I wasn’t too familiar with Toradora! before it started airing. All I had under my belt was about two chapters of the manga adaptation, and just from that I had no idea as to what direction it would go in. Toradora!, at an uninformed and cynical glance looks like More Of The Same. Another highschool romantic comedy. What sets it apart from the rest of the pack is how it completely re-writes the rules you have set down in your head about this genre.
The first big shocker is that the two leading characters, the titular Tora and Dora, Taiga and Ryuuji, aren’t romantically interested in each other. Taiga isn’t tsuntsun towards Ryuuji because she’s trying to hide feelings for him–that’s just her personality. Similarly, Ryuuji doesn’t cook for Taiga because he likes her–she’s just hopeless, and can’t care for herself. Their relationship is very much that of bickering siblings, as opposed to that of a tsundere girl and bone-headed guy.
Another aspect of the show that shakes things up are the characters that Taiga and Ryuuji are interested in– Kitamura and Kushieda. Taiga and Ryuuji working together to help each other win the hearts of their crushes makes for an interesting dynamic, never mind the fact that Kitamura and Kushieda are wholly interesting individuals in their own right. All this plus the two-faced Ami Kawashima, who just may have a crush on Ryuuji, is a winning equation for a satisfying highschool romantic comedy.
I’m not going to ponder as to why the show is turning out the way it is, nor will I compare it to other shows, but I do have to give JC Staff and Yuyuko Takemiya a thumbs up for making a great series. We have fifteen episodes left to go, and I believe that the series won’t take a turn for the cliché.