Thursday, 26 March 2009

Toradora! - Episode 25 (Completed)

It almost pains me to say this, but that's it, it's done - Toradora! is finished. It's strange how some shows manage to weave their way so deeply into the fabric of your life, and this series has been one of them - What started off as "just another romantic comedy" has ended up becoming something that I've raced home after work to watch, that I've evangelised and praised to anyone who will listen (and a lot of those people have now taken on the series with a similar fervour), and in a sense it's even connected me to people who I would otherwise have known that little bit less about (or in some cases not known at all). I think, having just watched this finale, that final fact is something everyone who worked on this series would be more than a little proud of.

Anyhow, after the last episode largely consisted of Taiga and Ryuuji behaving like kids, making rash decisions and following after them with little thought, the tables are well and truly turned in the first half of this instalment, reminding us that we can all make stupid decisions, and we're also often too stubborn to admit we were wrong and go back on those choices. This particularly applies to Yasuko, as we learn the truth about her relationship to Ryuuji's father, and how that impacted her relationship with her own parents - A state of affairs resolved, ironically, in no small part due to Ryuuji's own rash decision.


Speaking of the whole "let's get married" plot which bugged me somewhat last time around, this is very quickly resolved and put to bed here, with Taiga very sweetly making her point that it's too much too soon, but without denying her love for Ryuuji in the process - A really beautiful and sensitive scene sealed quite rightly with a kiss. At this point you'd be forgiven for thinking that's that, and the happy ending is all wrapped up, but not so - While Ryuuji has the blessing of his family to spend his life with Taiga, she's left in a far more delicate situation, and again we witness the parents acting like the children and vice versa. Rather than taking this opportunity to run away, leave her family ties behind and start anew, she instead takes the braver path of resolving things with her parents first and foremost, transferring away from school (and of course Ryuuji) without truly abandoning them.

This allows the rest of the episode to get down to what is perhaps the real story of Toradora! over and above love - Right from the outset the series has been about friendship above all else, and that is allowed to shine through here from the class' reaction to Taiga's transfer through to the varied responses of Minori, Kitamura and Ami to the situation. Although Taiga's departure makes for a slightly bittersweet ending to the series, all's well that ends well when it comes to graduation day, to seal that happy ending for definite in case it was needed.

I feel that I've said so much about Toradora! over the six months (has it really been that long?) that I've been watching it that it's somewhat tricky to find anything new to say. Put simply, this series has been one of the best characterised and most emotional anime works I've ever watched - It's made me laugh with its slapstick humour, it's made me smile at its main players and who and what they portray, and it's made me cry at its moments of sheer emotional intensity. The end of the series almost feels like walking away from some good friends, such is the feeling of being invited into a group of people that Toradora! has somehow fostered, but like all good friendships it's left me with plenty of good memories that I'll be sure to revisit, and for those of us left behind by Taiga and company there will surely be plenty of "Hey, remember in Toradora! when..." moments. That, above all else, it what makes any cultural medium of value, and that is why Toradora! is such a must-watch series.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

hahah agreed it's a shame its over though... I want to see more!!!!! maybe even just one OVA will put me at ease :D

Mike said...

"Right from the outset the series has been about friendship above all else."

That's the nail on the head. It's why this show is so much better than most anime romances, too.

I too loved the ending, and I'll be writing something about it tonight on Anime Diet.

Felicity said...

Wow, I can't believe it's been 6 months either. Great post~ I'm gonna miss those guys! Waah!

MisterEd said...

That's how I felt coming in: "just another rom-com" plus "yet another tiny tsundere played by KugiRie" I'm glad I stuck it out through the 2nd episode and beyond.

A well-paced story with characters that seem to take on lives of their own - seems like a simple formula, but it just doesn't happen very often.

kadian1364 said...

I found the final episode to be suitably satisfying, but not great, though The first half of the episode was so. Yasuko's unexpected revelation, reconciliation of mother and son and parents and children, the reflective lines spoken by Ryuuji and Taiga throughout, and the kissing scene were all touching and memorable events that reinforced the themes about true, meaningful love and families that embrace compassion rather than ease or convenience.

What wasn't great was when Taiga suddenly transferred out to another school. At first I was dumbfounded, I didn't know what to think, but since have thoroughly developed my opinion of it; that is, I don't completely dislike what happened, but I sour at how it was handled.

Taiga could've sat down and spoken with Ryuuji and Yasuko about her need to confront her parents, and explained to her most trusted friends and "true" family why she needed to go away for awhile. Instead, she just up and leaves in the middle of the night without saying goodbye, and her only communication with her friends is an incredibly ambiguous picture that they can only make wild conjectures over its meaning. It was a turn of events purely played up for one last, "Oh! Teh Shockzors!" rather than the profound, mature decision it should have been seen as.

Compare to last week, when the kids who hadn't even declared their mutual love of one another planned to run away from everyone and elope. I knew, in the dark, inky recesses of my mind, that they weren't really going to marry (yet) and just on the kind of soul-searching journey that would let them grow up and realize the importance of family. This week's twist rubbed me the wrong way.

Well, that's just my nitpicking. I still think Toradora! had a pretty good finale and overall the series surprised me with its earnestness and refreshing take on the usually formulaic motions of anime romantic-comedies.

Onward, to Spring Season!

john said...

now i know how a junkie feels. I'm already getting cat scratch fever. and now, theres no supply. It does feel like I'm walking away from old friends, but I think thats what differentiates a good anime from a great anime.

Felino_Filosofo said...

After 25 episodes... I feel very sad, but happy at the same time. I'm so sure I'll watch over and over again, just to see if I missed something... I was to involved, that I feel like I was another Ohashi High school student, watching my dear friends leaving. No wonder I speak like they were Real, because the seiyuus made a great job.

Thanks again for commenting this wonderful anime, and I hope to find another as good as this one.

Wyn said...

Haha I'd listen to you anytime about this series, it'll be fun over some beer and good food!
After this final episode had sunk in, I googled the net for what people had to say about this series. Hoping to find and read something worthwhile, I found your blog! Yay!
Boy was I happy to read something from someone who loved this series as much as I do (and the countless fans out there).
Your blog added to my skyrocketing excitement towards this beautiful series.
Half a year ago I thought this was another high school romance series but after that scene when Taiga confessed to Kitamura and ended up saying things about Ryuji, or getting introduced to Yasuko and Ryuji's relationship, I saw depth and substance and felt this was gonna be a special series. All the way to the end (it had to end awww)
Like you said, it's like parting ways with good friends but were left with good memories. Those memories will keep me smiling, especially Ami's voice lol. Thanks for blogging and sharing your thoughts about this wonderful series =)

Kexiu said...

How can I put it? A Beautiful conclusion to a Beautiful story huh? The cimax of the episode was very nostaligic and yet I still reminisce over the whole show, I mean its hard to believe its all over right?
And Great job, your summary was very satisfying, and after reading I could really confirm my ideas to that episode. I really liked your starting sentence about Toradora, with you being someone who watches SO MUCH Anime and all... When you say its something really special it really counts, because you have so much experience in this subject matter.

-Sigh- But I still have this insatiable regret, that Toradora is, well, finished. I mean will there be a season 2?

Adam said...

Oh man. I first saw some comments about Toradora! on your blog I belive. It made me pick up the series and I was instantly hooked.

Certainly the best show of the whole season for me, without question.

Now.. I just want more. I feel like I dont even care if they make 200 episodes about nothing(although that would be horrible if you consider how great the series has been, heh). I'm so attached to the characters now.

I hope you saw the extra stuff after and during the outro? Taiga's reaction there has to be the cutest and funniest thing i've seen in ages.

Can't wait for this show to come out on DVD.

Paul said...

This has got to be my 'strangest' anime watching experience. Nothing to do with the series but just the way I 'ended up' watching the show.

I din like it when I heard about it and after watching the 1st episode. But since it was broadcast on TV, I caught bits and pieces here and ended up enjoying the show, even though I still have not watched all the episodes.

I think this speaks a lot for the quality of the emotional connection the characters made with the viewers.

Not my preferred genre but I still enjoyed it.

PS: I confess that Ami was the hook for me. ;)

John said...

I'm really going to miss this one. I just discovered it about 2 weeks ago and watched the fansubs pretty much non-stop. The characters were more complex and realistic than so many "romcoms" and for once I can say that I truly have an affection for all of them. As satisifying as a "Hey lets get married" ending would have been, this way we know that Ryuuji and and Taiga will grow together as their lives progress rather than just making rash decisions. The kissing scene was utterly perfect for the two characters. Sad that it is done, happy to see it and happy with the ending. After watching it It even encouraged me to go and again express to my wife how much I love and cherish her.

Anonymous said...

the way they just end episodes is amazing, it leaves you dying to see the next episode. I also like how they also put their ending songs right on the good moment at the end of the episode

TashiSama said...

Because i don´t live in america i watched the show in germany!And let me tell you even if this anime was very short then from other animes i know (exaple) _One Piece_
i was a super great awesome anime...I loved it i cryed too it was the best an i think this to will leae very good mermorys.And yes i too am very sad and want a season two or somthing...in japanese they have this thing called ToraDoraS.O.S and it is really wierd but oh well.
And i really do miss this show already hoping they will continue (somehow).Glad i was able to share my feeling after this great anime!!!

Anonymous said...

I wish that it came out better because all the anime I've watched (of course comedy romances) have ended like that unfinished here is a list of what I've seen that have turned out like this
Bokura ga ita
gakuen alice
fruits baskets
lovely complex
kanokon

Max said...

I must admit, at first I shallowly started this series simply because I liked the opening. I've seen my fair share of romcoms...but man this show hit me like a brick (in a good way). The relationships in this show were simply spectacular. I yearned for Ryuuji and Taiga to get together, and that long-awaited kiss scene was overwhelmingly heartwarming.

Not too many shows have such an eclectic collection of themes (that actually work). At the peak of humor I literally "lol'd." I was pretty amazed at the entertaining action scene where Taiga took on the former school Pres. And during those painful moments (Taiga winning the beauty contest thing and her dad being called on stage for example) caused me to cringe. I cheered in those climatic moments of confessions and other such things. And I cried like a little girl during the moments that showed how beautiful and precious the love between Taiga and Ryuuji was.

Of course the show had its flaws (as does any and everything that's created by inherently imperfect people), and fridge logic reared its ugly head in instances like Taiga abruptly leaving Ryuuji for A YEAR. But I've fallen in love with this series, I forgive its flaws, for that reason and in the end...it's left me with only good feelings and memories. Unfortunately my trip with Toradora! was merely a honeymoon, as I devoured it over the course of two days. But It was certainly a journey, one that reminds me of how beautiful love is, and one that I will not soon forget.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the series now. All I can saw is I'm not satisfied, they needed one more episode to tie up the knots left behind. Does Ryuji go to college, what happens to the group, where does Taiga go?

Bah I worry too much, but what do you think?