Toradora! 21 (Of Minori’s, Ami’s, and Taiga’s Love for Ryuuji)

とらドラ!Episode 21
Toradora! 21

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Toradora! 21The class makes it to the ski slopes with the group of Ami, Nanako, Maya, Taiga, Minori, Ryuuji, Noto, Haruta, and Yuusaku displaying their varying ski levels (Taiga opting for a sled). Ryuuji finds out that Taiga met with Yuusaku at New Years and went to the shrine, something Taiga hadn’t told him. Maya and Noto get into a verbal fight over Maya’s attempt to ride the ski lift with Yuusaku as Noto has had enough of Maya’s scheming and Maya has had enough of Noto getting into her way. Yuusaku wants them to stop fighting which prompts Ami to speak up, wondering if Yuusaku is really that thick. Even Nanako is surprised that Yuusaku doesn’t get it and Maya starts to cry.

Toradora! 21At dinner, Ryuuji thinks about how he needs to take advantage of the trip to speak with Minori when Haruta interrupts his thoughts, commenting on how gloomy Ryuuji, Noto, and Yuusaku look. Ryuuji leaves and thinks about how Yuusaku did not tell Ryuuji about Yuusaku’s trip to the shrine with Taiga. He’s joined by Minori, who says she has something to tell Ryuuji. Ryuuji gets excited but is disappointed to learn that Minori wanted to discuss Maya and Noto’s fight. Minori remarks on Noto’s misunderstanding that Taiga likes Yuusaku. Ryuuji tells Minori that it isn’t a misunderstanding and that Minori may not know everything about Taiga. Minori rejects this as she claims to know everything about Taiga. Minori takes out the hair pin that Ryuuji bought (but which Taiga gave to Minori) and puts it in her hair.

Toradora! 21Realizing that pursuing Minori is a hopeless cause, Ryuuji returns to his room and craws into his futon. Noto, Haruta, and Yuusaku enter and to test if Ryuuji is really sleeping or not (since he is ignoring them), the pretend that Yuusaku is dropping trousers to fart in Ryuuji’s face. That gets a response from Ryuuji is gets up very quickly. Now up, Ryuuji tells the guys of how he’s been in love with Minori for quite some time now and that when he was going to confess to her at Christmas, she preemptively rejected him. The guys are stunned at this news and wonder why Minori Toradora! 21rejected Ryuuji. Since he doesn’t know and would like to know, Yuusaku suggests that they ask, so the guys and a reluctant Ryuuji head to the girls’ room.

Upon reaching the girls’ room, the guys are stunned to see how messy it is. Yuusaku knows what Ryuuji is about to do — clean. Haruta and Noto go nosing through the girls’ things while Ryuuji does a bit of straightening. When the door opens, the guys flee to Toradora! 21the closet. It is Taiga, who’s just come from the bath. She spills some beverage and so uses her towel to clean up the spill before using the same towel on her head, an action that frustrates Ryuuji and causes a noise to be made. Taiga is going to check out the noise when the voices of the other girls can be heard at the door. As such, Ryuuji opens the closet door, yanks Taiga inside, and closes it again. Holds Taiga’s mouth shut, begging her to be quiet.

Toradora! 21Ami, Minori, Nanako, and Maya wonder where Taiga is and begin discussing things such as Maya not liking the idea of Yuusaku and Taiga being together. Ami asks Minori for an opinion on whom Taiga favors — Yuusaku or Ryuuji. Minori dodges the question which annoys Ami, who says nothing. Maya wonders if Ryuuji could go out with Taiga since that would solve her problem. That causes a bit of a reaction from Minori and Ami opens up, implying things that rouses the curiosity of Maya and Nanako but which annoys Minori. Ami presses her verbal assault by revealing that Minori had rejected Ryuuji at Christmas. The annoyed Minori asks why Ami is bringing this up. Ami answers that because Minori was spacing out, Minori must not have cared.

Toradora! 21Ami points out that Ryuuji is interested in Minori, not Taiga, something Maya and Nanako did not know. Ami believes that Minori is pretending to be an airhead so as to not face the reality of the situation in order that Minori can believe that they’ll just remain friends. Minori demands to know when Ami saw all this or looked into Minori’s heart when none of this concerns Ami. Ami comes back by stating that Minori supposedly had some feelings for Ryuuji but maybe Minori never liked Ryuuji or felt guilty for someone and rejected Ryuuji. As such, Ami says she’ll inform Ryuuji about this so as to help him get over Minori. Minori gets angry and tells Ami to do as she likes. Ami gets angry and quietly accuses Minori of being a good faker.

Toradora! 21Maya and Nanako both get onto Ami for going too far and tell her she should apologize to Minori. So Ami puts on her fake personality and apologizes with it. Minori is not amused but says it is over. With that, the girls leave to go find Taiga and the guys plus Minori burst out of the closet. Yuusaku remarks on the gravity of the conversation they just overheard. Haruta doesn’t understand what happened and Taiga tells everyone that they heard and saw nothing this night.

Toradora! 21The following day on the slopes, Ryuuji encounters Ami, who’s not skiing but is patting snow. Ami tells Ryuuji that she owes him an apology as it may have been her words that caused Minori to reject Ryuuji (episode 16). She continues by telling him that she got into a fight with Minori last night because she couldn’t tell what Minori was feeling. Ami tells Ryuuji she hates him for being an idiot, but she also hates herself for the same reason. Her words are interrupted when Taiga and Minori accidentally slam into Ami on their sled. Ami is angry and accuses Minori of doing this on purpose to stop Ami’s chat with Ryuuji. Ami accuses Minori of still being upset over the argument the night before. Minori then gets irritated, claiming that she’d put it behind her. Ami rejects this, citing how Minori had been ignoring her all morning. Blows are exchanged between the two as Ryuuji tries to restrain Ami and Taiga attempts to restrain Minori.

Toradora! 21The fight is seen by Haruta, Noto, and Yuusaku. Yuusaku gets the guys to follow him to try to help break it up. Meanwhile, Ami slips from Ryuuji’s grasp and punches Minori hard, causing the hair clip to fly off Minori’s head. Taiga sees this and goes off to find the clip. As the snow starts to fall, Ryuuji notices that Taiga is missing. A snow storm comes in and rescue teams cannot find Taiga. Minori decides she’s going to find Taiga and Ryuuji joins her despite Yuusaku’s warning. Ryuuji tells Ami to inform Yuki-sensei Toradora! 21of their plan and he and Minori (as well as Yuusaku) are off. Ryuuji notices Minori’s hair clip in a nearby tree branch and tells Minori to get the teachers. He then proceeds down the trail, thinking of how he’s left Taiga alone again. Taking the clip, he vows to never let go of Taiga once he gets her.

Ryuuji finds Taiga a short distance away. She’s alive but injured. As Ryuuji carries her back, Taiga thinks that Yuusaku has rescued her. As such, she remarks on how Ryuuji would have saved her and how her wish did not come true. She wants her current feelings taken away and to become stronger because no matter how hard she tries, she can’t stop loving Ryuuji.

Thoughts/Review:

Toradora! 21Of all the Toradora! episodes to date, this one left the biggest mark on me. I don’t think my reviews have been so much about predicting where the series will ultimately end. Frankly, from the start I thought that I wouldn’t be surprised if Taiga and Ryuuji ended up together considering they are the leads here. However, I would have enjoyed it if Taiga had ended up with Yuusaku and Ryuuji would have ended up with Minori or even Ami. I can’t say I was either hot nor cold regarding a Ryuuji x Taiga pairing. In the end, I guess you’d say I was along for the ride because making a whole lot of predictions is kind of impossible.

Toradora! 21For example, the fight between Ami and Minori — I never saw that coming at all. Maybe I should have, I don’t know. The argument between the two was one thing but when the two got into a second fight where blows were exchanged, I was surprised. Yeah, there have been fights before such as when Taiga went after Sumire regarding Yuusaku. That didn’t surprise me because Taiga had already shown herself to be a fighter (her attack on Ryuuji for example and the kick-oshiri attitude she displayed to others at school). As such, it was natural for her to want to fight.

Toradora! 21For Minori and Ami, that’s a different thing. Both have put up facades when dealing with others. Ami has her semi-helpless routine accented by her addressing herself as “Ami-chan” and the cutesy voice she uses. Minori puts on a cheerful, airhead front and comes off as super happy and positive. She also buries herself in club activities as well as work (though we haven’t seen Ryuuji trying to visit her in some time at any of her jobs). I suppose Ami does something similar with her modeling, though not to the Toradora! 21extreme as Minori. Both fall in love with the same guy and both hate themselves for it. As such, they end up taking it out on each other as I see it. The result comes off as feeling very real — this ain’t no Tenchi Muyo! (canon or spinoff) were the girls come to some arrangement and there are laughs to be had over who will get the guy. No, this is something that I believed might actually happen between two high school girls who had been friends and who felt miserable deep inside over loving the same boy as their friend (Taiga). It was a powerful moment to me.

Toradora! 21Now why would Minori or Ami be interested in Ryuuji? For Minori, I think she became interested in Ryuuji about the time he became interested in her. Remember back at the beginning of the series, Minori knew Ryuuji’s name and she was happy that Ryuuji knew hers. Back then, had Ryuuji made a move and not gotten involved with Taiga, I think Minori would have said “yes.” However, Minori mistakenly assumed that Ryuuji was interested in Taiga more than her. Despite Taiga’s attempts to set the record straight, Minori could see how well Ryuuji treated Taiga and how well Taiga responded to Ryuuji. Thus in Minori’s mind, it is a mistake to separate Taiga and Ryuuji, so even though Ryuuji reveals his feelings to Minori (more than once, though in non-direct ways), Minori cannot remove her best friend’s chief support by dating him.

Toradora! 21For Ami, the issue is somewhat different. Being a model, Ami is used to men and boys fawning over her and lusting after her. She has no doubt used that as well as her fake persona to get everything she wants. She meets Ryuuji. He doesn’t buy her act, nor does he fawn or lust after her. Ryuuji is simply nice without being a simp. At first, I think Ami simply saw Ryuuji as a challenge. Girls love challenges at that age (they grow out of that once the clock starts winding down on the child-bearing years) and so Toradora! 21Ryuuji has her interest. Thanks to her odd friendship with Ryuuji, Minori, Taiga, and Yuusaku, Ami is able to observe not only that Ryuuji likes Minori, but that Ryuuji deeply cares for Taiga, even if not in a romantic way. I believe it is these observations that cause Ami to see Ryuuji as more than an mere challenge but as someone special — someone she can be herself around and he won’t care. Until now, Ami sat mostly on the sidelines but now she’s started a fight with Minori. I think that in the end, both girls will make amends, having blown off the pent up frustration they’ve felt.

Toradora! 21As for Taiga, we had already been shown that she had finally accepted what Ryuuji truly meant to her during the Christmas arc. However, Ryuuji still had his eye set on Minori and so Taiga did the only thing she could do — try to set Ryuuji free and by removing herself from the playing field, Taiga hoped that Minori would not feel bad about then dating Ryuuji. Things often don’t go according to plan and even with Yuusaku apparently helping Taiga, she could not truly let Ryuuji go. Fortunately for her, it appears that Ryuuji has suddenly discovered that Taiga is the one element in his life that completes him.

Toradora! 21Ryuuji having this change of heart does not strike me as fake, sudden, or anything else wrong. Both Taiga and Ryuuji had their eyes on other people and in the course of helping each other, became close friends. I mentioned how Ami (and likely Minori as well) would fall for Ryuuji because she could be herself around him and he’d be OK with that. When Ryuuji and Taiga are together, they are themselves. They don’t try to put on their best face to each other while that is what they tried to do around the objects of their affection. In becoming true friends, they realized (in their own time) that they were best suited for each other.

Toradora! 21The fun will be watching how Taiga and Ryuuji proceed from here. Not only that, but how will Ami and Minori react to Taiga and Ryuuji becoming a couple? Will Ami and Minori make up (as I think they will)? Will those five characters remain friends in the end? I could write a lot more about this episode, but I’ve already written a ton and since I’m behind on getting other anime watched/reviewed for the rest of the week, I’ll close this down.

Toradora! has not been what I expected from the beginning and though it has had some small adaptation troubles, I find that I rather enjoy this more realistic look at love-triangles and the negative consequences that can come from them. This is on top of the many other elements I have come to appreciate about Toradora!.

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17 Responses to “Toradora! 21 (Of Minori’s, Ami’s, and Taiga’s Love for Ryuuji)”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is an incredibly accurate writeup on everything going on in the show right now, nice job.

  2. I think you should have written more, ANB. 😉

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Anon — thanks. ^_^

    @Frank — shut up. ^_~

  4. Hugh Roe says:

    It was a nice episode, but man, that Ryuuji’s so thick….

  5. AstroNerdBoy says:

    He is, but I can understand that. I know there have been times in my past where people will say, “This girl likes you” and I’ll look at them like they are smoking crack. Why? Because in my mind, I couldn’t believe that said girl (especially if she were hot) would be interested in me. Maybe that’s partially why I’m single today. *lol*

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ryuuji is a player without knowing it. Kind of pisses me off :/. But I loved this episode and your review re-iterated everything I was thinking about Ryuuji’s relationships. Thanks!

  7. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Anon — Because Ryuuji is truly innocent in his “player” activities, I give him a pass.

    Glad to be of service. ^_^

  8. chuckamuck says:

    i like the big pictures you have
    how come you get them that big?

  9. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Chuck — I’m not exactly sure what you mean. I’m going to guess you mean the non-standard screen grabs. Those comes from pan-and-scan shots in the anime where I then make a single image.

  10. Ayekafan says:

    I really liked the rest of this review, but it pissed me off when you said “The result comes off as feeling very real — this ain’t no Tenchi Muyo! (canon or spinoff) were the girls come to some arrangement and there are laughs to be had over who will get the guy. No, this is something that I believed might actually happen”

    dammit, if you actuslly think that the Tenchi sharing solution is unrealistic, then why have you always been a big defender of it like it was a brilliant idea by KM??? I’ve always thought Tenchi should pick one girl, even if it’s not my favorite. not resolving the situation is a copout, there’s nothing brillaint about it. Sorry for the outburst, but this was very disappointing for me as a Tenchi fan so I can’t help it.

  11. AstroNerdBoy says:

    My point in bringing “Tenchi” up is this — most fans of the series have their preferred girl and they enjoy the fight for Tenchi. Take “Night Before Carnival” (canon OVA episode 7) — whether one is a Ryoko fan or an Aeka fan, people laugh at the fights between Aeka and Ryoko. The fighting is done for comedic effect mostly. That is not the case in “Toradora” where the fights are real — feelings are hurt and people are physically hurt.

    Also, regarding Tenchi, I’ve said from almost day 1 that Ryoko was my choice for Tenchi. However, once I was convinced that Kajishima-sensei would never have Tenchi pick a girl, I then could see the logic of that decision IN THAT UNIVERSE. ^_^ I won’t go into details here, but suffice to say, the political issues in the canon Tenchi titles would be the reason that Tenchi does not have to choose a single girl. Marrying them all gives Jurai some measure of control over Tenchi and provides additional security for Jurai.

    So that’s it in a nutshell.

  12. Ayekafan says:

    Well I say it still sux. If you think Ryoko should share Tenchi with others that’s your prerogative, but I think Ayeka should either get Tenchi or get rejected and be free so she can find someone else to love. forcing her to share Tenchi is just wrong and you’re dreaming if you think that wouldn’t hurt her. What kind of political justification can there be for this that would actually make sense? I don’t see any.

  13. AstroNerdBoy says:

    All I can suggest is that you do some research into arranged marriages in Japan and political (arranged) marriages in other places. ^_^ That’s what I did.

    I understand what you are going through. I argued with True Sheol and Rolf about how a harem ending could not be. Even though it wasn’t my preference, I understand why, I’ve accepted it, and I try to help others understand as they helped me.

  14. Beagle-san says:

    Ah, nothing like commenting on a series long after the fact. ^_^

    However, I thought I’d share something that resonates with your thoughts on Minorin. A looong time ago, back in my doctorate course days, there was a girl I liked who was a year behind me, who was in my brother’s classes. However, I didn’t go try to go for her since I absolutely KNEW that she and my best friend would be perfect for each other, a far better fit than I would’ve been with her, though at that point I knew the gal far better than my friend did, who was still stumbling around with his own relationship issues. And I was right. Today, they have 3 kids and have been married for 19 years.

    So, yeah, these are real emotions here, realistic RL feelings at work.

  15. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I agree (and nifty personal story too). ^_^

  16. AstroNerdBoy says:

    One thing about posting on an old article like this — I was able to fix one more busted image posting. *lol*

  17. Anonymous says:

    wow…sugoi~…seriously, you have my respect !! what an incredible deductions you have there!! Then, GAMBATTE !!

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