This week NIS America released the second and final volume of the anime version of Toradora! for the North American audience. I just got this set yesterday and the show drew me to marathon all 12 episodes and all of the bonus features on the set in about 5 hours. It’s not often that a show I’ve seen before will induce me to finish it in one sitting (again!), but this show is something special.
NIS kept the same packaging idea as the first volume with a big box containing the other outside art of the R2 box and two of the four R2 covers (5 and 7). The set also includes the special episode guide (including a great interview with Ryuji and Taiga’s seiju). As I said before, it’s a great addition to a R1 release and I wish more companies would include artbooks like this.
As for the show, it contains the final 12 episodes (14-25) which start us off slowly and then take us on an emotional rollercoaster we won’t soon forget. The first volume was fun and enjoyable, but it’s these 12 episodes that truly define what a dramatic show should be. From here on out we have massive spoilers, so if you’ve not seen the show stop right here and go watch it for yourself. You won’t regret it!
The first arc we encounter takes us through the aftermath of the Cultural Festival with the group purchasing pictures and Kitamura becoming a delinquent-type character. It’s obvious when re-watching the series that Kitamura didn’t care for Taiga the way she felt towards him as well as his love for Kano-sempai. It was episode 16 that got me beginning to really care for Taiga’s character due to her fight with Kano-sempai when she’s heartbroken over Kitamura and yet wants the best for him at the same time. A great send-off for Kitamura’s importance.
The second arc featuring the Christmas party is one of the most tearbreaking moments in the entire series. All throughout the arc it’s repeated that “if you work hard enough, it’ll pay off” and yet we end in the worst situation. Taiga realizes it’s not Kitamura she cares for, but the one who’s always there for her and whom she just sent away to his love. Minori sees Taiga’s realization and decides to give up her happiness for Taiga by rejecting Ryuji before he can confess. Ryuji finally builds up the courage to confess and yet he’s rejected for reasons he doesn’t know. Finally Ami realizes the whole situation yet can’t give up her own feelings for Ryuji even though he’s clueless. The contrast for the end of episode 19 with the happy song still angers me, but that’s how impactful it is.
We don’t get a break as the next arc continues that path to the mountains and emotions run high. Taiga locks away her feelings and works to assist Ryuji even further than ever before with Minori, but can’t give up everything as she confesses that her feelings for him won’t go away when she’s being saved by “Kitamura-kun.” Not only do we have that, but Minori and Ami finally have it out over Minori’s games and Ami’s feelings for Ryuji. The show makes it so you can’t stop watching to see what happens next.
What happens next shows the real meaning of Toradora!. It’s about family coming together and supporting each other. Ryuji and Yasuko have it out over his future. Taiga combats with her mother who’s come to take her away from the one place she’s fit in. Minori finally confesses her feelings for Ryuji and Ryuji realizes his love for Taiga in front of their friends, who’ve become family. It all culminates when Ryuji and Taiga run away.
The story from the final novel where Ryuji and Taiga get assistance from their friends to head towards their future together is different from the anime version, but both are very well told. The trick to bring Yasuko back to her family where she ran away from and Taiga’s decision to live with her mother is important in both versions. It’s a very emotional ending and the final anime scene works just as well as the novel epilogue.
This is a show where the ride never seems to end, but you’re sad when it does. The conclusion from both are satisfying, but After Story has spoiled us to want more of the story after schools ends. All in all, it’s my second favorite show after The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the show I’ll admit to having the best overall story. I’m not embellishing in the slightest; it’s that good in my opinion.
I could ramble on about the show, but I need to review the rest of the set. The video looks amazing and makes me want to see a BD-Box from King Records soon. The animation quality shows up very well here minus a couple of scenes where the dual subtitles can cause the video to flutter. I just wish it had been given more money from JC Staff to be animated in HD.
The audio sounds terrific. The 2.0 mix works well with surround sound and you can hear everything quite clearly. Each of the Japanese voices actors play their role incredibly well and deliver amazing performances.
As for bonus features, we’re presented with the final two SOS Gourmet episodes and the clean OP/ED for the second half. Being that I absolutely have fallen in love with Orange‘s song and Silky Love‘s animation, it’s very appreciated.
As with Railgun, JC Staff animated the clean endings for episodes 19, 21, 24, and 25 for the DVD releases. As one who loves to use clean animations for screen captures, they have my extreme appreciation for doing this. If only KyoAni would’ve done the same for Haruhi.
To conclude, this is an amazing show that I will highly recommend to everyone reading this as well as a wonderful release from NIS America. I only wish I could like some of the other shows they’ve licensed to show my true appreciation for their work on this set. It’s easily worth standard price for both volumes and more. If you have the opportunity, do get it. As usual, I’ve uploaded more photos to my Photobucket account so check them out!
This entry originally appeared on Cartoon Leap and has been copied faithfully (minus image locations) from the original content.