might just be my favorite yet–that might be afterglow, though, or an utter lack of remembrance of the other excellent Christmas episodes in the heat of the moment of NOW, or, most likely of all, me making things up.

And yet I cannot help but be impressed by how perfect the sequence of episodes leading up to the Christmas Eve dance played out–if this weren’t Toradora!. The fight with the outgoing student council president practically put Taiga and Kitamura together into happy matrimony in one fell swoop–hardly a day has passed before people start talking about how perfect a couple they are, and start instinctively finding excuses for them to be together–even driving Kihara, the loveable-yet-woefully-underused Ai Nonaka character’s mad drive to set Ryuuji and Taiga up so that she can steal Kitamura for herself. (Have I said lately that I love Ai Nonaka? I love Ai Nonaka). Taiga, meanwhile, simultaneously plays the part of Santa Claus and Cupid, fulfilling her end of the long-forgotten bargain they made at the start. It takes time, and even some heartache for Taiga herself (that poor star ornament…), but she manages to pierce though Minorin’s shroud of gloom long enough to get her to meet Ryuuji at the dance.

Everything went perfectly, which meant that it went  (as the patient viewer understands almost immediately) horribly wrong. Taiga only realizes Ryuuji’s sheer dedication to her after she’s sent him packing to meet Minorin–who, in turn, seems to sacrifice her own as-yet-unspoken feelings for Ryuuji after inadvertently seeing Taiga’s breakdown. It’s possibly significant in some small, minor way that we never actually seem to know whether Minorin likes Ryuuji in that way or not–after all, her entire personality is couched in studied ambiguity and a self-defeatist attitude that causes her to place others before her, not because she’s selfless, but because she feels them more worthy than she feels herself. We explicitly know so little of Minorin, and yet the fact that we know so little explicitly tells us much implicitly; she reminds me more than a little, somewhat jarringly and unexpectedly, of me, except I have much more normal-colored hair and I don’t have a voice nearly as awesome as Yui Horie’s (did I menton I love silky heart? I love silky heart, and I want to dissect the OP sequences at the end of the series if only to listen to it and pre-parade over and over again), and I suck at pitching. But then again, Taiga, and Ryuuji, and Ami, and Kitamura all also remind me of  me, in large and small ways, either as I am now, as I was in the past, or as I might be in the future.

Does she have feelings for Ryuuji? Hard to tell, exactly, but it’s certain that if they Became an Item, there would be feelings involved in short notice. I leave the interpretation of “feelings” up to you, dear reader, but whether they exist or not, they’re tossed aside–casually, almost cruelly to both her and Ryuuji–simply to keep Taiga from the anguish that Minorin feels she deserves more than Taiga does. And, simply by that, the perfect Christmas Eve is ruined, dreams dashed and feelings laid bare, much like a certain Christmas tree ornament. It can be reassembled, and it really isn’t a bad thing–but it’s a team effort, and it’ll be different than before, maybe more beautiful, maybe less–but they do it, because it’s what they have to do.

Its like were in some kind of romantic comedy!

"It's like we're in some kind of romantic comedy!"

Now that I have a somewhat-grip on what will possibly happen in the next seven episodes, watch Toradora! take what I think is going to happen and upend it again. It seems to be quite fond of doing that lately; this is not a bad thing. Quite the opposite.

7 Responses to “Toradora!: Christmas on Valentine’s”

  1. 1 ghostlightning 15 February 2009 at 5:26 am

    Silky Heart is filled with win and love!

    Toradora continues to endear itself to me. Everything that happens feels so thoroughly set-up by the narrative, save for wtfkitamura who I pretended did not exist during ep 19.

    Good speculation re Minorin’s severe sense of inferiority. I suspected that there’s something behind her hyperbolc genkiness, but this I didn’t consider. I trust it shall be revealed in good time, as long as I continue to ignore Kitamura’s bizarre behavior.

  2. 2 omisyth 15 February 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Awesome post. I still can’t get over the fact that they decided to play Holy Night/Happy Christmas when almost all of out main cast had had they’re feelings crushed. I mean, you could consider it either bitterly ironic or cruelly inconsiderate. Or maybe a bit of both.

  3. 3 Eternia 16 February 2009 at 1:27 am

    Ahh.. we never know what Minorin really think…
    But I really like this episode, with the Christmas song and all.
    And I practically cried too when Taiga cried. ^_^

  4. 4 Aizen 16 February 2009 at 2:38 am

    I never really thought of Minori as someone who had an inferiority complex or a defeatist kind of personality. She preached to Ryuuji that she wants to overcome her fears… so I don’t see why she isn’t doing that anymore.

    I would guess that she was shaking in the episode that Ryuuji and Minori were locked up in a storage room because she was with the person she liked. But that’s just my guess.

    • 5 OGT 16 February 2009 at 10:17 am

      @ghostlightning @Eternia @Aizen re: Minorin’s inner personality: I’m more or less guessing; her behavior has, more or less, pointed to the fact that she doesn’t have a lot of internal self-esteem. She more or less laid it out in the deck conversation, which felt to me like she was confessing her own low self-worth to Ryuuji. I could be misremembering it (or not even getting it right in the first place; I watched that episode raw and haven’t gone back and rewatched it with subs yet), but I think it’s clear that she puts others before herself (see the race in episode 13).

      Maybe, perhaps, more than “inferiority,” she feels that others are more worthy of rewards than she is? There’s a lot under that surface–and I’m not entirely certain we’re going to get under it, although I could be wrong (and I would want to see Toradora! do that).

      @ghostlightning: “wtfkitamura” is awesome. Disturbing when he wears suspenders and nothing but, but awesome.

      @omisyth: I consider playing the Christmas song during EMOTIONAL TRAUMA a contrast: the “happy feelings” that Christmas was supposed to bring to them all didn’t come to them, so perhaps neither, but more an ironic juxtaposition of the hopes of Christmas vs. the reality of Christmas?

  5. 6 otou-san 16 February 2009 at 1:02 pm

    watching that last ep was one of those great experiences you only get from melodramatic stuff (which I only get in anime form really) where around halfway through the episode you realize there is no possible way it can end well. Exhilarating to me.

    I’m not sure that Minori feels inferior, but it would explain why she’s always punishing herself or denying her own feelings. I just thought it was an overdeveloped sense of responsibility to other people (Taiga in this case), but you might be on to something.

  1. 1 Weekly Highlights (17-02-09) « Grand Punk Railroad Trackback on 18 February 2009 at 3:30 pm

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