The Unsatisfactory Ending of Toradora

I thought about adding this into my review for Toradora or adding it to my podcast review, but I thought this would be better written out in it’s own post, as it basically is an editorial.

I’ll say it right front:  I was a Ryuji/Minori shipper in Toradora until the very, bitter end of the show.  Of course, it became increasingly obvious as the show drew closer to the end that this would not come out to be, and I knew it was a longshot from the start.  However, I had hoped that the show may dare to not follow the predicted path, but alas, the ending was once again predictable from the time the first episode aired.

However, this editorial isn’t going to be about my complaining about a lack of Minori ending, per se.  Instead, I think the main problem with the ending of Toradora is that Taiga and Ryuji’s transformations from liking Kitamura and Minori to liking each other is sudden and largely without any obvious foretelling other than, simply put, that it was their destiny, as the two leads in an anime, to do so.

There is no doubt that Taiga and Ryuji are indeed very close friends (at least) in the show.  They walk to and from school together.  They often eat together. They go shopping together.  They spend much of their free time together.  These are certainly possible indications that their relationship is beyond mere friendship.

My problem lies here:  consider the following situation that the two are friends and merely friends – good friends – but just friends, and don’t harbor any romantic feelings for each other.  Considering that they live next to each other, attend the same school, and Taiga lives by herself, is any of Taiga and Ryuji’s behavior from the show (barring the final couple of episodes, of course) inconsistent with such a scenario?  Without going back and rewatching the entire series in it’s entirety again, my recollection is that, no, it wouldn’t be inconsistent.  And this is why I make the claim from the before that there was no obvious foreshadowing or indication that the two’s relationship was anything beyond mere friendship.

Indeed, the two spent whole episodes trying to urge the other to go after their respective crushes.  This is explained via the idea that each wanted the other to be happy, and thus urged the other to go after who they thought they liked, in spite of their own feelings.

However, the problem with this is twofold: first, again, there is little indication that either Taiga or Ryuji have any second thoughts or resistance in going after their respective crushes.  Indeed, they more often than not relish the chance to try to finally make their feelings known.  If they were confused about who they liked, they sure didn’t seem to show it.  Second, if part of the point of the show is to “find your own happiness,” then why in the hell is it not OK for Taiga to push Ryuji to be with Minori (or for Ryuji to push Taiga to be with Kitamura) but it’s just fine for Minori to push Taiga to be with Ryuji despite her own feelings for him?  Yes, I realize she has other things she want to accomplish, but losing Ryuji clearly doesn’t appear to be something that she is able to merely shrug off as an unfortunate casualty of her greater goals.  She seems to want to be with Ryuji as much, if not more than, Taiga, yet she is the one for which it is OK to ignore her feelings.

Also, while Taiga at least appears to go through 2 or 3 episodes of angst before being forced to confront her feelings for Ryuji by Minori and friends, Ryuji’s change in position from liking Minori to liking Taiga appears to be so smooth that one could have flipped a light switch to bring about that change.  It was too sudden.  It was like he sat down for 2 minutes and was like “oh, I guess I like Taiga after all. Heh, imagine that.”

I understand where the writers were coming from: Ryuji and Taiga’s shallow crushes over Minori and Kitamura were just covering up their deeper love for each other.  However, they appeared to pull the transformation from “shallow crushes” to the “deep love” rather badly.

Now, I had to admit that I have been caught on the other side of a similar storyline before – in this case, with the Junta, Ami, and Karin love triangle in DNA2.  In that instance, Junta had a crush on Karin while essentially blowing off Ami as just a childhood friend, really up to the end of the series, and Junta never seemed to have a true “oh man, I really like Ami” scene in the show.  Yet, I was firmly on the Junta/Ami side there all the way through.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I had different opinions in those two shows, and I think the base circumstances in each series helps explain a lot of it.  First, in DNA2, Karin has come from the future, and it’s pretty clear she’s going to have to go back, so right there is a sign that any Junta/Karin relationship would be untenable.  However, beyond that, Junta and Ami were childhood friends.  It’s more explainable that their feelings for each other wouldn’t be obvious because, since they had known each other for so long, it was basically just an every day part of life, even if the two didn’t necessarily acknowledge it as such.  I also kind of personally felt that Ami was the better fit as well.

However, in Toradora, Ryuji and Taiga first meet in the first episode, and thus there is no previous relationship.  The entirety of the growth of their emotional attachment is there in front of us to see, and, as I stated above, I didn’t see anything to suggest that Taiga and Ryuji actually had romantic feelings for each other, while there was a plethora of evidence that Taiga liked Kitamura and Ryuji liked Minori.  Second, there is no practical reason why Ryuji and Minori couldn’t get together, other than the fact that Taiga was the main female lead.  And, I thought Minori was overall a better fit personally.  Obviously other people will have different opinions about that.

Having said all of this, once all this was out and the two finally realized they liked each other, did the series end up finishing up well? I can probably say yes it did.  I dislike how they handeled how they got to that point, but once they got there, I think what they did from then on was fine.  However, I still get this feeling that the only reason Ryuji and Taiga ended up together is the mere fact that in anime series such as this….that’s just what happens.  This is truly unforutunate for a series which was largely very, very good.

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30 thoughts on “The Unsatisfactory Ending of Toradora

  1. I would’ve preferred Ryuji taking Minorin. Yeah, I was hoping that the end wasn’t going to be obvious as the first few episodes, but I guess I was wrong.

    *sighs*

  2. And this is why I make the claim from the before that there was no obvious foreshadowing or indication that the two’s relationship was anything beyond mere friendship.

    This picture (and hopefully the link works OK) is where I would cite a foreshadowing moment. If I may quote my own thoughts back then:

    That brings me to another point — Ryuuji and Taiga. Their relationship kinda reminds me of my days in the military and the female friend I had at one duty station (whom I am still friends with to this day). Actually, it was something Taiga said about being comfortable around Ryuuji that reminded me of what the Wigster told me — she was comfortable being around me. We often spent lots of time in each other’s room and in many ways, it is a wonder that we didn’t just become a couple. The reason I even mention this is that the moment with Ryuuji and Taiga together with Taiga using Ryuuji’s back as a footrest made me think for the first time that I could see them actually being a real couple. Assuming this line of story is followed, I wonder if we’ll see a “we shouldn’t ruin our friendship” element injected at some point.

    I think there was foreshadowing, but the real problem is that the original 10-volumes of light novel material was compressed into 25-episodes. To have been done properly, Toradora! should have been two seasons/series in length (24-26 episodes each). Then, the writers could have better laid the table for foreshadowing and such. Also, maybe Ami wouldn’t have come up so short in the end.

    Anyway, I’m told that there’s a lot of stuff that was cut to make the anime complete in 25-episodes. That’s the real shame to me.

  3. What I fuc*** disappointed from Toradora!, IS 1 question. Where the hell Ryuji’s feelings for Minori gone? At the very least, his feelings to Minori is real, alright. Since he had it before even met Taiga. Now the question, Where the hell that real and genuine feelings gone? Is it gone because he was dumped by Minori? NO. Then, how can he so easily answered yes to Minori’s question”Do you like Taiga?” ? Even though I can tell by the title itself (Tora Dora), but it’s really pissed me off. Sure, it is the author’s right. Well, actually, I know the answer myself. From some point, Ryuji has built an interest for Taiga, while his feelings for Minori faded. But he hasn’t realised until the few last episodes. But come on… I don’t really see why Ryuji love Taiga. From what I can see, Ryuuji just “can’t leave her alone”. Oh yeah, I also very very hate with how Minori given up on Ryuji, but Taiga didn’t knew about Minori’s tears. In the opposite, Taiga given up on Ryuji, but Minori knew about Taiga’s “tears”…… Its just unfair~~~~

    • They didn’t disappear, necessarily. It’s true that he had feelings for minori first, but just because they were first doesn’t mean that they were deeper or stronger. the fact that he had them first and that those feelings were the basis of his relationship with taiga in the beginning is what made it take them both so long to realize that they wanted eachother rather than a silly highschool crush.
      As the friendship between the two grew, their feelings, understanding, and conection with one another surpassed the ones that they felt for their crushes. Where they could imagine themselves living without having their crushes by their side, the could no longer imagine living without the support of one another.

  4. oh come on, its all about love, dont anyone get it? ryuji is supposed to be with taiga.
    thats the plot of the show, they just cant get over each other, no matter what their feelings for kitamura and minori might just be puppy love, nothing compared to what they built up

  5. I saw plenty of foreshadow in the series… but that was until the christmas arc came about. But I plan on finishing the manga due to a lot always gets cut out. I think ryunji and taiga needed to bet together by the end.

    Imo they never touched on ami’s feelings for ryuuji, he was totally oblivious to it X_X that annoyed me… even though that does happen in real life as well…

    But really the anime was GREAT but if you watch past the ending credits she does come back and he says openly that he loves her. But I think they should have showen a bit more afterwords than that.

  6. I honestly thought it was a typically any other anime story, cause honestly I already felt “obviously” Taiga is going to win over Minori, but still kept having my mind set on how Minori is going to win. I just wish to see a anime that’s just real unpredictable. Imo, this was a good anime, just the ending I rushed through it because I already saw it coming.

    I don’t mind another season like this, just I’d like it more into the unexpected.

  7. yes thank you
    i’ve been waiting a year for this post im a little late though
    seriously, everything got f**ked up after they got back from the beach
    maybe i’m just b!tching but the episodes that followed totally went against the initial plotline..
    in the beginning, i thought Toradora was a great anime; breaking new grounds in the genre of romance where the protagonists DIDN’T end up with each other you know (kinda like Honey and Clover)…but they decided to go with a predictable cliche that practically came out of nowhere and not even bother to make it emotionally satisfying..
    *sigh* -.-
    well always pray for a season two…even though there won’t be one

  8. What? She cut him off from her life for an entire year then comes back just like that. There’s no way they would end up together, during a years time, their feelings gets distorted and delusional as they grow separately and individually in such a manner – this especially considering the new settings, the new impressions, new experiences, and the new ways of life they both had (separated from one another), especially Taiga…

    Bogus ending, no one won.

  9. I have to completely agree with Josh. I wanted Ryuji and Minori to end up together. It seemed to be a completley plutonic relationship between Ryuji and Taiga like a brother/sister type thing up until the christmas party. There were a few hints here and there but I was really hoping it wasn’t anything (such as at the beach when Taiga says how easy it is to be around Ryuji and how nervous she is around Kitamura). Still, I really didn’t like the end of the christmas party, and how Ryuji didn’t chase after Minori. Also, his change from liking Minori to suddenly liking Taiga seemed almost instantaneous…. was just really lame.

  10. i was really sad about the Dna2 ending ya she was from the future but poor junta the innocent kid he is, got beatings throughout the fifteen episodes most not even his fault and his life almost takin a couple times he at least deserved karin at the end is sad =( i wish there was a way of convincing the people who made the show to make a few more episodes and change it up for junta

  11. that and the ami/ junta couple is a bit cliche now how often do you get to have a girlfriend from the future childhood friend relationships happen to often.

  12. Well,at last someone I completely agree with.

    As you say in your lecture, the show is about “seeking happiness”, but rather than making you feel the characters really did that all the way, in the end it just leaves the bad feeling of “Oh shit, I forgot my main leads need to be together!…welll Ryuji forget about Minorin in 1,2…and 3!!!” And thats that…he just…well change his mind as if he was changing clothes of summer to winter…It actually pisses me off a bit.

    I really sat through all first 18 great chapters hoping a reasonable ending(Ryuji/Minorin), rather than the maybe obvious ending cause of the title and how this love series work, but not so obvious cause of the plot really shown trough the novel and the anime(forgive me folks but even on the novels Ryuji loves…yes LOVES Minorin).

    So well, the series were cool and all…but the ending just…killed somewhat the work done…still its a great series,novel or anime likewise…but…it just dont works well at the ending no matter how you seem to think about it.

    Hopefully they will release an OVA of a Minorin ending, it could be as the PSP game one maybe…but oh well, dreamers can count sheeps till forever i guess

  13. It would be nice to have an OVA with a couple of episodes with alternative endings like:
    Ryuuji and Minorin are together
    Ryuuji and Ami are together(which will never happen, because Ryuuji wouldnt even understand her feelings if she would confess right in front of him)
    And Kitamura and Prez which would be nice, cause he said that he will go to america to study there
    I know late reply is late, but it had to be!

  14. I understand how you feel, but I think you missed the point of the story. As stated by your questions and description below.

    “…However, the problem with this is twofold: first, again, there is little indication that either Taiga or Ryuji have any second thoughts or resistance in going after their respective crushes. Indeed, they more often than not relish the chance to try to finally make their feelings known. If they were confused about who they liked, they sure didn’t seem to show it. Second, if part of the point of the show is to “find your own happiness,” then why in the hell is it not OK for Taiga to push Ryuji to be with Minori (or for Ryuji to push Taiga to be with Kitamura) but it’s just fine for Minori to push Taiga to be with Ryuji despite her own feelings for him? Yes, I realize she has other things she want to accomplish, but losing Ryuji clearly doesn’t appear to be something that she is able to merely shrug off as an unfortunate casualty of her greater goals. She seems to want to be with Ryuji as much, if not more than, Taiga, yet she is the one for which it is OK to ignore her feelings….”

  15. I think you’re forgetting one essential factor when you wrote your blog.

    LOVE is UNPREDICTABLE.

    You’re wondering why Ryuji chose Taiga over Minori when the latter was his first crush and why Junta liked Karin more than his childhood friend, Ami. You say that in both cases the most logical thing to do is to chose the first crush or the childhood friend since they have this emotional connection or whatever. But the thing is- love is irrational. Love is dynamic. So it is quite pointless to say that Ryuji and Junta’s choices are wrong.

    Think of it this way. How many of the successful relationships today are between childhood friends or with first crush? Maybe 20% or higher? See it’s not that much. The fact that relationships are unique from one another whether be it in terms of who chose who proves my point that Tora Dora’s ending is not just your typical ending. It’s not the writers of Tora Dora who are following the expected ending but it’s you who’s stereotyping and trying to put logic in something illogical.

  16. Well there’s always been the spoiler floating around that they’ll end up together because of the name of the anime in the first place. Toradora! Tiger & dragon! Although I do wish there were alternate ending OVAs or even a continuation of Taiga’s ending like Key and Kyoto Animation’s Clannad had done. I think the series overall was great but nothing’s truly perfect… unless we changed the definition of the word.

  17. Watching this show again 3 years later in one sitting. It actually make sense that there was actually never any other pairing available.

    Ami liked him from the start, but at the same time she also wanted to save Taiga, who also liked him (She admits this in ep 23 when he took her shoe). This is actually why she cryptically tells Ryuuji that he should stop his game of house with Taiga before they all got hurt.

    As for Minori, she didn’t quite reciprocate Ryuuji’s feelings as strongly as Taiga did, and valued Taiga’s friendship more than a relationship with him. That’s actually, why she gave up on him once she realized Taiga also liked him.

    In the end, while both Ami and Minori liked him, they also liked Taiga as well, and they both realized that he also liked Taiga. They chose friendship over romance, that’s why those two made Ryuuji and Taiga confront their feelings in ep 23.

    But yeah, Taiga and Ryuuji liking each other was predictable from the start, but this ending was actually cemented from ep 16/17 (The handbook scene).

  18. Honestly, I wish the story can be longer. There were many parts I could not understand. Why did Taiga leave Ryuuji after knowing they both liked each other? I was crying while watching that episode, I was hoping that Taiga would stay with ryuuji with a happy ending. I don’t understand why the writer had to lead the story to this. I really really hated the part where Taiga separated her life from Ryuuji for one year. Apart from this there was actually an obvious amount of foreshadowing as to what kind of ending the story would have. If anybody still remembers the part where Taiga was having the swimming contest with Ami. When Ryuuji sank, Taiga was very worried about him and kept on telling everybody not to touch him cause Ryuuji was hers. I really hated the ending… it could have been much better

  19. I didn’t like the ending so much, too. But I do not agree that it’s strange that Ryuji didn’t finish with Minori, IMHO it’s the very interesting point in the ending of this anime.
    While there was little doubt that Taiga would not go along with Kitamura because she sees quite much of his bad side and because it seems clear that what she was chasing after is not Kitamura himself, but the regrets of having losed/pushed back someone who loved her.
    The story is different with Ryuji and Minorin though, but let’s recall what Kawashima Ami said to him: he is the moon and she is the sun, there’s no way they could exist together. While it’s maybe not totally true, it’s not wrong and as Ryuji it would have made me seriously think over. Also, Ami will continue pushing him towards Taiga in the second part (“stop being a father”), and others like Kihara will do too. That’s where it’s perfectly normal to reconsider his feelings: all he knows is that he can’t do without Taiga, but is it because of love more than friendship?
    Also, Taiga is the one who will tell Ryuji she loves him, but Minorin didn’t respond when he declared to herself. All in one, the decision of Ryuji moving to Taiga was understandable, yet questionable. That’s something we can see in real life too, and the question is the same as here: was this the right choice for him, would he be happier with Minorin? The ending tends to suggest that the answer may be no, because it was decided in a rush to escape their parents, and then because Taiga left him anyway.
    So if we leave alone the “suki da” when she goes out of the closet which is only here to give a happier ending (and honestly I prefer it so), this anime brings an interesting question and is perfectly consistent on this point ;-)

  20. I saw plenty of foreshadowing!!!for one,in E2 I think, Taiga blushed and said “he called me Taiga,” after Ryuji had his little tiger/dragon speech. Later when they both had the dream about them being married, Taiga started to say that it might not hav been that bad. When Ryuji almost drowned, Taiga was on him crying saying “HIS MINE” even though later she shrugged it off as saying he was her dog. I think,maybe, throughout the show the started to develop feelings for each other, but were confused until the end because when they saw the other, they thought ” ok this person is helping me get my heart’s desire,” which made their heart flip a bit but they didnt realize that it flipped because of the person,not the idea because-hey, they fell in love.and then later is when they realized it.something like that could help explain the “drastic” change in them. Aaaaaand maybe their feelings for the initial targets were just crushes. Not love.

  21. [spoiler]I didn’t agree with the way that things ended reguarding Taiga running away at the last moment. (Which I thought was much more sudden than Ryuuji deciding his feelings for Taiga, rather than Minori.) It was never mentioned as to where she went, or what she was actually planning to accomplish while she was away.[/spoiler] It was too vague in my opinion, and I think the only reason they did it was t avoid a cliche fairytale ending.
    However, As far as Ryuuji choosing Taiga, I completely disagree. I think it was obvious from the beginning of the series that something other than friendship was going on between them. It’s not normal to spend every waking moment with someone who is simply a friend. When you spend that much time with anyone and are just as close to inseparable as it gets, stronger feelings are bound to manifest (especially with people of the opposite sex, because of… well biology). There were multiple occasions in which Taiga showed that she was jealous of Ryuuji’s feelings for other girls, and of the attention that was being spent on him. In fact, Minori was the only exception to this rule, simply because she was Taiga’s best friend and wanted her to be happy just as much as she wanted Ryuuji to be happy. Seeing as that’s what she thought that’s what the two most important people to her wanted, it was normal for her to push for their relationship. In fact, the stronger her feelings got for Ryuuji, the more she wanted him to be with Minori because she assumed that that would make him happiest of all.
    That being said, even Taiga’s best friend didn’t have the same relationship with Taiga that Ryuuji shared with her. They were both outcasts with only one close friend and no one who really knew or understood them on a deeper level. The writers showed a gradual change in the relationship when the two began to know eachother more deeply and even depend on one another. When you have one person that you don’t know how to live without, you’re definitely in love. Without having ever been in a situaion where you can’t imagine living without another person, it’s definitely hard to understand the transition.
    Minori was a crush to Ryuuji, prior to ever having known Taiga, but as the show develops he realizes that Taiga was always there, which was mentioned in the series multiple times. he felt comfort in that he could depend on her, and vise versa. That’s why Minori was willing to let go of Ryuuji, because although she liked Ryuuji, she had never been dependent on him and neither of them had known one another as deeply as Taiga and Ryuuji had.
    Sometimes in sutuations where other people’s emotions are involved, it’s hard to see what you really feel because everything is clouded by what would be best for everyone else or even feelings from the past, rather than for yourself. I think that’s what the writers were really trying to say.
    I think the thing was that Ryuuji was just so preoccupied about dreams of the past that he didn’t realize what was in front of him until the thought of loosing her became an actual possibility, and then the reality of his feelings for her were recognized.

  22. I partially agree with the ending, and how it developed, Ryuuji/Taiga relationship started at the same time as Riuuji/Minori, since at the the first episode you can see that he only had a crush for her, they barely know each other. when he befriends Taiga you can see how their friendship starts to develop how the characters grow with each episode, how they start to have feeling with each other. Taiga/Ryuuji never really say or point that they have feelings about each other, but you can see some hints when they are together, like Taiga saying she feels like in a family with Ryuuji, and he saying that it is the best to be with Taiga.

    During the anime you can see very well how Taiga starts to have feelings for Ryuuji almost from the beginning, while it is really hard to see when does Ryuuji starts to feeling something for her, but it there, there are few hints, comments from other characters, even from him (he points several times during the serie that really likes to spend time with Tiaga). even when he have a crush with Minori he never really says how much does he like to be with her as much as he does with Taiga.

    what really pissed me of was the ending, how after realizing of their feelings, she runs away, yes I know she had her own problems she needed to solve the same way Ryuuji solved the ones he had with his family, there is no hint what happened with her for the last year of class (or semester, I got a bit lost if it was the last full year or last semester), if she stayed in contact with him. at the very end it felt just a bit like Angel Beats anime in which the writers seems to reunite the characters just to make it “happy” ending (if you saw Angel Beats, you know the ending can be considered bittersweet, as you can see the two characters “reunite”)

    Overall is a really good anime, the grow of each character is really good, how friendship can grow to love, even when it is not expected, made the anime really enjoyable.

  23. I was so upset that Ryuuji didn’t end up with Minori. I never really saw a chemistry between Taiga and Kitamura. Awesome series though either way, can’t let the ending ruin the whole thing.

  24. Your 100% on imo,Firstly I feel Love was never in question for Minori and Ryūji from the very beginning she was the one to notice him and was totally aware of his feelings.she wanted to end up with Ryuji so she didn’t rush it or chase it cause she feels if its to be it’ll happen,she knew what type of guy he really was but also she knew what type of guy he could be so from the very beginning she indirectly cheered him on and she was waiting for the day he could the day he could without a doubt how she truly felt and tell her those words,when Taiga says Minori wouldn’t wait Forever comes into play because how long can Taiga truly not have higher feelings for ryuuji.But the first curve ball was thrown in the second episode when Minori saw Her Best Friend and Ryuji on a social basis.I feel it was implied as if Minori knew Ryuji before the start of the series.Minori seen the growth of ryuuji before her,when she says she didn’t expect him to be so straight foward,but she knows Taiga was the one that gave him that growth not her she was the one who made ryuiji stronger.Minori thought Taiga needed ryujii that’s why she always put up the airhead act and work hard to show she could make it that in the end no matter the pain she would be alright.her love truly showed the night she “rejected” ryuji she abruptly spoke and ran off the, reason she cut ryuji short was that she know what he would say but how could she bear it without breaking down how could she accept those words she was waiting so long for without sorrow. She know Taiga feelings and she know there’s was not an option of someone not getting hurt that’s what Ami meant when she told ryuji I hope your the only one getting hurt and when she told Minori are you done feeling guilty yet. Marion felt Taiga need Ryuji,as much as Minori loved ryuji she wanted him but to her she made the decision that to take away what Taiga needed would be to much,Taiga had no family and she found one in ryuji who was Minori to even think of taking that away.I feel at the end ryuji respected her and accepted her wishes. I personally feel what Minori and Ryuji had was incredible its not the fact that lovers always end up together but what they sacrifice. Maybe they didn’t end up together, probably was for the best but in terms of love I say it doesn’t get any better.

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