Toradora 16: Transcendent friendship

I’m getting nearer and nearer to conclusively (and without hesitation) placing ToraDora as one of the best series of 2009. As much as I love rooting for Ami, episode 16 was a reminder that as a story and as a character study ToraDora is both moving and pathos-invoking. Many revelations abounded the episode, both implicit and explicit. Taiga discovered that Kitamura loved Sumire; Sumire realized her love for Kitamura, with Taiga’s violent help; Minori is subtly exposed by Ami as having feelings beyond friendship for Ryuuji; Ami was also hurt, and the reason why is still a mystery for me.

Are your feelings of guilt gone?

Are your feelings of guilt gone?

ToraDora, as much as I’d want to think otherwise, is a tale of true friendship. Of course it deals with the infantile romances of adolescents, but it is more of a transcendent story of camaraderie. This current episode cleared that up, if anything.

No one wants to be declared a villain. But Taiga and Ryuuji did it to themselves in this episode simply to coerce Kitamura back to the position which he deserves and is a perfect fit to. Using her infamy as a violent, ill-tempered and irate beauty, Taiga scared the students that the only solution for them is to look towards Kitamura as their savior, and Ryuuji was always there with her.

Taiga, upon realizing that she was never the object of Kitamura’s affections, gave him up and even helped the girl which he liked (albeit in violent fisticuffs) confess that she also liked him. In usual serial dramas rivalry between loves ends up in bloodshed, murder, or vengeful deceit. While it also ends up violent in this instance, Taiga had an altruistic aim: her engagement with Sumire was not because she hated her; it was because she wanted Sumire to be true to her feelings and tell the truth at least before she went abroad. In romance, limbo is worse off than being outright rejected as one doesn’t know what to expect and is only left hanging (I don’t speak from experience, though). Her actions, however, were undeniably an act of true self-sacrifice, ones found in classical Victorian novels: because she loved him, she wanted him to be happy.

Ryuuji tried to protect both Taiga and Kitamura from self-destruction. Despite his mean countenance, his keen perception on his friends’ emotions were also transparent throughout the episode.

Minori was suggested to have bridled her feelings for Ryuuji simply because Taiga is her best friend. This isn’t all that evident; it’s overly implicit, but there was significant progression between Ryuuji and Minori for quite some time in the past few episodes. There was a picture below Taiga’s picture with Kitamura.

Ami continues to grow as a friend, and as a person. This isn’t quite obvious as well, but Ami found something in the picture below Kitamura and Taiga’s. It could be assumed to be a picture of Ryuuji and Taiga, because before Ryuuji’s classmates looked at the picture Ami took it and promised to return it to Taiga with a cryptic quip towards Minori that she herself fully understood. As she walks, however, she has this grimace of sadness and pain when no one was looking anymore.

Why?

Why?

I haven’t read the novels, and I didn’t know what that meant. Overall, however, originary or not, ToraDora is a great anime series.

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14 Responses to “Toradora 16: Transcendent friendship”

  1. Ryan A Says:

    This isn’t all that evident; it’s overly implicit

    Good point, it’s there, but we’ve yet to really here her out.

    Also, I think Ami knows the competition is getting stiff!

  2. Precious Roy Says:

    Is it too obvious for the source of Ami’s bitterness to be the realization that if Minorin reciprocates Ryuuji’s feelings, she’s basically got no chance left herself?

    Ami continues to impress me, but I just don’t feel like we’ve really seen an honest confession of feelings from her, if Ryuuji is her true love interest. Taiga’s spilled the beans (adorably), and if Minorin follows suit it looks very much like we’ll end up with the traditional Triangle, rather than a Quadrangle that would involve Ami. As far along as she’s come, it seems that the show is setting it up for her to choose to let go of her feelings, rather than compete with the two girls who have come to be – along with Ryuuji and Kitamura – her true friends.

    Also, Taiga demonstrates the Law of Extradimensional Capacitance?

  3. jooozek Says:

    on the contrary – shit sucks

  4. Michael Says:

    Ryan:

    Yes, she does. It’s going to become a battle among three instead of between two people, so she’s quite wary.

    Precious Roy:

    I didn’t think so. At least, despite after two viewings I still didn’t really get it, but that’s a point well made. The show is basically raising the death flag of her ever having a chance with Ryuuji, so I can see that the series is setting us up for that release.

    I appreciated what Taiga showed in this current episode. She was tolerant, and really tried to help Kitamura in the only way she knew how: it was through violence. If by capacitance you mean an exemplary activity to contain one’s emotions, then yes, she has shown this quite well in this episode.

    jooozek:

    Anything else you’d like to add? :)

  5. Zing Freelancer Says:

    Well, after completely ruining previous episode (The legend of Palmtop Tiger of Happiness), 16th episode did very well. I am very curious as of how things will develop from now on.

    I could have spoiled you on what I heard from people who read 9th novel… But I rather not :P

  6. vaberella Says:

    I will post this on your site.

    I don’t know what you mean by transcendent friendship. How do you define a transcendent friendship in order to class it as such? I don’t have a set of parameters so the usage seems a bit contrived to say the least. Unfortunately it’s aiming for the poetic without meaning.

    I’ll target a few limiting aspects as well to your post. You say, [i]Sumire realized her love for Kitamura, with Taiga’s violent help;[/i]

    I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think that Sumire realized her feelings for Kitamura. She always had said feelings and everything she did, as she admitted was to protect him (Kitamura) from her feelings and the decisions he would make in regards to her decision. She felt that his devotion and love for her is so strong he would deny himself. As though he would lose himself in her and unfortunately, on some level she was right. It was when she made a marked and movement of separation by not declaring her feelings but letting him know that she would be leaving the country that we saw a violent reaction on his part. Imagine what could have happened if she accepted his feelings and then she told him. Everything she feared would most likely would have happened. So it’s not realization. It’s forced public admission which Taiga did. This was why Taiga, Ryuuji, and Kitamura was so moved by her statement and what she did to herself. Kitamura also realized that…she denied even her own needs, her self and her love and sacrificed all that to protect him. I just think the usage of realization is limiting her character and the miniscule peek into the depth of her character.

    Then comes this: [i]it is more of a transcendent story of camaraderie[/i]

    I don’t know if I’d claim it’s a transcendent story of camaraderie. The entire show from the first episode was one of camaraderie. A poster on another forum I’m on said there has been nothing “done” in regards to romance. And s/he’s right. The focus has been on relationship building if nothing else and the slight romantic quandaries that arise from close relationships and neglected people. If you mean by transcendent that the story’s primary focus is on friendship…then I would say yes but this is not something blind or currently happening. It’s always been the focus. If you’re meaning it as an exceptional story that surpasses other stories of friendship —- I’d have to say, as I’ve not seen much but I think you might be right. It’s strength is in it’s storytelling and relationship building. It has created a strong friendship base if nothing else. So I guess my main fix is the usage of transcendent.

    Question, is your usage of bold terms to signify all the elements of this “transcendent” friendship?

    In other words…The relationship transcends the normal bounds of friendship and closer resembles blank….You’re not defining what type of friendship that their relationships is transcending to. What parameters does it meet if not friendship or what aspect of friendship if it does….I think in order for me to give you a proper analysis I need a tighter definition, although I tried my best above.

    As for a wild theory I can’t say. I figured the aspect of friendship was fundamental in the entire show.

    Let’s look at this through characters.

    1. Ryuuji: A guy with a limited number of friends because people made prejudgements about his face so they never bothered to get to know him. He had no friends except for Kitamura

    2. Taiga: A girl made out to have a severe Napoleonic syndrome and had to force herself to appear stronger and tougher than most because people didn’t understand her and probably would see her as weak. She keeps up a front, ie Tsundere character, when in reality she’s a softy who is loyal to her friends and is sensitive to people with a neglectful family. She also had no friends except Minorin.

    3. Ami: Another character judged solely on her appearance like the first two and also who unfortunately has to put up a two-faced role in order to match what people want of her when she’s nothing like that. She had no friends but Kitamura.

    4. Kitamura: A guy who devoted his life to the school council or school activities in order to heal a broken heart. He had no real friends besides Ryuuji and maybe Ami and the President who was older than him. So for most of his life his close friend was really Ryuuji. Remember Ami had moved away.

    5. Minorin who seems to have good relationships but only a real friendship with one person, Taiga.

    Basically they bonded it seemed because there were binding ties and they were seeking something from everyone else. Ami was introduced through Kitamura and was using him to escape her world. Added to that Ryuuji gave her the reasons to say, inadvertently. Taiga found someone she was close with and provided that close and UNDERSTANDING family and friendship unit she was lacking. This was the same for Ryuuji. Between all of them it is Ryuuji who understands Taiga the best and vice versa. Kitamura joined in because it was his friends that lessened his own burdens in life or his need to refocus his energies—because they were his outlet. This was seen at the beach house episode when Ami specifically asked him why he dumped his school activities to go with them. Minorin<—unfortunately is the least developed character for me to really see why she needs them. I know from episode 4 (the ep where she and Ryuuji were stuck in the shed) or so she does hide herself behind a mask in order to protect herself. Maybe it’s through them she can put the mask away and Ami has the same response as well.

    So is their bonding fundamental and goes beyond the normal frame of friendship? Define for me the normal framework of a strong friendship and maybe I’ll be sure. :p

  7. Michael Says:

    vaberella:

    Someone finally, finally took me on. Thank you.

    I was pertaining to their friendship being transcendent because it’s something that even goes beyond love for people I believe they have feelings for. I wasn’t aiming for the poetic, but I did think that most actions in this episode were self-sacrificial. Normally, friendships don’t go or don’t surpass love towards a person one believes is a significant other, and yet we see that in spades for this episode, whether explicit or otherwise. I don’t think the use of the word is out of place.

    I was pertaining to the word realization as a viewer. As a viewer, all I’ve ever had was a confirmation that Kitamura liked Sumire. It was, truly, a forced admission, but it realized her feelings: through her words, it confirmed and established that she had feelings towards Kitamura, and that it wasn’t only a one-way street. She had those feelings all along, true – but without confirmation, her feelings would never have been made concrete. I could have added a parenthetical ‘to us’ after that, but I thought people would understand me anyway.

    As for the third point, yes, I quite believe that Toradora is a great show with a great story. While camaraderie has been present for quite some time in the show, however, it is only in this episode at which point we could see that friendship is placed above love. Taiga is a conceited person, and this was established, but she is also quite a selfless one: for what its worth, I doubt many people could do what she did for Kitamura as no one could go beyond their selfishness to do what she did for him. What she did for him was transcendent: it was beyond the ordinary, beyond normal, and quite a superior act of friendship, whether in anime or other media.

    I was using transcendent because I compared their friendship in the anime to friendship among people in real life. The primary difference is that people in Toradora are self-sacrificing and truly altruistic, something found only among a few friends and only among a few people.

    And yes, you got it right. It is quite beyond the normal boundaries of friendship. True, there is at times physical suffering and whatnot, but one will be lucky if one has friends like those. I only have one at the most.

    Zing Freelancer:

    I’m very curious, too. I hope they don’t end this series badly.

  8. vaberella Says:

    I now understand your point and agree. The problem I was having was that your initial post did not define your terminology properly so I was having problems in organizing my head around your meaning. I like things a bit straight forward and when I read transcendent friendship…I’m like to where. It’s now you’ve just defined it clearly as beyond love. That I can understand since I also agree to an extent that most friendships are not self-sacrificial. It’s actually very rare, but it has also been known to happen as you mentioned. I hope however you know it’s not an original concept to this story. Several others, just random posters have said the same early on in the series. I think this concept is what the original writers wanted to push across hence the reason romance never overshadows the characters. It’s hinted at heavily but their mundane life, and hence the slice of life factor, is enriched by their social environment.

    However, one thing I wanted to point out as an aside is if this is more a cultural reflection. From what I know of Asian schooling which is vastly different from American schooling, my upbringing, is the social bonds that are made are far stronger. Most of these kids live day in and day out together. We’re looking at the education system which pushes not only long hours in a day but also many days in a week 6 (if I’m correct). So their school is their second family. This is why the senpai is almost like an older brother/sister in many respects.

    And if we’re looking at these characters who most of which seem to be single family households the friendship ends up as more of a familial bonding. I think this was amplified in the last two or three episodes. Where Taiga is now officially part of the Takasu family and Kitamura runs away and spends the weekend at Kitamura’s family where even Kitamura’s dad has Ya-chan joining forces in order to get Kitamura back on track. There’s a deep push for familial responsibility and bonding which definitely surpasses the friendship bonds.

    But I think this is friendship as we know it in Western culture versus their culture. I think this does entail a bit more study and discussion though.

    By the way I want to say you have a great site and nice incite.

  9. iniksbane Says:

    Hrm… I have to admit I’m really enjoying Toradora, but that said, I’m not entirely convinced this is a show really about friendship entirely. A large part of the show has to deal with Taiga trying to get together with Kitamura and Ryuugi trying to get together with Minori. Now, you could argue it serves as a push to the story, but I don’t think you’d have a story otherwise.

    Now, I do think the friendship side of things does play a strong role, but it seems to me it’s just there as an undercurrent for more romantic feelings. Unless I’m totally off the boat here (which judging by the other responses I am.)

  10. Michael Says:

    vaberella:

    It’s not an original concept, but compared to most series within this genre, it’s quite novel. I was never familiar with the Japanese mode of education: from where I live, our treatment of education is reverential, but not something that should encompass our children’s lives. I, for one, went to school for only five days a week, and we always have programs that encompass a half-day every week to address issues beyond the classroom. So I could say my academic life, while still Asian, wasn’t as hectic as the Japanese.

    >There’s a deep push for familial responsibility and bonding which definitely surpasses the friendship bonds.

    I agree with this, though. I think this is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture; however, as I’m not Japanese, I’m not really sure.

    Thank you for the compliment.

    iniksbane:

    I see your point. I pertained to the transcendent friendship only in this episode, because it’s very evident. Of course, looking at Toradora as a totality, it’s a romantic series. :)

  11. vaberella Says:

    To iniksbane:

    I also see where you’re coming from but the vehicle of the romance is what is creating the friendship. If you notice the romance or the romantic movements are turning more into friendship. Taiga is trying to hook up with Kitamura that’s true, but there was no way she was going on win him and I think she knew this. He declared his stance perfectly in episode 2 and I think Taiga was using her need to like Kitamura for one fundamental reason.

    To keep Ryuuji by her side. If we backpedal to episode 2 what we’ll see in Taiga’s declaration and what Kitamura saw was that everything Taiga could want in a person or an individual she seemed to have found in Ryuuji. She probably didn’t even see it because she was like..”my face” what about her face. When Ryuuji was near her she became less the tyrant because she knew she always had the support of Ryuuji by her side. To her she sees it as friendship or it could be said as the beginning of the transcendent friendship mentioned by Michael.

    The friendship she saw as close and bounding with Minorin is actually nothing in comparison to what she has with Ryuuji. This goes to episode 3 or 4 where they’re kicking the pole. Taiga declares loudly that Minorin nor Kitamura understand her. This is similar to Ryuuji’s situation. Ryuuji had NO one who understood him. Kitamura passed no judgement, but he couldn’t understand what it was like to be misunderstood regularly. This is mentioned in the light novel more clearly [hopefully not a spoiler]. But to him Kitamura has it good and that could be his own misunderstanding. But on a deeper level only she could really grasp the feeling of looking one way but having a personality that is misjudged when it’s attached to a face/body as theirs.

    Then you have this interaction building with others. How they learn about themselves through others or really learn about the struggle of others. I think the “liking” is misguided on their parts. If you notice with Ami, she’s a perfect example of this and on some levels all the characters. But I’ll start with Ami.

    Ami started liking Ryuuji for one reason. To torment Taiga and nothing more. He was her way of sticking it to Taiga or so she thought. When she started to get to know Ryuuji as a person and the support he gave to her from the stalker moment to the meat thing, she then saw more in Ryuuji than she was initially seeking. She saw a loving, caring person and she would like to horde that to herself as Taiga has been doing and Minorin has rejected although been offered. The question then becomes is her liking him genuine. Romantically I would say no. However, friendship wise I would say yes. I think the show can’t define the level of liking and really make clear the need of close friendship versus romantic interest and as such viewers get confused by it. Or that’s what I’m seeing. I think though the actions and words of the characters try to do that. Ami has always had a sort of odd ball personality and due to her lack of relationships in the past she’s probably unsure of what her feelings are and reading them as something romantic. Even though she has the best understanding on many of the characters.

    But we see this with Ryuuji…Ryuuji is in love with a fantasy. If we go back to the first episode and look at even the first pages of the novel or manga we know what Ryuuji’s feelings are for Minorin. He barely knew the girl. He knew her image, the juxtaposition to himself—-someone who’s misunderstood but well liked and lively. She’s the sunshine to his forced darkness, so to speak. However he is a stranger to Minorin and she too him. If he had cared so much for her when she went crazy on him about Taiga’s dad his reaction probably would not be the same way…neither would hers to him. Remember his response to Taiga and hers to him? He was angry for various reasons but it she said to him clearly that she wouldn’t want to see that expression on his face again so she’ll pretend. The dynamic is very different.

    Then you have a moment of Kitamura to Sumire and how she gave him “meaning” after his rejection from Taiga and he ended up developing romantic feelings through gratitude. You have Taiga trying to return Kitamura’s feelings for probably the same reason since it was never clearly defined. The show doesn’t describe how many declarations she’d experienced, so we’ll go with Kitamura only. That being said, there’s this level of gratitude there as well and not really deep affection.

    All in all a lot of the relationships excluding right now Ryuuji and Taiga’s relationship are built on these other feelings of gratitude rather than anything else. Even if Taiga or Ryuuji had that element early on it has been dispel by other things because it’s not one sided like many of the others…it’s a feeding off of each other’s support.

    I think it’s those other feelings that are confused as more than just friendship and seen as romance by the characters and some of the viewers. So when there’s all this likeness I just saw Kitamura and Sumire. I see Ami liking based on her past interaction with Ryuuji. I see Minorin rejecting Ryuuji for several reasons but I don’t think she actually likes Ryuuji at all. I also see Taiga and Ryuuji as really the sole couple from the get go—they’re almost like a married couple. So all these possible pairings seem impossible…so the idea of romance dominating doesn’t seem the case because i find this larger pervasive comaraderie element as the forefront with romance peppered around it.

  12. Epi Says:

    I’m not quite sure if the friendships have reached the level of transcendence quite yet. Although all the characters are quite close, they can very easily unravel once high school ends or even once the school term ends. With Kitamura now as president, he can easily drift off in his own world. Meanwhile Minorin will probably remain distant forever once the relationship between her and Ryuji is deemed impossible. As for Ami, while these are her friends for now, she is the type to easily move on. Yes these are special people she might always keep in her heart, but that’s where they will stay and they won’t follow her as she moves on to greater things.

    The only relationship which has staying power is of course Taiga and Ryuji, as that’s the seeming point of the story.

  13. Precious Roy Says:

    Holy wall of text comments o_O

    No, the Law of Extradimensional Capacitance is related to her pulling that daito out the back of her dress, however, I agree that Taiga is also maturing impressively. I doubt the Palmtop Tiger from episode 1 would have been so selfless.

    Also, I would say from experience that a transcendent friendship is not contingent on proximity or frequency of visits. I have friends from high school that I only see once a year at most, but we still laugh and carry on as though no time had passed at all. For ToraDora I think that would qualify as a “good ending,” and I expect them to get us there honestly.

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