Toradora!(とらドラ!?) is a Japanese light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya, with illustrations by Yasu. The series includes ten novels released between March 10, 2006 and March 10, 2009, published by ASCII Media Works under their Dengeki Bunko imprint. Three volumes of a spin-off light novel series were also created, aptly titled Toradora Spin-off!. A manga adaptation by Zekkyō started serialization in the September 2007 issue of the shōnen manga magazine Dengeki Comic Gao!, published by MediaWorks. The manga ended serialization in Dengeki Comic Gao! with the March 2008 issue, but continued serialization in ASCII Media Works' manga magazine Dengeki Daioh with the May 2008 issue.
The title Toradora! is derived from the names of the two main characters Taiga Aisaka and Ryūji Takasu. Taiga sounds like tiger in English, and tiger in Japanese is tora(とら?). Ryūji literally means son of dragon in Japanese, and a transcription of the English word dragon into Japanese is doragon(ドラゴン?).
Toradora!'s story begins with the male protagonist Ryūji Takasu who is frustrated at trying to look his best as he enters his second year of high school. Despite his gentle personality, his eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent, so he feels utterly hopeless about his chances of getting a girlfriend anytime soon, and does not have many close friends either. After being greeted by his hungover mother in the morning, Ryūji goes to school and is happy to find that he gets to be in the same class with his best friend Yūsaku Kitamura and a girl he has a crush on, Minori Kushieda. However, it is then that he unexpectedly knocks into "the school's most dangerous animal of the highest risk level"—Taiga Aisaka—who just happens to also be in his class, and is a good friend of Minori.
Taiga has a negative attitude towards others and will not hesitate to snap at people. After meeting Ryūji, she takes an instant dislike to him. Taiga comes from a rich family, but she has moved out to live on her own due to family issues. She is coincidentally living in an apartment next to Ryūji's. When Ryūji discovers that Taiga has a crush on Yūsaku, and Taiga finds out about Ryūji's affections towards Minori, Ryūji suggests that they cooperate to win the objects of their affections. Taiga exploits the fact that Ryūji will do anything to get closer to Minori. She makes him her personal servant, getting him to do all her household chores (cooking and cleaning). Taiga spends a lot of her time over at his house, so much that she could almost be considered a member of his family. Since Ryūji spends a lot of time with Taiga, he has opened up to her world and to a side of her that most people do not see. The two also try to help each other improve the way people view them. However people they know from school start to become curious about their strange relationship and rumors begin to spread about them behind their backs. Ryūji and Taiga start getting along more as things progress with the relationships between the characters and eventually confess their true feelings of love towards each other.
The main characters of Toradora! (from left to right): Ryūji, Yūsaku, Taiga, Minori, and Ami.
The series' main male protagonist, Ryūji is a seventeen-year-old high school student in his second year, class 2-C. Due to heredity, his sanpaku eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent and causes many misunderstandings. He lives in a fatherless family with just his mother, and due to this, Ryūji has learned to be self-sufficient. He is good at cooking and keeping everything in his house clean (to the point of obsession), and also excels at sewing. He holds a crush on Minori Kushieda, a girl his age in his class. He has a pet parakeet named "Inko-chan" ("inko" literally means "parakeet" in Japanese). Ryūji often helps Taiga with domestic chores which she is otherwise unable to perform. At school, he is known as "the only person able to stop the palmtop tiger", referring to Taiga's nickname.
Due to the misunderstandings due to his looks, as well as how he grew up, he tends to look down on himself. Despite this, he is rather calm in most situations and is responsible, smart and has great grades, even when compared to Yūsaku Kitamura, his best friend. In the light novels, he sees a tender side of Taiga Aisaka that she hides from everyone. In the anime, he is dense when it comes to girls' feelings, especially about things between him, Taiga, Minori and Ami. While initially seen as intimidating by most others, he makes more friends. His feelings and relationship to Taiga begin to change as he spends more time with her throughout the series. Eventually, he and Taiga become a couple.
Taiga is a girl in Ryūji's class, as well as the series' main female protagonist. She has a well-regulated and beautiful appearance though is unable to stomach company from others. Due to her often snapping at others in brutal ways and her short stature, she is given the nickname "Palmtop Tiger" (手乗りタイガー,Te Nori Taigā?). Her under-developed body and the added nickname has given her a complex which in turn serves to give her a negative attitude and facial expression. Essentially, Taiga gets upset easily. She is also brutally honest, typically when she is lashing out at someone. Due to her cute looks (described as a doll by Ryūji), she often gets confessions of love by boys, but she turns down every one of them, including Yūsaku Kitamura (which she later regrets). She is clumsy and tries to hide that too; it seems that only Ryūji has observed it.
Despite coming from a well-to-do family, her life with them is very difficult because of various problems. She had lived with her father and step-mother and constantly fought with her parents, but she moved out and since then has taken to living on her own. Since she came from a privileged household, she does not know how to do any domestic chores. Near the end of the story her father's business goes bankrupt and he runs away, leaving Taiga in the care of her mother who was already remarried and had a new family of her own and with which Taiga has difficulty getting along.
When she meets Ryūji and learns of his domestic talents, she ends up relying on Ryūji to cook for her. Aside from sleeping in her own house, and going to school, she spends most of her time at Ryūji's house; so much so that she is considered a member of his family. At the beginning of the story, she is infatuated with his best friend Yūsaku Kitamura and gets nervous every time he appears around her. Due to this, Taiga and Ryūji team up to help each other get into a relationship with each other's best friend. Though she treats Ryūji badly at first, her feelings begin to change as she spends more time with him. They later become a couple.
Minori is a girl in Ryūji's class, and is a close friend to Taiga. She is also known by the pet name "Minorin" (as a form of friendly affection). In contrast to the violent nature of Taiga, Minori is always smiling and cheerful. She is very athletic and is the captain of the girl's softball club at school, though at the same time she holds many part time jobs. She is a glutton when it comes to food, but is also constantly combating it with dieting, calling herself a "diet warrior". She gets a thrill out of being scared. Despite her air-headed tendencies, she is very perceptive, and is one of the few people to see Ryūji for the gentle person he is, and is also not fooled by Ami's acts of innocence. It is implied that her air-headed tendencies may be a facade, and later revealed that she too loves Ryūji. She has a younger brother.
Yūsaku is a male student in Ryūji's class, and is his best friend. He is the vice-president of the student council, the class representative, and captain of the boy's softball club at school. Yūsaku wears glasses, and has a diligent personality. He thinks he is poor at talking to girls, though Ryūji observes otherwise. During his time as the vice-president of the student council, he eventually falls in love with the student council president, Sumire Kanō. A running gag is that he will appear out of nowhere behind Taiga and Ryūji when they are discussing a "plan of attack" to get their crushes. Like Minori, he has an unusual personality, but often it is an expression of his friendship and appreciation, though it can easily get out of hand fast. After his graduation, he goes to study abroad in America, chasing after Sumire Kanō.
Ami is Yūsaku's childhood friend who transfers into his class midway through their second year of high school. She is very beautiful and even works as a model and is seen as the mature one of the group. After she transfers schools she temporarily stops modeling. However, she still continues to go to the gym readily and maintains a slim figure. She is always kind and generous towards others, though this is merely a deception. In truth, she is a princess and has an arrogant belief in her own cuteness, a trait that she tries to hide from most others. During her first meeting with Taiga, Ami shows her true colors, but the tables are turned when Taiga counterattacks by slapping her. Since then, Ami and Taiga have been enemies, with Ami becoming one of a few who can tease Taiga at will; and Taiga referring to Ami as Baka-chi (Stupid Chihuahua). Ami occasionally sets aside her facade and speaks honestly to Ryūji, and is aware that she is really dark and twisted. Despite all this, Ami still sometimes envies Taiga since she can always be honest. Ami toys with developing a love interest in Ryūji, asking him if he would love her real self and give her a second chance. She has a deep understanding of the relationship situation going on between Minori, Ryūji, Taiga, and herself.
Yasuko is Ryūji's thirty-three-year-old mother, though she refers to herself as eternally twenty-three; she has large, F-cup-sized breasts. Though she tells Ryūji his father died before he was born, the truth is they were never married; he left her before Ryūji was born, and she raised her son by herself. She works at a hostess bar named Bishamontengoku where she goes by the name "Mirano" (魅羅乃?), and singlehandedly supports her two-member family financially. However, she has a childish personality and since she works, she entrusts the household chores to Ryūji. She instantly takes a liking to Taiga and already regards her as a member of her family, getting depressed when Taiga will not appear for dinner. However, she does get angry when woken up too early since she usually comes home very late. Despite the childish, air-headed behavior, Yasuko proves to have a rather good insight of other people.
Yuri is the 29-year-old homeroom teacher of Ryūji's class, though she turns thirty in the fifth volume of the light novels. She likes to do things at her own pace and is timid towards Taiga's way of speaking out. Since her twenties are almost over, Yuri is in a hurry to get married soon and she even tries to dress well so as to be able to get into a relationship quicker. After she becomes thirty without getting married, she develops a twisted and depressed personality, which is further developed by Taiga because when Taiga talks about her, she emphasizes her single status. She has an interest in real estate which is sort of a crutch for her single status.
Sumire is the student council president and always manages to get the top grades in school; she is in fact a scholarship student and has horrible eyesight. She has a strong-minded personality which she depends on to be a figure to those who will follow. Her younger sister is Sakura and her parents own a supermarket. She later studies abroad in America as she wants to become an astronaut, and because of this, she rejects Yūsaku's confession and conceals her own feelings, so that he will not pursue her in America.
Sakura is Sumire's younger sister who attends the same high school as Sumire though her grades are horrible. She can unconsciously flirt with people, and like her sister, she hates snakes. She later starts going out with Kōta.
Kōta is a first-year student who is the main character to Toradora Spin-off!. He is generally unhappy about his life. He works on the student council in general affairs, and gets good grades. When first seen he has a completely mistaken idea what the term "palmtop tiger" refers to, and develops an insane crush on Taiga. He later develops a crush on Sakura, and eventually succeeds in starting a romantic relationship with her.
Hisamitsu is a male student in Ryūji's class who wears glasses. He was also in Ryūji's class the previous year and is on good terms with him. He is first seen in chapter 4 of the light novels/manga and episode 2 of the anime, when he pairs up with Minori Kushieda for basketball warmup. Noto begins to develop feelings for Maya Kihara following an argument they had during the class winter ski trip.
Kōji is a male student in Ryūji's class who has long hair and is on good terms with him. He is regarded as a class 'idiot' and that opinion is deepened by his poor school marks and overly energetic behavior. He is first seen in chapter 5 of the light novels, chapter 6 of the manga, giving first testimony that Ryūji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka look like a couple. His childish pranks often target Taiga and he has been the victim of her violent outbursts. Despite his overly energetic behavior, he is revealed to have a girlfriend later on in the series.
Maya is a female student in Ryūji's class who often hangs out with Nanako. She is a kogal and the center of the 'stand out group' of girls of class 2-C. She is first seen in chapter 4 of the light novels/manga and episode 2 of the anime, when she pairs up with Yūsaku Kitamura for basketball warmup. She has a crush on Yūsaku, and she circuitously opposes the idea of Taiga and Yūsaku being a couple, and wants Taiga and Ryūji to be together.
Three volumes of a spin-off of the regular series under the title Toradora Spin-off!(とらドラ・スピンオフ!?) were also created. The first volume of the spin-off series was released on May 10, 2007 and compiled four chapters, three of which had been serialized in MediaWorks' now-defunct light novel magazine Dengeki hp between June 10, 2006 and February 10, 2007, and the last chapter was written especially for the volume release. A single chapter of the spin-off series, originally published in February 2006 in Dengeki hp was included in the second volume of the regular novel series. More chapters started serialization in Dengeki hp's successor Dengeki Bunko Magazine on December 10, 2007. Additional chapters of the main series started serialization in the same magazine on April 10, 2008. The second volume of Toradora Spin-off! was released on January 10, 2009 followed by the third volume on April 10, 2010. The third volume was released to commemorate the Year of the Tiger (2010).
An Internet radio show to promote the anime series and other Toradora! media called ToradoRadio!(とらドラジオ!,Toradorajio!?) aired 38 episodes between September 4, 2008 and May 28, 2009 hosted by Animate TV. The show was streamed online every Thursday, and was hosted by Junji Majima and Eri Kitamura who voiced Ryūji Takasu and Ami Kawashima from the anime, respectively. The show featured additional voice actors from the anime as guests.
A Toradora!animetelevision series was first announced on a promotional advertisement for light novels being released under ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Bunko imprint for April 2008. The anime is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai and produced by the animation studio J.C.Staff. Toradora! contains 25 episodes, which aired between October 2, 2008 and March 26, 2009 on TV Tokyo in Japan. The episodes aired at later dates on AT-X, TV Aichi, TV Hokkaido, TV Osaka, TV Setouchi, and TVQ Kyushu Broadcasting. The anime premiered in the Philippines through TV5 on May 18, 2009, one of the first to air it outside of Japan. The first volume DVD compilation, which contains the first four episodes was released in Japan on January 21, 2009 by King Records in limited and regular editions. Seven more DVD compilations, each containing three episodes, were released between February 25 and August 26, 2009 also in limited and regular editions. Starting from the second DVD, there were extra animated shorts included in the DVD volumes, Toradora SOS!, which features the cast as chibis trying out various foods. The Toradora! anime was licensed by NIS America as its first anime. The series was released in two half-season DVD compilation volumes in early July and late August 2010. A six-disc Blu-ray Disc box set, released in Japan on December 21, 2011, contains an original video animation episode. It was broadcast in Italy on Rai 4 between April 28 and October 13, 2011.
The anime series makes use of four pieces of theme music: two opening and two ending themes. The first opening theme is "Pre-Parade" (プレパレード,Pureparēdo?) by Rie Kugimiya, Eri Kitamura, and Yui Horie. The first ending theme is "Vanilla Salt" (バニラソルト,Banira Soruto?) by Horie. The second opening is "Silky Heart" by Horie, and the second ending is "Orange" (オレンジ,Orenji?) by Kugimiya, Kitamura, and Horie. The insert theme for episode nineteen is "Holy Night" (ホーリーナイト,Hōrī Naito?) performed by Kugimiya and Kitamura. The anime's original soundtrack was released on January 7, 2009.
A visual novel developed by Guyzware and published by Namco Bandai Games based on Toradora! is playable on the PlayStation Portable, and was released on April 30, 2009. The player assumes the role of Ryūji Takasu where he moves around school and town, conversing with characters and working towards multiple endings as part of an original storyline. The game also features a minigame where players play as Taiga, fending off lovesick guys.
This section requires expansion with: Only one review is quoted. There should be considerably more for balance. (September 2012)
The Mainichi Shimbun reported in April 2009 that over 3 million copies of the light novel series have been sold in Japan. The light novel series has ranked four times in Takarajimasha's light novel guide book Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! published yearly: sixth in 2007, fourth in 2008 and 2010, and second in 2009. In Kadokawa Shoten's first Light Novel Award contest held in 2007, Toradora! won an award in the romantic comedy category. The seventh volume of the Toradora! light novels was ranked tenth best selling between December 2007 and November 2008 by Amazon.co.jp. The second volume of the Toradora! manga was ranked 28th on the Tohan charts between March 3–9, 2009. Taiga Aisaka became the champion of the eighth Anime Saimoe Tournament in 2009. The Toradora! anime was selected as a recommended work by the awards jury of the thirteenth Japan Media Arts Festival in 2009. In 2009, Rie Kugimiya won the Best Actress in the third Seiyu Awards partly for voicing Taiga Aisaka.
The first Toradora! DVD was ranked 13th on the Oricon DVD chart between January 20–26, 2009. The second DVD was ranked 15th between February 24 and March 2, 2009. The third DVD was ranked 27th between March 24–30, 2009. The fourth DVD was ranked 17th between April 21–28, 2009. The fifth DVD was ranked 7th between May 25–31, 2009. The sixth DVD was ranked 11th between June 22–28, 2009. The seventh DVD was ranked 19th between July 20–26, 2009. The eighth DVD was ranked 13th between August 24–30, 2009. THEM Anime Review's Stig Høgset commends the anime for how it "actually resolves the relationship issue it set out to do instead of wimping out like so many romantic shows with several girls tends to do in an attempt to not make people angry or disappointed." He also comments Taiga as the "genetical marriage" of Shana from Shakugan no Shana and Louise from Zero no Tsukaima. However, he also criticized "Taiga's continuous behavior, particularly towards Ryuuji" and the introduction of Taiga's father in which Høgset "felt that the whole story arc jerked me around".