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Toradora! Episode 16: One Step Forward

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I was going to write a review of Toradora! after I finish watching all the episodes, but I just can't resist writing one for this episode. And since I am going to write the gist of the anime when I write the review for the whole series, I'll just continue the tradition of sharing how I felt when I watched this episode (basically, all I'm really saying is that my "micro reviews," as Sting Lacson dubbed it, are for those already acquainted with the show.) Episode 16 is my turning episode in which I decided to admit that I fell in love with the series, not just because it takes me back to escapism high school, but because I can bullshit my way into intellectualizing every minor detail. Because Episode 16 tugs the right heart strings of comedy, drama, and even managing to tug some action scenes in a usually "realistic" high school setting (quotation marks; think realistic in terms of anime standards). In this episode, Taiga fights for the love of her life (and when I say fight: wooden swords and jumping on classroom tables). One minute I was rooting for her; the next, her opponent. What makes this episode (and the series) wonderful is one can empathize with all the characters. A is in love with B, C is in love with D, but we all know A and C will make a cute couple too, they just don't know it yet. So on and so forth.There are so many pairings but it's not easy to choose a favorite pairing, because every pairing goes well together. This is not like Friends or That 70's Show where they all, as Mrs. Foreman says, "switch partners more than square dancers." It's more than looking for that fitting romantic relationship to please the audience. Because all possible relationships are already pleasingly fitting in Toradora! Interactions with these possible relationships bring about changes within each character. It's established from the start how everyone hides their "true selves" in the disguise of, for example, hyperactivity or airhead-edness. And when each pairing interacts, or in Episode 16, is fought over for, they bring out the "true selves" in them. Not that I believe in the concept of "true selves" but I love how the unraveling of every "true self" of all characters are intricately involved in each pairing. Also, my favorite joke in this episode was when the scene, supposedly dramatic, showed a flashback of the student council president suddenly appearing on top of this building while Kitamura was brooding over Taiga's rejection, hair flowing, booming background music and all. She majestically invites Kitamura to join the student council for a happier high school life. Then, the camera pulls back and we see a ladder. Then it cut backs to the present awe stricken face Kitamura. Toradora! spurts out typical but untimely jokes without blinking a lash.


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