NOTE: THIS IS NOT MY POST. This is a post by reader UltraEternalBlackout. UEB is planning to start a blog in the future, but for now is trying to watch a lot of anime and read more blogs in preparation. Please give him a warm welcome for his very personal introduction~! Contains Toradora spoilers, so be warned!
The requirement for writing one of these posts is to be completely and utterly honest, isn’t it? In that case, I suppose I’d better tell the truth right from the very beginning: I’m really not sure what this post is going to be about.
The only way I can explain just how many ways Toradora struck home with me is with a simple question: how many ways does life as a teenager affect anyone? Because as amazing as the relationship between Taiga and Ryuuji is–and believe me, I’ll be ranting about that soon enough–the beautiful thing about Toradora is, the deeper you dig, the more a high school student like myself can find to relate to. Which is why I just can’t explain exactly what I want this post to be about; it’s impossible to understand just how much those years affect us, and shape the person we become. Toradora is the story of how two selfish teenagers with a lot to learn about life eventually come to the conclusion that they love each other. But in order to tell that story, Toradora takes its characters through all the sorts of challenges most any naive high school kid has to face at some time or another.
Before I was even halfway through the series, I could easily pinpoint something I had in common with many of the characters: I don’t feel that my parents deserve any say in who I want to be. When my parents divorced, I was in only in sixth grade; and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I discovered that my mom was a seriously hardcore alcoholic. And that was all it took to turn my life inside out. I moved in with my dad, along with my two younger brothers. I spent the next year hardly bothering to live my life; no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t wrap my head around…anything. Luckily, it wasn’t long after that when I visited the anime club at the nearby library. And it was there that I met the group of friends I still count on to this day. Even though we’ve since moved further away from that library, I still make the effort to be there every week.
It’s not just my mother who I can compare to Yasuko, though. As a kid, my dad was some miserable loser who barely had any friends until he made it into college; and for some reason, he just can’t grasp the concept that not being popular doesn’t mean I’m walking in his footsteps, and making the same mistakes he’s made. All my life, I’ve been pushed to be athletic, or to be a grade-A student; my father thinks I’m the same exact person he was when he was my age. I’m still waiting for him to understand that I don’t want to be the sort of person he wanted to be. Thankfully, he’s more or less given up on me, and moved on to my younger siblings, shaping them into what he’d always hoped I would be.
I know they look down on me, because they believe I’m just weird; I know I’m nothing less than an outcast in my family. And when I think about it, I just can’t help but laugh. I’m glad that they realize I’m not ‘one of them’; even though they consider me to be a lesser person for it, I enjoy rubbing it in their faces. That’s why I had a knowing smile on my face the entire time Ryuuji struggled to be the person he wanted to be, and not to allow himself to become a way for his mother to atone for her mistakes. Toradora is just proof that the parents who say teenagers are too immature to run their own lives, too emotional to shape themselves, aren’t completely right. Every one of the characters in that anime has a lot of growing up to do, especially Ryuuji and Taiga; but they struggle through their problems on their own, and even teach the adults a lesson or two in the process.
I was absurdly proud of myself when I felt I could relate to Ryuuji’s family issues so early on, but it wasn’t until the last few episodes that it began to hit me just how many ways I felt tied to this anime. Just like Ryuuji and his classmates, my friends and I would be at a complete loss in life, were it not for one another. There’s a limit to just how much we can understand one another, but that doesn’t mean we’re ever not there for one another. Being there for my friends has taken me to some pretty crazy places in my short time here on earth; from the roof of a hotel on a cold October night, to the post-curfew streets of a dark city in the middle of summer.
So when I watched Minori, Ami and Kitamura finally take Ryuuji and Taiga’s fate into their own hands, I cried out in joy–completely forgetting the fact that it was two in the morning. It almost made me cry, watching that scene. I couldn’t stop thinking about what great friends they must be, to have the courage to do what had to be done. Even now, just thinking about it, I can’t help but smile. I’d somewhat lost my faith in the pathetic little ‘family’ my friends and I have made together; Toradora reminded me just how far your friends can carry you in this world. It doesn’t matter how fragile our little world seems from the outside, because being on the inside allows me to see just how strong our friendship is.
It’s a lot like the star that Minori and Ryuuji pieced back together, the one he’s holding when they take a class picture in the last episode. It doesn’t matter how stupid or crazy any of the students in class 2-C were–they fit together, somehow, and even though they can’t form a perfect star, they love each other anyway. I cherish my friends more than anything in the world–they mean everything to me, really. Watching Toradora reminded me that their faults are just part of the reason I love them, that all I have to do is pick them up when they fall, and we’ll make it wherever we’re going, together.
“There’s something in this world that no one has seen before. It is gentle and sweet. Maybe if it could be seen, everyone would fight over it. That’s why no one has ever seen it. The world hid it so that no one could get their hands on it easily. However, someday, someone will find it.”
I’ve watched this scene over, and over, and over again. It’s the most perfect ending to an anime I’ve EVER seen. I cry when I watch it–serious man tears. I BAAAWW like a little girl. And I’m not just crying because of the happy ending. The reason this line, those fifty-six words, affect me so strongly, is because of the overwhelming desire I have in life to find ‘it’, to see ‘it.’ It’s obvious that Taiga and Ryuuji are talking about love. And even though that’s not always what I think of when I think about finding ‘it’, there’s no denying the truth behind everything they’re saying. This anime depicts love better than any other anime–no, better than anyone or anything I’ve ever seen.
As I watched Ryuuji race towards the classroom, in those last few moments of this anime, it felt like I was watching it in slow motion. I remembered every moment the two of them ever shared together–from Taiga claiming him as her own, refusing to let anyone touch him, to Ryuuji becoming Santa Claus in the hopes of showing her that she wasn’t alone. When he opened the door to the classroom, and she wasn’t in plain sight, I about had a heart attack. But Toradora is too beautiful an anime to allow it to end that way.
“The person who deserves it the most will definitely find it.”
I couldn’t stop laughing with joy when he opened the cabinet door. Watching these two, from the beginning of their story to the ‘happily ever after’, gave me hope that maybe my vision of the way love should be isn’t completely crazy. Maybe it isn’t too farfetched to think that almost all the love stories today, both real and fictional, don’t allow people to reach far enough down into their soul to tap into that beautiful emotion. Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Ryuuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka are more in love than any other pair I’ve ever seen in my entire sixteen and a half years of being alive.
“This is how it’s created.”
That’s what this story has really been about, from beginning to end. That sly, conniving son of a bitch spirit that we call ‘love’ was determined to have its way with Taiga and Ryuuji, and Toradora was an anime about how the most realistic characters I’ve ever seen struggled to bring that love to fruition, to give tangible form to that which can’t be seen. Throughout the course of the series, they did exactly what Ryuuji predicted–they fought over it. Even if it wasn’t their own love they were fighting for, each of the characters in this anime put their whole being into bringing the Tiger and the Dragon together.
And I was given the honor of being allowed to watch it happen. I was able to relate to each and every character in this god damn anime. It made me weep tears of joy, sadness, frustration and excitement, sometimes all at once. This anime reminded me why I am the person I am–why I cherish those blundering idiots I call my friends, why I’m so determined to break free of my parent’s grasp, and why love fascinates me so very, very much. I felt like this anime was made just for me, and it’s been a touching, inspiring experience from beginning to end.
Every second of the way, all I could think was: FUCK YES. THIS IS PERFECT. And it was. On so very many levels, Toradora was a perfect anime, if not for anyone else, then just for me.