Toradora – 17: When Mercury retrogrades
The key to understanding this episode is through its title. At first it may initially seem nonsensical, but Mercury retrograding is very relevant, especially in astrology. It is true that astrology is not a science; however, it is also true that astrology was utilized for thousands of years to explain human behavior and natural occurrences.
In astrology, when Mercury retrogrades, the planet Mercury slows down until it appears to stop, and then moves backward. The shadow period, or the period where Mercury seems to retrograde started during December 26, 2008 and will end on February 21 this year. When Mercury retrogrades in Christmas, it retrogrades in Capricorn, which is the zodiac sign during that time. During this time, communication is severely affected: the retrograde dictates people to be reflective and self-analytical. Ryuuji was reflective this episode, and it can be assumed that the severe change in Minori and Taiga’s actuations that they have been, too.
In addition to that, however, in this episode, the characters of Toradora have become quite retrograde and by this I mean retrograde in the sense that they acted as if they were inverse of themselves.
The most obvious case is Taiga, who, for fear of not being given good presents by Santa, was genuinely kind and nice this episode. She never beat people up, and she sincerely tried to help Ryuuji on his quest for Minori. She was also amiable to most people and wasn’t the curmudgeon she usually was. She tried to alter her image from a demon to an angel, and did so to a successful degree; she was also kind to her newly-established admirers. One can perhaps say that two weeks have changed her outlook or perspective; more simply, however, her two weeks apart from Ryuuji has made her realize some things (which may be the reason why she is also kind to him this episode).
Next, there was Kihara. While there were quite obvious hints of her liking Kitamura, her more-or-less demure demeanor had changed into one that was more intentional. She became more direct, and this was most evident when she cheered Ryuuji on in his supposed pursuit of Taiga: she truly liked Kitamura despite Sumire and despite Taiga. She even wanted to sit with Kitamura but the others prevented her.
Kitamura was also transformed from the upright and intelligent student to the tragic hero and President of the Student Council. Instead of being revered with his actions and deeds, he was being revered for his ability to empathize with the difficulties in love of other people. He was no longer viewed as the distant and responsible robot; he was now a problematic human, just like the rest of them.
Ryuuji also had second thoughts about his relationship with Taiga. This was most evident when he couldn’t properly answer Kihara’s questions; he even pondered what their relationship truly meant. Another dimension, aside from his friendliness to everyone, was revealed to us viewers, and it is quite different from the merely benevolent Ryuuji. He realized that there was something beyond his friendship to her.
Finally, there was also Minori who wasn’t her usual upbeat self. She was the primary cause of their loss in softball; instead of being all smiles and laughs, she was genuinely being troubled by something. She avoided being with Ryuuji and Taiga, even when Taiga’s suspension was already lifted. Ami’s little quip the previous episode had gotten to her: aside from the botched softball game, there was a suggestion of her sleeping later than usual, as she overslept and had to rush to school to avoid being late. In addition to this, she was consistently distraught whenever Ryuuji even tried to talk to her casually, as was evident in the 06:34 mark. She shouted at Ryuuji to shut up with a very disrespectful tone, and she didn’t know why she did it, yet she regretted it immediately. While the regrets may have been a joke, I doubt that the tears were. I believe that she has become more and more sensitive to Ryuuji’s presence, and has started to like Ryuuji. Through the episodes Ryuuji and Minori have become progressively closer: it arrived at the point where Ryuuji knew more about Minori than even Taiga did. Her being unfamiliar with love had made her avoidant, and Ami’s statement had only made her more conflicted, because it suggested to her that Ryuuji only liked her and not Taiga.
Some people comfort themselves by telling themselves that the people they like are fond of other people that aren’t them. In this manner they don’t end up sad (because they have already prepared and accepted it), but are still able to maintain a normal friendship with the people that they do like. Once, however, this ruse is rectified, or the truth is revealed, these people are thrown in dire straits because they no longer know what to do: when one recognizes that the other is also interested, one is often unprepared at accepting this said truth. There is often projection and denial, but the road to acceptance takes time. This is what is happening to Minori right now: being one who never saw the face of love and only thought about it tangentially, she is afraid of its face when she is placed in front of its possibility vis-a-vis. She could no longer say ‘I shouldn’t pursue Takasu-kun because he likes Taiga,’ because Ami implied that Taiga was interested only in Kitamura, and this troubles her. Quoting Rudolf Otto, the possibility of love is to her a mysterium tremendum et fascinans: it is akin to the experience of being in the presence of the truly holy: it is both fascinating, mysterious, and yet scary. It is the reason that she avoids Ryuuji.
There may have been nothing heartrending or evocative this episode, especially if compared to the previous one, but it nevertheless amazed me. There is a subtle change among themselves: the gears have started to turn. Perhaps Mercury retrogrades on Christmas, but it is not merely astrological: in their interactions, they have affected themselves. In reality, Mercury doesn’t turn retrograde, but life does move forward. For our beloved group, it just speeded up.
On the new OP and ED[/caption]
I loved them both, but I absolutely adore Orange. While it’s not better than Vanilla Salt, it’s a very wonderful and catchy song nevertheless. Also, while Pre-Parade was a lot better than Silky Heart, Silky Heart isn’t bad. 🙂