Even though the reason behind my revisit of the anime, ToraDora!, still remains unknown, it’s definitely safe to say that this anime is timeless, beautiful, and will forever remain as a truly pure example of how moving and immersive shoujo animes were in the 2000s.
ToraDora is a legendary anime series that is grossly underrated, and if you haven’t already immersed yourself in this wonderful tale of adolescence, the series centers around our two main characters — Taiga Aisaka and Ryuji Takasu. Both teenagers come with their own set of issues, ranging from innocent high school crushes to deeply dysfunctional families, and it’s almost impossible to not get swept up in their daily shenanigans.
While both Taiga and Ryuji are as different as night and day, impossible as it may seem, they have two things in common. Both juveniles are constantly judged for their physical appearance and often have negative assumptions made about them.
For example, Ryuji constantly finds himself cursed with his father’s fierce facial features, as he’s often perceived as a delinquent, despite the fact that his housewife-ish tendencies are unbeatable — not to mention that he’s more caring than you could ever fathom. On the other hand, Taiga’s perpetually tired of other’s drawing conclusions about her based on her tiny physique.
Our female protagonist is petite and packs a mean punch. Thanks to this, she’s been labelled as the ‘Palm-top Tiger’ — a tiger so small, it could fit on top of your palm, yet is still a tiger nonetheless. Due to people often being frightened of her, Taiga only truly has one friend — Minori Kushieda. Much like Taiga, Ryuji also deals with the difficulties of forming friendships, when everybody is constantly avoiding him based on their preconceived notions about him. However, thankfully, there’s one classmate who sees past his physical appearance — the class president, Yusaku Kitamura.
It may be common for shoujo animes to have their very own ‘tsundere’ character, and it’s safe to say that Taiga would immediately be categorised as such. It may also be said that some viewers simply can’t stand ‘tsundere’ characters, which is completely understandable, everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinions. Personally, I don’t gravitate towards such characters, mostly because they do often rub people the wrong way. After awhile, their behaviour and harsh treatment towards the other characters can get exhausting. However, I didn’t develop any negative feelings towards Taiga’s character, at all.
As I took some time to search for the reasoning behind this, I realised that it’s due to the fact that Taiga’s treatment towards others are completely justifiable. She isn’t exceptionally mean to anyone, and when she is, it all boils down to the fact that she’s aware of something that the other characters aren’t. While viewers aren’t exactly in the know of her difficult family background, as everything is mainly revealed in the second half of the season, her behavior and the way in which she carries herself all makes perfect sense as the anime progresses on. In the end, Taiga is a good person and there’s absolutely no reason why viewers should dislike her, when deep down all Taiga wants is the best for those around her.
On the other hand, there’s simply no way that any viewer could harbour any negative feelings towards Ryuji. He’s compassionate, trusting, and an all-around good person. In fact, I’m shocked that he’s not included as one of the top anime guys; on any list. He’s able to fight when he needs to, and he’s an excellent cook to boot! You’re sure to be in good hands when you’re around him. Some might argue that he’s not the stereotypically attractive male anime character, but I personally love his character design and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. He’s perfect the way he is, and judging him based on his looks would just further highlight the reason as to why he’s treated like a delinquent.
The most charming thing about this series is that viewers don’t only end up falling in love with the main characters. The creators made sure that they equipped each one of their characters with a significant personality. Not every character is as they seem, Kushieda may be cheerful and optimistic, but there’s more to her. Kitamura may be the go-getter class president, but there’s more to him. What I truly appreciate about this series is that the characters don’t exactly feel like ‘supporting characters’ because we’re provided with the opportunity to truly get to know them. Through that, ToraDora truly provides its viewers with an immersive world for their coming-of-age story.
Watch it for the first time, or simply pay it a little revisit
I first watched this anime while I was still in primary school, and I loved it. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it was just so good. But how can we all trust the opinion of such a young individual?
In order to confirm my previous thoughts about the anime, I recently revisited the series. Just for your reference, and my despair as to how many years have gone by, I shall inform you that I graduated university at the beginning of this year. Which ultimately means that since my last viewing of this anime, I’ve entered high school, graduated high school, entered university, and have since graduated from it. Also, while I have absolutely no desire of returning back to my high school years, I’d like to think that I at least possess the years of experience to accurately determine whether or not this series is worth your time. Be it whether you should watch it for the first time, or simply pay it a little revisit.
It’s unique, it’s different
While I can easily see how individuals may quickly write this anime off as your run-of-the-mill shoujo anime, especially compared to the plethora of shoujo animes which currently exists, ToraDora is innately in an entirely different league of its own. We’re all familiar with the boy-meets-girl trope. But you would be hard-pressed to find a rom-com anime as immersive and personal as ToraDora. Even though the main theme of the series can been be simplified and summed up as ‘love’, the story is comfortably complex. It hits you with a storm of emotions, but ultimately leaves you with a feel-good feeling.
Another notable aspect of this anime series that I must point out, is that unlike many shoujo animes — which were adapted from a manga series — this one is complete. It’s nothing amazing for a shoujo series to run for 25 or 26 episodes, however, many of them were solely created to attract more fans to check out their manga counterpart. Which is ultimately unfortunate for those who fell for the anime; and are left to hopelessly pine for a continuation that will never be made. ToraDora is, thankfully, one of the few that successfully leaves viewers satisfied and blessed with its conclusion.
One of the best OSTs
Not only is ToraDora’s dialogue, story and visuals so thoroughly effective at inspiring laughter, and oh-so-many emotions, but what truly triggers one’s feelings is this series’s official soundtrack. While there are certainly many animes out there who can be proud for their outstanding soundtracks, there aren’t as many shoujo animes who can confidently claim that their music has been effective at pulling their viewers’ heartstrings.
While it can’t be said that the music featured in ToraDora is indefinitely the best of all time, it is one of the few that has effectively captured the essence of its most important scenes. We can all admit that nothing hits quite as hard as ToraDora‘s ‘Lost My Pieces’, but the series also contains happy and moving musical gems, such as: ‘Start Up’, ‘Happy Monday’, and ‘READY STEADY GO’.
In my opinion, this shoujo anime literally achieved the perfect blend of lightheartedness to heart-wrenching ratio. And if you’re thinking that that aforementioned statement is literally impossible because it appears to be one of the most unbelievable oxymorons ever stated, I’d like to inform you that ToraDora’s unique enough to have perfectly captured both elements — which makes it one of the best shoujo animes from the 2000s.
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