ToraDora! 25: Happily Ever After

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Today, I finally finished ToraDora! It is sad to see it go since it’s the most fun I’ve had watching an anime in a long, long time. While things felt messy and rushed near the end, the spectacular finale wrapped everything up nicely and justified all the parts that I disliked about the last quarter of the series. So let’s get this review underway.

Since the last time I wrote an episode review for ToraDora!, much has happened and changed. Minorin rejects Ryuuji, Taiga accidentally confessed her love for Ryuji, Ryuji realized his own feelings for her, Ami is sitting in the background frustrated at everyone’s stupidity, and Haruta has a girlfriend. So in the previous episode, Taiga and Ryuji decide to elope and get married, despite the opposition of everyone around them. Ryuji meets his grandparents, Yasuko makes peace with them, and Taiga decides to transfer schools to live with her mother, and comes back at the last moment to see everyone graduate. I found it to be an interesting parallel to what happened to Yasuko, as she also ran away from home to have Ryuji. I was surprised that the series didn’t emphasize this comparison. The closest was revealing that Ryuji’s dad had run away with another woman, leaving Yasuko to raise a child on her own, showing that eloping was not the right choice.

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A cute moment was the first kiss between Ryuji and Taiga. There was something fragile and touching about this scene, that even moved my stone cold heart a bit. Both are novices to love, and don’t have a conventional sense of family, making this scene awkward, yet tender. Taiga’s initial uncertainty, and Ryuji’s nervousness shows their persisting insecurities despite knowing that they are loved. This really felt like the moment all the tension over the past few episodes was building up to, and it was rewarding.

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Part of the reason I enjoyed the end was because everyone’s problems were resolved. Taiga realizes that her family problems were mostly in her head, and that unlike her father, her mother truly does care for her despite having a new family. She realizes this and realizes its the better choice over rushing into marriage with Ryuji. Also, the way the class reacts to her disappearance shows that she truly isn’t as alone as she believed. The mass text messaging scene was a bit cheesy, and the star analogy was a bit overdone for what I considered to be pretty obvious feelings. Overall though, it wrapped everything up nicely.

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The resolution I enjoyed most was Ami’s. While she is conscious of her feelings for Ryuji, she is happy knowing that he understands her, even if he doesn’t love her. I was sure from the beinning that this would be how the series would end for her, and it was well done. I liked how she never directly told Ryuji that she liked him, as it would have been too out of character. Instead, she made subtle hints and cryptic lines. So even if she didn’t find love, she found happiness by being herself, which was all I ever wanted for her.

The one character ending that disappointed me was Minori’s. Ever since she got more serious over the last few episodes, I thought that there was something very serious behind her. Like along the lines of childhood abuse or something. Especially when we saw how barren her room was.  She also loved Ryuji, but believed in making Taiga happy over herself by giving up on him. In the end, all she wanted was to be a self made success. While this explanation made sense, it was also kind of a let down as it felt like the series hinted at something much more sinister. One of my friends who’s a psychology major thought that she might have an obsessive compulsive disorder as she was always concerned about money and being fat, when neither one was a big issue. In the end, she did find some kind of happiness through Taiga, although she suffers from heartbreak at the same time.

As for Kitamura, he goes off to America after graduation, presumably to be with the student council president. Not much to say here. He really became a useless character after the student council president arc.

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Finally there’s Ryuji, who loves Taiga despite her sudden disappearance, and continues to do so despite not seeing or hearing from her for over a year. I like how their relationship is deeper than your typical high school romance. Normally lines like the one above make me roll my eyes for how lame they are. However, in this context, this line is believable and has some meaning. The final scene where Ryuji tells Taiga he loves her was sweet, and brought things full circle back to their original tsundere relationship. Restating the initial monologue of the series was also a nice touch, albeit a bit cliche. The series could have had a more serious romantic ending, but I was happy with the way things turned out.

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So what did I think of ToraDora! on the whole? I thought it was excellent for its genre. Romance anime typically have bullshit open ended finales in hopes of making a sequel so that they can milk the concept for all its worth. ToraDora! did not fall into this trap, and had a solid, definite ending. I can see them making an OVA episode that shows what happened to them after graduation, but I can’t see a second season coming out, despite its popularity. As I mentioned earlier, I really didn’t like the 5 or so episodes before the finale, but I feel that the last episode justified it. The problem was that the drama got very thick and the tone changed too much too suddenly. For example, the end of 23 where Minori confronts Taiga about her feelings for Ryuji was rather jarring for how sudden and intense it was. Also, the way Taiga and Ryuji decided to elope over the course of an episode despite having no previous romance was also really sudden. But this may have been the most realistic way to do things. Their relationship was more based on a need for family, rather than straightforward attraction as in most romance anime. Thus it makes sense that they wanted to rush into marriage in order to become a family.

What ToraDora! has over other romantic comedies (and most films and shows in general) is a good cast of characters. While the plot was nothing too new, I really enjoyed the cast. Taiga was a typical tsundere, but had realistic reasons for her anger. Minori was entertaining to watch for her crazy antics, but at the same time had a lot of depth to her. Ami had a vicious circle of conflicting emotions and maintaining a facade, and was just looking for happiness. Despite being fictional, I felt some emotional attatchment to these characters. You typically don’t see this level of depth in a romantic comedy (Zero no Tsukaima), or this level of realism in a drama (Clannad). While I have nothing against either ZnT or Clannad, I enjoyed ToraDora! a lot more for aiming for a middle ground and doing it well.

As popular as ToraDora! was, I don’t expect to see many shows take after its example. It was probably more popular for its moe appeal than its plot. I don’t mind this though. I have fond memories of this series, and watching it with others. I wish to keep those kinds of memories as pure and exclusive as I can, so I hope that more shows like this don’t come along.

This Sunday, the last episode of Gundam 00 airs, and I look forward to writing about that too, as its another show that I’m going to miss. Until then, stay classy readers.

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