Toradora Volume 1 Premium Edition

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, July 2, 2010

When NIS America announced that they were going to become an anime publisher as well as a game publisher, it was a bit of a surprise at first but the more you thought about it the more it made sense. Considering that the company is best known for the Disgaea series and other strategy RPGs that have an anime look to them this definitely seems like a smart move, provided that they would localize titles that set them apart from the other big localization companies. One of the first titles that NIS has licensed and localized is Toradora, a romantic comedy that has some characters that are out of the ordinary. The series is being split into two volumes, and the first volume comes in a premium edition that features an episode guide and interviews with the voice actors. And while there are a lot of romantic comedy animes out there, this one really stands out from the rest and is worthy of your time and attention.

Toradora revolves around Ryuji Takasu, a high school student who is seen as a delinquent by the majority of the student population but is actually a fairly mellow guy who enjoys cooking and is a little OCD about cleaning. After a chance encounter with Taiga Aisaka, who is a short girl with a fearsome personality (the other students are scared of her and have nicknamed her the “Palm-Top Tiger”), Ryuji and Taiga discover that they are each interested in the other’s best friend (Yusaku Kitamura and Minori Kushieda) and decide to help one another. Along the way some other characters are introduced (such as the model Ami Kawashima who acts like an airhead but is actually quite spoiled and arrogant). The story primarily revolves around the interaction between Taiga and Ryuji, and what is most impressive from these first thirteen episodes is the level of character growth. At the beginning of the series Taiga treats Ryuji like her dog and constantly seems angry but by the end of this volume there is a lot more depth to her character. I don’t want to spoil the story elements too much but each of the main characters really seems to grow quite a bit from the beginning of this volume until the end, and this is actually fairly rare for anime of this type. Each character may seem fairly predictable but this is certainly not the case. Combine that with the fact that each episode has some humor or interesting scenario that holds your attention, and you have a series that is worth returning to frequently.

The animation for Toradora is great, and each character really seems to have their own distinctive style that they retain for the entirety of the thirteen episodes in this collection. It is clear that the studio that made Toradora really put a lot of effort into making the series stand out, as the locations and props often have just as much detail as the characters. Occasionally towards the end of this volume it seems as though some animation is repeated but this isn’t that noticeable if you’re not paying really close attention. I’ve seen some sites criticize the animation, but I felt like it seemed fairly consistent throughout. One thing that does bother me is that the subtitles look a little strange depending on your television/computer setup but if you can get the picture the right size they look a bit better. Toradora also stands out in my mind for having a great musical score and voice acting. The original opening theme “Pre-Parade” is extremely catchy and will likely be stuck in your head for days on end, while the music that is featured during the show itself is perfect for the different scenarios. When it comes to the voice acting, the studio seems to have picked actors that really give the characters some depth, and this makes the series quite memorable.

As I mentioned earlier, NIS America released this volume in a premium edition to encourage fans to pick it up. First off, there are some bonuses on the second disc which include the first couple of parts to a mini-series called Toradora SOS which features chibi versions of the characters trying out different foods and reciting random history bits. It’s a bit odd but ties in to the main series. In addition to this, there are clean versions of both the opening and ending themes. But the real items of interest in the premium edition are the hardcover box which features the character art and an episode guide. Quite a bit of effort seems to have been put into this guide as it is bursting with little tidbits that viewers may not have noticed the first time they watched certain episodes. In addition to this, there is an interview with each of the actors that voice the main characters and this makes it so that you can really understand how each person approached their character and made it special. This is a great inclusion and definitely makes it worth picking up for those who are anime fanatics.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Toradora considering that there are quite a few anime series of this type out there. But after watching one episode the character’s won me over for being so out of the ordinary and I marathon watched the rest of Volume 1. The extras definitely add a lot to the overall experience and make it so that you can really connect to the series, and that in itself makes it worth supporting NIS’ efforts. Volume 2, which will wrap up the series, is supposed to be out in August and while that may only be a month or so away I am personally going to have a hard time waiting because I really want to know how this series ends and see what special extras NIS is throwing in. You have my support NIS, and hopefully the anime venture will work out and you will bring us even more special shows like this one.

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