Ongoing Investigations: Case #120

Ah, Toradora!, chronicling the eternal struggle between Tiger and Dragon in the form of a spitfire of a tiny girl and a clean-freak boy with the face of a delinquent. Two misunderstood people come together to help each other with their respective love interests, but wind up getting what they never knew they needed: each other. Despite that last sentence, Toradora! is a comedic romance but there truly are very poignant moments. Of course, this is my impression from the anime, the manga maintains a similar feel, and I assume will follow a similar course. Right now it feels better than average, but nothing is particularly moving in this first installment, though I did enjoy Ryuuji catching Taiga on the stairs. Taiga has a bit of a light switch feel at the moment, she is misunderstood but she isn’t wholly unlike her reputation either so I hope that evens out. The cover of the Toradora! vol. 1 manga is striking for its style and design; the interior art is a bit more generic but still well executed. There is also a bonus chapter for Ryuuji’s mom, and in general she has more fan-service in here than the anime. My biggest complaint for Toradora! is how verbose the manga is, this isn’t the most complex of stories so it is unnecessary. In line with this, there is a lot of repetition from Ryuji’s narration creating a showing and telling of many scenes; can probably chalk this up from it being a light novel first.

Manga adaptations of popular series tend to be some of the most mediocre things you can read. So I went cautiously into the Toradora! manga hoping for the best but braced for the worst. My general feeling was it is nowhere as bad as it could have been. I have never read the original light novels but I did watch the anime so I found myself comparing it to that. Ryuji and Taiga’s antagonistic friendship and budding romance is captured fairly well. There is a greater use of minor incidental classmates in the manga so it feels like people exist outside of the 4 main characters. On the down side we see much less of Minori and Yusaku so it is harder to see why our main characters should be crazy in love with them. Minori and Yusaku were not super prominent in the anime so when you cut their time they even become more plot elements and less characters. The character designs are very different from the manga. The girls are clearly done by a different style but you know who is who if you watched the anime. The guys on the other hand look like completely different characters that just happen to have the same name. The biggest complaint is that while there are clear differences so far if you have watched the anime you have read the manga. It is the classic dilemma of what happens when you do an extremely close adaption. If you are a mostly manga fan who is curious why anime fans keep talking about Toradora! this is a good place to see a very well executed shonen romance. Toradora! does not do much new with the genre but it does it in a well executed and lively fashion. For everyone else it is matter of how much you want to reread what you have already seen in a new art style.

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