Toradora: A high school anime above the norm

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I have less than 100 years on this planet and the older I get, the less tolerance I have for crappy anime. When I was younger, I would sit through at least half a show before I would give up. Now one or two episodes are enough for me.

That’s not the case with “Toradora” which is a show I actually look forward to seeing every week. It’s set in a high school and deals with the lives and loves of several students. The lead characters are Ryuji Takasu who is unfortunate enough to be born with his father’s mean eyes so people think he’s a juvenile delinquent and Taiga Aisaka, the short petite girl with a horrible temper who lives alone and is called the “Palm top Tiger.” Taiga sounds like tiger, get it? Anyway, she’s vicious enough for the nickname to stick.

The show is a play on their names. Ryu is dragon and tora is tiger in Japanese. And if you try to say “dragon” in Japanese, one would say doragon. Or so Wikipedia says.

Taiga has a huge crush on Ryuji’s friend, Yusaku Kitamura, who once upon a time confessed his affection to her. And Ryuji harbors this big crush on Taiga’s bubbly friend, Minori Kushieda.

Their paths cross when Ryuji accidentally gets the lover letter Taiga wrote for Yusaku. She comes to Ryuji’s house at night intending to beat the crap out of him. They end up agreeing to help each other win their respective crushes.

Despite his beady eyes, Ryuji is really a sweetheart who can cook well and is obsessed with cleaning, He ends up being Taiga’s caretaker of sorts when he finds out she lives alone in this big messy apartment next to his small house and subsists on takeout, She can’t stand her father and stepmother.

But “Toradora” is not just your run of the mill high school anime revolving around romance. Most of the characters have depth to them and some of the episodes make you reach for a tissue.

Ryuji learned to be cook and housekeeper since his widowed mother works nights as a hostess at a bar. He is perceptive and kind but finds it hard to tell Minori how he feels. Lately though, he’s become a little braver asking her to the Christmas party, And when she said she wouldn’t come, he yelled that he would wait for her. Aaaaw.

At the same time, Ryuji’s feelings for the little terror who eats and hangs around his house is changing. It bothers him that their fellow classmates are rooting for Taiga and Yusaku to be a couple.

Taiga, who is used to being on her own, doesn’t think twice about Ryuji cooking her meals, packing her lunch or cleaning her apartment for free. She calls him her “dog” but feels comfortable enough around him to tell him the reason why she really likes Christmas. At his insistence, she gave her father another chance to be a parent. Now instead of just Minori, she also has him on her side.

You don’t have to be a psychic to know the two will end up liking each other as more than friends, But the show sure makes the trip to this likely path enjoyable.

Tripping the light craptastic

Now that “Blood +” and “Ouran High School Host Club” have ended I went in search of new anime to watch. I ran across “School Rumble” which is one of those school/romance anime.

While I wasn’t wowed by the initial six episodes, I still borrowed the rest of the series and even the two OVAs out of some misbegotten sense of responsibility that one should finish what one started.

I’m seriously convinced that I’ve been dropped on my head as a baby. Why else would I waste four days straight watching this sorry excuse for an anime that supposedly was such a big hit in Japan? The second season just ended too. I’m not stupid enough to watch a second season of this tripe.

Not only are the characters drawn like any ho-hum anime, the story is the typical convoluted love polygon in this genre. The female lead, a clueless girl named Tenma Tsukamoto loves Ooji Karasuma, a poker-faced boy with a bowl haircut. She just can’t seem to confess her affection to him.

The class delinquent is the male lead. Kenji Harima loves Tenma but misunderstandings, circumstances and other people including Tenma ruin his declarations of love. There’s an assorted cast of characters that have their own love dilemmas. Two other girls also like Harima.

But after 26 episodes there’s still no resolution on who ends up with whom. Then they drag it out to another season. I hear there’s going to be a third season.

This show needs to be put to the torch. I hate love polygons especially if they keep dragging them out. The other side stories are boring as well. The style of the animation doesn’t help pull this from the mediocre pile nor does the music. I regret spending a dime renting this. I’m such a baka (“stupid” in Japanese).

Hinata cold remedy

As I sit here in front of my trusty computer battling some kind of flu that hasn’t let up in 5 days, I wonder what would Keitaro do.


I know I don’t live in the famous Hinata House, and the cutest girl around me these days happens to be my 2 year old niece, but still I wonder, would Naru make me some hot tea and boil my troubles away? Or would she simply give me her infamous right handed punch and send me flying into oblivion? In any case, I’m sure I’d rather be totally out of it and not have to struggle with my stuffy nose.

I don’t think Shinobu would be of any help. With her crushes, and her cooking, all I can expect is a heart shaped rice ball, if there is such a thing.

Don’t even get me started on Motoko. Sure, she kicks butt and fights ghosts. She can carve a figurine out of wood without even looking at it. That’s the problem. I need someone more delicate. She has a big sword. Not a good idea to confront her in my condition. My kung-fu grip is not as strong as usual.

Kitsune? hmmmmm, she is always fun. No! Alcohol can cure many things, unfortunately colds is not one of them. Although some people disagree. Anyway, I would probably end up without my wallet. I think I’ll pass.

Kaolla is definitely out of the question. With all her brains and her inventions, she is no medic. I don’t think I could trust her. Are you kidding? I don’t want to end up strapped to some super mega extra special edition fighting robot turtle.

…I guess my cold is not that bad after all

Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt

Growing up in Asia, I often watched anime about giant robots, angsty boys saving the world and teenage girls in love quadrangles with way too much drama in their lives. Then I grew up. And while I still like cartoons, I thought my interest in Japanese animation had waned.

Until one night when I stumbled across Inuyasha on Cartoon Networks Adult Swim line up.

Inuyasha tells the story of Kagome Higurashi, a 15-year-old middle school student, who was pulled down a well in the family shrine by a centipede woman and transported five hundred years back to Japans Warring States Era. Kagome then woke up a half human, half dog demon called Inuyasha who was sealed to a tree. To save herself from the centipede lady, she somehow dissolved the arrow that pinned Inuyasha to the tree. He killed the monster and went after Kagome but was thwarted.

Did I forget to mention Kagome was the reincarnation of a priestess who was the protector of the Shikon no Tama or Jewel of Four Souls? Said jewel came out of Kagomes body when the centipede woman bit her side. And many demons and humans want the jewel for the power it grants the bearer.

I thought the first two episodes were inane. But I was back two weeks later and have since followed their adventures.

From watching the series, I went into buying DVDs of the show and its four movies to reading the latest manga chapters released in Japan from a fellow fans Web site. I own pins of the Inuyasha characters, the shows soundtracks and a mini statue of his older full-blooded demon brother, Sesshomaru, who many fan girls just adore.

In the past two years, Ive watched 133 different anime shows or movies. Im currently following a dozen shows right now.

The pile of anime DVDs and tapes in my room have been joined by CDs of Jpop and Jrock, manga (Japanese comics), toys and a couple of Playstation Two games based on shows.

At work, I sometimes wear a baseball cap featuring a gun-wielding monk from Saiyuki or a military cap with a ninja pin or my pin of Inuyasha. Characters from Bleach dangle from my car keys and the CD player in my car always blares out a tune from an anime show.

But hey, Im not obsessed with anime.

I havent taken to dressing up as an anime character or cosplaying as fans call it. And while I have the occasional box of Pocky in the fridge, I dont subsist on these cracker sticks coated in chocolate.

Hmmm I wonder if the latest DVD of Saiyuki Reload Gunlock is out already and if the anime store is still open. But I digress.

Im not an anime addict. Really Im not.