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 Will Holcomb.
Last time everything was terrible, and I asked is some of that could be fixed by the end of this book. The answer is mostly no, though we do get one major revelation that I expect will eventually lead to the endgame. Till then, though… this was a good volume, with lots of relatable teenage angst, but I have to admit that it feels very much like an author being told to stretch out a series to a nice round ten books and therefore just having everything continue to disintegrate. Minori in particular is still making all the wrong choices, trying to pretend that everything between her and Ryuuji is still exactly the same. Sadly, she’s much better at pretending than he is, so he assumes that his almost-confession meant nothing to her. Ami calls her out on her bullshit, which leads to a major fight between them. And then there’s the ending of the book, which I’ll get into later but leaves Minori sobbing alone in a corner. This is not a wacky fun Toradora! volume.
The tone of the book is set up right off the bat, as the much-awaited trip to Okinawa is cancelled when the hotel they were supposed to stay in burns down. As such, the class trip is a much shorter skiing trip, which pleases absolutely no one. As for Ryuuji, he’s still devastated by events of the previous book, and only JUST manages to get back to himself by halfway through the book. This thankfully allows for the brief bit of comedy we get – the tracksuit outfits picked out for the class are deliberately tacky and awful, and there’s various “Ryuuji and Taiga can’t ski” jokes that are a lot of fun – at least till the end. The main plotline remains the love septangle going on. Taiga is trying to distance herself from Ryuuji, and has also gone so far as to give Minori the hairclip Ryuuji was going to give her. She’s really pushing Ryuuji/Minorin hard. As for her crush on Kitamura, well…
As with the previous book, events in the last twenty pages of the volume almost consume everything else. After another fight, Taiga ends up disappearing off a cliff, and Ryuuji is the one to go down and rescue her. Unfortunately, Taiga, who is groggy from concussion and blood loss from the fall, sees Ryuuji’s goggles and thinks it’s Kitamura. We’ve heard that Taiga and Kitamura had a talk at New Year’s (which Ryuuji, in the hospital with flu, missed) and now we get the pretty obvious answer of what it was about – Taiga is incredibly devastated that despite her best efforts, she still loves Ryuuji. Naturally, she’s unaware she’s telling this TO Ryuuji. It’s so sweet and sad and heartwarming and terrible all at once, and I do feel that Ryuuji made the right choice for the moment of pretending that he was not her rescuer, but this isn’t going to go away.
If you like Toradora! and its teen comedy-drama, this one is almost all drama, but should definitely appeal. Next time, one hopes, Minori will finally open up, but I suspect nothing will really be resolved until the final volume.