Toradora (とらドラ！) is a 25-episode romantic comedy from 2008 by JC Staff with composition by Mari Okada based on light novels.
Ryuji Takasu is a boy who thanks to inheriting his late yakuza fathers eyes everyone thinks is a delinquent and avoids despite him being a really gentle guy. After an encounter at school with the short, and short tempered, Taiga Aisaka everyone thinks the two of them are going to fight and/or are dating because of their perceived attitudes. In fact they realized they’re each harboring a crush on the others only friend and are trying to be wingman for each other, if they can only get the rest of the school to stop being so afraid of them.
A good romantic comedy needs good characters first followed by a good developing romance and Toradora brings both. All four of the main leads are quirky individuals distinct from each other while being fun to spend time with and you can realistically see how they’re friendships grow from that- in particular Ryuji and his obsession/near-fetish with cleaning is always a hoot watching him get excited about scrubbing a room down. For the latter, well Toradora has one of the best developing plots in a romcom, with simple misunderstandings (everyone at school thinking Ryuji and Taiga are thugs and/or going out) cleared up by the SECOND episode instead of being dragged on for half the series, and confessions/rejections/moving on/reconfessions happening at a pretty brisk pace as the kids live out their school lives.
The series also strikes a really perfect balance between being very funny a lot of the time, while also being very heartfelt without getting too schmaltzy or whiplash tone inducing, no easy feat considering how many other shows have failed at the very same thing. It mines humor from the characters idiosyncratic quirks while never demeaning any of its cast letting it still have some very powerful emotional moments when those quirks start clashing against peoples emotions.
Some of the characters quirks can be a bit much creating “love them or hate them” personalities. Minori in particular has a hyper cheerful attitude that while a fan favorite for a lot of people can also be off putting at times with how over the top she is. Late addition to the cast Ami is even worse as she has a toxic dour outlook on everything frequently being used to drive some of the plot forward more than any natural reason for her to be around like everyone else has. Even Taiga can be a lot as shes a bundle of tsundere tropes (voiced by tsundere queen Rie Kugimiya) making this one of the few, if only, romcoms where I like the entirety of the male cast more than the female.
Weeb Level: 5/10- The tropes are strong with this one. Everyone has at least one trope theyre playing to the hilt and a second that usually everyone thinks they are, not to mention you’re going to see all the top hits of high school romcom such as “making chocolate for valentines day”, “Christmas”, and “going to the beach together”. Plus the animation style will never make you forget youre watching an anime.
Fanservice: 3/10- There’s a few requisite beach/pool episodes with the girls in swimsuits, otherwise little-to-no underwear shots and no nudity.
Quality: 9/10- This is peak romcom, absolutely nailing both parts of that phrase.
Where to watch it: More like where not to watch it1– Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Prime all have both the subs and dub versions available.