I’ve really started loving moving through Toradora recently, and it’s been too long since I did a proper anime post so here’s one talking about why that is, because the characters feel so alive. Also, I’m getting through the Christmas episodes of Toradora and so it’s seasonal, okay? For a series without supernatural elements, it really has to rely on that or there is nothing to talk about but it goes above and beyond that. Yes, the five members of the main cast have their main overarching personality traits, Taiga is a tsundere, Minorin’s especially cheery, Kitamura is diligent, but the series, through its twists and turns has been testing them immensely and they all grow to feel like real people with struggles and cares of their own. To an extent I haven’t found to happen often in many TV shows. I’ve just finished watching the Christmas Eve Party episode so this won’t include what happens in the last few. But if you’ve watched the series then you’ll know I’m currently up to an episode that finishes on a low for several characters, which means several things need to happen next to fulfil the ships we want.
Let’s start with Takusu, who’s probably the weakest example. He’s defined by his ability to be caring for others, and his crush on Minorin. He’s a bit of a receptacle to whatever happens to be going on, a nice, well-adjusted guy, playing a straight man to the comedy that’s going on around him. Thing is, when the drama kicks in, he’s only supposedly well-adjusted, he’s not sure on what he wants, characters call him out on the relationship he has with Taiga because it seems so odd that he still ends up doing stuff for her no matter what, Ami calls him out for playing daddy, for example. He’s interesting because if you like to think yourself as caring, then you should see yourself in him, sometimes doing too much for people you don’t admit that you love, but you really do.
Kitamura surprised me for one reason, I was convinced the show would eventually ignore him as a non-MC male and put him on the back burner – as the perfect man who’s good at everything, he could eventually fade into background scenes, and he’s starting to do that as he’s become the president, but he got an episode strongly focusing on him and his character, he doesn’t really want to be the responsible role-model that he is, and after he goes past his wild streak and gets himself actually elected president, his oddball tendencies remain and he seems much more liberated as a person because of what he went through to get there, he is a figure of support again rather than an authority figure, even though he’s technically in charge of student matters, he delegates so much to Taiga that it’s like she’s really running the place. In terms of the Xmas Eve party at least.
Kushieda has me puzzled at this point, although I can guess part of what’s up with her. She makes such an effort to be cheery around everyone that she leaves no time to make herself happy and it’s killing her inside. She thinks she has to do all these things or she’ll let everyone down, she’s taken on too much responsibility as the sports captain that she cannot socially focus. Though part of all of this is that we’re seeing her through Takusu’s eyes and she’s just shot him down after avoiding him for several episodes. She may actually be a lesbian and in love with Taiga. I know that’s probably far fetched and I’m probably contradicted by the final episodes but it would make sense with her actions up to now and she has had that throwaway comment about not really knowing what she wants. She’s intriguing me because she’d normally be the character I’d just love for being happy and smiley without thinking too much about her having depths so to see her do that really makes me want to support her.
Taiga’s really grown, showing huge growth for a tsundere and I think it must be this that’s a large part of why Toradora is such a highly rated series, the strength of her character development, from being a menace to the classroom to being adored by the school, charitably doing things for Christmas, even if she says she’s being a good girl for Santa, I think she’s really doing it because she’s now accepted among the class and she wants to shake her angry reputation just like Takasu did at the start of it. Again, that I’m even able to have these speculations shows great strength on the part of the writers.
My favourite character is Kawashima though, and that’s because I love how aloof yet real she seems – from the moment she was introduced as someone who acts all cute but has a radically different personality underneath the smile I was hooked onto watching the show as a whole. Her life in the adult world has made her mature in some areas (as her relationship with Taiga progresses you can tell she cares about her but will not show it) but because she believes she’s mature it also makes her hopelessly childish and projecting unrealistic desires in others as she tries to manipulate Takasu into falling for her, something she clearly started out doing teasingly but really wants it now, as he’s the only one who rejects her advances, who she cannot just have. It’s captivating to watch, this duality and while most of the time we can count on her to do the right thing, there’s always a hint of doubt over it and a pleasant surprise when she does come through for the main cast.