Toradora! Ep. 20 - Hands, hands, hands
Episode 20: Always, like this

Ah, we're only five episodes away from the final conclusion of Toradora! It's certainly been a fun watch so far. Hey, I'm actually updating the day the episode aired ― alright, more like 15 hours after it originally aired over in Japan.

[Image: toradora20.jpg]
Please don't mind the horrible photomontage above that took me forever to finish.
(Couldn't decide on a right placement of each photo!)

Recap from last time(s):

Lots of stuff happened from last time, but if you're talking about a recap from episode 19, well look no further...
The Christmas party occurred and Taiga gives it her all to give a good chance to Ryuuji to finally get together with Minorin. However, when Taiga leaves after singing a duet Christmas song at the party to urge Minorin to go, and is later alone in her apartment to celebrate Christmas alone. Ryuuji, dressed in a bear Santa Claus suit, cheers Taiga up and is soon ushered off to the party and get together with Minorin only to find out that she doesn't want this. In the end, when Minorin eventually meets up with Ryuuji, she essentially rejects him and quickly runs off before a response could be made. To sum it up, everyone's Christmas turns out to be a lonely one.

Key plot points:
  • It's the start of a brand new year. Yuusaku bumps into Taiga at a local temple and greet each other a Happy New Year. Yuusaku notices that Taiga's at the temple by herself and asks if Ryuuji is near by, she responds that he isn't. After the Christmas party, Ryuuji became sick and is recovering at home.
  • Outside, while Ryuuji thinks back to what happen on Christmas Eve, Taiga interrupts his train of thought and rudely and noisily slurps Cup of Noodles to tease him. Taiga tells Ryuuji that she thinks Minorin rejected Ryuuji because Minorin thinks Taiga still needs to rely on Ryuuji. Taiga basically releases the Master-Servant ties between her and Ryuuji and says she no longer needs his help to cook meals, walk to school or waking up every morning.
  • The following morning, a new semester begins and the class is excited about the class trip to Okinawa spanning six days and five nights. Haruta asks Taiga to read a word in a pamphlet about the trip and when she pronounces it, she quickly becomes angry and chases Haruta outside of the classroom. In the hallway, Ryuuji has a hairclip in his hands, meant as a gift for Minorin on Christmas Eve, is interrupted by Haruta and Taiga. When Haruta takes the hair clip and wears it, Taiga jumps on him and rips it out of his hair. Meanwhile, Minorin cheerfully greets Ryuuji, Taiga and Haruta; the two fighting greet her back but Ryuuji stumbles his words and quickly excuses himself to buy some juice, even though class is about to start.
  • By the vending machines, Ryuuji quietly curses that he wishes everything burnt down to the ground. Ironically, back in the classroom, Yuri-sensei accidentally lets out that it burnt down to the ground. When Yuusaku asks what she's talking about, Yuri-sensei tells them all that the hotel they were going to stay in burnt down to the ground. The field trip will go as planned but the trip will be instead at a skiing resort for three days and three nights. In disbelief, the entire class agrees that it sucks. Haruta loudly proclaims that if Ami were not late, she would have something planned to help them out. Yuri-sensei says Ami could not be with them today because she's modeling in Hawaii. After more whining from the class, Yuri-sensei madly writes on the chalkboard essentially, "Life doesn't always go smoothly", or something like that.
  • After school, Ryuuji bumps into Ami and asks her why she's here instead of modeling in Hawaii. Turns out Ami was waiting for Taiga, who came 10 minutes late. Soon, Taiga, Ami and Ryuuji are in Sudohbucks Coffee discussing about the trip and Ryuuji's rejection by Minorin. In regards to the trip, Taiga orders Ami to not hang around Ryuuji.
  • The following morning, Ryuuji greets Minorin at a sidewalk stop and apologizes about what happened the day before, but Minorin says she didn't notice. During their chat, Ryuuji notices that sidewalk signal turned green and goes on ahead. Meanwhile, Taiga is heard not too far away and requests that he be captured, and Minorin grabs Ryuuji's hand only to quickly let go then grab on to his sleeve. Taiga chucks her bag at Ryuuji's face and runs off toward school yelling that Ryuuji should take care of it. Ryuuji wonders what's up with Taiga then turns to Minorin who's cursing Taiga under her breath. When she looks up, she happily requests that she hold one side of Taiga's bag as they walk together toward the school.
  • Ryuuji interrupts the awkward silence by mentioning that he noticed Minorin had a haircut. Minorin was surprised to find out that Ryuuji noticed and tells him about her past about how she would always have haircuts that make her look like a boy and was always referred to as "Mr. Lady". Ryuuji notes that he noticed because he's always looking at her, as a result this causes Minorin to smile.
  • The class field trip groups are organized by the class representative, Yuusaku, and it just so happens that Ryuuji, Taiga, Minorin, Yuusaku, and Ami ― as well as Haruta, Noto and Maya ― are in the same group. Maya, who obviously has a crush on Yuusaku, questions the group's organization but is rendered moot when there are no objections from the others in the group. Later, Yuusaku asks his group to help make a field trip guide for their class but is unsure of where they can meet. Taiga suggests that they all meet at her place on Sunday.
  • On Sunday, the entire group (save Minorin, Ami and Yuusaku) learns of two things: i.) Taiga lives luxuriously in a large "mansion" apartment; and ii.) Ryuuji lives next door. Ryuuji notices that Taiga can more easily talk to Yuusaku; Taiga notes that he shouldn't care about it and further relations with Minorin.
  • Soon, the entire 2nd year class from Ohashi High School is on their way to their snowy mountain destination as Ryuuji promises to himself that during the trip, he'll surely confirm Minorin's feelings and finally deliver his rejected feelings to her.

Episode thoughts:
You might have noticed that this thread topic of "Hands, hands, hands" and the summary image are related ― save for that random Ryuuji and Taiga meeting scene I randomly included at the upper right of the image. Coming from the last four post extravaganza where I found photos that sum up the episode as a whole, I thought that since there were a lot of hands seen in this episode, specifically between Ryuuji and Minorin, it's quite fitting.

Haruta's antics against Taiga actually went quite well. The word on the pamphlet was chinsuko, a type of Japanese sweet biscuit native to Okinawa, but Taiga pronounced it as chinko or the Japanese word for "penis". Yes, Haruta, you're great comic relief.

If you haven't noticed, this is the first time I've mentioned "Sudohbucks Coffee" ― obviously a word play/parody of Starbucks Coffee (thank you, Capt. Obvious!) ― ever in a Toradora! summary. "Sudohbucks" has been seen a couple of times before since the beginning of the series (in fact the first sighting of it was in the first opening sequence), so it's nothing new, I just didn't bother to include it in the summary until now.

It's interesting to note how the title of this episode, Always like this (zutto, kono mama), correlates to exactly the same line Ryuuji says, rather thinks, if things could always remain the same and never change. It's as just as Minorin and Taiga says, their time together is limited because this is their last semester before they become seniors in high school, from then on it's exams upon exams, applying to colleges/universities or planning your future, and then, ultimately, graduation. I couldn't agree more with Ryuuji, sometimes you wish that the experiences you remember would never go away and the people you know will never have to go their separate ways in the journey we call life. Alright, I'll get off the soap box now. Wink

Well, this is a good start for some great potential character development between Ryuuji and Minorin and/or Taiga and Yuusaku. A first example would be when Minorin tried to grab Ryuuji's hand then quickly let go but regained her confidence and (not to have Ryuuji underestimate her) grabs Ryuuji's sleeve instead. Second example, after Taiga threw her bag at Ryuuji's face, we see Minorin cursing Taiga under her breath but then quickly changes back to her usual self when Ryuuji notices. This pretty much confirms, to us the viewer at least, that Minorin does have feelings for Ryuuji ― how strong these feelings are we're not entirely sure of just yet. A third, yet separate example, is noted above about Taiga and Yuusaku. Taiga, unlike her usual self in the last 19 episodes, has somehow gained a boatload of confidence and she is able to more readily and easily communicate with Yuusaku. Hopefully there will be more character development as well as relationship development/advancement in the next episode. Either that or it'll be another flop, and I just looked at the episode preview, looks like things don't go quite well as planned ... we'll see. Ah, speaking of which:

[Image: preview21.jpg]

Episode 21, doushitatte or No Matter What. The group's skiing, Haruta seems happy to be skiing (he sure can become satisfied with no effort, huh?), Ami gets a bit mad (perhaps from falling?), and Ryuuji looks like he's dejected. Looks, and sounds, like things don't go so well for either Taiga and Ryuuji ... the reason for this, just wait until next time!
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