Under Your Radar: Toradora!

There’s something in this world that nobody has ever seen.
It’s something gentle and sweet.
Maybe, if it could be seen, everyone would fight over it.
That’s why no one has ever seen it.
The world hid it so that no one could get their hands on it easily.
However, someday, someone will find it.
The person who deserves it the most will definitely find it.
That’s just how it is.

Time for the second romance series in this accidental theme month, huh? While some may look at the title and tell me that it’s a popular work I’m covering this time, I should note that when I decided to cover Negima!, I’d chosen to not shy away from covering popular series that get hit by false accusations about content by those who have not viewed it. That makes this one a no-brainer.

This week’s Under Your Radar covers a story that started as a light novel series and then received game, manga and anime adaptations. Of course, the series has long since wrapped up in every form except the manga, which is ongoing. And, luckily for the anime, it ended only two weeks after the novels, which allowed it to tell the entire story and end in the same way. As such, I opted to watch it in anime form.

I am, of course, referring to Toradora! (“tora” is Japanese for “tiger”, note that the the female lead’s named “Taiga”, which is an attempt to transliterate the English word – the other half is the same thing but flipped, the male lead’s name is “Ryūji”, which contains “ryū”, Japanese for “dragon”, which is transliterated as the 4-character word “doragon” in Japanese, so the first two characters, “dora”, were put into the title).

The story follows a high school student by the name of Ryūji Takasu, a clean freak, who was an illegitimate child of a gangster and a bar hostess. We are told his father is dead, but he still got a rather menacing face from his father’s genes. The female lead is a girl by the name of Taiga Aisaka, the “Palmtop Tiger” (because she’s both ferocious and petite), who’s from a broken, rich family. They end up meeting in a rather strange fashion when Taiga places a love letter (or rather, an empty envelope that was supposed to contain one) into Ryūji’s bag by mistake. She was actually trying to give it to one of Ryūji’s few friends, his best friend Yūsaku Kitamura. As it turns out, Ryūji has a crush on Taiga’s only friend as well, her best friend Minori Kushieda. They decide to help each other out with that.

Left to right: Ryūji, Taiga, Ami, Yūsaku, Minori

However, it all ends up being, predictably, a failure. While Yūsaku used to like Taiga, he’s moved on, and Minori appears to not reciprocate Ryūji’s feelings. Or she’s just an idiot who doesn’t realize it, they’re a bit vague on that point for a while.

Regardless, the two of them end up growing closer to each other while trying to pair each other up with their friends. It certainly doesn’t help that the entire class seems to be pairing them together. In fact, as is later revealed after it’s pretty much confirmed the Minori’s weirdness was just an act, she was actually trying to pair the two together the entire time.

The series in general does a fairly good job of touching upon the family issues both characters have, culminating in one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever seen, but the middle portion of the 25-episode ride felt incredibly dull for some reason. I’d wager it’s because it takes quite a lot to make me enjoy the Slice of Life genre, and that’s what this series is for a lot its length, which meant that any parts that didn’t strongly push the plot along felt boring for me. People more used to the genre won’t have that problem, I’d suppose.

Still, seeing how it’s a romance series with high school kids that focuses on a group of five classmates first and foremost, I can see why one would think it’s generic – one of the main negatives I see from people who watch for the first few episodes and drop it. Personally, though it took me a few attempts to finally reach the ending, I see it as having been most definitely worth it. While I saw quite a few people no really see them as a good couple during the series’ run, the last two episodes were apparently enough to convince a lot of the non-believers otherwise, though there were some quite powerful scenes scattered throughout.

I know good plotting when I see it, and this has it.

The light novels have been completely fan translated by Baka-Tsuki, the games are unavailable in English, the manga is available from Seven Seas Entertainment, but the only legal and complete way to see this series through at present is the subbed anime release from NIS America. Check it out!

I’m a dragon. You’re a tiger.
Since ancient times, the dragon has been the only beast to equal the tiger.
Even if you’re not by my side right now, I will leap through space and time and always be by your side.
These feelings will never change.