Toradora – 21: catharses all over

My drill is the drill that will pierce the heavens!- So it begins, and it begins with this episode: the end is near (as if we didn’t know that before, right?).

The episode started innocuously enough with the primary cast skiing in the snow. Taiga and Ryuuji were novices in skiing, though: Taiga had to make do with a sleigh. Early on the vacation, Maya had already begun her operation to be with Kitamura: she even invited him to be her pair in the ski lifts. Noto, however, was disapproving: he was rooting for Taiga and Kitamura to be paired with one another, and so he commented on Maya’s dirtiness. Ryuuji was comforted by Taiga’s inability to ski, and they engaged on a conversation regarding her and Kitamura, because she no longer spoke angrily against Maya. Taiga confessed that she met up with Kitamura during New Year’s and didn’t want to bother Ryuuji as he was still convalescing. She even blushed when the topic broached Ryuuji (although he did not know of that).

Noto and Maya continued their fight: Noto challenged Maya because he wanted his close friends to be happy. This ended up with Kitamura not understanding the point of contention and Minori futilely attempting to stop the verbal fencing. It ended with Maya crying, and Ami showing the best of her worst side by blatantly suggesting Kitamura was either mentally retarded or in serious denial.

Ryuuji was uncomfortable with the melancholic mood during their dinner afterward, and so he decided to contemplate his failure to confess to Minori once more alone. Minori caught up with him, however, and was quite suggestive to Takasu. However, he was immediately shot down in his attempt for confession when Minori brought up the matter of Maya and Noto’s quarrel. Minori quipped that Noto misunderstood that Taiga liked Kitamura; Ryuuji riposted that he didn’t misunderstand at all, that there were some things Minori didn’t know about Taiga. It was at this point, however, that Ryuuji realized Taiga’s actions had all been in vain: Minori would never requite his feelings for her, as she treated him as if nothing happened, whether it was during that Christmas Eve or on their ski trip. This led to something positive, however: Ryuuji told his male friends that it had been for a while that he had liked Minori despite his failures. Subsequently, they decided to raid the quarters of their female friends, but no one was there.

They hid in the closet before Taiga came, and took Taiga with them when the others neared and Taiga was suspicious of people in the closet. Maya, interested in Kitamura, sparked a conversation where she hoped that Taiga would end up with Ryuuji. There wouldn’t be any more problems in her way if that did happen. During this, however, Minori looked deeply troubled and sad. Ami quickly replied to Maya that if it did happen, Minori would be ‘trapped in deep thought.’ She continued her verbal barrage, especially pointing out Minori’s spacing out. Ultimately, however, it was of concern for her friends, not only for Minori, but for the rest.

I thought you could always act as if nothing happened so I just spilled it out. […] So I thought, because you couldn’t forget what happened, you just pretended like [as if you were] a super natural airhead. So then everyone can be good friends together forever like this. […] And because of feeling guilty for someone, you rejected Takasu-kun. But I see, Minori-chan just hated Takasu-kun so he rejected him.

This is why I love Ami. Sarcasm is a very powerful and beautiful tool if used with utmost care and precision: like Captain Blackadder, Ami was the specialist of sarcasm this episode. Ami hated the pretensions of Minori: she disliked the idea that everyone would return once more to being just friends despite of everything that happened, because it won’t. Ultimately, she was also perceptive that it didn’t only affect Minori, but Ryuuji and Taiga as well. Minori’s facade of nonchalance broke Ryuuji’s heart, and it continued to do so especially after his realization (as he was there) that Minori simply hated him. (He couldn’t see their faces, after all.) I also believe that Ami was bitter, which was why her mordant edge really presented itself these past few episodes: Ami likes Ryuuji, and this is undeniable. Now, seeing someone liked by Ryuuji treat Ryuuji as if he were merely wind that was passing by, I understand her reasons of being pissed. It’s not only that, however: I do think that Ami is also pissed because Minori isn’t true to herself. Ami, ever-perceptive and omniscient, recognizes the existence of romantic feeling of Minori towards Ryuuji. The fact that she maltreats Ryuuji because of any reason is bad enough, but the fact that she also denies her own emotions and merely runs away, is, to Ami, unforgivable. Their truce was merely ephemeral, and this was primarily because Ami was still angry with Minori. Even Noto noticed Minori’s hurtful nonchalance.

Despite this, however, she blamed herself for Minori’s rejection of Ryuuji; she did not blame Minori and she recognized her anger to be responsible for their tiff. Even when Ryuuji’s rejection happened even before the talk occurred, she blamed it on herself so that Ryuuji won’t be too hurt from Minori’s rejection. Despite her vituperation, Ami was a true friend. Being a friend could only go so far, however, and that limit had been broken when Taiga and Minori crashed into her. She was looking for a catalyst. It didn’t even need to be rational, she just wanted something that would enable her to pour out her emotions, and that was it.

She raged.

She blamed the crash on Minori. It was quite understandable, because Ryuuji and her were talking. She felt that Minori had come to ruin it (did she want to say something else which we never heard about? roan thinks so … ). Minori pushed Ami away while commenting that Ami wasn’t all that good either, and a fisticuff started. They were held back by Taiga and Ryuuji, but Ami broke away from Ryuuji and punched Minori square in the chest. It must have been a really powerful punch since it propelled Minori’s hair clip, the one that came from Ryuuji (it must have been the strong wind). When Taiga discovered it was blown away she quickly went as the others were coming to stop the fight. I think she would have returned it to Minori after she found it, and would have told her to take care of it and not let it out of her sight. She fell, however, and was still lost as night was approaching and there was a snowstorm.

Minori decided to help search for Taiga, with Ryuuji and Kitamura quickly joining in after a moment’s hesitation. Ami wanted to prevent them from going but Kitamura told her to tell Yuri-sensei that they were going out. When they discovered the place where an abnormality in the fencing was, Ryuuji discovered that it was Minori’s hairclip that Taiga was searching for when she fell. When Minori volunteered to go down Ryuuji prevented her: I think that Ryuuji sincerely cared and cares for her despite everything and sincerely wanted her to be safe.

During this time, Ryuuji already probably had some insinuation that Taiga also harbored hidden feelings for him. No one would go that far for a hairclip except if it was from someone one cherished. It was totally confirmed when in her semi-conscious state she assumed Ryuuji was Kitamura and noted that her prayers to him didn’t work: she still wasn’t stronger; she still possessed strong feelings for Ryuuji; and, she liked them.

With her rescue, the episode ended.

Note that I don’t blame Minori. It’s also quite a feat to rein in one’s romantic emotions because of a friend, and that goes for both Minori and Taiga. One is unwilling to reciprocate Ryuuji’s feelings because she discovered her best friend liked the same man; the other is unwilling to lay bare her emotions because she wants her best friend to be happy. Both are noble sacrifices. Finally, Ami’s sacrifice is to act like the villain to one of them to evoke truth – and yet so far this has failed, but it is no less noble.

This is pretty much the series of 2009.

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34 Responses to “Toradora – 21: catharses all over”

  1. roan Says:

    physics, about this part:
    One is unwilling to reciprocate RyuujiÒ€ℒs feelings because she discovered her best friend liked the same man; the other is unwilling to lay bare her emotions because she wants her best friend to be happy.
    You’re mistaking Taiga’s primary motivation. It’s not so much that she wants her best friend to be happy, it’s that she wants Ryuuji to be happy.

  2. Michael Says:

    I thought Ryuuji was also her best friend. But yes, it needs clarification. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  3. roan Says:

    I was thinking about it more in terms of something heavier like, “want the person you love to be happy” but, eh well.

  4. Shiro Says:

    … They’ve done it, and this someone who uses the nick “Soul Assassin” is not amused, and wants to put his nick into srs bzns mode.

    Greatly not amused…

    Don’t care about their reasons though… all I know is that in my imagination, the next blink of an eye suddenly we see a post-Armageddon setting where our beloved characters are nowhere to be seen anymore.

    … I really need to resort to the Toradora DVD extras or a dose of Nyoron Churuya-san/Suzumiya Haruhi-chan to cool down, eh? That’s what I think. But if this show manage to drive me here then it’s still good IMO. But I can’t really stand angsty characters/mood, ya know ;D

  5. Michael Says:

    I will change it later. πŸ˜›

  6. Angelus Says:

    Unselfish love is a strange thing, almost a self-contradiction. I know it from my own experience, though, of loving someone so much that I’d rather they were happy with someone else than unhappy on their own.

  7. iCe Says:

    It seems like you watched the youtube subs. They did a pretty poor job at the ending translation(other places too). In the coalguys subs she says she cannot stop loving him, instead of just having feelings and liking them. I guess they can mean the somewhat mean the same thing but ive seen alot of people getting mislead by those youtube ones.

  8. Michael Says:

    I have to deal with a substandard Internet speed so while the YouTube subs were not as wonderful as the CoalGuys’s ones I meant to watch them as a guide. If there’s anything revelatory or corrective in the subs, I will modify the post. Thank you for your comments.

    Now, to be more specific –

    Shiro:

    Don’t expect great anime to be without drama. Look at School Rumble. It had a pie end because it avoided drama, character and plot development so much. Toradora is good, and it’s great because of its drama. Just take it as it comes. πŸ™‚

    Angelus:

    I … may not have a colorful experience like you as yet, but I can empathize with the heavy sacrifices both Taiga and Minori made for Ryuuji, and it’s no laughing matter.

    iCe:

    Yes, you are correct.

    Let me rectify the post if I do see something major to check later on. πŸ™‚

  9. iCe Says:

    I think it’s touching how deep ryuujis feelings for taiga go and he hasn’t realized it yet. When he started having the little flashback of taiga and saying, “Again..I have left her alone again, she has always been by my side, but i never noticed. Damn it. That clumsy girl…Ill never let go of you when i catch you this time!” I started to shed a tear.

  10. Precious Roy Says:

    When you wanna be with me then we will see who’s f____n with my head.

    I picture Ami wanting to scream at the top of her lungs “I’m so in love with him that it hurts and there you stand pretending you don’t know that he’s in love with you, you ungrateful hypocritical BITCH!” In fact, I’m surprised she didn’t, turning that anger into punches instead. For all her raging about people being dishonest she clearly is having just as hard a time applying that same standard to herself, unless she’s already come to the conclusion that her love is hopelessly unrequited, and the only role she can play now is to try and extract the truth from Minorin and Taiga.

    Of course, I know who I’d prefer… :3

  11. roan Says:

    Michael:

    I’m saying this with heavy supplementation from you know what (but I’m not spoiling anything so don’t worry!), but I honestly don’t think that what Minori is making that big a sacrifice in comparison. In normal circumstances, it is a big sacrifice, but it can’t be put on the same level.

    The sad thing about Minori is that she’s the victim of being caught up in a terrible situation, one that I would never want to be caught up in, but what she really sacrificed is one [possible] future, nothing more, and was careful to make sure she didn’t lose anything that she already [had] like her friendliness with Ryuuji; which is the reason for the unusual “reset” in episode 20, a really big step backwards and not forwards.

    Taiga, well….I don’t really have to say anything about that, I hope, though, none of this would have happened if she just fessed up at the pool.

    Also, about this:
    When Minori volunteered to go down Ryuuji prevented her: I think that Ryuuji sincerely cared and cares for her despite everything and sincerely wanted her to be safe.

    I’m getting more of the impression that he’s saying it’s his job to save Taiga, otherwise we wouldn’t get that monologue and the flashbacks on Taiga. The animation has to rely on special effects to convey emotions to cover up for the dialogue.

  12. Michael Says:

    iCe:

    I have a friend who’s part-Japanese so she understood the episode even before the subs. She spoiled the entire episode for me, so I didn’t expect to cry. When the final scene arrived, though … my eyes were full of tears. I can only wonder how much I’d bawl if I wasn’t spoiled in the first place. That’s how this episode affected me. So, to say the least, I was heavily affected.

    I wasn’t really affected much with the girlfight and all, although I loved it that the masks that both Ami and Minori had have finally slipped.

    Precious Roy:

    Believe it or not, when I talked to that friend of mine I was saying more or less the same thing you mentioned, but in a dirtier, vernacular manner. I also hoped she would have done that, but then again she has issues with her honesty as well, as what roan pointed out (in another thread post). I hope they would close things out well.

    roan:

    I think I’ve read those spoilers of yours (I just remembered it was from this episode). I’m not angry or raging (on the contrary, I read those of my own volition), and what I noticed was that they removed quite a lot of material. Now I’ve been avoiding the novel thus far because I don’t want to be a novel purist (not saying you are, but I dislike people who endlessly compare the novel and the anime, and then cry foul – you’re not) as I take them as separate entities and I don’t want to cloud my judgment.

    I understand. What she ultimately sacrificed was merely one highly plausible possibility, but she was also careful enough not to destroy their previous friendship. It has appeared to me that Ryuuji thought it was his job, but I also thought about Ryuuji’s caring nature and thought that it fit: he still liked Minori and wouldn’t want her to be harmed.

    (And when I meant spoilers, I actually read the entirety of your summary of vol. 7-9. I’m grateful for those, and I read it even before episode 10. That’s why I thought you were both the best and the worst thing to happen to me regarding Toradora in the forum, because you gave me information but somehow inadvertently prevented me from being totally surprised in the end. Nevertheless, thanks for the info! :D)

  13. Zing Freelancer Says:

    Seriously, Kitamuras face when Ryuuji tells about Minorin = EPIC! It was as if he got the last piece for the puzzle in place and seen whole picture.

  14. roan Says:

    Michael:

    Anyway, after the anime ends, I really recommend reading the novels. It should change how you view the series. Assuming you’re satisfied with the ending πŸ˜€

  15. Bocom Says:

    I… I just can’t understand how you can support Ami’s behaviour.

    If we are to treat the anime and novel differently (the novel in general, I haven’t/can’t read the novel concerning this episode), then this is how I feel about Ami “liking” Ryuuji in the anime:

    She doesn’t like him; She wants him.

    Two things that seem to be the same. They aren’t. Why? Because I for one don’t understand why she would want him in a way that . In the beginning she was smug to herself because she thought that she would get him just as easily as any other guy. She realised that he isn’t, and she would pretty much try to win his heart because she didn’t want anyone else to, since that would show that she couldn’t get any girl

    Because I don’t deny that she has feelings for Ryuuji; I just think that both Taiga and Minorin care more for his happiness than what Ami does, that’s why they try to let their own feelings get bottled for their friend’s sake, and while it’s not really the best way to go, Ami’s way isn’t exactly better. She, conveniently, doesn’t have someone like this, so it’s pretty much all about her own happiness Ami say a lot of sarcastic statements to the people who would seem to know about her fake behaviour (I think Minorin knows about her true side), even to Ryuuji, but she’s also more honest with him. Except when she resorts to using metaphors that Ryuuji doesn’t always understand. She thinks he does understand her all the time, but we viewers clearly see that he doesn’t. On top of that, she gets angry about him not understanding her, thinking that he didn’t listen, which is shown in episode 19. And I think she knows this fact too to some degree, but she’s still visibly angry about it. I don’t understand how it could be hard to, you know, confront him heads on which she basically forces others to do. Can she not be true to her own feelings, because she might be afraid that she doesn’t really feel for him like Taiga and Minorin does? Have you ever seem her being sarcastic to anyone who isn’t Ryuuji, Minorin, Taiga or Kitamura, who’s also a part of the recurring cast? I sure haven’t.

    A lot of her behaviour in that scene with the guys and Taiga in the closet of the girls’ room was just things to fuel my dislike of her. I don’t like how she can be sarcastic about others problems, when she can’t be honest about her own, and then comment on Minorin’s talent to fake, which is delicously ironic.

    Because you know, before she can even comment Minorin’s talent to be fake, she needs to take off her own mask, to show everyone how she really is on the inside. She doesn’t seem to have any reason to keep it on anymore, not to me at least. She’s more sarcastic, and all that matureness that she seemed to have gained during the past few episodes has been seemingly lost. I mean, come on, she even admits this to Ryuuji, she told him that she said something sarcastic to Minorin and she didn’t even know why she said it herself. Is that mature behaviour? To me, it isn’t.

    I don’t understand how people can praise her for being sarcastic, and overall mean to anyone who isn’t one of her “close” (they aren’t really close in my opinion, since they don’t know the real Ami, they only know the fake Ami) friends, but, as an example, you treated Taiga badly in a way that was really unlike your regular posting on Toradora. Granted, you did take it back the very next episode, so I’ll give you that, but yeah, I’m sorry, but this really shows that you truly are an Ami fanboy. Something I just can’t understand for the love of me. I used to like all three girls equally, but lately, she seems to be reverting back to her former self. That puts her slightly behind on the list. Minorin’s and Taiga’s position on “the list” has been fluctuating pretty much the entire show, Taiga’s fluctuating less than Minorin’s.

    Because in my eyes, she’s now a spoiled brat (which she pretty much has been the entire show).

    I won’t go as far as saying that she needs to do anything drastic to make her position on “the list” better. I just want her to reaffirm her feelings; does she truly, truly want him as something more than a friend. Ryuuji tries to make everyone happy, so if she wants to be treated nicely, she doesn’t really need to become “his”. But why does she? If I only get an answer from her directly, or at least more honestly, in the show, then it’s all good.

    I would never suggest that she needs to get raped or gangbanged. I mean, oh man, that’s just too harsh. Nobody should ever have to be raped. :<

    Also, I’m sorry if something doesn’t make sense, or is unfinished, I wrote this in a hurry, and I’m tired as hell! πŸ˜€

  16. Bocom Says:

    I just wanted to say, holy shit, now that’s one long TL; DR comment! D:

  17. 9taileddemon Says:

    Whoo. This was a crazy episode. But an awesome one too.

    It was interesting how Ami attempted to use her sarcasm to break Minorin down to understand her true feeling. I was actually surprised that Minorin managed to hold herself back. I think that a large part of Ami’s irritation was that no matter what she did, Minorin still never revealed her true feelings.

    I think another reason why she has been so angry is because she knows she is basically third in line for Ryuuji’s heart. Currently Ryuuji still has strong feelings for Minorin and Ami is aware that Taiga also has feelings for Ryuuji. And who would Ryuuji choose if it was between Ami and Taiga? Taiga of course. So Ami knows that her chances are nearly zero.

    But until Ryuuji actually goes out with someone, her slim chances still exist. So she got pissed because she just wants Ryuuji to end up with someone so she can finally drop her own feelings for him, and that is not going to happen while he remains single.

  18. Michael Says:

    Zing Freelancer:

    Denseness can only go so far. He’s not that bad of an idiot. πŸ˜›

    roan:

    Oh, oh I will! Don’t worry, I will.

    Bocom:

    She also hates herself, and she’s also afraid she may be rejected. She’s not very much used to being the one courting. She’s used to being the one courted upon. She’s also hesitant, and these are reasons we’re pretty familiar with as well. She refrains from bearing it all because she would get hurt less if that’s the case. Somewhat like what roan said regarding Minori. What she actually loses is just the possibility of them ending up together. If she invested further, however, her feelings would only be hurt more. I actually condone what she did, because I don’t approve of Minori’s stance to be ‘good friends together forever.’ She was the catalyst of things happening, and I’m glad something happened.

    P.S. Nevermind your lengthy comment. I actually appreciate comments like those more.

    9taileddemon:

    Yes, I think that’s the case, too. I’m pretty much in agreement with you, which is why I replied like that to Bocom.

    Thanks for the comments, guys. Keep ’em coming!

  19. Turambar Says:

    While Ami’s biting sarcasm (Or is it something more? More on that later.) was definitely grinding on my nerves, I have to give credit where credit is due. She was the catalyst for finally putting everything into motion again. She was not content with returning to the status quo, and is quite literally the sole force in pushing everything to a conclusion. That said though, was her remarks to Minorin really just sarcasm? She wants Ryujii, and has tried every subtle approach she could in making him like him, but he refuses to bite because Minorin is what absorbs his attention. And so feelings of jealousy and hate most likely played a part, lacing her comments with malice.

    In regards to Taiga, did she really mistake Ryujii for Kitamura? The cliche scene would have been boy A finding girl who, in a half unconscious state, mistakes him for boy B, whom she confesses love to. In this case, positions are reversed as it is Ryujii who discovers Taiga, but for Taiga, probably suffering from hypothermia, so convinced Ryujii, her knight in white, would rescue her, would mistake him for anyone else, is hard to believe. In that state, she would probably think anyone rescuing her was Ryujii. Couldn’t it be that she, realizing the full futility of her attempts at covering her true feelings, wants to fully confess to him, and at a state when her self-control was non-existent, finally said it?

  20. Michael Says:

    That’s something plausible you have there … or she just wanted it out, to practically the person she could freely let it out to, the person who had no stake in Ryuuji’s heart, Kitamura.

    I loved Ami this episode. I’ve wished they featured her more often, and I pray she’ll get a spin-off where she’s the primary character, but Taiga and Ryuuji are truly meant for one another.

  21. iCe Says:

    If you pay close attention to the scene, she first thinks its ryuuji but then lifts her hand, hits his goggles and she mistakes them for kitamuras glasses.

  22. Turambar Says:

    Ah, didn’t notice that before. So much for my theory then =P

  23. Michael Says:

    iCe:

    That’s wonderful observation.

    Turambar:

    Guess that’s it for your theory, then. πŸ™‚

  24. iCe Says:

    I loved this episode so much i keep watching it and so i picked up on something really interesting.
    The hair clip may actually symbolize Ryuuji and his affection. Think about it.
    It was meant for Minorin but ended up in Taigas hands. She gave it to Minorin as a treasure but Minorin can only appreciate it as a gift that actually belongs to Taiga. And when the hair clip was “lost” during the catfight, Taiga had a very strong desire to run for it. I bet in one of the last scenes of the show Ryuuji will put it where it truly belongs: In Taigas hair!

  25. Voitan Says:

    The writer could really do something with a Ami spinoff. Her character is more interesting than the rest combined.

  26. korosora Says:

    @iCe
    OH SHI-

  27. Michael Says:

    iCe:

    Woah, that’s a great insight!

    korosora:

    Yes. Oh shi-

    Voitan:

    Yes, I would want something like that, too.

  28. Bocom Says:

    Argh, I had a follow-up written, but I never submitted it. *facepalms, but instead of using a hand, uses the desk*

    I think I saved it somewhere, but I don’t care about submitting it, it’s just bleh anyway.

  29. Michael Says:

    Bocom:

    Hey, feel free to post here. I mean, I surely don’t mind! πŸ™‚

  30. Bocom Says:

    I think I will post it on my own blog, but expanded. Rewrite it from scratch. Hey, it’ll be something to do, since I’m probably too sick for school tomorrow. 😐

  31. Michael Says:

    Just update me on here. Will try my best to reply there ASAP.

  32. Toradora! and romantic friendship « Pontifus Says:

    […] say if I suddenly found myself transported into Toradora! (I believe in bitchery for great justice; it’s a real sacrifice) — and that the big reveal at the end felt too contrived. We’re also worried that the […]

  33. lolikitsune Says:

    DonÒ€ℒt expect great anime to be without drama.

    Um, Aria? Yeah, this is bullshit. Sorry, Mike, but Ami? Really? I’d argue that, rather than condescending, she descended. She joined the ranks of the immature kiddies playing with relationships and “feelings.” She lost it, and accomplished nothing.

    Pfft.

  34. korosora Says:

    @lk

    I typed a long response but I deleted in the realization/discovery of a monstrous troll under that adorable kitten facade.

    Cheers. You make me waste 7 minutes of typing.

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