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.