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Welcome to the Imouri Anime Review, where people vote for an anime that the Imouri team will review. The anime will be reviewed using these four criteria; Story, Animation, Character Development, and World-Building. Each category will be given of score (1-10), and then an overall score will be determined.
Love is in the air and that means romance anime review time. What better way to celebrate the month of love than to have a romance theme anime review. The users from the Secret Anime Club voted for three romantic comedy themed anime. It was a close vote between 2 of the series, but Toradora was the anime chosen for the February 2021 review.
Now this review is slightly different as one of the clips featured in the review contains minor spoilers. If you haven't watched Toradora yet, but want to watch the quick clip, this is your spoiler warning. Enjoy!
Toradora is a Romance/Romantic Comedy anime the follows that follows the lives of Taiga Aisaka, Ryuuji Takasu, Minori Kushieda, Yuusaku Kitamura, and Ami Kawashima. There is a host of supporting characters throughout the series as well that help pushes the narrative along. The story follows the five main characters as they go through high school, navigating the concept of love and figuring out who they are along the way. There is a clear passage of time during the story that seems to span about 1 1/2 years to about two years.
The story itself sees Taiga and Ryuuji as they set up romantic situations for their prospective love interest; Taiga is in love with Yuusaku, and Ryuuji is in love with Minori. The first half of the series has more light undertones and situations, where comedic relief is in full effect. You do see glimpses of heartfelt situations now and then. Still, it is often blocked by the whimsicalness of either Minori, Yuusaku, or some of the supporting characters, where Toradora's rom-com portion shines. The second half of the series takes a more series turn with the heart. Toradora shows more in-depth romantic situations and also offers more character development. At this point in the series, the main characters face the blunt reality of their situation.
Throughout the series, I find the story having somewhat of a slower start. But the slow romantic start is balanced by the comedic relief provided by the supporting characters. I want to give a shoutout to those supporting characters because there are many moments where the supporting roles help push the story along in a romantic way to compensate for the series's pace, especially in the first half of the series. More notably, the supporting characters, classmates, and teachers help move the story by providing supportive character development for the main characters.
One character that deserves a bit of praise is Ami Kawashima. Ami is one of the main driving forces that allow the story to push forward throughout the series. Without her Ami, I would imagine that the story would take a bit longer to finish as it is her that drives all of the characters forward. Notable examples of this are where she often confronts Ryuuji and Minori to give them subtle hints about their true feelings, even though it comes out a bit harsh at times.
Overall the story is pretty good. I like a good romance/romantic comedy story. I felt the pacing was okay but was lifted by the supporting character's roles. I do, however, wish there were more romantic undertones. I think that there may be a little too much romantic comedy, and by the time deeper emotional undertones take place, you're more than halfway through the series. I also wished I could see more story-driven aspects from Taiga's and Ryuujii's parents. I feel those characters, for the roles they play and how they shaped the lives of Taiga and Ryuuji, there was some missed opportunity for a stronger story.
The last thing I want to mention is Minori and Yuusaku's roles in the story. I felt that they were somewhat more supportive than the main characters. Minori and Yuusaku felt more like comedic relief. There were not many situations where they were more serious in the series romance area until practically 3/4 into the watch Toradora. Overall though, I do like their characters. Story Score: 7/10
Toradora's original anime ran from 2008 to 2009. The animation style is of the early 2000s and focuses more on character animation than environment animation. The female characters have very expressive eyes, while the male characters had less detailed expression eyes. All of the characters have that classic drawn look with sharper shading and highlights, especially that signature highlight in the character's hair. By far, the characters, even all of the supporting characters, are animated nicely for that classic 2000's look, showing a lot of detail. The character animation is done very well during dramatic, more heart-pounding situations.
The one thing I am disappointed in is the background and environment animation. It feels very blurred and, in a way, quickly animated. I know Toradora focuses on the characters and character design; I wish the background environments were just polished a bit better. There are rare times when the background is very accentuated, but overall, the background environment could be better. I'm not saying it's horrendous by any means. I wish the were more love put on those background environments to bring the series to life. If the background environment were a bit polished, it would enhance those intense, emotional scenes that do play out throughout the series.
The last thing I want to talk about is the opening sequences. There are two opening sequences for Toradora; Pre-Parade, sung by Taiga, Minori, Ami, and Silky Heart, sung by Minori. The first opening has lighter tones and speaks to the rom-com nature. This opening also sums up how the first half of the series pretty much goes. The second opening feels more serious. You can see it in the animation. You get the feeling that more serious emotional things are about to happen. Both OPs are pretty good, but I especially like the first opening myself. You can decide which opening sequence you enjoy best by watching them both below.
Opening 1: Pre-Parade
Opening 2: Silky Heart
Animation Score: 6/10
The one thing that truly shines in this series is Character Development. Character development is responsible for the story's progression.
Each of the five main characters goes through character development. Even some of the supporting characters have some growth throughout the series. Taiga and Ryuuji get the most development throughout the series. Ami develops in a way to help with Minori, Taiga, and Ryuuji's character progression. Yuusaku also has some developing points, albeit not as significant as Taig and Ryuuji.
Now I do like Taiga's character, and she can be a bit too tsundere for me at times, but she will grow on you as her development continues. It's not just Taiga's attitude that changes, but even her feelings and perceptions change as well. If you watch this clip below, minor spoilers are my favorite scene in the series that shows her character development potential.
Ryuuji goes through a different development style. He takes a bit longer to grow, often being a bit oblivious to specific situations, but he shows significant growth, especially towards the end of the series. Ryuuji does have more to overcome based on his position in the series, taking care of his mother, taking care of himself, some of his obsessions, and figuring out who he is in the process. In some ways, he is a very relatable character to the audience.
Yuusaku, Minori, and Ami's developments are very important to the development of Taiga and Ryuuji. Without their core character developments, I don't think we would be able to see Taiga and Ryuuji grow so much. Even though Yuusaku and Minori's developments don't happen until past the halfway point, I feel it's important because their character progression helps push the story along. I won't say much about it because it does lead into some spoiler territory.
Ami's character development happens early in the series. But I think her character progression so early in Toradora was vital for the rest of the characters. Having Ami develop early on in the series with some very minor development through the remaining episodes helped pave the way for the other main characters to grow and support characters to develop. Again, Ami is a vital character to the whole story of Toradora to keep it on pace. Character Development Score: 10/10
Toradora takes place in Japan. We know that this world is similar to ours because there are mentions of Okinawa and America. That being said, there is not much world-building going on in this series. The most common places are Ohashi High School and Ryuuji and Taiga's home. Other locations get briefly shown in the series, such as a beach house and a restaurant. To be honest, not much world-building happens in this series because it is way more character-focused. Overall, there is not much I can say about the world of Toradora that would have substantial significant impacts within the world of Toradora itself. World-Building Score: 3/10
I think Toradora is a classic romance/romantic comedy anime that anime lovers should watch. Taiga is a pretty good character, and Toradora has a pretty good fan base itself. I know there are always rumors of a season 2, but it would be hard to do a season 2 because the entire anime reflects the light novels up till the very end. While there are some lackluster parts of the anime like the animation and world-building, I feel that the emotional impact and character development make up for the lack of animation and world-building. Overall, it's fun to watch, and it's a great way to help ease you into more serious romance anime.
Overall Score: 7/10
Thanks for ready this review. We appreciate it. Be on the lookout for the next review as we head into March. Our next theme is Mecha March Madness. See you soon!
*All images are from the My Anime List website. All videos are from YouTube that the channel owners listed. We do not own any of these images. Credit to all artists of the images and credit goes to the creators of the anime series.