Toradora! Collection 1 Review

There's no shortage of tsudere anime series out there. From Asuka in Evangelion to Haruhi in Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, we're all aware of the brash female lead who, by the end of the series, is making doe eyes at the male lead. Well, in no series has the female lead been quite as difficult as the young palm-top tiger, Taiga Aisaka.

The title of Toradora! is derived from the names of the two main characters, Ryuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka. The name “Taiga” sounds like the English word “Tiger,” which in Japanese translates to “Tora.” “Ryuji” literally means “Son of Dragon” in Japanese, and “Dragon” in Japanese is pronounced “Doragon.” Using the first two syllables of each, and combining them together gives us “Toradora!”

Due to his frightening appearance, Ryuji lives a rather unfortunate life. On the first day of his junior year of high school, he meets a strange girl named Taiga. She is better known as the Palm-top Tiger. Despite looking small and cute, she is extremely short-tempered and nobody can stop her once she starts throwing punches. However, Ryuji learns a secret about Taiga nobody else knows...
The dragon and the tiger join forces to bring you a monolithic romantic comedy! - NIS America

What really sets this series apart from many other with heavy tsundere elements is the lack of fan service. Those who have been long term followers of Geek of Oz will know that I'm not the biggest fan of fan service. Sure, a little bit here and there isn't a bad thing but don't rely on it. That said, there's not much to be found in Toradora. The great thing about this is that the series creator, Yuyuko Takemiya, has allowed the characters to be the main focus point. Thankfully, the characters created are for the most part original and memorable. Taiga herself is a difficult one to forget purely due to her overtly gruff exterior and marshmallow coating. Instead of just being a bit rough around the edges, she's also downright violent. If she's not overturning entire classrooms of equipment, she's kicking the life out of telephone poles.

Further to Taiga, we are introduced to Ryuji, a sweet and innocent boy who has had the misfortune of being born with his fathers face. Looking like a yakuza's child has scared nearly everyone away from him and making friends has never been easy. This aspect of the series is completely endearing and the thought of a lead character who ISN'T handsome or cute is inspired and actually makes Ryuji somewhat more human.

Visually, JC Staff have done a fantastic job of balancing the comedic and romantic elements. Having practiced on other such romantic comedy series like Honey and Clover, they've knocked it out of the park in this instance and, at least for the first collection, the animation is very consistent. The series perfectly captures real world Japan and instantly transports you to a Japanese Highschool, the setting for the majority of the series.

The picture quality was, at times a little bit blocky with noticeable artefacts in low light scenes. Apart from this the pictures have sharp lines and beautifully vibrant colour palettes. The only element of this release that is a little disappointing are the extras/special features which comprise of a clean opening and a couple of trailers. This will hopefully be rectified in future Hanabee releases and maybe even in Collection 2. 

Toradora! is an excellent example of the romantic comedy genre which utilises the tsundere element to a tee. After releasing the visual spectacle of Dream Eater Merry and the fun of Toradora, the future is looking very bright for Australia's newest anime company - Hanabee!

Toradora! Collection 1 is available now on DVD from Hanabee and DVD outlets.

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