ToraDora: More Than Meets the Eye
At first ToraDora, struck me as more of the same. Kugimiya Rie was playing a tsundere, she would be a bitch, but eventually fall in love with the main character. Along the way, their antics would entertain us. I was ok with this. When it comes down to it, most anime, and most media in general, is just a rehash of old material. This is fine. Gundam has been essentially the same since the original, and people still love it. However, ToraDora’s surprisingly deep and realistic characters make this the closest thing to originality seen in anime in years.
I’m sure that most anime fans out there already know what ToraDora is about. It is probably the most popular show of the season, but I will summarize it for completeness sake. In a nutshell, ToraDora is about two misunderstood people, Taiga and Ryuji, trying to set each other up with their best friends. Bitchy Taiga has a crush on the levelheaded Kitamura, and scary looking, but good hearted, Ryuji likes the wacky Minori. Along the way, a fifth wheel, the two faced Ami, is thrown in to mess with the characters.
One of the major themes of this series is appearances. While by no means an unusual theme, it is uncommon for a high school romance which is usually filled with one dimensional archetypes. In many ways, I find the first episode to be incredibly unrepresentative of the series as it presents the cast as simple archetypes. Taiga is a tsundere, Minori is obnoxiously bouncy, and Kitamura is a kinds model student. The only character with any sort of duality is Ryuji who looks like a punk but is really a shy romantic obsessed with cleanliness. However, as the series progresses, there is more than meets the eye to every characters. Taiga’s tsundere attitude stems from feelings of rejection and misunderstanding by everyone except Ryuji. Minori may seem carefree, but actually has some deep insecurities. Ami acts cute, but is really a cold hearted person, an intereting foil to Ryuji. However, this side of her is being elaborated a bit more, revealing a weakness and longing for attention. Kitamura’s character has not been elaborated on so far, however, it seems that he is much wiser about his friends relationships than he acts. This depth makes the characters both relatable and endearing.
At 11 episodes, and about half way into the series, the relationships are beginning to mature, and the true intentions of many of the characters are being shown. Ami is beginning to make advances on Ryuji, and there are hints that Ryuji and Taiga’s mutual understanding may evolve into love. I personally do not want to see this happen. It seems too obvious and overdone. This has been done in romantic comedies for years, and would negate all originality that I love this series for. As them getting their current love interests seems unlikely, I would like to see this series end with no couples forming. They can have all the drama they want, but once everything is settled, the five characters should just have a deeper friendship.
The production quality is sometimes a bit inconsistent. While character designs and shots always look good, the animation itself occasionally cheaps out. An example of this is the choppy Asura formation in episode 9. However, these moments are few and far between, and as the series is not too action packed, this is fine. The voice acting is perfect. Kugimiya Rie acting as Taiga was surprisingly differnt as she tones down the high pitched voice she uses for tsundere characters. At first I thought she had a sore throat during recording. Horie Yui proves her versatility as an actress with her ability to portray Minori’s wacky and serious sides while never feeling too forced. There was a great scene in episode 9 where she compares relationships to ghost hunting, which shows the talent of the writing staff to balance humor and serious discussion. The OP and ED are both incredibly catchy, and the background music doesn’t stand out very much. I find this to be a good thing as the series is mostly character and dialogue dirven, and imposing music would probably hinder the series.
I consider this to be the best show of the season hands down. I have friends of mine who don’t like anime that enjoy this series. I currently have it rated as a 9 on MyAnimeList, but this may go up depending on the ending.
I may write one more long review on Kannagi before moving on to writing shorter bits on individual episodes and other random things. Please leave me comments to let me know what you think of my stuff.