Archive for the 'toradora!' Category



A Quick Conglomerate Update

Since I haven’t had a chance to do so all week due to either being horribly busy or horribly sick*. Or, on Friday, both. So here’s a (highly hasty) rundown of what I might have said, if I had had the energy or time to do so. Which I didn’t.

Toradora!

Despite any naysaying, I maintain that the Toradora! adaptation is quite good–yes, they may have crammed the first novel into two episodes, but quite a lot of the first novel was either descriptions of actions taken by characters, or descriptions of emotions and such, so, even if they were to stretch things out a bit, it’d still have only filled another half and episode or so. More importantly to me, however, changes made have only accentuated the Toradora! experience, as my much beloved lamppost scene (complete with affront to community values) was handled quite effectively. The series definitely has a certain kind of energy and vigor to it, different from the sort of feel I got from the novel (that may have been the effect of the background music I was listening to as I read the novel, though) but not necessarily one that is bad. In fact, the vigor of the earlier moments where Taiga and Ryuuji are being played for laughs only accentuated the melancholy, emotional mood of lamppost angst and later moments of the episode. The balance, at least so far, has been struck extremely well, and flows effectively from mood to mood without feeling jarring. I’ve faith in Okada Mari and Nagai Tatsuya, and they’re living up to it so far.

Kannagi

I had the chance while sick and miserable and alternately freezing and burning up on Tuesday to catch the first episode of Kannagi, a series which I didn’t expect much going into but found myself highly amused and entertained by a surprisingly solid comedy. It’s directed by the infamously fired Lucky Star 1-4 director, Yamamoto Yutaka, whom I never really had a problem with, and it’s obvious that he’s got his sense of comic timing down right. The whole first episode had a quaintly amusing charm to it that I found much more to my (admittedly hyper-refined) comedic palate than Kemeko DX, which was extremely Mizushima Tsutomu from start to finish (and I’ve still no idea how this Mizushima Tsutomu is the same Mizushima Tsutomu who directed Ookiku Furikabutte and XXXHolic). Nagi is horribly cute (and much more effective for me than that other Nagi from a comedy series, may Kugyu have mercy upon me…) and played perfectly by Tomatsu Haruka. There’s also great comedic chemistry between Nagi and Jin (and Jin’s voice actor, Shimono Hiro, who has a great voice for these kinds of comedy roles), and the whole thing is rather well-done. Color me impressed (which can be both an easy and a hard thing to do, apparently)

HIgurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai

It’s only been, what, a year since the series finished airing? Kai somehow got lost in the shuffle (this happens fairly frequently, unfortunately, even to things I quite like) and, since I’m getting geared up to watch Umineko na Naku Koro ni whenever that airs (I was under the impression it was starting soon, hence my sudden, hasty decision to plow through Kai. It, of course, isn’t starting soon at all) and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Higurashi. Granted, there’s a lot more of the “silliness” in Kai than there was in the first season (possibly due to the longer run time Studio DEEN was able to give the arcs), but the silly parts are still amusing, and the deadly serious mystery/horror parts are still pretty darn chilling. I liked Higurashi more for the psychological horror aspect (the Distinction scene from the first season is one of the most terrifying things I’ve seen, and I had to purposely not pay much attention to the episode during some of it, even though it’s not really all that gruesome), but the balance struck between “taking it home” and the nervous breakdowns of various characters makes for a fun combination. I’ve made it through the second arc, “みんな殺し変”, and now I want to do very bad and very violent things to Takano, and, I’m sure, so does most of the cast. I’ve no clue where Hanyuu came from, but I approve of Horie Yui no matter what, and Hanyuu is pretty cute anyway, and the episode previews are a delight. Does it have problems? Yeah, but so did Higurashi, and I don’t particularly care, so there.

And that is pretty much that. I hope I have time this week to do something not-important-to-living.

* Some kind of nasty 24-hour stomach bug thing, followed in close succession by a horrible cold brought on, no doubt, by the hilariously malfunctioning thermostat in this house. It’s like the time I spent in the horrible dorms on campus, where I couldn’t figure out if the giant air unit in the side was actually supposed to give out heat, or if Housing & Maintainance expected me to slowly freeze to death. No wonder 2002/03 sucked.

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Toradora!: Episode 1 Report

Astute followers of this particular corner of the information superhighway (all two of you) will probably remember that, some time ago, I read the first (translated) volume of Toradora! and issued a report on my findings, namely, that Toradora! was, in a bizarre and shocking development, deserving of its own popularity!

Of course, the light novel being good is one thing; whether or not the anime adaptation will be good is another matter entirely. I was able to check out the raw version of the first episode earlier today, and was suitably impressed by it. I hadn’t actually given much thought as to how they’d adapt Toradora! for the small screen, but I can say that they did it amazingly well. This may, of course, simply be first-episode budget-blowing audience-catching aftereffect, but I’m happy, and that’s what matters.

What got me (and, apparently, everyone else) is that Kugimiya Rie is, rather than resorting to her Shana/Louise/Nagi-esque voice, using one that’s different, thereby deflecting the cries of “TYPECASTING!” that has seemingly plagued the pre-airing discussion somewhat. Even Horie Yui, as Minori, is putting on a different voice than her usual (I knew it was her, yet I still needed some time to make sure it was, in fact, her).

Aside from acting, the episode itself was very well done, in comparison to the novel. I did not, however, read along with the novel in one window and the episode in another and record snide comments on a piece of paper, so my judgement might be a bit flawed. I was satisfied, and, at this pont, that’s all that matters. Fully animated Taiga was appropriately cute in a very Taiga-like way, and, in particular, the slight introduction of her brand of dere (the complete and utter inablity to move or speak when confronted with something involving the object of her affection) mixed with her being, well, Taiga, was pleasing.

As for how good the series is, in terms of the novel? I’m going to withhold judgement until I’ve seen the lightpost scene animated, which will be the litmus test for the series in that department. WIth Okada Mari as the lead writer crossed with Nagai Tatsuya (who has directed things well which would assist in the matter of the lightpole scene, even if he isn’t a Name To Watch Out For yet), however, I’ve got very few doubts as to whether it will be handled right.

In short:

Minori approves. Taiga, presumably, approves, but she’s too prideful to show it. For now, anyway.

Expect a better, more lengthy, and somewhat more interesting post when the lightpole episode does roll around! Shouldn’t be long now!

Toradora!, or: A Taiga to Call My Own (and that fits in the palm of my hand)

So, after hearing the news that the highly popular (in Japan, because very few seem to have heard of it over here) light novel series Toradora!, the thrilling and sometimes comical misadventures of one (1) Aisaka Taiga, the Palmtop Tiger (with more bite than bark) and one (1) Takasu Ryuuji, the Dragon (with more bark than bite), I went out and read the first volume of the light novel, and, lo and behold, it was awesome. Clearly from reading that mini-description in the previous sentence, you now know everything there is to know about Toradora!, right?

Wrong. Yes, Toradora! is Yet Another Entry in the long line of series cashing in (or instigating, or otherwise affected by) on the tsundere craze (which, in the light novel industry, are seemingly defined by 2002’s Shakugan no Shana, and 2004’s Zero no Tsukaima; Toradora! hitting the scene in 2006), but, rather than being a hollow clone of our paranthetical examples, it almost seems as if, in just one volume, Toradora! has managed to one-up its progenitors (for lack of a better ten-dollar word). How? Well, we’ll get to that in a bit.

The basic plot setup for Toradora! is quite simple: Ryuuji, your normal, average, everyday guy (who just happens to have these really frightening eyes inherited from his father, who he’s never met, and also a major OCD issue with messiness, and amazing culinary skills) pines after the extremely cute and extremely sweet Kushieda Minori, who has never really paid his frightening appearance much mind and treats him as a human. Minori, however, is friends with the dangerous entity known to her classmates as the Palmtop Tiger, the fearsome bully Aisaka Taiga. Through a series of circumstances best described to the reader of this summary as Wacky Hijinks,  Ryuuji manages to, at 3AM in the morning, while being beaten bloody with a kendo stick, that Taiga has a massive crush on Ryuuji’s best friend, Kitamura Yuusuke. The two exchange crushes, and Ryuuji is roped into helping Taiga acheive her dream of making Yuusuke her boyfriend, and Ryuuji will be set up with Minori as a reward. Many, many exclamations of “Idiot dog!” (sound familiar?) follow.

I know, it sounds painfully generic, but bear with me here. First, the writing (even via translation) is quite good to begin with, as far as I can tell (I managed to read a page or two in the original Japanese a while ago, and it struck me as a quite clever writing style; and, just from looking at the translation, I can tell that it’s stylistic throughout)–it conveys humor, the personalities of the two main characters, and poignancy well.

Yes. Poignancy. I said it. It’s a filthy word, I know, but I said it. And I’m not taking it back.

See, Toradora! could have simply been the aforementioned Yet Another Tsundere Series, except that, instead of tsundere being the selling point of the character of Taiga, it is instead a limited-scope descriptive term, as the author, Takemiya Yuyuko, has taken the concept of “tsundere girl” and, instead of stopping there, used the moetic construct of “tsundere” to develop the character of Taiga around into a fleshed-out character. What I was somewhat expecting to be a fairly simple, lighthearted, enjoyable if forgettable read (which I would have enjoyed anyway, probably) turned out to be something that actually managed to have pathos.

Of course, it takes the whole first volume of the series to fully grasp the varied nuances of both the characters of Taiga and Ryuuji (who are the focal points of the series, virtually every other character is a cardboard cutout at this point), and I’m still not sure if I want to go into specific first-volume analyses of their characters when it’s unlikely you’ve read the first volume anyway, even though I desperately want to. Suffice it to say, Taiga has an actual reason (and a very good one) to be the way she is, and the relationship dynamics, quite similar to those in that favorite of mine, Itazura na Kiss (except with the genders reversed), are handled effectively and realistically (in that way that only anime can make the unrealistic realistic). In fact, I will dare say that Toradora!, after one volume, belongs in the pantheon I mentioned way earlier in reference to the sophistication of moe, because it is happening, mark my words, and this just proves that the otaku of Japan (and America, and everywhere else) may be head over heels in love with cute anime girls of varying physical age appearances, but they aren’t stupid. Not as stupid as some might say they are, anyway.

Of course, the anime version is airing this October, and, like Shakugan no Shana and Zero no Tsukaima before it, it will be animated by J.C. Staff, and our dear friend and pathological phenomenon Kugimiya Rie will (PROBABLY, REPORTS INDICATE) be providing the voice of Taiga, to the immense satisfaction of Toradora! fans all over. I knew something was up when I saw Okada Mari on tap for Series Composition (side note: I am now declaring myself the first and probably only member of the Okada Mari Fanclub. I am going to have to go watch Kodomo no Jikan just for you, Mari. Just for you!) (well, okay, more because I have always meant to, beyond the not-really-too-hot-for-TV OVA episode and the couple volumes of manga I read, just to see what exactly is Up With It. That and to spite all the drama around it), and it’s quite nice to see that her talents are going to be used effectively.

Yes, I know, she looks like a brunette Louise. You can blame Yasu for that. No, really. It’s all his fault.

So, uh, yeah. Now I can add Aisaka Taiga to my list of “really awesome characters who happen to be cute girls.” I hope somehow this gets popular enough to merit someone bringing the novels over here. And I hope the anime gets it right, but it probably will.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

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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