An Ode to Toradora! (Anime Revival #823)

It was a point in my life where I was starting to become interested in the anime media once again after a long dormancy. I was already reeling off of initially dropping Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann after its (at that point) disappointing time-skip. I was looking to avenge the sorrow that it had left me with a new title altogether. I found Toradora. Or perhaps more dramatically, it found me. Watching Toradora was like staring into a vivid dream. Dreams that you’d find wistfully carried by a child’s unfiltered imagination. Its characters and settings were unlike anything I had ever encountered before in anime. Their introductions were superb. Their development even better. Everything was intricate and detailed. The care put into the show made me care. It made me care a lot. It made me proud to have watched it. And when episode nineteen happened, I knew it was perfect.

The perfect anime, just for me.

I felt this way prior to re-watching it. I was about to indulge in the greatest anime I will ever view. My perfect anime. But something happened that I didn’t expect. My perfect anime was no longer perfect. It had flaws. It was dull. Lackluster. Disappointing. Imperfect. I shrugged it off, it will never be as good as the first time, right?

Enter Katanagatari.

Katanagatari is another title that swept me off my feet upon watching it. Its art style is unique and gripping, and its characters and their interactions could rival any form of entertainment media. It was a very entertaining watch, and it found a place in my heart next to Toradora and Spice and Wolf.

Late 2014. I re-watch Katanagatari.

I loved it even more the second time.

Katanagatari > Toradora?

Why did I enjoy Katanagatari more the second time and not have the same happen for Toradora? Was Katanagatari truly better? Are my emotions trying to tell me to let go of Toradora? Which was is my favorite? Should I even have a favorite? Is anime even really worth having a favorite?

Was Toradora real?

March 2015. My anime hiatus is in full swing when I get an idea: B Gata H Kei, a few months before, had revitalized my interest in anime after a slow week. What better anime to revitalize this creeping feeling of self-loathing than Toradora? It was a grand idea, and after slowly hyping myself to start watching it, I did.

Day 1: 13 episodes.
Day 2: 7 episodes.
Day 3: 5 episodes.

It wasn’t my quickest run-through of Toradora, but it was certainly more than I could do shortly before my hiatus.

After almost three years, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact feelings I had when I first watched Toradora. I recall going into a funk after I finished it, realizing that it was the greatest thing I had ever seen and I would never find anything better. It was a mixture of depression and light-hearted pity. It was a crowning testament to everything I loved about anime before I even knew what anime was. How lucky I was to find a series that could speak to me clearly so early on. Once it was gone, I could never hold on to the emotions and unfathomable joy I experienced watching the story of Toradora unfold for the first time. For a while, I almost felt like a kid again. A kid whose dreams were wistfully carried by his unfiltered imagination.

Watching Toradora for a third time was exactly what I needed. Every doubt, every flaw that had bounced its way into my subconscious were still present. However, a whole new wave of emotion ferociously washed them all away. With every weed, two flourishing plants would grow to overtake it. Whatever emotions (or lack thereof) that lay casually in my mind were driven out by a buffet of succulent new connections. Scenes that had never so much as grazed me suddenly became crucial moments for my empathy, and for my mind to analyze. The characters’ intentions seemed clearer. Their purposes no longer mattered. It all felt real. Real, once again.

Perhaps it was the changes in me that resulted in the changes in Toradora. Whatever the case, I couldn’t have had a more pleasing experience with it, save for the first time. It’s everything I want in a series, revived in an unexpected way. The flaws were present, but were excusable. Excusable to me, that is. I’m clearly biased, but you’ve read this far anyway. Toradora is the perfect anime. The perfect anime for me. And nothing will ever come close.

I didn’t cry.

And that is my only regret.

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