Toradora 18: from retrogression to forward action

There is absolutely nothing that is difficult to understand in this episode. What happened could not be attributed to any astrological occurrence; neither could it be attributed to simple coincidence. There were a few happenstances, but the episode was purely one of deliberate action. I pertain to action not with the general connotation of violence; I pertain to action with the property of intention.

She doesn't blush.

She doesn't blush.

As usual with this arc, Minori was still a bag of nerves. She remained neurotic and obviously tried to avoid Ryuuji. She used her softball practices as excuse not to be with Taiga and Ryuuji. It’s quite obvious that she realized Ryuuji’s feelings for her, and with Ami’s statement she no longer has reason to dawdle and dally around: this made her more quixotic than usual.

Speaking of Ami, she finally showed herself and finally had more than a few lines. But before she and Ryuuji were left alone in the storage room, Noto once more tried to set Kitamura and Taiga up and Nanako urged Kihara to follow them. During these moments it is quite obvious that Taiga no longer blushes even when Kitamura talks to her directly and even teaches her how to hold scissors. J.C. Staff in this series has been notable for putting meaning into even simple expressions: I can only assume that Taiga has gone beyond that stage of nervous infatuation for Kitamura, especially after her discovery that he likes someone else.

After they all went out of the room, Ami engaged Ryuuji in a pointed conversation. Ami, sharp and witty as always, picks Ryuuji’s vibes of discomfort. He flatly denied his jealousy, and likened it more to an annoyance with people who want to participate in someone else’s love life by being rumormongers. Ami accurately likened this discomfort to a father losing his daughter to a marriage. She knew that Ryuuji liked Minori and she also knew that Ryuuji was determined not to lay his hands on Taiga, and compares this situation to an unforced game of house. In the end, she correctly intuited that it was mere pretension. Her suggestion was for him to drop the act and start over so that she could also have another chance.

I believe that was a confession. I don’t read the novels, but I doubt she would say that as a mere fabrication. Her nail-biting suggests that she was hesitant and to some degree, scared of what Ryuuji would say. Nail-biting is an involuntary tic that often comes out during fight-or-flight situations: these would be primarily situations of uncertainty, fear, and choice (often occurring simultaneously). Besides, Ryuuji couldn’t see this act (were it one) adding more doubt into the assumption of fabrication. As always, however, Ryuuji doesn’t hear her whispers.

I’m of the belief that Ami is a strong girl. Especially after Ryuuji empowered her, I believe it would be very difficult for anyone to break her down. Yet I can still feel the difficulty of living with knowledge that the guy (probably the only one) one has been attracted to has one as a third-wheel at the highest position despite one’s immense affluence, supreme beauty, and wonderful disposition. Her situation is only made more difficult by having two of her close friends in the top two positions. In the end she could only murmur to no avail . . .

Ami is biting her nail.

Ami is biting her nail.


Yet in this tragic situation for her she was able to lead Ryuuji to a choice, something which will be very evident later on the episode.

During lunch Kihara invited Ryuuji to eat with them: knowing Kihara, it was probably going to be about Kitamura and Taiga’s closeness. Ryuuji dodges this with the reason of accompanying Taiga to the post office despite her efforts. Her unwillingness to bring him was due to her preparing presents for her family. Despite being left in the dust and practically an intruder in her own home, she wants them (along with the orphans she took care of, Ryuuji, Yasuko, and probably Minori) to be happy. She has faith in Christmas because Santa appeared to her in a dream when she was a child and gave her a gift. The more profound basis of her belief in Santa Claus, however, was that she had faith that there was always someone looking out for everybody. To her it was Santa Claus. She wanted even the most destitute to have hope; indeed, beneath her incomprehensible, misunderstood and harsh exterior also lay a caring girl.

I believe Ryuuji had his epiphany during what happened after they returned to school: he recognized that aside from Kitamura, Taiga also has him and his family. He also believed that he would be successful to persuade Minori to come to the party. However, after they finally assembled the huge Christmas tree obtained by Ami, a softball broke through the window and toppled it over, with Taiga’s star being broken in the process. The criminal was Minori, and it was confirmed a little later that it was because of her having spaced out.

After the incident Minori shook with grief and regret. Despite this Taiga, ever-caring friend for both Ryuuji and Minori, left both of them together. Despite Minori’s disapprobation, he helped her anyway and actually was able to reconstruct the star to almost as before. Within a few lines, we also have proof of why Ryuuji would very possibly make most girls fall for him and of his choice being made:

Do what you should do. I’m not helping you, I’m just doing what I should do. It’s for my own sake.

I think anyone, even idiots, would understand that as a confession, especially in that situation. These lines illustrated Takasu’s ingenuousness, caring, and friendship. The broken star acted as his metaphorical reply to what happened between her and Ryuuji: it can be fixed; it will be fixed; I will make sure of it – and I will wait for you. I doubt the star shining perfectly atop the fixed Christmas tree was merely for decoration: this is one series that follows Chekhov’s rules well.

The star, after Ryuuji fixed it with Minori

The star, after Ryuuji fixed it with Minori

. . . and I wait for the next episode impatiently.

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15 Responses to “Toradora 18: from retrogression to forward action”

  1. Shiro Says:

    Heh. With the advent of the completion of Volume 7’s translations more interesting things are getting into light. And the anime doesn’t skip it too. Sweet.

    Ami does like Ryuuji in a way, as how I suspected from her first debut into Toradora!. That kind of ‘like’. My suspicions were not… uh, totally wrong after all. Else she won’t be doing that, saying stuff like that, while biting her fingernails (as how you described).

    Ami is basically fighting herself a losing battle, she knows that; and with Ryuuji like that it doesn’t get any better. Worse still is that Minorin comes to realize her own feelings and Taiga’s too. And Taiga had just awakened from her dreams with Yuusaku, and realizes Ryuuji is the reason she was able to enjoy life better. Man, looks like what was awesome isn’t awesome enough yet; it keeps getting better and better. It really end up with a real complicated polygon after all, with Yuusaku now out of sight. And I predict the novel’s ending surely won’t get us happy, for those who are rooting for Ami. Probably some of the fandom in Japan wouldn’t be happy about it either and poof we might be able to expect some (if it’s not too rare) safe-for-work RyuujiAmi doujins.

  2. Michael Says:

    That is what exactly edges Toradora closer and closer to my most favorite anime. It just keeps getting better and better. Isn’t it a love square, however? All three girls are interested in one guy, and Kitamura really has slowly faded out of the picture.

    I’ve always been rooting for Ami. Such is, however, the beauty of this series that I won’t really mind much if it doesn’t end up with her and Ryuuji. In the end, I just want to see Ryuuji and Taiga happy, and if they’re going to do it by ending up together, then so be it. :)

  3. Precious Roy Says:

    I had two “oh MAN” emotional moments this episode, Ami’s nail-biting, and Minorin’s softball mishap.

    For me the painful irony or Ami’s situation is that she’s grown into a mature, witty, decent person largely because of the girls that are standing between her and Ryuuji. If Taiga and Minorin didn’t exist in his world at all, and he’d only been introduced to Ami through Yuusaku, she likely would have had no incentive to change her opinion of him beyond what she stated in her first appearance at the diner. She would have played around with him for a while and that would be that. But because she’s been able to watch him take care of and care about the two women he loves, she’s had to make very different choices about who she wants to be in order to bring herself up to her perception of his standards. Not to mention that the whole incident with Taiga and the stalker would never have given her the confidence to overcome her fear of breaking through her mask.

    That’s why her talk with Ryuuji “hurt” more, while the bigger Oh Noes moment was the softball. I was proud of Ryuuji for finally staying when Minorin told him to leave, but I honestly don’t feel the chemistry between them that I do between him and Ami, even if he’s only pursuing one of them. Maybe it’s just because Ami is “pushing” more honestly and openly for the relationship she wants, where Ryuuji has until now been willing to wait around for lightning to strike him. That could change in the next few episodes, though.

  4. Keio Says:

    I’ve just finished Volume 7 (thanks B-T) and I’m REAAAALLY hoping that they stick as close as they can to the original material. I’m not going to spoil anything by giving out even small details. All I can hint on is there will be a lot of realizations that will be happening, and I feel that skipping out on even a bit will drastically change the story. I almost shed tears at the end, and I’m not even the type that cries during touching moments.

    We are looking at one big trainwreck. As usual, can’t wait for the next episode.

  5. Rankao Says:

    I agree with Keio. When watching these later episodes It feels as if there is a train coming down a tight tunnel and all of the air in front of it is being pushes at us. You know there’s a train coming by the little details, the rubble of the tracks and the slight change in temperature. However, you don’t know what the train looks like and who is going to be on the train.

  6. Bocom Says:

    I must be the only one who doesn’t praise Ami like… well, EVERYONE does. :|

    I mean, when I saw that scene with Ryuuji and Ami in the storage room, when she told Ryuuji that he should drop the act and reconsider her, I thought she was kinda selfish, since she isn’t like Ryuuji at all, but she still says that she’s the one most compatible with him.

    I’m having a hard time to see that since she’s not that honest most of the times, unless they’re alone and only after a while of talking about other things.

    Until she states exactly why she wants Ryuuji, then I’m afraid that there’s little chance that my opinion about her will change. :/

  7. Rankao Says:

    By the way. Does anything think that Kitamura’s role will be less significant now? I think the show will likely focus on Minori, Ami, Taiga, and Ryuuji relationship. I mean he still will play a role, but I think it would be less significant compared to the other characters.

  8. Baka-Raptor Says:

    Do what you should do. I’m not helping you, I’m just doing what I should do. It’s for my own sake.

    That’s not a confession. That’s just Ryuuji being a man. Unless I hear the word “su-su-su-su-su-su-su-su-suki” it’s not a confession.

    Than again, I’m definitely the oblivious type. Girls are always confessing to me without my ever realizing it. It’s the only conceivable explanation for why I’m single.

  9. Ryan A Says:

    The beautiful thing about Ami is that she is steadily transforming from the viewer’s perspective; her hidden affection will continually wear and she will constantly be evaluating the situation. it’s probably going to be tough for the girls to deal with Ryuuji, because he’s so nice, but will he be decisive?

    Honestly, the only way i can see his rebuttal of Minori, is if some KimiKiss type shlizaps wrecks the joint… where magically he and Taiga are on the same wavelength and they both feel the love or w/e. OR Ryuuji is too nice and doesn’t decide for fear of ruining “the gang” or leaving one of the girls high and dry.

    At this point, seems more likely that strong friendships (mainly Taiga x Ryuuji) will knock the possibilities of romantic relationships out the window. Nobody can get what they want without surrendering something of value. I’m sure a simple flowchart would should the likely case, but I’m interested to see what new developments will arise.

  10. Michael Says:

    Sorry, I was washed over with waves of inspiration and simply had to write on different stuff.

    Shiro:

    Ami likes Ryuuji. That much is obvious. What is difficult to ascertain is to what extent she likes him: is he merely a passing fling, or is there something more endearing in her teases? It will just keep getting better and better.

    Precious Roy:

    >For me the painful irony or Ami’s situation is that she’s grown into a mature, witty, decent person largely because of the girls that are standing between her and Ryuuji.

    Exactly. She has grown to be a more considerate person not only because of Ryuuji but because of the girls that surround him as well. In her observation of Ryuuji she slowly likes him more and more because she sees him care for them. The problem is that Ryuuji is simply not open to her advances: for all he knows, she’s just playing with him.

    What we can be sure of is that something will definitely happen, and that something will happen in the next episode. :)

    Keio:

    I disagree with your use of trainwreck. A trainwreck often connotes something negative. How about we use juggernaut instead? :3

    Rankao:

    Again, a juggernaut – not a trainwreck!

    Bocom:

    A lot of people share this opinion with you. These people often ponder the what ifs: they think that Ami’s like for Ryuuji is merely conditional, and they have lots to support them. We’ll just agree to disagree, haha.

    Baka-Raptor:

    I see why you’re still single.

    Ryan:

    I’m also very interested. I can’t wait for next Friday, if everything goes well for the CoalGuys!

  11. Jarmel Says:

    I demand only one thing and that is for them to animate the tenth novel in all it’s glory because if it continues down this path then god the last novel has to be amazing. It’s interesting to see WHY Taiga is going to fall in love with Ryuuji instead of the usual, he protected me or he’s always been with me crap. I could easily picture this actually happening somewhere(or somewhat close) and it is just so sad at the same time because we know that Minorin and Ami are going to lose because of tradition. Truth be told it seems that Ami would be the best fit for him(I know I would be chasing after her like a dog after a car) especially after her dead on analysis of his relationship in the storage room. I’ve really been surprised by how good this is and I expect a great episode next week with Minorin finally going after Ryuuji(hopefully) or atleast her knowing what she wants to do. I think an excellent way to continue with this story would be to see Ryuuji go abroad or change schools and see how they interact without him. I think Taiga would just fall apart, Minorin would lose alot of her joy but pretend to be normal, and Ami probably would have a psychological meltdown (because she has noone to talk to) and not show it. Anyway this just continues to be excellent after the Kitamura arc and I hope we finally get some Minorin background.

  12. Shiro Says:

    “Ami likes Ryuuji. That much is obvious. What is difficult to ascertain is to what extent she likes him: is he merely a passing fling, or is there something more endearing in her teases? It will just keep getting better and better.”

    The problem I had in trying to establish its obviousness in my opinion is that while we agree Ami DOES like Ryuuji in that way some other people just don’t agree. So that leaves more doubt and more proof for me to seek in order to prove that Ami likes Ryuuji. Besides, I don’t think Ami would spurt out such obvious lines, even if Ryuuji didn’t get to hear them in full, if she doesn’t really like him that way. I wonder why there was even a disagreement on the obviousness of this though. >_>

  13. Jay.nichuan Says:

    “Do what you should do. I’m not helping you, I’m just doing what I should do. It’s for my own sake.

    That’s not a confession. That’s just Ryuuji being a man. Unless I hear the word “su-su-su-su-su-su-su-su-suki” it’s not a confession.”

    meh, later on he does say the “I want to go with you…. I’ll wait for you” (for the Christmas party where you’re meant to show up as a couple).

    **
    Mr Anime|Otaku, your blogs are of the highest quality in terms of writing ability and analytics. I was directed to your Toradora section from a link on the onemanga forums, and reading your blogs after watching an episode makes me appreciate and enjoy the series a LOT LOT more!

  14. so gay Says:

    i can’t comment. i don’t watch gay shows! :D hahaha

  15. 5yewy5r Says:

    I think I’m too stupid to watch this anime; I don’t pick up on a lot of those subtle messages. I can’t believe I missed the broken star metaphor, and now I’m depending on smart people to tell me what’s going on >_<;;

    I’m afraid I won’t enjoy this series to the whole because I don’t pick up on that stuff……Although I can sense a disaster is going to happen at the end…..I mean, Ryuuji and Taiga; Isn’t Ryuuji just wanting a family?

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