Toradora – 22: His and her pain
It can be argued that the previous episode was the climax of the series. Not only did the episode show the catharses of both Minori and Ami, it also featured Taiga’s subconscious confession to Ryuuji and subsequently Ryuuji’s realization that Taiga liked him a lot and was hurting herself immensely because of her desire to pair Minori and Ryuuji up. The event caused quite a ripple in Ryuuji’s psyche: the very first scene is his dream of that specific occurrence.
He was sleeping in class, however, so when he woke up screaming Taiga’s name (because they were falling into a ravine) it was with the rest of the class. While it was especially awkward for Ryuuji, both the teacher and the rest of the class understood the trauma Ryuuji was in, so they merely nodded and continued on with the discussion. It is extremely notable that when the camera pans to the rest of the class, Minori and Ami were not featured. Even Haruta’s silhouette at the very back is noticeable, but Ami and Minori are nowhere in the picture. After this, however, Minori is focused on, and she has a mix between a sad and a concerned face.
Ryuuji, ashamed with what recently happened, sat by himself in the rooftop. Like a true friend, Kitamura knew where he went and asked him regarding Taiga. As what could be expected from Ryuuji, he asked a favor from Kitamura regarding telling Taiga that it was him and not Ryuuji who saved her. Kitamura, finally having broken the spell of ignorance, understood that it had something to do with his and Taiga’s meeting that New Year’s.
Noto and Haruta, good friends as ever, afterwards convinced Ryuuji to dine with them (Haruta, fool that he is, even told Ryuuji to forget about Taiga). While they were waiting, they broached the idea of their futures. Haruta and Noto have thought well about it, but Ryuuji simply quite decided not to pursue his education despite his outstanding grades, and this was primarily out of concern for his mother. (It would be an unbearable burden for his mother to bear if ever he did decide on going to university, as they were not rich in the first place. This would be featured later.) They eventually discovered that Minori worked in the shop and that like Noto, she was going to pursue literature. After joking with each other, they ordered ramen and went out. It is clear, however, in her unguarded moments, that her uppity nature has become even more of a shield. The foibles were especially evident when she looked at Ryuuji without anyone looking back at her.
Having gone home, Ryuuji and Yasuko talked about his future. She definitely desired for him to keep on studying, despite Ryuuji’s protestations that they didn’t have money. She wouldn’t let him work, either, because she felt that she could do it all by herself.
When Ryuuji went to school the next day, Minori came out and met him. She also reassured him that everything was going to be all right with Taiga: Taiga’s mother and Taiga related well with one another. With Kitamura’s arrival, Ryuuji questioned Minori why she wanted to busy herself and quipped that she seemed as if she hung in the balance. To this she replied that she busied herself precisely because she didn’t want to: she saw something she could attain, and that was why she was busying herself with work. (Novel readers would know what this is; I too, know, but I think it would be unfair to others who would be spoiled.)
Ami arrived a little later. Her mordant wit, as always, scintillated in her scenes this episode, especially in her arrival to class. She was ignoring Minori’s greeting to her, and Ryuuji was perturbed that Ami was acting as such. She merely replied, ‘Don’t get close to me. Stupidity is a contagious disease,’ to which I laughed out loud. However, I mentioned ‘mordant wit’ not merely because she was bitter, but her words, as always, have grains of wisdom in them. She used her allusion to the game of house Ryuuji ‘played’ with Minori and Taiga to drive home a point that, as usual, only Minori understood. Since the daughter wasn’t around, the dad could do whatever he liked, which was what Ami saw in Ryuuji’s exchanges with Minori.
Despite this, however, it is quite obvious that Ami herself was disturbed with the occurrences. She only goes to her place in the vending machines whenever there’s a lot of things in her head. She was obviously concerned to the extent that she was willing to be late to class just so she could stay in her place. Minori pursued her, however, and this precipitated one of the most sparkling exchanges in Toradora: it was a dialogue full of suggestion, subtle vituperation, and was also a prelude to action (but this will probably happen next episode).
Ami brushed Minori off; she no longer wanted to say anything, since a lot of things have already been said. Minori shakes Ami when she spoke of a ghost existing in the space where Ami loved to stay. One remembers the use of ghost between Minori and Ryuuji as an allusion to love during the ninth episode. Minori continued that the spot was where ‘an unfortunate girl who had been rejected in love many times was living in.’ Does that remind you of someone? Ryuuji may not have been conscious of his rejections of Ami, but every time he pushed her away he had rejected her. In fact one of the reasons why her pent-up anger finally exploded on Minori was due to Minori’s inaction to Ryuuji’s affections. It could be argued that she would trade for Minori’s place any day, but Minori didn’t want to act on it, even rejecting Ryuuji. In this scene it was implied that Minori was also not the airhead that she seemed to be: she also recognizes what happens in her surroundings, although she doesn’t act on it or subtilize it, like what Ami does.
Minori’s philosophy on love was also explicated in this scene: ‘I think ghosts also have personalities: they only like to show up when they want the person seeing them to understand them.’ She quite subtly suggested that she has feelings for Ryuuji; however, she had not shown these feelings because she feared she may be misunderstood. She only wanted to evince her feelings when it would be wholly understood, and I believe the person she’s directing these feelings towards is Ryuuji. ‘I think I saw a ghost before … ‘
‘… but I was confused because I yearned for something which shouldn’t be seen.’ It may be difficult to understand, but some people put some things over love. Sometimes, love is simply not their top priority: this can be seen in career-driven men and women, or in highly passionate individuals (like Fernando Pessoa, I guess) who have existed primarily without a human simulacrum of it. Minori is driven towards something, and she believes that this something is above love for the time being. Problematically, however, because of her inaction, she also lost those things which she saw beforehand. Ami cut her off, feeling that she knew what Minori was going to spout about next. Ami talked about how Minori expected everything to end up smoothly as long as she waited and observed, and knew that it wouldn’t happen as easily as that. As she walked away, however, Minori finally and forcefully said that she would no longer hesitate, that it was decided, that she had decided.
The scene shifted to Takasu and his indecision towards his future. It was quite obvious that the only thing he was really certain about was that because of their poverty he was unwilling to pursue further studies. When he went home he didn’t expect to find no one home: however, he saw a note left by Yasuko saying that she went out to work for the shop. In her own way, she is a really good mother. Her style is unconventional, but like any mother she also wants her son to experience the best in life and to be the best and sparkle. The ability of Toradora to subtilize is what makes it awesome: within that simple note we perceive of Yasuko’s love towards Ryuuji, and we see that their love goes in two ways. Both of them don’t want each other to suffer. That’s more familial than the bickering in more complete families.
More importantly, however, Ryuuji finally realized his feelings for Taiga. The confession affected him a lot and made him realize Taiga’s value to him. Like iCe said in the previous episode, the hairclip symbolized his affection for Taiga. Sadly, however, when he placed the hairclip in the box where he stored his implements of love Taiga misconstrued this as her failure to pair Minori and Ryuuji together because of the incident. (She dropped by Ryuuji’s place because she lost the key to her apartment. Ryuuji enacted hijinks because of his newfound emotion for Taiga, until she discovered his box with Minori’s hairclip on it.)
That scene where she spoke that she was always aware of Ryuuji’s feelings for Minori tugged at my heartstrings. Despite her reunion with her mother, and despite her lingering emotions she never forgot about the necessity of pairing Ryuuji and Minori up. She wore the mask of friendship once she got her wits about her: she called those things she said to be stupid, never wanting Ryuuji to know what they were about and stomping on her emotions for his sake. She really was stupid, not because of any thought of hers, but because of the pain she put herself in for the sake of Ryuuji.
Excellent episode, as always. There’s never a boring time with Toradora.
P.S. I may update with pictures soon, but I’m not really sure about it. It took me quite some time to write about this.