Toradora! Review & Characters - That Good Ol’ High School Feeling

toradora wallpaper 02

That Good Ol’ High School Feeling

  • Episodes : 25
  • Genre : Romcom, Drama, Comedy, High school
  • Airing Date : October 2008 – March 2009
  • Producers : NIS America INC, Magic Capsule, Starchild Records, Genco, J.C.Staff

Toradora! Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Do you remember that high school crush that left you head over heels in love, paralyzed, unable to even utter a word when the person in question was present? Do you remember the seemingly unbearable hopelessness that engulfed you upon finding out that someone else, possibly someone close to you, also had a strong interest in that your love interest? In it’s core, this is what Toradora! is all about.

The cleaning-obsessed high schooler Riyuuji Takasu is madly in love with his classmate Minori Kushieda. He is, however, a bit of a freak, because of his terrifying gaze that scares away of most of the girls (and boys, for that sake). Through a series of coincidences he bumps into Taiga Aisaka, the school’s «most dangerous animal» who has a notoriously bad temper. She has a weak spot, however, and that happens to be the fact that she has a crush on Riyuuji’s best friend Yuusaku Kitamura, the vice president of the school council.

As the two discover they can offer each other assistance, they engage in a rather S&M-like relationship, where Riyuuji promises to take the role of Taiga’s «dog», in return for her helping him get closer to Minori. What might seem like an easy task gets complicated as things relating to romance often does though, for example when Yuusaka’s old friend Ami shows up, showing a fondness for Riyuuji.

toradora wallpaper 07

Who does Toradora! cater to?

Toradora! is obviously a romantic comedy, and has many similarities with other romcom/harem series – think Love Hina, Nisekoi or My Bride is a Mermaid. However, Toradora! is harem-like without actually being a harem, this is due to the fact that is has multiple romantic relationships going on at the same time. This is refreshing – doesn’t people get tired of seeing all those girls mindlessly swarming around the main protagonist?

If you’ve never watched a romcom before, the appeal of these kind of series lies mainly in the characters, the plot and the humor, and Toradora! is in many ways an archetypical example of the genre. If you happen to be (just like I were when I first watched it) new to this kind of anime, this is a good place to start.

If you, on the other hand, are a hardcore romcom fan, theres literarily no chance you haven’t hear of Toradora!, and if you haven’t finished it yet, it is probably somewhere on your bucketlist, waiting to be checked off.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

Toradora! is often a bit more serious than other similar anime, and, while it has it’s share of funny moments, it lacks the silliness that makes you give up on other high school romcoms, giving you equal amounts of drama and comedy.

The backgrounds of the characters are not revealed at first, which creates tension and gives some dynamics to the narrative. The pace of the storytelling is not fast – Toradora!’s 25 episode span makes it possible for the plot to develop slowly, so that it doesn’t feel too rushed or too compact.

One of the main things that people will notice about Toradora! is how familiar the plot and the setting is: it appeals to anyone that has ever attended high school, had a crush, been part of a love triangle or any other complex configuration of love interests – it basically appeals to anyone that has ever been young, with all the pains and pleasures that includes.

As mentioned above Toradora! is not a harem-anime, which is a positive thing due to the fact that the multiple, more complex relationships between the main and supporting characters give a more dynamic, exciting development of the plot.

Toradora! is a fan favourite, and it is featured in many «top/favourite anime» lists around the world wide web, and this should be reason enough for checking it out.

Toradora! Trailer

Toradora! Main Characters List

Taiga Aisaka

toradora taiga

Voice Actor :Rie Kugimiya

She is a tsundere if there ever was one. She’s got the red hair, the aggressive feistiness, and, ultimately, the soft, sweet and vulnerable inside. As might be obvious from the very start, the main relationship in Toradora! is that between Ryuuji and Taiga, and the relationship between the two is what drives the series forward.

Ryuuji Takasu

toradora ryuji

Voice Actor :Junji Majima

He is smart, calm, responsible, a proficient cook, obsessed with housecleaning, making him Taiga’s polar opposite. We get a sense that his scary looks might have some connections with his father (which is suspiciously absent from his house), and this makes him quite the mysterious character.

Contains Spoilers

Toradora! Review

Okay, so first things first: Toradora! is (a bit) overrated. It simply didn’t live up to the high expectations I had after reading all the reviews online, and, even though it wasn’t a bad anime per se, it left me unsatisfied.

Many anime series fall into the trap of using stock characters, and Toradora! is no exception. Or, more than falling into a trap it seems to make a point out of having the most stereotypical characters possible: We’ve got the indecisive, passive male protagonist who just happens to be the centre of the action, we’ve got the egg-like tsundere that’s soft on the inside with a hard shell, as well as the hyperactive genki girl and the high school council overachiever. It feels like Toradora! pretty much copied this overused anime character blueprint, something which is especially problematic because it’s a character-driven series.

toradora wallpaper 06

Because Taiga is the center of attention, whether or not you are going to enjoy Toradora! fully depends on whether or not you can stand the tsundere. If you don’t like surprises, and like predictable characters that can give you a laugh once in a while, this is all a-okay, but if you
want realistic, believable and human characters that doesn’t conform to a pre-described norm of having a hard outside that gradually cracks up, reveling the her true, vulnerable self, then you might have a hard time sitting through the 25 episodes of Toradora!.

While on the subject of length, I haven’t made up my mind yet whether it was a good idea to make it into a 25 episode show. As mentioned above, I like the fact (in principle at least) that the narrative unfolded slowly, and that the characters got time to develop, but, at the same time, I found this to be a bit pointless when the characters weren’t as deep as one would’ve hoped.

As for the plot, no one with their sanity intact can pretend they didn’t see Taiga and Riyuuji becoming a couple, unless they were intentionally fooling themselves to have an incentive to keep on watching.

toradora wallpaper 04

Even though I’m not a big fan of harem anime, but they at least give you some suspense regarding which one the protagonist will choose in the end – in Toradora! it is sooo obvious from the very start that all the Minori and Yuusaka stuff feels a bit forced. The ending had an interesting twist, however, and Taiga leaving was, dramaturgically speaking, my favorite part.

While this review might come of as somewhat of a rant, I really feel the need to point the fact that Toradora! is absolutely worth a watch, it is by no means a bad series. In fact, in addition to it looking and sounding good, it is very entertaining, engaging and even a bit touching at times. The target audience might have been younger than myself, and I can’t rule out the possibility that this is the reason why I didn’t enjoy it as much as other people seem to have done.

1. Taiga Aisaka

toradora review highlight1

Okay, so this highlight comes with a condition: that you like tsundere characters. Taiga is not a personal favorite of mine because tsuns are not my thing (as explained above), but if you do like these kinds of characters, this is undoubtedly going to be your favorite part of the series.

2. Yasuko Takasu

toradora review highlight2

Ryuuji’s impossibly large-breasted mother works as a hostess at bar, accompanying businessmen until the wee hours. She acts more as a cute, younger sibling than a parent, and it is almost impossible to imagine how she could’ve raised the well-disciplined Ryuuji.

3. The ending

toradora ending capture

When we see the kiss, we’re all expecting a feel-good montage with scenes of Taiga and Ryuuji walking through parks holding hands, getting married, and maybe finally having some cute little children. Instead, what we get is an unexpected turn: We think she’s just changing her clothes, but Taiga decides to leave Ryuuji to go live with her mother. She realizes in order to take responsibility, she has to come to terms with her mother, in a perfectly subtle and simply beautiful plot twist. We see her returning, receiving Ryuuji’s confession and then headbutting him, but the rest is left to the viewer’s imagination.

While it may not be as good as some would have it, Toradora! has a lot of funny, romantic, sad, and sweet moments, just like most people’s time in high school probably was. Unless your heart is made of stone, you’ll be thinking back at that wonderful time with a tear in your eye!



Author: Magnus

Hello there, I’m Magnus (no relation to Vampire Hunter D villain Count Magnus Lee), and I hail from the cold, northern part of the European continent. I like music, anime, movies and literature (aka ‘anything remotely artsy’), and am currently living in Tokyo, attempting to slay the dragon that goes by the name of ‘Japanese’, as well as figuring out the meaning of life. Recently started podcasting:

Previous Articles

Top 5 Anime by Magnus

Recommended Post

6 Anime Like Toradora! [Updated Recommendations]