17 August 2010 | Ore-Sama
When I first heard of this anime, I was given a link to the site with episodes and a series summary. I didn't watch it then because even though my friend told me it was the best anime he had seen, I didn't see a potential for greatness. It looked decent. He had mentioned it other times since then but didn't push me into it. I think it was mostly a "why not, I'm curious" attitude that got me to see this show. I watched the first four episodes, not long after I was tempted to see more, and then only stopped because I required sleep. Then I got up early, started again, stopped only because a friend wanted to see me, then finished the show. In short, I was hooked and by the end as close to crying as any anime got me.
The story is about an odd boy named Ryuji and a delinquent girl named Taiga, the palm top tiger. Their first meeting doesn't go well. Then Taiga accidentally leaves a confession letter meant for someone else in Ryuji's bag, then goes to his house to make sure he can't use it against her. Instead he calms her down and agrees to help this unruly girl get together with Ryuji's eccentric best friend Kentemura. Their first attempt fails and Ryuji is free to not help Taiga but he decides to continue helping her, and soon enough Taiga becomes an honorary member of Ryuji's family.
First off, we must mention the ungodly pacing. The amount of content packed into a single 25 minute episode without having to rush it is mind boggling. A typical Toradora episode has the content of two to three episodes of another anime yet flows naturally. This also ensures there aren't any pointless filler with every episode contributing. This is the only series I can think of where there isn't a single bad or lack luster episode. Every episode is high quality, and you'd be surprised how hard that is even for a twenty five episode show. This pacing also gives immense room for characterization and development, where the show shines most. The five main characters all get a good chunk of development, with the main two getting the most of course, and they all get it every episode in some form or other. This results in the anime becoming a home away from home, with a sense of familiarity and adventure in even their most common activities. The humor, while involving some slapstick, is mostly from the character's personalities, be it Taiga's spiteful snarkyness, or Kentmura's zannyness or Ryuji's habits.
This series also boasts amazing drama, and it does so without gimmicks that other highschool romance shows use. We don't see Taiga or Minori getting kidnapped by some biker gang with Ryuji needing to come to the rescue. We don't see attempted rapes or psychotic people trying to murder one of the love interests so they can move in like many highschool romances(and I honestly expected at least one of those to pop up in this show at some point) Now there's not necessarely anything wrong with those plot events, but it says a lot that Toradora can create much more powerful drama with events on a much smaller scale, and don't think this show can't produce some intense moments despite it's light hearted tone.
There are still some highschool romance conventions here but they're all played well. Toradora is up there as an all time favorite of mine, with only two anime I can think of that can compete with it. If you've never seen a romance anime before, I'd start with this one.