I started watching Toradora! after finishing Golden Time because it’s an earlier work by the latter’s writer, and as my posts from a short while back will attest, I enjoyed the latter very much indeed.
I knew nothing about Toradora! going in save for the fact that it was well-regarded by quite a few people (the exception being Andie’s sister, who thought it was “tripe”, but conceded that she was not the target audience) and it had even been a “jumping-on” point to anime for a lot of people. So I was confident it would at least be an entertaining watch if nothing else.
Toradora! tells the story of the relationship between the “Dragon” and the “Tiger”, better known as protagonist Ryuji and leading lady Taiga. Neither of these are typical leads according to slice-of-life/romance anime tropes: Ryuji is (at least initially) feared by his classmates for his sour-faced, intimidating appearance — a genetic inheritance from his father, whom it seems is no longer around thanks to seemingly being involved in some questionable activities — while Taiga is… well, she’s very short, and not at all happy about it, particularly as the combination of her height, slight figure and somewhat petulant tendencies tend to make her come across as considerably younger than she actually is.
Ryuji and Taiga are brought together by their attraction to each other’s friends; Ryuji likes Taiga’s friend Kushieda who, as a spunky, loud genki girl is the polar opposite of Taiga in terms of personality, while Taiga likes Ryuji’s friend Kitamura. Ryuji discovers Taiga is living a somewhat lonely existence in the apartment building next to his house: she’s living all alone in an apartment too big for her, and clearly doesn’t know how to take care of herself. Ryuji, having had to be the “man of the house” for some time thanks to his departed father and his dirty stop-out of a mother, takes it upon himself to look after her, cooking her meals and helping her out with all sorts of domestic chores.
Unfortunately, this, of course, leads to misunderstandings when people see them together, and this in turn makes their pursuit of their prospective paramours somewhat more challenging. I have little doubt that the two of them will end up with one another by the end of the series — though I will be pleasantly surprised if the show goes another route — because they complement one another nicely. Taiga doesn’t show any fear towards Ryuji and sees him for who he is; at the same time, Ryuji manages to bring out a side of Taiga she doesn’t show many people: an honest, frank and vulnerable side. It’s a rocky relationship, to be sure, but it has the makings of an entertaining watch indeed.
As I said above, I’m only four episodes in so far, but I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s sharply written, with some genuinely funny moments, and the cast of characters all have their own little surprises that defy the initial impressions they might make. I’m intrigued to see where it goes and how the relationships depicted in the show develop over time, and can already appreciate why this is such a well-regarded series.