I know it only took a one week break over the Festive period, but boy am I glad to have Toradora! back on my viewing schedule, and if absence makes the heart grow fonder then episode fourteen didn't disappoint in giving me my fill of everything I love about this series.
After the events of the culture festival in the previous episode, it appears that Taiga has built up a bit of a celebrity status as some sort of talisman, as a rumour sweeps across the school that simply touching the Palmtop Tiger will grant you happiness. This rumour seems to have originated from the pro-wrestling drama that she starred in during said festival, with everyone she touched (although that should probably read "attacked") enjoying good times in the period immediately afterwards.
So, poor old Taiga finds herself fending off numerous people who want to use her as a lucky charm, but even that doesn't dent her mood after getting to dance with Kitamura at the close of the culture festival (an event which is also drawing rumours of its own). Indeed, so deep is her own love of the world at the moment that you can't help but feel she's missing a lot of what is going on around her - Just what did the school council president have to say to Kitamura that put him in such a funk? Aren't Ryuuji and Ami starting to get on quite well with one another? Has Minori realised Ryuuji's feelings for her? Good luck or bad, happiness or sadness, the culture festival certainly seems to have shaken up a lot of emotion, and like some kind of Christmas snow shaker doubtless those flakes of emotion will start to move and float around over the coming episodes.
As per usual, I can do little other than gush over this episode of Toradora!. When it wanted to be funny, it was funny (with Taiga's suggestion that Ami has six fathers somehow inexplicably giving me a big laugh), and when it wants to portray some subtle emotions or confusion it does a pretty good job of that too. There's also lots of beauty to be found in this series' characterisations, which has managed to created some fantastic personalities (yes, even Ami, who I've rather warmed to of late) who you can view from the outside looking in as though they're old friends by now, yet each and every one of them seems to have some unplumbed depths, thoughts and feelings that we've barely scratched the surface of so far, a state of affairs which only helps to make this series all the more compelling. So, yes, Toradora! does continue to be fantastic, and if anything it continues to get better with this proving to be one of the best instalments yet. Then again, maybe that's just my week of Taiga and Ryuuji-free heartache talking...