I literally just finished posting my review for the first volume of Toradora! and inspired by love for the show, I simply had to get my impressions for the second volume written down. In case you missed the review, Toradora! is an incredible romantic comedy. This is one for the ages in terms of the rom-com and it's arguably the pinnacle of anime when you're talking about the genre.
Toradora! was a 2008 anime produced by J.C. Staff. It's based on a series of light novels and manga created by Yuyuko Takemiya, which has actually been around since 2006. NIS America has handled the release of the show in the States and up until now a Premium Edition boxed series was the only way to get the show. Finally NIS America has made Toradora! available as a standard edition DVD release. The second volume features the final twelve episodes on two discs.
In the first volume all the players are introduced. There's Takasu, who is a good-natured kid that just happens to look like a delinquent, and then there's Aisaka, the pushy neighbor who forces her way into his life and makes him her bitch. Then there's Minorin, who is the object of Takasu's affections, and Kitamura, who is the object of Aisaka's. They help each other try to hook up with their desired lover. Standing in between all of them is Amin, who seems smitten with Takasu, and generally speaking loves to push everyone's buttons.
In the second installment of Toradora! the show hits viewers with some cliché anime tropes as it's time for Christmas. The series spends a great deal of time here with multiple episodes being devoted to the season. As it turns out Aisaka loves Christmas and she believes that Santa will make her wish come true. There's a big holiday party for the school and everyone gets the sense that romance is in the air. Aisaka makes it a perfect chance for Takasu to ask Minorin out and give her a gift, however, things don't go exactly as planned.
Due to the fact that there's really no way to get around spoiling the content at this point, all I'll say is the dynamic of the cast changes a little. Relationships are pushed to a breaking point and people get into fights. Emotions run high and in the end two characters come out finally having expressed their true feelings for each other. Before there can be real happiness, there are some unresolved personal conflicts to explore and hurdles for each character to get over before they can truly be together. It was nicely played and bucked the trend set by most romantic comedies.
Toradora! dragged for a little bit in the earlier moments of this installment, but it came about in the end. Throughout it all the characters remained the main attraction and the sense of humor didn't skip a beat even as things got more dramatic towards the finish line. If you enjoyed the first installment you'll want to pick this one up. Likewise, if you haven't seen the show yet you'll still want to consider it highly recommended.
Toradora! is presented on DVD with its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is quite vibrant with lots of light and bold colors, which create a nice contrast. In addition to that black levels are strong and the lines are clean throughout. NIS America's transfer is certainly better than most anime DVD transfers and there's hardly any grain to contend with. No line-noise, no cross-coloration, and no artifacting make this a stellar looking release.
For audio there's Japanese 2.0 stereo as the only source of audio. It's not surprising in this case because all NIS America releases do not include an English dub. This is perfectly fine in my book, however, since I'm a stickler for Japanese tracks on my anime anyway. Just keep that in mind if you prefer English with no subtitles. What's here is good for the show though. Toradora! being a romantic comedy it didn't need a bombastic 5.1 spread and powerful LFE. Sure there are the occasional bits of fighting that would have benefited from it, but for the most part the show is dialogue driven and somewhat subdued.
For bonus features there are clean animations and mini episodes of "Toradora SOS! Hurry for Gourmands" episodes three and four.
I could not get enough of Toradora!. I was glued to the show from start to finish and for a few days it was all I watched as I tore through all four discs. The ending was satisfying in a way that few anime shows actually are. Sure it was a little predictable, but that didn't lessen the charm or drama that resolved around the conflict. Toradora! is highly recommended in almost every day. Pick this set up and you won't be disappointed!
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