DVD Review: Toradora – The Complete Collection
23/09/2014 9 Comments
Love is a strange thing, it can happen at anytime and anywhere – Toradora is a perfect example of this, two characters who become friends by chance end up helping each other in order to find their soul-mate. It sounds cheesy but it actually provides one of the most entertaining love-stories i have ever seen. Potential plot spoilers aside what did we think to MVM Entertainment’s DVD release of Toradora? Well continue reading to find out!
Ryuji Takasu is cursed with his father’s threatening face and is labeled a “delinquent” because of it. Even though this makes it difficult for him to meet people, he is madly in love with Minorin, the one girl who does not flee from him in terror. Taiga Aisaka is a notorious hothead with the nickname “Palm-top Tiger.” She also happens to be Minorin’s best friend, and what’s more, Taiga has a crush on Ryuji’s closest friend. This unlikely duo strikes a tenuous agreement to assist one another in stealing the hearts of the ones they love. They will face many hurdles along the way, but perhaps true love is closer to them than they think.
If you are like me then every once in a while you’ll want to take a break from your preferred anime genre and dip into something new and with Toradora that ‘genre’ couldn’t be anymore confusing. Ok let’s be honest it’s a love a story with a few drama and comedic elements thrown in for good measure; there are good times, there are sad times and then there is the emotional ending that just took too long to get there. Confused? Well don’t worry as it all makes sense in the end.
Toradora follows the daily activities of Ryuji Takasu and his next-door neighbour Taiga Aisaka as they each try to help each in other in confessing their love to friends at school. Amusingly this ‘love confession’ becomes more complicated when the people they like are each other’s best friends; Taiga has a crush on Yūsaku, who is Ryuji’s best friend, while Ryuji has a crush on Minorin, which is Taiga’s best friend. It’s the traditional “get your friend to go out with me” approach but while this is apparent it doesn’t seem like any of the two main characters want to do anything about it.
This is what I found relatively disappointing with Toradora neither of the main characters (Taiga or Ryuji) seem to do anything about helping the other character with their love-life; sure it’s often talked about and sometimes even referred to, but other than a few “chance encounters” at a restaurant or at school nothing much is really done. In reality this is because it builds up the ‘real’ story within Toradora, the relationship between Taiga and Ryuji. At first this relationship is just “you will serve me for knowing my secret” but after a lot of different escapades, and some personal family issues, Taiga begins to understand her own feelings and realises that Yūsaku isn’t the one she really loves.
Mind you there is a lot more on offer than just a developing relationship between the two main characters as we have the introduction of Ami, a super-model and an old friend of Yūsaku, who is trying to overcome her ‘fake’ personality and avoid stalkers while another storyline sees Taiga’s own farther return into her life after several years apart, much to the anger of her best friend Minorin. Both storylines, along with a few comical swimming based episodes, are intertwined within the main story and offer a different storyline to focus on but just like with the original “get your best friend to go out with me” concept they are quickly forgotten or overshadowed by other events within the series.
My view is that Toradora is one-long love story drawn out over 25 episodes and its a series that could have been a lot shorter but if this were to happen then we wouldn’t have gotten attached to the characters. The characters are what make Toradora so much fun to watch as each of them bring different personalities to the table. For instance we have Ryuji, a boy who is obsessed with cleaning and hates having his farthers face due to making him look scary, we then have Taiga, a short easily angered girl that has family issues, and then there is minorin, a hyper-energetic girl that is either working, playing softball or studying and then finally we have Ryuji’s mother who works late shifts at a local bar and constantly acts like the child of the house. Of course this is just a few examples but if you combine all of the different character types together and you’ve got yourself some great comedic elements at different intervals.
Toradora is not all about having fun, as it does cross some serious real-life-based issues, but it is a fun-filled show that gets better with every passing episode, however you will have to sit through a few episodes before it gets going and when it does you’ll never want it to stop.
Unlike previous MVM Entertainment releases Toradora comes packed with a wealth of bonus content ranging from a bonus OVA Episode to Japanese Promotional materials; but as always the textless songs are included.
To start with the bonus OVA episode, entitled “The True Meaning of Bento” is listed in the episodes section of the fourth DVD disc, as opposed to the extras menu, and sees a Bento battle between Yūsaku and Ryuji. Basically Yūsaku brings a larger lunch (bento) box to school with great food inside and since Ryuji is considered ‘the cook’ in the family he tries to bring a bigger, better lunch. It’s a comical episode and showcases the lighter side of Toradora but interestingly this OVA episode is available in both English and Japanese audio formats.
All of the remaining bonus content, such as the Hurrary for Gourmands bonus episodes, are listed in the Extras section of the fourth DVD Disc. Each Hurrary for Gourmands, also known as Toradora SOS, is available in both English and Japanese and it sees the main characters in all sorts of predicaments, most of which involve food, and provide a few extra laughs.
The most amusing piece of bonus content has to be the Ami’s Impressions segment as during one episode of the series Taiga made Ami do all-sorts of impressions to prove that she is a good actor; in the anime this scene was done as a narrative flashback with no impressions but in this segment we actually get to see Ami doing the Impressions. Basically this is a ‘deleted scene’ from the anime series and as such the video quality is consistently lower than that of the regular episodes, that’s not all either as the subtitles are considerably miss-timed; for instance the subtitle for Uganda will appear at least a full second before the word is spoken by the character.
The remaining bonus materials are mostly made –up of promotional materials, such as Japanese adverts and textless songs, however there is the inclusion of trailers for other anime titles being distributed by Hanabee; in this case Ground Control To Psychoeletric Girl, Medaka Box and Majestic Prince – all of which have yet to be licensed for a UK release.
Media: DVD 9 x4
Running Time: 2:39:54 (Disc 1), 2:38:28 (Disc 2), 2:38:27 (Disc 3), 1:55:41 (Disc 4)
Video: MPEG-2 Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
Toradora is basically one drawn out love-story that sees two unfamiliar characters come together to find love, but unlike your typical tale of love it is overshadowed by comical events, family intervention and random fights; there is always something taking place to distract you from the main storyline. This being said when the main storyline does come-back it provides plenty of depth and emotion both of which are carried over into the series wounderful produced voice-acting, and yes that includes the English Dub as well.
While I may have some doubts with the way the series is presented, such as it’s round-a-bout way of getting to the point or not fully concluding a previous plotline, there are some issues to be had with this DVD release by MVM Entertainment, which I presume is using discs authored by Hanabee. Majority of this release is perfectly fine, such as adequate picture quality, variety of content, and it’s high-quality produced English dub, but the problem is with the subtitles during the English dub track.
For starters during episode 17 (at the 10 minute 32 second mark) subtitles for spoken english dialogue suddenly appear on screen and it stays on the screen for several seconds despite an english voice being clearly present in the background, however during episode 19 (at the 7 minute 40 second) subtitles that should appear do not. In this second example Tiga and Ami start signing a Christmas song in Japanese but no translated text for the song appears, so in order to understand what they are singing you have to change to the ‘full’ English subtitle track. Amusingly this same song is repeated at the end of the episodes but this time the subtitles for the song appear. Another ‘subtitle’ issue is found on the Ami’s impressions bonus feature, whereby the subtitles are timed way-off to the spoken dialogue, thus making it confusing to watch.
If you take these minor subtitle issues out of the equation then the UK DVD Release of Toradora is a pretty solid set; it’s the entire series, with a wealth of bonus features, packed into a single release that offers plenty of drama and comical entertainment to the viewer.
Toradora – The Complete Collection will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 29th September 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SQbvtE1yIo