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.

And the ball falls.

And the ball drops.

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).

I have to admit that I like Taiga more and more.

I have to admit that I like Taiga more and more.

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.

And so it begins.

And so it begins.

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 EDThis reminded me of Honey and Clover's OP. Seriously.[/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. 🙂

Tags: , , , ,

24 Responses to “Toradora – 17: When Mercury retrogrades”

  1. Waven Says:

    Nice review, i like the idea of the retrograde-theory since it suits the whole episode in most cases very well. I’d usually refrain from drawing reference to real life as you did near the end but again it’s working out pretty fine and i can defenitely connect to it.

    Waven

  2. Ryan A Says:

    That’s a nice astrological explanation relevant to the episode! I still wonder if Minori’s case will be explained, and Ami’s as well… the ordeal may not end this season, because I really don’t see much between Taiga and Ryuuji, other than their friendship and chemistry; they get along very well. If either of them get involved with someone else, these things would likely change, and I don’t think they would leave the other out in the cold… so they may just remain friends… but I don’t know. It’s troublesome because the have an odd level of “intimacy” that would be rather difficult to achieve/replace with Kitamura or Minori, and it would be hard for these other parties to compete.

    STANDOFF ARRIVING

  3. Bocom Says:

    Good episode review as always. I always go to your site to check out your review of an episode after I have watched it. (I have it as a link on my blog for easy access ;))

    INB4 You’re trying too hard etc.

  4. Precious Roy Says:

    Man, for some reason I feel like I’ve been put through an emotional ringer with that episode. I feel really bad for Minorin, it’s obvious that she’s never had to deal with this level of emotional conflict before, or if she has, she never got the hang of it. Taiga saying that she didn’t know how to care for her in this state was a little heartwrenching too. AND I seriously wonder what Yuusaku is doing, now that he’s well known for being rejected, as he seemed to be playing along with Taiga’s infatuation with him.

    Is he prepared to accept a relationship with her, and wouldn’t it just be an obvious substitution? Would Taiga be happy with it even if she could come to accept that he doesn’t feel the same way about her as he does (did?) Sumire? Minorin thrives on being weird and unpredictable, does she fear a romantic relationship because some of that weirdness would be lost? AND WHAT ABOUT AMI???

    So many questions. I can’t remember the last time I was this interested in the lives of fictional characters – another thing that makes this series great.

  5. Rankao Says:

    I love your literature style of analysis. I believe you on the right spot. When all know there are 8 episodes left but you really can’t help but feel that the climax is building up. The characters are already having very unpleasant and conflicting emotions. Its definitely going to be very interesting here on out.

  6. Proud Says:

    This is one of the most well-written blog posts I’ve read in a while. Your analysis is thorough and interesting, and makes perfect sense in relation to the whole story.

  7. woahlzxh Says:

    a definitive episode. i revel in toradora’s play on subtlety, so 17 was thoroughly enjoyable.

    an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable review this is, and not just due to the explanation of the title alone. (: excellent, well written stuff.

    my own two cents on this.

    for taiga; an extraordinary response to her emotional outburst/fight in 16. i suspect she does not realise fully the after-effects to the turn of events in 16 despite her two-week long reflection. her cheerfulness & willingness to be good for christmas seem almost like a facade. that, or i got her completely wrong ^^

    for mirorin; complete agreement with the review. she’s in denial, & she knows shes in denial, which just further confuses and scares her.

    for ami; despite a lesser than expected showtime, contributes nicely in all her perceptive mischievousness- she is the embodiment of this show’s play on indirect subtlety ^^

    for ryuuji; a big mess indeed. awareness that taiga may actually be more than what she representsto him, confusion at mirorin’s avoidance, confounded at the words of kihara.

    for kitamura; on the rebound, but perhaps not the taiga rebound, though attentions from someone who likes you-who you once had feelings for- can be deceptively pleasant enough. i actually hope to see more interactions with him & ryuuji they being the best friends that they are. a showcase of thoughts from the boys would i think, add in another interesting dimension.

  8. Keio Says:

    “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.”

    I think the best proof of this was when Ryuuji didn’t even deny Kihara’s statement that he liked Taiga, and only managed to answer back with a question about her feelings for Kitamura.

    Regarding Taiga’s “improving” conversations with Kitamura, it seems like a sign that she has matured and she is now past the “I’m going to faint if I get close to him” stage of infatuation. I believe Taiga will soon realize all the things Ryuuji has done for her compared to Kitamura’s, and outgrow her crush on glasses boy.

    These are all speculations, since I’m reading B-T’s translations of the novel and they haven’t reached this point yet.

  9. Michael Says:

    @Waven

    Thank you.

    @Ryan A

    A standoff is impending, yes. I also agree that Taiga and Ryuuji’s relationship won’t be easily fulfilled by either Kitamura or Minori. However, they have to see this for themselves, and this is what we are all waiting for.

    @Bocom

    I can’t remember the last time I was this interested in the lives of fictional characters – another thing that makes this series great.

    I can, but that was three years ago, with Honey and Clover. 😀

    I doubt Kitamura is playing along with Taiga. His affections for her would never reach the level of his affection for Sumire, but he is trying to be nicer to her since what she did was entirely for his sake. Situated in real life, I’m quite sure most people would be nicer to Taiga, too, if she did what he did for him.

    What about Ami? Well, we simply have to accept that her share of character development has been fulfilled. This can be assumed by her gradually decreasing role in the latter episodes of Toradora (yet these appearances still pack a wonderful punch!).

    @Rankao

    Thank you for the compliment.

    Exactly. It’s going to be very interesting; I haven’t followed a series as intensely as this for quite some time: I’m also on the edge of my seat because the air is just so rife with possibilities.

    @Proud

    I appreciate it! Thank you.

    @woahlxzh

    I appreciate the compliment.

    I think you’ve got it right with your two cents. Taiga’s kindness because of the season, I assume, is merely a facade: two weeks is a significant span of time to reflect on the past, and I think she did it. Minori’s just totally confused, being both in denial AND confusion.

    I doubt Kitamura is using Taiga for a rebound, though. He’s just trying to be a lot nicer to her, because she put him even above her feelings of love, and that act was simply heroic.

    @Keio

    It will come. She’s become more comfortable around Kitamura, and while she still blushes the admiration has become more human and more friendly. I’m certain that Ryuuji has feelings for Taiga, because he has been with her for quite some time. However, he still pines for Minori and if currently given a chance, he will try to get her. Ryuuji isn’t the one in need: it’s Taiga.

    All of this will be cleared up later on. I can’t wait for next Friday.

  10. Keio Says:

    It’s nice to see a fellow Filipino blogging anime, do you happen to know other Pinoys who do? I’d like to read theirs as well. 🙂

    One week can be a very long time when you’re really into a series. 😛 Guess I’ll have to pass the time with Maria Holic and Fallout 3.

  11. Michael Says:

    Keio:

    Well, among the more popular Filipino blogs are scrumptious anime blog and bluemist anime blog. 🙂

  12. Bocom Says:

    Oh hey, not a single “you’re trying too hard” comment so far! Good job! 😀

    I agree with you mostly, but I would like Ami more if she would “loosen up” and allow more of her “real” side to be present.

    Which she has, so that’s good, but just a liiiiiiiiittle bit more wouldn’t hurt, right? 😉

  13. Epi Says:

    Nice explanation of the retrograde thing, I never even thought of that. Actually I rarely ever read anime episode titles because they don’t usually mean much.

    I’m not sure if Taiga was really separated from Ryuji much though, I bet she still came over for dinner every day.

  14. Rankao Says:

    Yeah Ami is already developed. She in a way has grown up. She is comfortable with her true self now (which has actually grown and changed by itself. ) She truly cares about her tight group of friends. However, I feel that her friends don’t really realize what she is doing for them. I forsee that bringing problems in the future.

    What i find great about this show is it feels very organic.

  15. anime|otaku » Blog Archive » Toradora 18: from retrogression to forward action Says:

    […] « Toradora – 17: When Mercury retrogrades […]

  16. Yildizname Says:

    Thanks you very much

  17. Medyum Says:

    Thanks you very mach.

  18. medyum Says:

    thanks for all,this is very nice blog

  19. Büyü Çeşitleri Says:

    Thanks you very mach.

  20. ankara hali yikama Says:

    Very nice sharing. Thank you…

  21. ankara nakliye Says:

    thanks for all,this is very nice blog :))

  22. halı yıkama ankara Says:

    Nice explanation of the retrograde thing, I never even thought of that. Actually I rarely ever read anime episode titles because they don’t usually mean much.

  23. kosze upominkowe Says:

    Thx for this article. Very good.

  24. eryaman halı yıkama Says:

    Very nice sharing. Thank you…

Leave a Reply