Toradora is a Japanese manga, turned anime and brought over to the states by NIS America. Toradora is the combination of the actual Japanese translation of both main characters which are as follows: Taiga sound like Tiger in English and Tiger in Japanese Translates to Tora. Ryuji means son of dragon in Japanese and dragon in Japanese is pronounced Doragon. Mix both of them and you get the title Toradora!. Confused? So are we but let's move on.
Toradora! tells the story of Ryuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka. Ryuji feels ashamed of who he is and how he looks because he takes after his father who was a well known criminal. Because of this anyone who runs into him is automatically intimidated into handing him their wallets without Ryuji saying anything. He is misunderstood throughout the whole series as being a bad person because he looks like his father. One of his only friends Yusaku, keeps trying to cheer him up but fails most of the time. Taiga Aisaka is one of Ryuji's classmates and is nicknamed the palmtop tiger because of how short she is and her short temper. She tries so hard to capture Yusaku's attention by leaving a note in his backpack however she mistakenly puts the note on Ryuji's backs and that leads to a whole web of crazy events which puts Ryuji in the middle of it all.
There are a total of 25 episodes divided into 2 volumes. Volume 1 includes the first 13 episodes which explain who the characters are and where they come from. Volume 2 deals with the characters growing fond of each other as well as experiencing rivalries and rejection from other peers.
In the first few episodes, because of the note that Taiga left on Ryuji's backpack, thinking that he read it wants' to kill Ryuji or at least hit him in the head hard enough so he can forget the events of what happened. Both Ryuji and Taiga strike a deal that will help both of the in the long run. Ryuji will help Taiga hook up with Yusaku and Taiga will help Ryuji hook up with her best friend Minori. Because Taiga thinks she is doing Ryuji a great favor she treats him like a dog in the beginning episodes. Ryuji has no other options but to take the abuse.
A new character is introduced in episode 5 and focuses on her angel/devilish characteristics on episode who shows up to bring hell to all the other despite being a childhood friend of Yusaku. Her name is Ami and despite being kind, gentle and a fashion model but she's more than meets the eye. After Ami joins the cast the spider web begins to form where the main event starts to take place. From Episode 11 to 13 we see a huge event taking place in the High School. In these episodes we see Taiga's dad who wishes to reconcile his strange relationship with his daughter and it gives viewers an inside view into Taiga's past.
At first it seems like Toradora is just an anime about high school but as you watch these episodes you are sucked into the story of Taiga and Ryuji. It's a very sweet story that makes you want more before it's over. There are so many great moments in Toradora that if someone were to ask me what my favorite scene or episode was, I wouldn't be able to answer that question nor who my favorite character is. Each character brings something to the table and if one character was removed the story would have to drastically change probably for the worse. At the end of the 13th episode it seems that both Ryuji and Taiga got a step closer into being with who they originally wanted to be and lefts off with Taiga dancing with Yusaku.
When it comes to special features the Vol1 set is lacking. All you get with the set is a book that gives the user interviews of some of the cast as well as episode descriptions. It is best to avoid this book until after you have watched all episodes because there are some spoilers. While it may not give you everything about the episode it gives you enough to spoil what is going to happen. It also gives you an inside look at the characters and also show what different outfits the characters will use in the episode.
The animation and storytelling of Toradora are nicely done. Each character matches the mood of the moment and their facial expressions tell everything. Each character brings something unique to the table including Ryuji's mom whom you see in a couple of episodes but plays an important role in the story. It would have been nice to see some special DVD features like making of or actor interviews and trailers of some sort or even the story behind Toradora but sadly we didn't. The book that comes with it is a nice addition and it's hard for anyone not to look into it when they first open it up but like stated before reading it will spoil part of the story. Toradora is a great anyone that is definitely worth checking out if you love anime or even if you are looking for something to watch.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.