Toradora 10: hopefully an intensive analysis

I was never fond of lengthy posts, but forgive me for this length as I have tons to say about the episode. Here goes.

A few months ago, I had difficulty not talking about Code Geass. The series was fabulous; it had a lot of mishaps that were made funny by their superfluity; and I rooted for an ending that never came to be (it was one of the few reasons why I still kept on watching the series).

This time, I have a difficulty not talking about ToraDora!. The reasons as to why, however, are extremely different: I kept on watching Code Geass R2 because I expected another improbable tragedy befalling Lelouch, but I keep on watching ToraDora! because after a long while a series has rekindled intense emotions I have only felt when I was watching Honey and Clover two years ago.

Between one and zero

Between one and zero

The tenth installment of this series remains to be as fresh, as intelligent, and as emotional as the episodes that directly preceded it. As viewers, we are not only introduced more to the true emotions that Ami harbors and also to the reality beneath Minori’s mask, even if only a glimpse. As what I did for the previous episodes of ToraDora!, I will no longer summarize the episode but posit my own perceptions and reactions as regards the occurrences I deem to be important this time around.

ToraDora! has performed a rare hat-trick in anime: its past three episodes have been exemplary, each episode upping the ante from the episode before. The tenth episode was both a very revelatory yet hilarious episode. Hijinx among ToraDora’s main characters still ensue, but there was also a lot revealed with regard to the personalities and characters of Ami (once again) and Minori (definitively for the first time).

Can you call this joking around?

Can you call this joking around?

One of the first revelatory sequences is between Ryuuji and Minori early in the morning, at about four minutes into the episode. It can be easily noticed that Ryuuji, while still struggling to converse with Minori, has already become more comfortable with her around and vice versa. During the scene were insights into her own life, and suggestions into why she grew up to be as responsible (a workaholic, even) as she is currently. The music is beautifully used during this scene: at the point where Ryuuji is stunned with perhaps the cuteness of Minori, the music stops for a short while only to continue its lively pace later on.

It is also suggested during this scene that their starside chat the previous episode has deepened Minori’s appreciation for Takasu-kun; slowly, it is revealed to her that Takasu, more than simply Taiga’s friend, is a kind and caring guy. From the dialogue it can be observed that she admires Takasu’s attitude towards work and life in general.

Please ... look at me as well.

Please ... look at me as well.

What is more important about this scene, however, is the fact that Takasu was the only person she talked to about ghosts and about love. I believe this is very important: to be able to confide in a person implies a trust in him or her. Minori herself confirms this: despite her unwillingness, perhaps even regret to have talked to anyone about those things, she was very grateful that it was Ryuuji whom she told her secrets to.

Immediately after this scene the viewer sees Ami eavesdropping in a corner of the kitchen, with a face that was unimpressed and pensive. She lets out a little sigh, and walks away. I, as a viewer, am wont to think it was spite, if not a shallow form of envy. I’ll defend this argument later.

From fear ...

From fear ...

At about 6:40 into the episode, Ryuuji calls Ami because she would (supposedly) also help in Taiga and Ryuuji’s plan to scare Minori. Ami’s vanity is once again revealed, but Ryuuji is none too impressed with her feminine charms. From her teasing, however, her voice quickly changes (I admire all of the VAs of ToraDora, seriously) mood and tone: her voice has become probing. She wants to know why Ryuuji wants to make Minori happy.

While it can be argued that people are generally attracted to rumor, it can also be argued (and I believe that this will be supported later on in the episode) that Ami is at the very least interested in Ryuuji and is seriously considering him to be her partner. Ryuuji doesn’t answer, and her face between her count of one and zero is so obvious, so unconcealed, and so distraught because in his silence she somehow grasps the answer.

... to relief

... to relief

Once again, from 13:10 onwards, Ami and Ryuuji are left alone together. Ami decides to take a shortcut because she has become increasingly bored. She once again begins their chat by teasing Takasu, even scaring him with her antics. But even her teases possess an edge; they are highly suggestive, and are leading questions. Her questions propose that Takasu will be lonely if she left him alone. Her questions are the questions of desperate women trying to cling to their husbands or boyfriends, even if they themselves know that the flame remains no longer. ‘You need me,’ she says.

Her words, then, again transform from a pointed mockery to a questioning honesty and a subtle spite: ‘I don’t think you suit her.’ Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only people who will say that to a man are either the man’s nuclear family, the man’s close friends, or a girl who’s also interested in the man. In addition, Ami knows, in her heart of hearts, that Ryuuji is interested in Minori. She quickly realizes her spite and tries to pass it off as another teaser: she lies to Ryuuji that she doesn’t know the path. Ryuuji, kind as ever, comforts her despite his fear. Ami confirms once again the true nature of Ryuuji: despite his fear, and his cowardice he still manages to comfort others and to placate their fear. His nature is one of goodness.

I turn back because I know I'm spiteful.

I turn back because I know I'm spiteful.

She notes of this, and quips ‘Takasu-kun, you’re really helpless.’ Thinking that it was another mockery, he starts with his usual reply until she continues, ‘But that’s something I don’t hate about you,’ with a serious, melancholic countenance. Hate implies love; Ami having thought of what she does not hate must also have thought of what she loves about Ryuuji. This belief of mine was supported when Ami said, ‘because you are the moon, Takasu-kun. Minori-chan is the sun. If you’ll be with her, you’ll just get burned out. For example, you’ll never hit her, right? You can’t become equal just through admiration. You can only become equal with someone like me.’ There is no falsity, no jocular tone in the voice whatsoever. In fact, I would argue that it was a confession in and of itself.

Despite this, however, a shout by Minori dissipates both Ami’s serious words and serious mood, with Ryuuji running immediately toward Minori, as if reflex. If I were Ami, I’d feel sad and dejected. Sad because the right mood eluded me once more, and dejected because a shout from another girl totally destroyed what was supposed to be a confession. (We also must not forget that it was Minori’s voice that prevented Ami from being able to invite Takasu successfully to the seaside.)

The sparks sputter and die.

The sparks sputter and die.

As she ran, her dejection could be observed. One could only imagine the thoughts that pass through her head: perhaps these were thoughts of being ignored or being left alone once again. In addition to that, she had to trip and fall. Ryuuji was there, however. Despite his urgency and perceived exigency to rescue Minori, he never forgot about her. In fact, in typical Ryuuji fashion he asked forgiveness for forgetting about her. Her facial expression changed from fear (of falling down, of being left behind perhaps), to one of appreciation and contentment: he never left her behind. After all, he caught her when she fell. He has done it throughout the show, and he did it again.

Their conversation was put to a pause because of Minori’s mischief, but Ami and Ryuuji continued it over the fireworks scene, at about 18:30 in the episode. Ryuuji finally replied to her central teaser question, and it was ‘I’ll feel lonely without you.’ But in typical Ryuuji vein, it’s not himself he worries about: it’s others. Ryuuji even attempts to support what she said about him a while ago with them being equals.

She replies, with a tone of permeating loneliness that ‘Takasu-kun, sometimes you’re just too kind.’

It is true that Ryuuji is sometimes just too kind. But it also suggests the idea that Ami believes she’s also like Ryuuji towards Minori: she could only admire him, because he doesn’t have that capability for teasing others; he does not possess the capability for spiting others; he is capable of being kind to everyone. In addition, it also implies that Ami wants Ryuuji to at least be selfish, or unkind at times, because it’s only making her fall for him more and more, yet it also hurts her to see herself treated merely and only as a friend. Because if it wasn’t Takasu who Ami got to like or befriend, she could have used her feminine charms and physical beauty, and it would’ve snagged the guy, hook, line, and sinker. Takasu, however, genuinely cares for others. While he genuinely cares for Ami, he also genuinely cares for Minori and Taiga. Had he only been more selfish, he’d really only care about Minori, who is his current love interest. But because he’s a paragon of goodness, he himself snags the women close to him, and not the other way around, and without malice or planning at that.

I loved Ami’s comparison about Ryuuji being the moon, and Minori being the sun. Fundamentally, he really only looks up to her light (her lively nature and her energy), but knows little about her true self. He only admires her, but he truly cannot really say for himself that he loves her. It was a very good point by Ami.

I can only look back ... and ponder why I could never get you.

I can only look back ... and ponder why I could never get you.

But …

It doesn’t only remain as looking up to the sky now. After Ami and Ryuuji talked, Minori called Ryuuji to ask him what was wrong. He confesses his happiness when she’s around, but she reciprocates.

‘Takasu-kun, you really understand me.’

Later on she proceeds to ask the question, and it returns to the previous episode’s discussion about ghosts. As viewers, we discover that Minori isn’t a retard, but a highly perceptive person: she observes that Takasu-kun isn’t the type to pull pranks on others because he wants people to be happy. Finally, ‘if you continue to change my world …’ simply connotes that Minori was also heavily affected by Takasu’s actions. Perhaps she may not have been in the focal point of those actions (these actions were directed toward Taiga), but she could also observe, and what she sees is a good man.

Ami can only look, behind the scenes, as the fireworks exploded into the sky. Her isolation is both something she imposes herself and yet wants to destroy.

Taiga can only look as the sparks of her sparklers fade away into oblivion. It is a realization that resonates within Taiga when she looks at Ryuuji walking away while she berates him after they have arrived in the city once more. She can only, for now, chase … because her feelings, if truly realized, would be taboo.

Don't leave me alone, please.

Don't leave me alone, please.

What a beautiful series. I’ve already watched the episode four times.

P.S. Sorry if incoherent, by the way. I’ve had a bad headache today.

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23 Responses to “Toradora 10: hopefully an intensive analysis”

  1. asdf Says:

    you’re trying too hard, bro

  2. Michael Says:

    I wasn’t trying enough. I’m having this bad headache, so I’m not very willing to try and compress what I’ve written. That’s why I was hoping it was an intensive analysis. :/

  3. bobofet Says:

    wah very detailed….

    good work one the analysis 🙂

    There is something about toradora that doesnt make me hate the show despite being a harem. I mean i dont hate harems but most of the time i get annoyed by them….(the main character that is)

    I know that for me Kimikiss ended after the second (side character) got his girl…the main charcters was absolutely uninteresting.

    anyway i wiould continue but i am strapped for time..

    Keep up the good work mate! 🙂

  4. RogerOskaner Says:

    bobofet: To be honest, this really isn’t much of a harem. Two of the girls don’t have a clue, and the other is confused and hopeless. And Ryuuji is also only focussed on a single girl. Pretty shaky “harem” there. That and Toradora isn’t that kind of show in the first place, with mindless “lolpantsu” fillers and random shippings to please fans.

    Anyways, very nice and thorough article, as the one for episode 9 (although you’ve covered a lot more ground, which also made it a bit harder to read). Also, best take some advil man.

  5. lelangir Says:

    : hopefully an intensive catharsis. less expository paragraphs!

    The genki gal’s rare moments of clarity and non-SKIY#*&^*68^#*&ness I’m not sure about. Usually shows will make good use of very polarizing attitude changes in the most personally radical people – Sunohara getting serious, Minorin getting serious, Morita, can’t think of more off the top of my head – to show a depth of character. Setting one extreme is the standard, so it makes utilizing the other extreme very easy and almost expected; I think they did a good job of having Minorin use a slightly strange analogy (UFO’s? Ghosts?) for an even stranger person. I’m sure those are metaphors that relate to Minorin’s worldview of the future and relationships (transience, ephemeralness, taboo, hope, things you’re not supposed to see) but I’m too lazy to piece it together.

  6. Riah Says:

    I liked this post a lot. Thank you.

    I loved Ami’s comparison about Ryuuji being the moon, and Minori being the sun. Fundamentally, he really only looks up to her light (her lively nature and her energy), but knows little about her true self. He only admires her, but he truly cannot really say for himself that he loves her. It was a very good point by Ami.

    I never even though about this interpretation – but reading it now, you make really good points, and it really fits, doesn’t it? Also got me thinking that Ami likes to point out that she doesn’t hide her true self when she’s with Ryuuji, as opposed to implying that he knows nothing about Minori. 😉

  7. Serous cat Says:

    I r seruos cat, dis is serious comment.

    trying 2 hard, are you.

  8. Ganaesh D. Says:

    After reading your analysis, it’s quite surprising (in a good way, I assure you) to realize how similar my thoughts are regarding this episode. Perhaps not so eloquently put as your post here, but the similarities are there. The loneliness and isolation that Ami is going through is presented so beautifully, without resorting to tried-and-true cliches. The writers did an amazing job with the dialogue, and I respect them for having the guts to go the extra mile with the script, even though it’s an adaptation of a novel series.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have 2008’s Honey and Clover right here. And no worries, it’s as coherent as can be.

    Man, I love this show.

  9. Parmesan Says:

    Great post, I think the same.
    This episode was simply good… Needs more Taiga though.

  10. sneezl Says:

    If it comes down to which girl NEEDS Ryuuji the most, it’s Taiga. Clearly, her life’s a mess without Ryuuji.

    If it comes down to which girl WANTS Ryuuji the most, it’s Ami. She’s not expressing it directly, but it’s becoming pretty obvious that she has strong feelings for him.

    If it comes down to which girl RYUUJI wants the most, it’s Minori. Though she may not be as genki as she seems, I don’t think there’s any possible revelations about her character that would cause Ryuuji to like her any less.

  11. Ryan A Says:

    What a beautiful series. I’ve already watched the episode four times.

    Aha~ ^__^ awesome stuff, it was like a sweet sun-dropped narration. This series is strong strong strong, I think we can all agree how much different it is from what many thought was just another Yuji-Shana mixer.

  12. robbieb Says:

    love it. give us more hope for the unlikely ami x ryuuji. hopefully this will be one of those series which is based on friendships, and that taiga doesnt hold him back. great insight though, thank you

  13. Relm Says:

    Headache or not, that was pretty intensive and a great read.

    It’s great seeing so many people sharing such serious thoughts about a character that isn’t a lead in a TV series. When the supporting cast is tugging at our hearts in such a way, we’ve certainly got a hell of a show in our hands.

  14. ilifin Says:

    Her isolation is both something she imposes herself and yet wants to destroy.

    You now see I wasn’t kidding when I told you she’d stay an outsider?

  15. Shiro Says:

    Fate has it that even if Ami cuts her playful-like advances towards Ryuuji and be more direct, thus going after him seriously like how Satsuki Kitaouji (Ichigo 100%) did, she’ll fail anyway like how Satsuki failed. So probably Ami is saving herself from the same kind of fail described (else that’ll really put a great impact on her which we won’t want to see from Ami, but a part of me is cruelly wishing for that to happen. But nah I don’t wish for any School Days honestly).

    *cough*rejoicefortoradoraisgoingtohavepspvisualnovel*cough*

  16. As the End Nears: The Surprising Quality of Toradora | Anime Diet Says:

    […] the fully orbed, three dimensional portrayal of inner life on the scale of Honey and Clover–sorry, Mike of anime|otaku. Rather, it’s two-dimensions, but in the context of anime romance, this is quite huge. It […]

  17. tarsus Says:

    hi mike! take care and do well on your exams and stuff. check out my story when you can.
    I.C.B.I.C.

    random: anybody here likes gears of war? i think that for a third-person shooter that game has a very good emotional story between marcus and dominic. also secretly they have dom’s wife and anya. it’s like they’re always trying to tell each other something important but they don’t have the time.

  18. ani-tations - Kannagi 10 Says:

    […] I laughed a lot when Tsugumi scooched her butt over to let Jin sit beside her, then the conniving akuma onna uses a similar “too many hard Nippon words” tactic to annoy Tsugumi to no end and try and get Jin…maybe she could get some lessons from Ami? […]

  19. Theowne Says:

    I don’t know anything about ToraDora, but your opening sentence compared it to Honey and Clover. I have not liked any anime as much as I did Honey and Clover, and I hope you realize that you have set my expectations and anticipation, very very high. Downloading the first episode now.

  20. Z Says:

    I used to give you headache. Haha.

  21. Z Says:

    *s

  22. digitalboy Says:

    glad to see someone else is looking deep into this show… and getting a lot more comments >_<

    if your interested in another look at this ep…. http://21stcenturydigitalboy.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/toradora-10-thorough-fanboying-a-collaboration/

  23. roy Says:

    loved the show, pity it had end, really like the toradora gals esp dressed in Christmas costumes
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/christmas-anime-celebrations/

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