“Since ancient times, the dragon has been the only beast to equal the tiger.”
Toradora! has everything it takes to be considered a shoujo classic. Based on the light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya, the anime premiered in Fall 2008. But don’t worry! In case you haven’t seen it yet, all 25 episodes of the English dubbed version can be found on Crunchyroll!
The Tiger and the Dragon
Ryuuji Takasu is your regular high school student. Except for one thing: his eyes. Being the son of a gangster, Ryuuji took after his father’s looks. His intimidating eyes make everyone in school assume he is a delinquent. Even the teachers are scared of him.
But in reality, Ryuuji couldn’t be kinder. He loves cooking and doing chores. Actually, he has an obsession with cleaning that’s almost creepy. He spends his time at home looking after his mom, Yasuko, who works at a night house and sleeps for most of the day. In contrast to her, who behaves more like a teenager than a mother, Ryuuji is very mature for his age.
(NOTE: The kanji “ryuu” in Ryuuji’s name means “dragon”.)
Taiga Aisaka is known throughout the school as The Palmtop Tiger. And there is another reason for the nickname, besides her uncommon name.
(NOTE: “Taiga”, written in katakana, is how Japanese people pronounce the English word “tiger”).
Taiga is very short for her age, even for a Japanese girl. But in spite of that, she has a ferocious temper. She won’t think twice before beating up anyone who tries to make fun of her. Or anyone who gets in her way, actually. Because of that, Taiga has almost no friends in school. Not even the teachers dare to talk directly to her.
After Taiga’s parents got divorced and formed separate new families, she refused to live with either of them. So her wealthy father rented her a luxurious apartment, where she lives alone. Unlike Ryuuji, Taiga couldn’t care less about chores and good nutrition. Her house is a complete mess and she has been living on snacks all this time.
The other students watched in shock when Ryuuji Takasu walked straight into conflict with Palmtop Tiger on the first day of their junior year. Truth be told, he only bumped into her because she was so short he didn’t see her. But everyone was expecting a big fight. Taiga had a reputation for not forgiving anyone.
But the fight never happened and the two walked their separate ways. Later, we find out they are in the same class.
Ryuuji ended up staying after class that day with his best friend, Yusaku Kitamura. When he got back to class to get his bag so he could go home, Taiga was there.
Ryuuji tried to ignore her but ended up having to fight her for his bag, which she for some reason wanted to keep. After he managed to retrieve it, he ran away, deeming Taiga insane.
Only back at home, Ryuuji would understand what had actually happened. When he opened his bag, he found an envelope. It was a love letter from Palmtop Tiger to Kitamura. She had put it in the wrong bag.
Conveniently, Ryuuji had a crush on Taiga’s best friend, Minori Kushieda. Thus, a pact was born: Ryuuji would help Taiga with Kitamura, and in exchange, she would get him closer to Kushieda.
But Ryuuji, being so kind and easily influenced, ended up over-promising. As a result, Taiga began to treat him as a “pathetic dog” (in her own words). Ryuuji found himself cooking, cleaning and acting as a general servant for her.
The student council member
Yusaku Kitamura is Ryuuji’s best (and only) friend at school. He doesn’t care about Ryuuji’s delinquent appearance and can see beyond that. He appreciates him for his kind heart.
Kitamura is a dedicated member of the student council and is often busy with its activities. Because of that, he and Ryuuji do not get to spend that much time together anymore.
He’s also the object of attention of most girls in his class, but seem completely oblivious to it. Ryuuji can’t understand what Taiga likes about him. In spite of being a straight-A student, he sometimes shows a serious lack of common sense.
The cheerful softball player
Kushieda Minori is your typical over-excited sporty character. She’s always cheerful, always trying to make everyone happy. In fact, she’s tireless when it comes to it. If you need help with any kind of festive activity, count on her!
She is the only person who’s not afraid of Palmtop Tiger. Taiga adores her and acts more like a kitten when she’s around her. Kushieda can see the fragile girl that hides behind Taiga’s ferocious attitude and is very protective of her.
Ryuuji thinks Kushieda is the cutest girl in school and has had a crush on her for a while now. But he doesn’t know how to approach the energetic girl. He’s afraid he’s going to end up scaring her away, as he did with every other girl he liked in the past.
There’s at least one more character who deserves to have her place in this review.
Ami Kawashima is a famous supermodel and Kitamura’s childhood friend. When she comes into the story, she promises to be a tough rival for Taiga, who’s immediately jealous.
But there’s more to Ami than just her fame. Behind that “super cute” face, there’s a complex personality full of equally complex needs. Ami is not your typical dumb airhead model. As the story develops, she’s the first to see behind people’s walls. She poses some important challenges to both Ryuuji and Taiga.
Enjoy the animation. But beware of the catchy songs!
The animation is very well executed for most of the anime. It has all the beauty and the delicate features that are necessary for a good shoujo. The characters are the same as they are in the manga. The animators have taken their time in studying and working hard to make it justice. The result is a gift to the fans.
I should alert you, though: the opening and ending songs are contagious!
The first time I watched this anime was seven years ago. I had to abandon it then, due to schoolwork. After all these years, I was surprised to find out that I still knew the lyrics to the songs by heart!
I promise you, you’re going to annoy your friends by humming those all day. I’ve warned you.
Honestly, though, the songs are pure fun. You’re not going to want to skip them. They’re amongst the best anime openings/endings I’ve ever seen. They’re going to stick with me forever.
The tale of the dragon and the tiger will touch you. It could make you cry but more often it will make you smile. It will help you see the fragility of strong people and the strength hidden in those who think they are weak.
If you love a good and fun romance, you have to watch Toradora!. The characters are unforgettable, the kind that stays with you through the years. And the ending of the anime was considered one of the most memorable of all time. Definitely worth it!
Have you already watched Toradora!? What did you think of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!