Face Off: Mike and Ray on “Toradora 1”

(Inspired by the duel reviews at www.epicwin.org)

Ray: Are you rather not be moe’d by Shana, Nagi or Louise? Are you wishing that Kugimiya Rie would do a little more? Well, I think or hope that this will be the one where she does.

Mike: What stuck out for me, and was a pleasant surprise, was both the rather deliberate pacing of the episode and the thoughtful monologues that were scattered throughout. And Rie Kugiyama NOT doing here usual shtick with her voice, though there were elements of her past characters. Still, in the end, there were definite moe moments, I agree.

Ray: I do have say that she’s still playing a tsundere, just on PMS.

Mike: I thought the whole tsundere mood or trait was pretty much PMS writ large from the beginning :) But yeah, this one is more extreme.

Ray: She plays Taiga, a crazy little chick the size of Hinano, only with a higher pitched voice, though lower than her usual roles. The description that Ryuji, our mild-mannered protagonist has for her, is rather interesting. Many may think Taiga and Ryuji and the whole premise is a little old, but I find it has more heart than usual, and so I’m more interested about it.

Mike: So am I. And I think the way it has more heart is partly because the monologues make the characters seem a bit more thoughtful than usual for this genre. And I think Taiga’s eccentricities, while not out of the ordinary for this genre, are still appealing enough to not make her seem like a total freak.

Ray: Or you’re just charmed by Kugimi :) But I don’t disagree, because if we try to put this in realistic terms, she’s just a normal moody adolescent. That’s not unusual. I mean, girls in our high schools sometimes hit guys, too. But this is anime, so exaggeration is necessary.

Mike: Sure. I’m not claiming realism at all, really. Actually it points to a rather interesting juxtaposition in the show–it simultaneously feels very calm at times and also really really over the top with its slapstick humor. I think with most romance comedies, it usually keeps up a fairly fast pace–think Love Hina–but this one doesn’t quite do that

Ray: Yeah, that’s interesting. But I really can’t say I agree with you entirely, because I didn’t find it slow. I felt it was all right (even though I was drinking). But I seem to have missed the calm atmosphere it sometimes has.

Mike: It’s in the first 4-5 minutes or so. After that, I think it definitely speeds up.

Ray: I think so. What do you think about Ryuji?

Mike: Well he’s actually not quite the usual harem lead, at least. He’s more like the main guy in Midori Days (Midori no Hibi) as well as the guy in Karin–they all have those weird eyes and they aren’t all total wimps.

Ray: But in this case, he’s like one in personality – he’s really mild mannered, almost as much as you!

Mike: Well, in his and my defense, mild-mannered != wimpy. :)

Ray: Ah haha…He’s also a neat freak, which most tough male leads aren’t.

Mike: Well on that score, we are alike :) I am pretty obsessed with organization. Though I’m not sure even I would touch that sink of Taiga’s!

Ray: Yeah, now she’s nothing like a usual love interest…or is she? Her personal habits remind me of Nodame’s.

Mike: And the fact that Ryuji has to live with a slobby, MILFish mom reminds me of the guy in Nogizaka Haruka with his sister and teacher. In both cases irresponsible older women lead the guy to become more responsible for domestic duties.

Ray: for those who don’t understand MILF…

Mike: MILF = “Mother I’d Like to Fuck.”

Ray: Whoa, dude! Watch your mouth! XD

Mike: It usually refers to an older lady who is sexually attractive to adolescent or young men and is usually a bit of a charmer herself. Though I think in anime, it usually comes out as the fairly standard archetype of the boozed up, alcoholic woman with big boobs.

Ray: Yeah, it is. Usually it does two things to the male lead. 1. He hates women in general. 2. He becomes somewhat of a loli-con. I also wonder if this indicates a trend in Japanese women’s average lives?

Mike: Somehow I doubt it–though I think the Japanese (men at least) are known to drink heavily. The boozy woman is usually also portrayed as loud and assertive–two traits that are typically associated with gaijin if anything.

Ray: AH. But not moving too far away, how about their friends? Those two who understand them? What do you think of them?

Mike: They didn’t make a huge impression on me really. They are the necessary side characters that provide a contrast to the main characters as the straight man/woman. Because both leads have things that make them stand out–the yakuza eyes, the propensity toward extreme violence.

Ray: I guess the primary important thing is that Ryuji has a crush on Taiga’s friend–what’s her name?–oh, Minori Kushieda.

Mike: I was about to look it up on Wikipedia :)

Ray: Yeah, well, the other thing is that in order to help Taiga with her love issues, Ryuji inevitably says the wrong thing – that I’ll do anything to help you.

Mike: I guess in that way he is similar to other harem leads. They usually want to be helpful and kind and in the process overextend themselves. Then again, this wouldn’t be funny if he were more rational, would it? Because that gives Kugimiya the license to call him a dog!

Ray: Hahaha! Something right out of your fantasy! But you know, with that promise, it’s hinted that they will get together. Do you think that’s a fairly standard way of indicating that?

Mike: Yes. Always. It’s either that, or the pinky promise when they were kids.

Ray: Can’t they come up with something new for a change? Even their exchanges seem clichéd just like other anime we’ve seen.

Mike: Yeah. I definitely felt like while the beginning felt different, much of the episode felt very similar to other shows of the genre. It’s hard to judge from just one episode, of course.

Ray: I suppose it’s pointless to hope for something revolutionary. At least their character dynamics are rather likable to me. Did anything else impress you?

Mike: Well, not much else. My overall impression is that they do seem to be heading down the Nogizaka route; they want something that’s a little different in some ways, but is still comfortable and comforting to the audience. Nothing wrong with that, there’s a place for such things. I’ve learned not to expect too much from romance shows, ef excepted, which is why I’m looking forward to that one. Any final thoughts from you?

Ray: Not really. As usual, the music didn’t impress me and the animation is on-par with today’s quality. I’m watching it mainly for the character interaction.

Mike: As do I when I watch most shows now. A huge part of my grade is the quality of character interaction.

Ray: Well, as I reviewed before, I’m “Somewhat Enthusiastically Recommending” this. And you?

Mike: I don’t disagree, really. I guess I’d say in my own words, “One to Watch Out For”

Ray: Cool. Then next time, we shall do a battle on something we disagree vehemently.

(Inspired by the duel review at epicwin.org)

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