Toradora! 18

とらドラ!Episode 18

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Taiga and Yuri-sensei crash into each other, cause Taiga to drop a box of confetti and Yuri-sensei to drop her papers. As Ryuuji helps clean up, Yuri-sensei wants to make sure that their grades don’t slip while doing all this prep work for the Christmas party. Taiga and Ryuuji head to the gym where the others, including Ami, are working. The group quickly pairs Taiga up with Yuusaku, much to Maya’s annoyance. However, she’s soon dealt with as well, leaving Ami and Ryuuji alone in the storage room. Ryuuji comments on how everyone is so keen on pairing Taiga and Yuusaku together. This leads Ami to comment on how Ryuuji cares for Taiga like a doting father, who doesn’t want his little girl to move on since only he can take care of her. Ami reckons that it is time for Ryuuji to stop playing house with Taiga. As an aside, she quietly adds that she’d like Ryuuji to give her a second chance, but when asked to repeat that, she declines.

With tests completed before the winter break, Ryuuji again attempts to talk with Minori but as usual, she has an excuse and leaves. Taiga has an errand to run at the post office and Ryuuji volunteers to help her but Maya (along with Nanako) wants Ryuuji to eat lunch with her. Ryuuji has no intention of doing such a thing and despite Taiga’s insistence otherwise, Ryuuji goes with her to the post office, first stopping off at Taiga’s apartment. There, he discovers a mountain of presents that Taiga is sending to her family and friends, including her estranged parents. Ryuuji can’t believe she’d do that, but for Taiga, the reason is simple — it is Christmas. So, on the trip there and back, Taiga discusses it, including her meeting with Santa-san as a kid, which may have been a dream. She also talks of why she sends presents to “Santa Claus,” which in fact are sent to the orphans.

Ami used her model connections to score a Christmas tree, which is actually a giant, wire-framed thing mainly for Christmas lights. Ryuuji notes how popular Taiga has become as they work and once the “tree” is set up, Taiga brings out her cherished Christmas decoration — a large, crystal star to place on top of the “tree.” Closing the blackout curtains and turning on the Christmas lights, the thing is beautiful but suddenly, something crashes through a gym window and knocks the tree over, shattering the star. Minori and some of her softball club mates enter, having caused the accident. Minori is crushed to see that her ball destroyed Taiga’s precious ornament and she insists on trying to glue it back together. She tries to refuse Ryuuji’s offers of assistance, but he tells her he’s not helping her but he’s doing it for his own sake. Further, while the star can’t go back to where it was, it can be fixed not matter what and it still shines. After fixing the star, Minori and the softball club depart, Minori still refusing to attend the party but Ryuuji vows to wait for her just the same.

Thoughts/Review:

This anime has gotten somewhat more interesting to me, even as it has ratcheted down its comedic side, this despite Minori’s angst, which frankly doesn’t bother me. The irony of the scene with Ryuuji and Minori gluing the pieces of the start back together was not lost on me. Clearly, their conversation was full of double entendre (I’m trying to think if there is an actual literary term for this but none comes to mind) — on one hand it directly relates to the broken star and putting the pieces back together but on the other hand, it symbolized the broken friendship between Ryuuji and Minori (and to a lesser extent, Minori and Taiga) and the effort to put that back together. Yeah, it won’t be quite the same, especially if Minori and Ryuuji become a couple, but no matter what, Ryuuji thinks things will be fine — the star still shines. I’m sure there are some literature teachers out there I need to thank for making me appreciate this scene.

Taiga’s love of Christmas causing her to be so friendly is worth a chuckle. I liked how we got to learn some nice things about her past such as her Catholic Schooling and her memories of waking up to find Santa Claus and receiving a present from him. Plus, Taiga puts her money where her mouth is when it comes to the spirit of giving. I looked at all those presents she bought, even for those who haven’t treated her well (her parents) and I couldn’t help but be touched. It truly is better to give than to receive and Taiga’s actions prove that’s her belief as well. While there’s certainly an element of “Santa-san is watching you” at play, I believe Taiga’s generosity comes from the heart. That’s further reflected in her gifts for the orphans.

Ami. Well, I’d say that this episode confirms for me that she is interested in Ryuuji with her expression of wanting Ryuuji to give her a second chance. When they were left alone in the storage room, I wondered if Ami might try to come on to Ryuuji. Instead, she did not, choosing instead to point out the nature of Ryuuji’s and Taiga’s relationship and the oddness of it. I’d never thought of it this way, but after Ami compared Ryuuji to a doting father toward his daughter, I thought, “that is the nature of Ryuuji’s and Taiga’s relationship.” Ryuuji has never expressed any real signs of attraction to Taiga, only to Minori. Yet Taiga getting close to Yuusaku means letting go of someone special to him. Score big time for Ami. Plus, Ami also hit is that Ryuuji doesn’t even know himself, which is why he was puzzled by some things Ami said.

Finally, a brief word on Maya. Someone told me that she is a “kogal,” which are these girl who wear too much makeup, dye their hair, and dress a certain way, even within the restrictions of a school uniform. Maya has never really struck me as kogal, but I could be wrong. I really can’t see Ami hanging out with a kogal though and Ami does hang out with both Maya and Nanako when she’s not with Taiga, Minori, Yuusaku, and Ryuuji. It does appear that Maya will have more of a role now.

So a rather good episode which I guess will wrap up next episode. I’m looking forward to this.

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