Friday, 10 October 2008

Toradora! - Episode 2

The opening episode of Toradora! left me with some pretty positive impressions of the series, marking itself out as a possible favourite of mine for this season. Thankfully, the second episode managed to not only continue but also reinforce those impressions, by continuing to be a fun, likeable and almost poignant romp.

After finding himself cleaning and cooking for Taiga, before he knows it Ryuuji is preparing breakfast for three every morning as she joins Ryuuji's mum in making the most of his kind nature and hospitality. Even out of the house, Taiga is relying on Ryuuji to smooth what she hopes to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Yuusaka Kitamura (although what she sees in him is never really explained, which makes it a bit of a mystery), and so they plot a number of methods to get him to notice her, all of which go complete awry on account of Taiga's klutzy nature.


As they spend so much time together, it's only a matter of time before rumours of the two of them being a couple start to surface - After taking out their frustrations on a nearby telegraph pole, Taiga decides that she needs Ryuuji no longer and goes it alone to confess to Kitamura... A plan which once again doesn't work out, and before you know it the two of them are back relying on one another once more.

While this is all pretty typical as plot lines for this kind of series goes, it's turned from run-of-the-mill into an eminently watchable episode by the two main characters themselves. In essence, they're exactly what a series like this needs - In turns misunderstood (by others at least, they seem to 'get' each other perfectly), stubborn, caring and so on... A whole bunch of everyday human character traits rolled into one. This package managed to string me along and play me like a fiddle perfectly here, leaving me smiling one moment and disappointed the next as Taiga and Ryuuji's friendship drifts apart and cements itself once again over the course of this episode. It's an emotional roller-coaster that's expertly timed and delivered here, and despite those stubborn moments you can't help but feel a genuine affection for Taiga growing, while also rooting for Ryuuji who obviously understands her so well.

In short then, this series so far has delivered on everything that it intends to - What more can you ask of a show such as this?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't mind watching the anime as it is. However there have been quite a few "tweaks" and changes that really depart from the manga and the light novels. I was surprised (see: shocked) when Yuusuke clearly understood Taiga and turned her down, instead of Yuusuke misunderstanding Taiga completely.

Plus I feel that the anime is geared to getting the Dragon and Tiger together--which I don't mind--but it is still a completely new direction from what the manga and light novel is in.

I still like it though! The art is refreshing, they do a wonderful job displaying how sinister Ryuuji can get with his narrow eyes.

Jarlath said...

They also got rid of the confession part... which was another big change. She confessed and THEN said she didn't hate Ryuuji, whereas here it looks more like a simple let-down, and they didn't show that she blew HIM (Kitamura) off last year in a tsundere response.

Which of course is why he's so completely gotten over her, and why her attempts to get Kitamura are rather futile...

Jarlath said...

Scratch that - just rewatched the last few minutes, and apparently I had the brainfart. But switching around the 'I love you' and 'I don't hate Takasu-kun' does change the meaning of the scene a tad.

Jarlath said...

Oh, and Kitamura didn't explictly say 'when I confessed' the way he did in other media.

Hanners said...

As per usual with these things, I haven't read the manga for Toradora! at all, so coming into it fresh I have the 'advantage' of not having any prior expectations. It is odd how anime writers always seem to feel the need to change something major around when they translate manga to the screen though.

Anonymous said...

Ah, this thing ate my last comment. Five times in a row, even.

Anyhow, 'J.C. Staff feels the need to change something major' is probably what you meant to say, since other shows have been adapted semi-faithfully from their source material. Antique Bakery, for one. Honey and Clover, even J.C. Staff doing Azumanga Daioh way back when. I can understand adapting as a means of making sure that things carry through on screen as it may be either too hard to animate (or too boring)... but they in particular feel a need to hack around to make it more 'fitted' to their audience.

Losing the monologues is a big thing - those showed why Ryuuji joined in the pole-bashing, and why he said it was tilted, even though it really wasn't - he understood her feelings of frustration with a world that seemed dead-set on misunderstanding her no matter how hard she tried to do anything, and it explains why he feels so compelled to help her and support her. Changing the order of the confession takes out the punch from the confession (she was able to muster up the courage to tell the guy she liked he liked her, whereas here it seems more she's confessing to Ryuuji), and also removing the Kitamura elaboration that she'd blown him off last year means that he understands she wants Ryuuji rather than 'he's moved on with his life and wants to be friends'.

I don't know why they do this, really. Removing the infirmary rush (which helped cement the relationship rumors), changing the confession order, and taking out the extra bit where they were looking dead due to the aura of defeat that hovered around them. It's a bit more formulaic now as a result - instead of having it made semi-clear that Ryuuji wanted to stand by Taiga because he understood how she felt and wanted to make sure she knew she wasn't completely alone in the world, it looks much more like he's in love with her... which is an impression several bloggers carried, and which kinda defeats the purpose of the whole 'this isn't your typical tsundere story' that the manga and light novel were all about.

Anonymous said...

Figures. If I make the post anonymously it goes through right away. Use my Google/Blogger account and it fails.

Jarlath said...

Test... failed.