Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Toradora! DVD Set 1 Special Edition Impression

Toradora! From NIS America is great! The concept of a high school romantic comedy is nothing new but the characters and animation are what make Toradora! shine. This is the second entry in the land of anime made by NIS America, known for their video game division but if this quality keeps up NIS is going to soon have a place in anime lovers hearts everywhere. What’s so great, let me count the ways ..

The Story – Ryuji Takasu may look like a delinquent thanks to his eyes but this cleaning obsessed youth is one of the most caring individuals you’ll come accorss. New classmate Taiga Aisaka puts this kindness to the test with a botched love note handoff to Takasu’s best friend Yusaku Kitamura. Quickly the two find themselves in an unlikely friendship as Takasu just happens to have a crush on Taiga’s best friend, and fellow classmate, Minori Kushieda. The two form a pact to assist each other in their love conquest only to have everyone mistake them for a couple. Funny situations become the norm and a fifth wheels joins the crew in the guise of model Ami Kawashima, Kitamura’s childhood friend. Let the relationship battles begin as Ryuji likes Minori who’s friends with Taiga who likes Kitamura who’s friends with Rtyuji who has an interesting relationship developing with Ami, Kitamura’s friend as well as Taiga. Who knew five teenagers could be this engaging.

Again the story is not original in conept but nails ‘it’ in how the characters interact, their personalities and the situations they are placed in. The settings are standard fare also with a school fare, sports competition, beach trip and first encounters. Fans of this anime type know who you are and the genre does not get much better than Toradora! Relationships and awkward encounters mixed with humor, emotion, anger and love … it’s a great formula.

The Animation & Design – Beautiful character design that keeps it real. Characters are not all overly anime in their look (big eyes, breast, legs, etc) but rather these are teenagers and their design reflects as much. The source of issue for both Ryuji and Taiga come direct from their eyes and height respectively and of course the fact Ami’s a model play direct into her design. Every outfit, uniform and setting is real world which allows the viewer to focus on the relationships and not a bad design decision. This design is brought together with good animation that again does not draw away from the characters and story in either a good or bad way. The viewer is watching school age kids go through their growth and it’s as natural as any sitcom … minus the few strange dream sequences. Favorite design for me is Taiga due in large part to her attitude, what a great match.

The Voicework & Music – The opening theme, Pre-Parade, is great and set to animation sequences that will actually excite the viewer for the story to come. It’s a beautiful mix of characters, color and logo design that will have fans singing along … if you sing Japanese. The ending theme, Vanilla Salt, is a slower pace with less animation but a catchy beat and all main characters accounted for. Again great use of color and white space. The voice work is outstanding but all in Japansee. Did NIS make the sacrifice on an English voice cast to offer more extras? We’ll look for an answer on this but be warned you will be reading a lot whilte watching. There was a time when the Japanese track was always, ALWAYS, better than the English version but those days are done. Voice talent here in the states is quite excellent now and would do nothing but enhance Toradora! for the fringe anime fan. I mean if a Prinny gets the English treatment why not the Palm-Top Tiger?

Special Edition Includes – Besides two DVD’s full of 13 great episodes, fans also receive clean opening and closing sequences and some bonus food completion animations. The box is larger due to the included full color, hardcover art book episode guide. This book shows off the beautiful design of Toradora! as well as an episode summary, key terms, character relationship maps, cast interviews and … well that’s it but what a great package.

Overall what’s not to love? The one gripe, same with Persona: Trinity Soul, is the lack of English audio. For me, no problem, I’ll read along and I urge the same from you. If you’re a fan of teenage relationship anime mixing every range of emotion then Toradora! is a must for you. The package does include a beautiful art book and great packaging along with 13 episodes but it’s not cheap, hence the term premium. Shop around to find the best deal but don’t pass on Toradora! NIS America is doing a fine job delivering anime. True fans will love these sets and the overall value while casual fans will need to take a hard look and decide if it’s for them.

1 comment:

  1. I scored this for my birthday. I've signed up for the DVD replacement program since I can see the video issues on my HDTV. ^_^;