Toradora! Current Impressions (Chapter 49)
So I started reading the Toradora! light novels a few months back and figured I might as well give some of the other related material a try, mainly because I didn’t want to get to the source material and then deem any other adaptation to pale in comparison or anything of that sort. I’m supposed to get around to playing Toradora! Portable since that recently got a translation, though chances are I probably won’t get to that for some time. I did, however, read through what has been translated of the Toradora! manga and I can certainly say I enjoyed it. About a year ago (during last year’s winter break, in fact, which is interesting since some of Toradora!’s events take place around Christmas time) I watched the anime on a friend’s recommendation and really loved it. Toradora! reminded me a lot of Clannad (a personal favorite), though it felt more down to earth and certainly had a very different style. Toradora! was such a fantastic watch and it was one of the highlights of that winter break, along with Higurashi and Molester Man (which….sounds like a horrible series by its name alone, but if you’ve read it you know as I do just how captivating a story it is). Fast forward a little less than a year, and I caught up to chapter 49, the last translated chapter of the manga up to this point (besides a special chapter after it, but that doesn’t really count). Having read a little bit of the novels, I can say that the manga did quite a good job of staying close to that material (it did start before the anime after all). I’m not quite as attached to the manga as I was to the anime, but that really isn’t the fault of the manga itself.
Toradora! begins with Ryuuji Takasu beginning his second year of high school. Ryuuji is a responsible, caring boy with a kind heart, though he is often misunderstood by those who do not know him due to his intimidating eyes that often frighten others. Ryuuji finds that he is in the same class as not only his best friend, Yuusaku Kitamura, but also the girl he likes, Minori Kushieda. However, he comes across Taiga Aisaka, a short girl who looks beautiful but has an unpleasant demeanor and an aggressive attitude. After a troublesome encounter and more mishaps, Ryuuji discovers that Taiga has a crush on Kitamura. Taiga violently attempts to make Ryuuji forget what he learned, but after some misunderstandings are cleared up and Taiga asks if her feelings are embarrassing, Ryuuji reveals to Taiga that he too is in love. Ryuuji and Taiga then proceed to help each other as they both love the other’s best friends. From here on out, the two get into a bunch of wacky situations as they try to sort their feelings out and lots of silliness and drama ensue.
Toradora!’s manga is an engaging story just as the anime was. While the premise may not seem the most interesting, it is a very entertaining read and it is quite interesting to see what takes place. The final result may seem fairly obvious, but more than anything it’s the adventure and how the romance itself plays out that made the anime entertaining, and this is the case with the manga as well. Toradora! has a nice mix of comedy and drama, and while it does quite well with the wacky humor, it can also be a very moving and relatable story. It also helps that Toradora! has a strong and likable cast. Upon finishing the anime, I found myself unable to pick a favorite among the cast as the main characters were all likable and there was profound development for the important members of the cast. With the manga and what I’ve read of the novel, I lean more toward Ryuuji and Taiga, though I feel that most of this is because I have not seen the second half of the series for either of these versions of the story, and so a vast majority of the true development would certainly focus on the two leads above all else. Just like with the anime, Ryuuji is a likable lead and certainly a respectable lead for a romcom series. Taiga is a fan favorite, and it’s not hard to see why, as she develops extremely well and has depth to make her stand out among tsunderes. Taiga’s development is probably the best of all the characters, and I would say this about the manga, but again, not everything was covered so that wouldn’t be a fair assessment alone. Minori and Kitamura are both silly and goofy characters (though in slightly different ways), though they get their share of development as well and have serious moments when necessary. Ami seems hard to like at first, but she too grows a bit through the story and I felt she was one of the smartest characters in the cast with how she responded to some of the later events.
I mentioned before that there were a few reasons I did not enjoy the manga as much as the anime. One of the big reasons is that the anime was my first experience with the series, and as such, it was a fresh experience. I did not know what to expect with the anime and I couldn’t help but feel excited for what would take place in each new episode as I had not seen it before, and it was a very captivating watch. As I have already completed the anime, nothing in the manga feels entirely new and I know what to expect even if the details remain unclear a year after watching. Perhaps a bigger reason, however, is that the manga is still ongoing and the story is not completed as a result. The anime concluded its story and ended on a strong note for me, while the manga still has just barely covered about half of the anime’s content and is nowhere near fully developed. In truth, the aspects I loved most about the series still have yet to surface in the manga, so it is clear that there is still a lot left to take place. I suppose I could also mention that the visuals and lack of music also seem less impressive in comparison to the anime, but that’s very much a minor complaint in comparison and by no means would break my experience.
Toradora! was quite a fun read and it’s nice having a refresher for a story I loved so much. It does a good job adapting the light novel’s material and it is not a bad read by any means. However, it is still far from complete, and as such I cannot say that it has quite reached the level of the anime for me. At the moment, Toradora!’s manga would be an 8/10 for me. That’s all fine and dandy though, since if anything, the anime was probably about the same around this point of the story. The manga is just barely getting to the real drama that makes Toradora! the series I loved, and while others may not have enjoyed that segment of the story so much, I can certainly say the romantic drama was what made it such a powerful experience for me. I can only hope that the remaining manga material gets both adapted and translated in the near future.