Friday, 13 March 2009

Toradora! - Episode 23

Not for the first time with this series, just as I'm about to mark an episode of as having nothing absolutely pertinent to the main story of note happening, it manages to blow me out of the water with the kind of emotional intensity rarely seen outside of... well, outside of real life. It's a just a shame the animation quality seemed to drop a little this week alongside it.

For much of the episode, we're served the usual delicious mixture of humour and more serious points, as Ryuuji continues to grapple with his plans for the future which leave him wanting to go to college but not daring to lest it put too much strain on Yasuko. Things are far easier on this front for Taiga, whose family are so rich she simply doesn't care.

Then there's Ami, who goes at least some way to clearing up my confusion regarding her feelings - She wants to stick around with her new-found friends, but at the same time she's come to the conclusion that their lives will carry on and "fix" themselves without her, which clearly leaves her feeling somewhat isolated. There's a suggestion later in the episode that there's still more to her current state of mind than that, but it's left unspoken.

One thing that is made clear however throughout this episode is one key similarity between Ryuuji and Ami (and, to a lesser extent, Taiga) - Their need to run away when things get difficult. While Ami looks towards escape when her feelings for her friends gets out of control, so Ryuuji runs away from both Yasuko and Taiga's feelings for him in different ways, while Taiga is similarly running away from her feelings towards Ryuuji.

In the case of Ryuuji and Taiga's relationship, this blows up massively when the former's covering up of the latter's outburst when she was rescued during the skiing holiday comes to light, in a fashion almost akin to the moments towards the end of episode sixteen, giving us a tsunami of emotion that picks up the viewer and takes them on a roller coaster ride right along with the characters involved. It's another one of those incredible moments that I don't think I'll forget soon, from Minori's expression when she catches Ryuuji's lie to her pure anger directed towards both of them for denying their true feelings at her expense, through to the instant understanding and camaraderie shown by Ami and Kitamura, knowing what needs to be done without a single word being spoken. It's a beautiful explosion of what it truly means to be a friend, and equally what it truly means to be in love - Yet again, Toradora! manages to surpass itself when push comes to shove.


felicity said...

Ryuuji's not running away from Yasuko and Taiga's feelings for him, he's decidedly trying not to burden either of them - that's what I felt was really missing from this episode with the absence of Ryuuji's inner thoughts. He is so tempted to pour his heart out to Taiga when he grabs and almost crushes her hand, but realizes the more important the person is to him, the less he can let himself depend on them. (He's also still very afraid of losing Taiga after the trauma of the avalanche) Damn, that's what I love most about this show! The bittersweetness of growing up! A boy trying to become a man! LOL

Also, don't sell Taiga short regarding her future plans! "My family's rich" was just a fib to get the teacher off her back - her real reasons for not having any future goals are better thought through and even more compelling than Ryuuji's.

Paul said...

I agree with felicities comments regarding Ryuuji's inner turmoil. His desire for self reliance forces him to separate himself from those he most needs, like his mother and Taiga.

As for Ami's feelings, they seem quite clear to me. "Actually, I'd be happy even if it wasn't everyone." Essentially what she is saying and has been hinting at throughout the latter half of the series, is that the only individual opinion that she really cares about the only one that she really wants to adore her is Ryuuji.

This episode was great. What a fantastic show to evince such emotions in the viewer.