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ANIME REVIEW: “Toradora! Complete Series”

ANIME REVIEW: "Toradora! Complete Series"

Toradora! Complete Series Bilingual Premium Edition DVD/BD Combo Set
NIS:  $158.98; 8 discs; DVD, Blu-ray and book

Based on the light novels of Yuyuku Takemiya, the
popular series Toradora! is less a romcom than a romfar, a romantic farce involving a group of mismatched teen-agers.

Many of the students at Ohashi High are afraid of Ryuji
Takasu (voice by Erik Kimerer). He’s tall, with a baleful stare that suggests a
juvenile delinquent about go berserk. But he’s really a singularly domestic
kid–an excellent cook and a ferocious neat freak (you could perform surgery in
his room). Give him spot of mold, a brush, and some disinfectant, and he’s happy

Ryuji nurtures an unspoken crush on Minori Kushieda (Christine
Marie Cabanos), the red-haired captain of the girl’s baseball team. Relentlessly
upbeat and energetic, Minori works at a never-ending series of part-time jobs,
saving money for a college with a good baseball program.

Since elementary school, Minori’s best friend has been Taiga
Aisaka (Cassandra Lee), a.k.a. “The Palm Top Tiger.” Taiga is pretty and petite,
but so volatile, her friends should set out warning flares when she walks down
the hall. When she’s not punching, kicking or berating one of her classmates, Taiga
moons over school vice-president Yusaku Kitamura (Johnny Yong Bosch), who’s pleasant,
athletic, intelligent and clueless.

Rounding out the group is popular teen model Ami Kawashima (Erika
Harlacher), whose squeaky clean exterior conceals a smug, manipulative
personality. But even her aloof cynicism gradually crumbles when confronted
with Ryuji’s kindness and sincerity.

Alienated from her wealthy family, Taiga lives in a big
apartment by herself—next door to the much humbler flat Ryuji shares with his
mother, an often tipsy bar hostess who’s rarely home. Ryuji begins cooking for Taiga
and helping her with her campaign to win Yusaku’s heart—in return for a few
tips about pleasing Minori. Their relationship is often stormy: Taiga bullies
Ryuji shamelessly, referring to him as her dog, punching him, throwing tantrums
and making endless demands. But  Ryuji is
insightful enough to perceive her underlying loneliness.
Her apartment is big, luxurious, Western, cold and empty. In
contrast, the Takasu family apartment represents the popular image of a traditional
Japanese home. Not only are there tatami mats on the floors, Ryuji cooks
old-fashioned dishes for her. He even prepares the ultimate symbol of devotion
in anime stories, the traditional bento box lunch.

Director Tatsuyuki Nagai and his crew focus a lot of
attention on the cuteness of girls and their emotional reactions to the
romantic complications. But Toradora!
is really Ryuji’s story. Like The Melancholy
of Haruhi Suzumiya
, an obstreperous female is at the center of the action,
demanding her way. Like the long-suffering Kyon in Suzumiya, Ryuji actually gets things done—which makes him more

Despite their hard-fought, comic campaigns to win Minori and
Yusaku, Ryuji and Taiga end up falling for each other—something the audience
can see coming from the first minutes of Episode #1. But the fun comes from the
misunderstandings, faux pas, vain hopes, elaborate schemes and confusion that
occur during a typical round of high school activities. Toradora! gets a little needlessly melodramatic near the end, but the
satisfaction and laughs of its conclusion are worth waiting for.

The Blu-ray/DVD box set comes with a several extras,
including slapstick OAV’s and a booklet containing artwork and interviews with
several of the key artists.

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