DVD Review: Toradora! The Complete Series (2008 - 2009)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Wednesday, December 24, 2014 0 comments

"Toradora! The Complete Series" is an animated drama series about a group of teenagers (that's a vague description for an anime, I know).  This show starts off about a teen-aged boy named Ryuji and he is a bit upset and angry as people are afraid of him because he has eyes that are very scary to look at, in reality he is a very gentle person that has a crush on his classmate, Minori (a cute red head with a tom boy attitude).  Meanwhile in this very same school we have the other main character, Taiga.  Taiga is very petite, very bratty and is also in love with a fellow classmate.  After school has ended we see Ryuji walking into his classroom to pick up his schoolbag only to walk into Taiga putting a love letter in his bag.  Later that night we see Ryuji looking at the letter and finds that it is empty and then goes to bed.  While Ryuji is sleeping we see someone sneaking into his house and tries to attack him with a wooden sword.  The attacker is none other than Taiga and she is angry as Ryuji got the love letter and it wasn't meant for him.  Ryuji finds out that Taiga has a crush on his best friend named Yusaku and she is very embarrassed that someone knows of her crush.  Ryuji calms her down by showing her his collection of stuff he has made for his crush.  Turns out that Ryuji's crush is Taiga's best friend and vice versa, thus Ryuji makes a deal with Taiga to help her get with Yusaku and Taiga will help Ryuji get together with Midori...  But she also wants another stipulation added to their deal and that's for Ryuji to be her dog (AKA her bitch) to which he accepts.  Looks like this is a start of a beautiful friendship.  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).


I know that I have reviewed this series in the past and I know what I am thinking (I'm saying "I" as I know if I said "you're" it'd be a flat out lie as none of you give a flying fudge about why I'm reviewing this again)...  Why review this again?  Ahh, great question I asked myself as this is no simple re-release in a regular DVD case instead of a huge box as this release has something the other release didn't, an English dub.  That alone was enough to spark my interest in re-reviewing the show..  How's the English dub?  You'll have to wait until we get to that part of the now.  Now this is the end of my most narcissistic paragraph I have ever posted and now time to get to the review itself.


The story in this show is a basic "odd couple trying to find romance" situation and while that may be a very tired clich√© in modern day anime, you'll find that it was done in a very solid matter in this show.  There's four main reasons to why this show was good and those are: "Drama", "Romance", "Comedy", and "Characters".  The drama was very interesting and it does help you feel for the characters although the drama in some scenes did feel very forced to the point of being cheesy.  Romance was great in this series as it progressed very naturally and builds up to something great.  Comedy in this show was very funny and was also mixed in well with the drama and romance as it wasn't overly used and was used in a natural way.


Characters in this show were really great and they are the reason why all the elements I mentioned in the prior paragraph are great.  The characters were also handled in a way that's more realistic than many other shows and films, it was especially refreshing in an anime and you will find that you can relate to these characters much more than many other anime characters.  Not saying they were handled in a realistic manor all the time as the characters can be very over the top during some episodes but nothing clashing to where it will put you off the show and ruin the vibe.  I do really find it very nice to find an anime that balances all of it's elements and themes very well.


Art-work in this show is pretty good as the characters are drawn well and the backgrounds have some nice detailing and look beautiful.  While the characters are drawn well, you will find some designs to be generic but oddly also memorable at the same time.  Taiga herself is the most unique character you will see in this show and she really does look unique and dare I say iconic for this generation of anime.  Animation in this show looks decent through out most of the show but there will be a few moments where it is very choppy, that's a shame as the scenes themselves have great designs but the animation takes away some of the drama from those scenes.


The English dub was handled much better than what I thought it would as the voices and acting matched up with the characters really well.  The English voice acting doesn't take away any of the seriousness found in the Japanese dub...  Well it did a little but only during the scenes where the show wasn't meant to be taken seriously at all AKA this anime had some improvised comedic lines.  Some of the comedic lines in this show ranged from "annoying modern day mumbo jumbo" to "so bizarre and out there that it was golden"


The downside to the English dub is that the acting for the first episode was very bad to where you'll consider switching the show with the Japanese dub and English subtitles from episode two onwards.  The English dub does get much better from the second episode onwards, that amazes me that it only took that long to recover as sometimes anime can have a very horrendous English dub that can run for the first story-arc, like the television series "Patlabor: Mobile Police (1989 - 1990)".  The Japanese dub in this version remains the same as the prior releases and so you don't have to worry about things being changed.  Soundtrack in this show is fifty-fifty as I found half the songs to be memorable and the other half to be forgettable but they all sounded good and suited the show nonetheless...  Well the tracks I remembered did at least.


This edition is also packed with extras including: A mini-series named "Hurray for Gourmands", both versions of the opening and closing credits in text-less form, a deleted scene titled "Ami's Impressions", ads that ran on Japanese television, and a bonus OVA titled "Bento Battle".  The text-less credits were good to re-watch as they had some nicely done visuals and fun music. The Japanese television ads were very interesting to watch and there's quite a bit of them but one viewing is enough as you won't be watching this feature all the time.  The deleted scene was from "Episode 6" and it was pretty funny to watch.  I won't spoil what happens in this deleted scene as I don't want to but I am very surprised to see this feature as we rarely find deleted scenes in anime releases.


The mini-series, "Hurray for Gourmands" is much different than the main series as it is really gaggy and has all of the characters in a super-deformed state.  The series has our main characters trying out different foods and seeing which ones taste better.  The humor in this show is pretty funny although it can be very repetitive but won't ruin your experience.  Artwork in this show was very cute and went well with the comedic stying of this show.  A neat thing is that they added an English dub to this series for this release as this series was English subtitled with a Japanese dub only when it was first released awhile back (you can read my review of that release "here")


The bonus OVA, "Bento Battle" is the same art-style as the main show although this episode is more of a gaggy episode that has nothing much to do with the rest of the show (so a filler episode pretty much).  This episode starts off with Yusaku (Ryuji's friend) bringing in a huge lunch that his grandma had made for him.  This lunch is much bigger than any of the lunches that the other students have and is big enough to feed the whole class.  Yusaku shares the lunch with the class and then Ryuji tries it only to be amazed at how good it taste.  Ryuji soon becomes jealous of Yusaku's grandma and spends the rest of the show trying to make a lunch that'll taste better than Yusaku's grandma's cooking.  Yep, you can see why this wasn't part of the main series.


Despite how flat this episode sounds I found myself enjoying it as it was entertaining.  I probably would've hated this episode though if it were part of the main series but since it wasn't I found myself more accepting of it.  This episode is also the longest one on this release with a running time of twenty-five minutes (all the other episodes only run for twenty-two minutes).  This episode isn't a must watch though but it was still a neat little feature.


Overall I'm not surprised to see this show re-released with an English dub and I'm glad to see it getting one as it was better than expected.  I do recommend you check out this release as it is worth your time.  If you have the old set in the big box and wondering if this show is worth re-buying?  Yes, yes it is as this edition is defiantly the definitive version of the show but do keep the old release as well as it makes for a great collectible and looks great on a shelf for the world to see.  Very solid show and a very solid re-release.

Title: Toradora! The Complete Series
Animation Studio: J.C. Staff
Genre: Animation/Anime, Drama, Comedy, Romance
Running Time: 600 Minutes (25 Episodes)
Distributor: Hanabee Entertainment
Rating: M15+ (Coarse language, mature themes)
Price: $74.99
Recommended: Yes

Note: Australian readers can actually stream the show for free via Hanabee's official website "Here".

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