Oh wow. I actually only have one answer for this one. Mostly because it’s the only romance anime I’ve watched to completion as of writing this. Not to make it sound like that is the only reason that this one is here, goodness no! It’s close to being one of my favourite anime as well.
What’s not to love about Toradora!? Its spectacular, catching opening themes to draw you in. Its great and lovable characters with believable human developments and hidden qualities. The terrific job presenting young, dumb love in all of its messy, confused emotions and heart-throbbingly well-executed resolution of its romantic entanglements. Different kinds of love from secret and internalized pain to expressed too late and left unrequited to realized and reciprocated, and yes, to familial love.
You could argue some parts are uneven, but how is that so different from love, and there’s so many really great nuanced moments in the thick of all the exaggerated antics, I don’t see it as much of a problem. Toradora touches on all the romantic parts of one’s mind and emotions, and the friendship and love really make you feel the heart of it all.
It’s wholesome family entertainment. Yes, I’d recommend this as an anime you can actually sit down and watch with family and friends alike and not be embarrassed or ashamed to show it to them. I’m rather surprised I don’t hear many jump to this show as a great example of anime for the whole family. Especially considering the heartwarming story between Ryuji, Yasuko and the reunion with her parents.
My expectations for the show weren’t anything big, but when I noticed some rather nuanced characterization developing as the show progressed, I found myself hooked and really enjoyed myself watching everything unfold. Kitamura even states early on when observing Kawashima from afar with Ryuji that there’s more to her than meets the eye, and after waiting a bit longer Ryuji understands, at least in the immediate case being brought to his attention, what Kitamura means. I believe Kitamura is doing more than trying to communicate Kawashima’s facade to Ryuji here. I think he’s also setting up expectations for the audience to be prepared for characterizations beyond the initial impression we gather about them. How they want to be perceived and who they are trying to be is not necessarily reflective of what they really want or even their behaviour.
One moment in particular I was really amused by was the scene at the train station where everyone is waiting on Kawashima on the way to her summer villa, and upon her arrival we see all of them one in front of the other acting like weirdo friends at the height of their youth and power of friendship. Her reaction in turning away and pretending not to know them is befitting and equally hilarious. It captured the spirit of something other than friendship, which I don’t have the right word for, and yes also friendship in the charmingly silly way it is presented here. I was really pleased to see this theme so pleasantly explored.
Toradora is meaningful to many in a lot of ways. It expresses values of friendship, love, and youth extremely well. Much of it is slice-of-life and later drama, but the comedy is also noteworthy, as exemplified above. In the end, it held my attention all the way through and stayed strong with its characterizations and themes, often less about love and more about friendship, which was a breath of fresh air to me. However, when it does escalate and become very much about the romance, I felt renewed toward love stories and was even more invested in the characters.
My enjoyment of the show isn’t necessarily dependent on all the love and other themes Toradora has to offer. Rather I’m very happy I watched this show for all of that and everything else, because it’s so inviting and only adds value to my enjoyment of it. To me Toradora represents an anime kind of love that can bring us all together. And that’s something really special. I’d like to get together with fellow bloggers like this sometime, in our own Toradorably messy way.