By Yuyuko Takemiya and Yasu. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jan Cash & Vincent Castaneda. Adapted by J.P. Sullivan.
This really isn’t a review for the Toradora! newbie. It’s been about 8 years since the manga debuted over here, and I still think the main reason Seven Seas licensed the novels is that they got tired of the slow schedule for the Japanese manga releases. The anime is also ten years old this fall. And, sorry about this, but like A Certain Magical Index, Toradora! is one where I did read the fan translated novels, as I had no confidence it would ever be licensed. I mean, there’s no supernatural content in it! But the novels are finally out in North America, and I am pleased, as I really love the story and characters and want to experience them the way they were originally intended. Which, oddly enough, means reading this book like a stand-alone, as it was clearly written. Despite the author’s afterword saying to look forward to more, the book itself wraps everything up (if slightly ambiguously) in one package.
I’ll do a quick summary, just in case any readers who hadn’t experienced this series finished that last paragraph. Ryuuji is a young man who has “angry eyes” (see also Haganai), and has dealt with people misunderstanding him because of it. But now he’s in high school, and can make a fresh start. That is until he runs into Taiga, a short and angry girl who is a giant cloud of issues all bubbling to the surface. Due to various misunderstandings which make up the bulk of the book, each realizes that they love someone else – Ryuuji loves Taiga’s best friend Minori, and Taiga loves Kitamura, a charming and bespectacled young man in their class. Ryuuji, who is a very nice guy, and not in the modern sense of “nice guy”, tries to help Taiga win her love. This is difficult, because it’s really clear from the start that Ryuuji and Taiga are perfect for each other.
Later in these volumes (the series runs to ten books plus side stories) there is an attempt to try to ‘balance’ the harem a bit, adding another girl and showing more of Minori’s feelings about Ryuuji. But honestly, I hope anyone who doesn’t like Taiga knows enough to stop reading and find another property, because Taiga is absolutely Best Girl here. Taiga is less of a tiger and more of a miniature hurricane, leaving chaos and destruction in her wake. As for Ryuuji, he’s a sweetie pie, something Taiga straight up says near the end of the book. He’s dealing with a lot, and his natural inclination is to try to help this chaotic event that has just strolled into his life. Fortunately, he is the rock that Taiga can cling to.
There’s a few things in this book that make it feel like a first volume – in particular, Minori and Kitamura aren’t given the chance to be as eccentric or deep as they become later on. And Seven Seas’ translation has a few issues – I did notice one point where Ryuuji’s mom, Yasuko, should have been speaking but the paragraph got mangled a bit. Still, any Toradora! fan will want to read this, primarily for the amazing chemistry between its two leads.