As a pretty self-conscious person, one of my characteristics is a nagging worry that I’m drawing unwanted notice to myself. I assume that my appearance is very noticeable, but I tend to overstate things, and it does help that I feel like I put myself out there in the open enough that I’m not too inconspicuous enough that people focus on what I’m doing (If that makes any sense). When extra (I won’t say “unnecessary”) attention comes my way, I don’t really handle it well, wondering what I’ve done to deserve it. So it’s interesting to see how in Toradora, all of our main fivesome are attention-grabbing in some way whether or not they want it. While I don’t receive it as constantly as any of the characters do, it’s empathetic in a way, as well as interesting to see how they all deal with it. Something has to keep me intrigued by this show.
Taiga and Ryuuji are both victims of unwanted attention and we see this from the beginning in a humorous way with the introduction of both characters. One of the lasting moments from the first episode for me was seeing Ryuuji’s smile at seeing what class that he had managed to get into. His naturally grumpy-appearing countenance coupled with his grin made him looking like a delinquent eagerly anticipating a later fight, or whatever it is that they do. From the response of the people around him, as well as what’s said later, he unintentionally drives people away in fear through no fault of his own (damn genetics), and while he doesn’t seem to be the type of person to worry about it, it does seem a little sad and annoying from his view point. Though it would be interesting to see what would happen if these people notice his real desire is to become Mr. Clean when he grows up.
As demonstrated by how hard she tried to desecrate a lamppost, Taiga is not pleased with the moniker bestowed upon her. While I’m sure she’s very annoyed by the “Palmtop” portion of her nickname, it seems to be the “Tiger” portion that gets her. Outwardly, the term suits her to a T, with such ferociousness and possessiveness in a small package (though not too small) presented to the rest of the world. But as seen from her interactions with Yuusaku (especially with him), Minorin, and Ryuuji, we see that that’s not the case. And I feel like we do get to see some internal conflict on Taiga’s end with regards as to who she really is, how she really feels and so on. I wouldn’t think that’s necessarily why she tends to use unnecessary force and violence a lot of the time, but one could surmise that that’s just an external manifestation of the fight within her. And if that was the case, there might be more problems for her than I think.
Both Yuusaku and Minorin also grab attention, but neither person seems to mind it too much. Because they tend to regularly act outside of the norm behavior-wise, while it’s great fun for me to watch, it also gets people to notice and wonder what exactly they are doing, as was shown in the scene at the train station in episode nine. At times, it does make me wonder exactly what Ryuuji sees in Minorin sometimes, and at others, it makes me wonder exactly what screws are loose in Yuusaku’s head. But it makes me like them even more, since they are clearly comfortable being who they are for the time being, regardless of who sees them, naked or otherwise.
At the same time, like with unfairly typecasting Ryuuji and Taiga into people to stay away from (although in Taiga’s case, it makes more sense), it’s too easy to list their respective love interests as the crazy ones. Both are pretty perceptive people, where I think both see what looks to be an inevitable Ryuuji/Taiga final pairing, even if those in question don’t see it in themselves. Yuusaku has a pretty good head on his shoulders, in terms of his actions in the Student Council and in terms of letting Ami be Ami. And Minori hides some subtleties of her own, such as her admission that love isn’t necessarily for her at the moment or in her goals to become a stronger person, that most don’t pay attention to when looking at her.
Then there’s Ami, who demonstrates the dichotomy between what she comes off as and who she really is more blatantly than anyone else here. While I might not like how it comes off (because when she plays her fake persona, you can tell that it’s really fake to the point where you don’t understand why no one else of her classmates notice this), it is necessary for things to work well, I guess. What’s interesting about Ami is that unlike everyone else, she deliberately grabs for attention, even though she already gets a lot of it from her status as a model. But she only seems to be an attention whore (sorry for any offended) in her fake persona, and it only enhances the fact that she does this to draw away observation from how she really is as a person. Whether if it’s to prevent people from going away from her, or as a means for her to be alone (I do like her penchant for liking narrow spaces), it definitely creates a lot of mixed signals. Even then, we don’t know if that’s on purpose or not, especially with how she interacts with Ryuuji in her teasing.
I’m sure people have thought about this before, so this is just a waste of space, but Toradora has been interesting in showing if even just superficially how impressions can be off the mark, and how we never really know people all the way, no matter how much we might want to. If anything, it will be fun for me to watch if both Taiga and Ryuuji can demonstrate to others how their appearances belie who they really are as people. I hope I can see more about what Yuusaku and Minorin really think about than just the shades that we’ve been given so far. And I want to see if Ami can reconcile her two guises by the end, and in the process, make me actually like her as a character. While I wasn’t really too set on the show at the outset, recent episodes make me wonder what more is there to see, and that’s not a bad thing at all.