Friday night is always Toradora! night for me, and what better way to kick off the weekend? Episode twenty, of course, brings us to the fallout from the end of the last episode, albeit via fast forwarding a little to the New Year, with Ryuuji laid up in bed with the 'flu for that intervening period.
Despite being rejected by Minori on Christmas Eve, and more importantly despite her own feelings which were well and truly unveiled (to the viewer at least) last time around, Taiga is still determined to get Ryuuji together with Minori and will go to any lengths to do so, including no longer going to and from school with him or even relying on him to cook for her. Meanwhile, Ryuuji tries to rebuild his battered relationship with Minori, with mixed success, as Minori herself is clearly still torn between her feelings for him and her friendship with Taiga.
As usual these days, it's Ami who can stand back from the crowd and get the full view of what's going on, dropping hints to anyone who will listen (although they never seem to) in her own inimitable style. I'm not sure whether to like Ami for trying to tell those around her how things are, or hate her for the largely unhelpful way she does it, but regardless she seems almost sage-like in the relationship department compared to the clueless Ryuuji and Taiga's new self-delusions surrounding her feelings for him.
All of this is set against a backdrop of preparing for a school trip, originally set to take place in Okinawa but relocated as a skiing holiday due to the hotel they had booked at their original destination burning down. This all seems largely irrelevant when put up against the relationship-centric nature of the episode, but no doubt it will become important next time around as they reach their destination.
Again, it's the subtlety of Toradora! that continues to make it such a gripping series to watch - Much as I've already mentioned my dislike for Ami's roundabout way of pointing out the truth, for the viewer's perspective it beats being bludgeoned to death with those facts in an "in your face" fashion every five minutes. More importantly, the reactions and behaviours of both Minori and Taiga are beautifully observed throughout - Taiga's facade of not needing Ryuuji any more fits perfectly with her determined and stubborn personality, while Minori's constant little mood swings and madcap outbursts mirror the deep-seated uncertainties and need to be accepted she clearly carries through her own life. These girls (and indeed Ami too) could all be real people, and I would wager that I could probably pin their personalities to some degree to real people who I've known over the years, such is the human side that they display.
Well, I've ended up gushing praise about Toradora! once again - Who would have thought it? It comes to something when I even end up feeling joyous at Minori's choice of coffee mug - I got a kick out of her Twitter "Fail whale" beverage holder.