Friday, 23 January 2009

Toradora! - Episode 16

By the end of episode fifteen, Kitamura's severe case of feeling sorry for himself had reached new heights, forcing Taiga to take desperate measures in her own inimitable style - Who else could run a campaign to become student council president on a platform of beating seven shades of Hell out of everybody?

Of course, the whole point of said campaign is to force Kitamura to re-enter the presidential race himself, but time is running out and he still stubbornly refuses to budge on the issue. Just what is bugging him? Of course, it's all to do with his feeling towards the current student council president Kanou, as we learn that she's preparing to leave for America once her time at the school is up. After talking things over with Ryuuji, Kitamura's decision on running for the president's post flip-flops this way and that, but eventually (thanks to some timely interference from Kanou himself), he decides to take the plunge and hand in his nomination.

This is really only the beginning though, as Kitamura uses his speech as the election's sole candidate to confess his love to Kanou, who brushes him off with a non-descript answer, to the annoyance of both Ryuuji and, more violently, Taiga. So, the latter confronts Kanou, leaving us with a climax that leaves things decidedly messy for all parties concerned. Indeed, even Minori's feelings seem to get beaten about despite her having no other part in this episode, although I'm split as to whether her emotions were related to Kitamura or Ryuuji...

After a first half that somewhat went through the emotions to build up the climax to this particular story arc, the second half of the episode was an absolute lightning storm of big emotional moments, from Kitamura's confession through to Taiga and Kanou's altercation and the ramifications of it all. I have no hesitation in saying that the whole thing left me in tears - It was raw, powerful emotion at its best, and its intensity and ferocity was so expertly portrayed that I couldn't help but be sucked into the feelings of sadness for Taiga, Kitamura, Kanou... pretty much everyone really. Again, it shows the power that has come from creating such strong characters in this series (would I have been quite so moved if this had happened in another series? Probably not), and the ability of both the animators and voice actors to put their all into this series. I'd be the first to confess that this particular story arc hasn't interested me as much as some of what we've seen previously, but its climax more than makes up for that by a country mile.


kadian1364 said...

Here I was, bemoaning how predictably dull and trivial Toradora has been. Chock-full of typical high school romance cliches and overplayed "comedic" skits that were so unfunny they bordered on actually being painful to watch, I began to wonder if the series would be able to tell a story of any consequence, supply me with some evidence as to why everyone seems to believe it is the best show airing, or at very least show me once more the reason why I should keep spending my valuable free time watching something I had up to now only a so-so attitude towards, so I was thinking.

Of course the President was going overseas to the dismay of a lovestruck Kitamura, of course our main duo run a campaign of "fear and intimidation" including kitshy capes and dumb antics, of course our favorite new blonde was going to return at the last possible moment and run for prez. I was this close to dropping Toradora, its fate on my anime-viewing itinerary hinging on Kitamura's first and only campaign speech.

It could have been trite, it could have been obtuse, and it easily could have been boring, but what actually happened and the chain of events it caused was the furthest thing from what I expected. All the things you said about the episode, the power, the emotion, the intensity, the gripping drama. I was stunned, and it was awesome.

For many people anime is lightweight entertainment; easily consumable escapism, often casual and simplistic idealism, made mostly for the younger crowd. But I can point to this episode and say, "This! This is why I keep on watching these crazy Japanese cartoons."

Hanners said...

While I don't agree that Toradora has been dull throughout (I've found its characters largely compelling from beginning to end), you've hit a home run with the last couple of paragraphs - I couldn't have put it any better myself.