Ryuuji Takasu is a busybody high-schooler
with a somewhat romantic nature and a low tolerance for uncleanliness
. Unfortunately, he inherited the evil-looking eyes and facial structure
of his Yakuza
father, which makes people think he's a delinquent, or at least someone you don't
want to mess with. People who bump into him on the streets offer him their wallets, and when he grins, everyone in the vicinity retreats to eight feet away.
As the new school year starts, Ryuuji finds himself in the same class as his friend Yuusaku Kitamura, and his crush Minori Kushieda (whom he is too bashful to approach). His class also includes Minori's best friend: Taiga Aisaka (a.k.a. the "Palmtop Tiger"), the infamous pint-sized terror of the school with a fuse even shorter than her stature.
After an unfortunate first encounter that ends with Taiga KO-ing
him, Ryuuji finds out at the end of the school day that Taiga has put a love letter to Kitamura (whom she
has a crush on but is too bashful to approach) in his bag by accident. This leads to Taiga breaking into his house that night to retrieve the letter and/or kill him
, only to discover that she forgot to put the letter in
the envelope and has inadvertently outed her crush on Kitamura to Ryuuji.
After much ado and a few sword-blows, Ryuuji and Taiga strike a tenuous deal: to use their positions as The Best Friends to help each other bag their respective crushes. Hilarity Ensues
It's truly toradorable
(とらドラ!) is a 2006-2009 light novel series written by Yuyuko Takemiya and illustrated by Yasu, spanning 10 volumes. It was later given an ongoing 2008 manga series illustrated by Zekkyou and a 25-episode anime adaptation by JC Staff
in 2009 (plus an OVA
episode created in 2011 for the Japanese Blu-ray
release of the series).
The anime was initially released in North America by NIS America
as a sub-only version to help lower their production costs. United States residents can catch the subbed and dubbed version on Crunchyroll
. However, in 2014, NIS America re-released
the series in a Blu-Ray premium and standard edition, much to the shock and surprise of the fans (this is also their first anime dubbed into English as well).
Not to be confused with Tora! Tora! Tora!
or Dora the Explorer
Tropes in Toradora! include:
- A-Cup Angst: Taiga suffers from this during the pool episode. Ryuuji responds by making her some cups to enhance her bust. Which then causes problems later at the pool.
- Airplane of Love: Inverted. When Ryuuji gives his "Tiger and Dragon" speech there are twin contrails in the sky, symbolizing his connection to Taiga. At the end of the series, when Ryuuji stands outside alone, the sky is empty, but he recalls the contrails as he vows to return to Taiga's side some day.
- Alertness Blink: Starting in the very first episode.
- Alpha Bitch: Ami. She's smarter than most of them, though—she's all sweetness and smiles and "Ami-chan is so airheaded!" most of the time, and only reveals the Alpha Bitch within when she thinks she can get away with it. Of course, being one of the main characters, she's played a bit more sympathetically than most other Alpha Bitches. In later episodes, she drops the facade almost entirely, even around Kihara and Nanako and the rest of the class. Everyone knows how she really is now but love her anyway.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: The penultimate scene of Episode 8 looks like this. It's probable that this is where Taiga began to like Ryuuji, when she yelled at everyone for not saving him, and screamed, while crying, that he belonged to her. Of course, she tries to play it off as looking after her "dog", but the overtones are still there.
- The end of the Christmas episode. It's so anguished that it counts as a Tear Jerker.
- Armor-Piercing Question:
- Once Ami groks the situation (which does take several episodes/books), she becomes like a ninja sniper. She especially likes to catch Ryuuji by the vending machines with these. Ryuuji gets her back (without realizing it) by calling her a "kid" after Minori and Yuri praised her for her maturity. This seems to be what convinces her to stay in school, and she later admits that all she wants in life is someone who can pierce her armor.
- Minori delivers one in Episode 23 which leads to the final Drama Bomb of the series.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Taiga hits Ami with one the very first time they meet.
- Art Shift:
- Twice by Minori when she's trying to scare someone. May overlap into Nightmare Fuel for some.
- The foot race during the School Festival. For once Ryuuji's face looks as scary as people say it is.
- Artificial Riverbank: Taiga once collapses on one in exhaustion, only to get up and try to learn how to ride a bike after a chance meeting with Yuusaku. Later, Ami and Ryuuji visit it while performing community service (more so in the novel).
- Badass Adorable: Taiga. She floors Ryuuji with a single punch in their first encounter, she can handle a bokken, and she does well (diminutive stature notwithstanding) in a brawl with Sumire (and is completely unrepentant after being suspended from school for it). The Palmtop Tiger demands your respect.
- Bare-Handed Blade Block: Ryuuji has to use this to avoid being hit by Taiga's bokken when she invades his house in the first episode. It averts Blocking Stops All Damage by having him cry out in pain as he catches it.
- Berserk Button:
- Either calling Taiga small or by her nickname is something she hates with a passion.
- Ami seems to trigger Minori's during the ski trip. Probably the first time Minori seems truly angry.
- Do NOT compare Ryuuji to his father.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Don't make Minori angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.
- The Big Damn Kiss: Between Ryuuji and Taiga. All together now... MOU ICHIDO!note
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ami, though she's portrayed more sympathetically than most examples, and eventually mellows out in time.
- Bi the Way: Minori, very probably.
- Bittersweet Ending: Seems to be this, but then The Stinger turns it into a full-blown Earn Your Happy Ending.
- Bland-Name Product:
- Sudohbucks Coffee is Starbucks Coffee. Even Ryuuji lampshades "How come this place has yet to be sued?" There's also Jonny's (Denny's), and knockoffs of Pocari Sweat and Asahi beer.
- Taiga buys a donut from a shady van called "Krispy Kreamy".
- Oddly enough, one scene of the anime contains a store named Kmart in the background. This was likely a failed attempt at being generic.
- Episode 12 has a bottle of "Nourishment Water" show up, which is a knockoff of Vitamin Water, lowercase letters and all.
- Book Ends: In the anime, Taiga and Ryuuji meet through a locker. Guess what happens right before they reunite. There are (at least) three more: The birds on the telephone wire, the twin contrails in the sky and - possibly stretching it a bit - Taiga and Ryuuji's forced smiles.
- Briar Patching: Minori, of all people, pulls this off by pretending she is scared senseless by all things Horror, when in fact she loves horror stories and intentionally invites others to try scaring her in this manner.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Minori. Her oddness certainly doesn't seem to stop her from being captain of the softball team and having a relatively normal school- and social life, with most characters seeming to take her slight eccentricity in good stride.
- Bullying a Dragon: Not exactly bullying, but the constant teasing by Ami in regards to a person nicknamed "Palmtop Tiger" may fit on this trope.
- Calling Your Attacks: Uncommon for this type of anime, but present: "Eternal Circle of Transmigration", "Divine Fist of Convenience Stores! HIGH CALORIES!", "Calcium-Chloride Kick!".
- Cat Fight: Subverted. The fight between Taiga and Sumire is not sexy, it is no-holds-barred and brutal.
- Caught the Heart on His Sleeve: Hilariously invoked by Minori after being commanded by Taiga to grab Ryuuji while the two are at a sidewalk intersection. Taiga then throws her bookbag at Ryuuji's face, and sprints past them before the lights turn red.
- Character Development: Virtually everybody in the cast, although the minor characters don't get much until about halfway through the series.
- Chewing the Scenery: Minori has the ability to single-handedly gobble up whole episodes.
- Christmas Cake: The characters' homeroom teacher. Lampshaded without mercy.
- Christmas Episode: Of the wham episode variety (largely due to it being a barrel of laughs). That episode also happens to have some Fanservice for both the guys (Taiga and her Modesty Bedsheet, Ami in a Sexy Santa Dress and the other minor girls in Playboy Bunny suits. And then Minori in a bald wig) and the girls (this is the second time we've seen Kitamura naked. And there's a brief shot of Ryuuji and his Naked Apron).
- Chromatic Arrangement: Evident in the first opening and ending:
- Taiga: Hot Pink
- Ryuuji: Orange
- Minori: Light Blue
- Kitamura: Goldenrod
- Ami: Red
- Closet Shuffle: During the skiing trip to the mountain.
- Clingy Jealous Girl:
- Taiga initially gets upset whenever other girls get too friendly or close to Yuusaku, particularly Ami and later Kanou. Later she does this towards Ryuuji as well.
- Kihara later on. While she hints at liking Kitamura early on, she doesn't get to spend much time with him until after he becomes the Student Council President about halfway through the series. But by that point, Noto, one of Kitamura's friends, actively tries to get Taiga and Kitamura together, which ironically he does a better job at than Ryuuji did. The two minor characters culminate in a heated argument during the ski trip about this, which causes Kihara to start crying, and creating a very sour mood amongst the group later that evening.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Minori, whose behavior is notably strange even amongst this band of oddballs. Her antics have been noted to generally steal scenes.
- Contrived Coincidence: Minori walks past by Taiga's apartment, right after Taiga ran out crying, calling for Ryuuji. Justified. According to the novel Minori went to Taiga's apartment to confront her about her feelings toward Ryuuji and was standing on the street hesitating to enter. Which makes it much less of coincidence. In addition, the preceding scene featured Minori listening to a message on her voice mail, which was made at the beginning of the episode. The message consisted of Ryuuji inviting her to the Christmas party, with Taiga's shouting for Ryuuji's attention being heard very clearly in the background. This could have prompted Minori to head to Taiga's house to find out the latter's feelings.
- Crash-Into Hello: Taiga & Ryuuji in the first episode. This is how they find each other in the Epilogue of the novel.
- Crazy-Prepared: Not so much applicable in the anime as it is in the original novel, but Ryuuji, being the Neat Freak he is, never leaves home without a host of various portable cleaning supplies for whatever random job may creep up. The total list of these supplies would take up far too much space here.
- Cry Cute: Taiga (as is the norm for roles by her voice actress) mostly, but so did Minori, Yasuko, and (in the light novel) Ami.
- Cupid Hates Odd Couples: So much. Overlaps a lot with I Want My Beloved to Be Happy.
- Cute Clumsy Girl:
- Taiga, especially around Kitamura, when she is reduced to a quivering wreck. Ami fakes being one; it's all part of her manipulative bitchiness.
- Taiga is such a klutz, she falls from a bike she's merely pushing around!
- Daddy Didn't Show: Set-up more or less from the moment Taiga's father appears. Or at least when other characters begin reacting to his arrival.
- Date Crêpe: During the festival arc, Taiga is eating a crepe and Yuusaku takes a bite. The possibility for an Indirect Kiss so overwhelms her that she stuffs the whole thing down Ryuuji's throat.
- Deconstruction: Many of the characters are deconstructions of typical anime characters. Most notably, Taiga is a real world version of childish tsundere types like Shana and Louise.
- Delinquents: Subverted by Ryuuji: he's one of the most patient and nicest guys you'll run into, but his eyes are permanently fixed into a death glare (which he apparently inherited from his late Yakuza father), causing people (even adults!) to be deathly afraid of him.
- Disappeared Dad: Ryuuji's father is missing from the start of the series, possibly dead. At the end of the series his mother admits they were never married and he ran off with another woman while she was pregnant.
- Disorganized Outline Speech: Taiga is prone to these.
- Distracted by the Sexy: In Episode 8, the boys were smitten at the sight of Ami in a two-piece bikini (within the school pool, no less). Played for Drama for all its worth, with Ryuuji nearly drowning after being accidentally shoved over the pool, forcing Taiga, who could barely swim, to rescue him, then call them out for failing to notice him before crying that Ryuuji is hers.
- Don't Say Such Stupid Things: After Ryuuji and Taiga run away from a heated argument with their mothers, Ryuuji leans over the railing of a bridge as snow starts to fall, and wonders if Yasuko would have had a better life had he not been born. Taiga immediately attacks him, infuriated he would think such a thing, and accidentally sends him over the railing into the river.
- Door Stopper: The book series runs to ten volumes, plus three more volumes of side stories (appropriately titled Toradora Spin-off!). Even at 200 pages each, that's still a RomCom twice as long as Lord of the Rings.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Justified Trope when Taiga attacks her own father.
- Drama Bomb: Impacts around half-way through, around the same time the OP/ED change.
- Dramatic Wind: When Minori calls both Ryuuji and Taiga to have a talk about their relationship in Episode 2.
- In Episode 7, when Minori is about to declare that Ami and Taiga will settle their differences through sports. Lampshaded with a wide shot showing that Minori's the only one in the classroom affected by the wind.
- Dysfunction Junction: A cornerstone of the show's drama. Plus, at least the anime's art style makes it so that more often than not, the eyes of the cast look somewhat disturbing with just a tint of insanity.
- Everyone Can See It: Just about everyone thinks that Ryuuji and Taiga would make a good couple except Ryuuji and Taiga themselves, at least until the end.
- Establishing Character Moment: Taiga moves from generic Tsundere to awkward teen girl with trust issues and a Napoleon complex during the light pole kicking incident.
- Face of a Thug: Ryuuji. It's apparently genetic.
- Comparatively mild in the series proper, although Taiga's appearance in the anime's opening makes up for that quite a bit—and then of course there's Ryuuji's mother.
- Let's not forget Ami in all this, appearing in a Santa girl suit in Haruta's dream, not to mention her bikini for the swimming contest.
- A bit for the girls. Kitamura once appears on the scene buck naked, casually holding a towel in front of his naughty bits in a manner that doesn't look like he's even trying to keep himself covered. Taiga is floored almost immediately, while Minorin enthusiastically photographs it with her cellphone camera. The guy proceeds to drop the towel all by himself but Ryuuji dives to catch it and hold it up before anything inappropriate is shown onscreen. Minorin says she saw something black, though.
- Fast Forward To Reunion: Happens in the Stinger. Taiga and Ryuuji are shown back together again, and he finally tells her that he loves her. Awww.
- The series compresses a ten book series into twenty-five episodes. They get most of the main plot points, but details often get left out. Yet despite this tight framework, the series still contains three filler episodes.
- "Your Song" is based upon a paragraph in the second book about how Ryuuji and Taiga first found Minori working in a local diner. Everything after the first five minutes is entirely original to the anime.
- "That Moment's Expression" is a completely original story, except for the lunch scene where Minori notices Taiga and Ryuuji's bentos contain the same thing.
- "The Palmtop Tiger of Happiness" is loosely adapted from a short story that was included in the third book. Its placement between the School Festival and Sumire arcs makes it something of a Breather Episode.
- First Girl Wins:
- The first episode opens with intercutting between Ryuuji and Taiga waking up. The scene is even edited in such a way that a first-time viewer might think they're already together.
- And they are together from the start, they just take the whole series to admit it!
- Flexible Tourney Rules: Most competitions are played incredibly dirty.
- Previewed by Taiga wanting to settle her differences with Ami via vale tudo (a no-holds-barred version of Mixed Martial Arts).
- How anvilicious does it get? Well, in the first few minutes of the first episode, we see clips of Taiga and Ryuuji in their respective homes and then a shot of two shoes (which, of course, belong to Yasuko and Ryuuji).
- Although this is the most obvious case, it should probably be noted that overall there's a lot more hints about their budding feelings for one another in both the original novel and the manga adaptation than in the anime, especially in the early part of the series.
- Near the end of the series, Ryuuji comments on how Taiga can talk normally to Kitamura, which shows that Taiga has more or less gotten over him.
- Foregone Conclusion: An extension of the foreshadowing mentioned above. If after the second episode people don't realise that Ryuugi and Taiga are meant to get together, they lack genre savvy. If after the Christmas arc they still don't realise, they should go stare into their fridge until their narrative brains start working again.
- Gecko Ending:
- There was some commotion made about the cooperation between JC Staff and Takemiya to ensure an accurate adaptation of Volume 10, which came out near the end of the anime's run. However, there are some fairly large and important differences between versions that indicate that JCStaff had a rough outline at most to work with, most notably that in the novel Taiga never transfers, and reunites with Ryuuji and friends come third year, rather than on graduation day. There are some other differences with Filler/Anime original bits of the story that were different or absent in the original novel. For instance:
- Minori supported Taiga and Ryuuji running away more emphatically, although she didn't give them her life's savings in the novel.
- Minori's affections for Taiga and especially Ami in the anime is almost completely absent in the Light Novel. The anime added several scenes with Minori and Ami that weren't present in the original.
- In the novel, Ami has a massive Cry Cute moment when she finds out that Taiga has gone with her mother, tearfully declaring her friendship with everyone and her wish to continue the life she's had with her friends.
- Genki Girl:
- Get Out: Yasuko does this non-verbally in Episode 15; Kitamura and Taiga have a loud discussion, waking her up prompting her to point them out of the house.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: From Yuusaku, unexpectedly:
Minori: It's dark! It's narrow! I'm scared!
Yuusaku: Ha ha ha! Where have I heard that phrase before?
- Gone Horribly Right: A humorous example. At the beach house, everyone but Taiga asked for curry as spicy as possible from Ryuuji. He certainly delivered, with a curry that clearly caused pain in Yuusaku, Minori, and Ami... but because Ryuuji is a Supreme Chef, it was so delicious that they couldn't help but keep eating it, going through more and more pain.
- Groin Attack: Taiga delivers this to her own father, who was actually a complete and utter bastard who deserved every bone in his body broken beyond repair for continuously playing with his daughter's feelings and breaking her heart.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Yasuko. Justified by her job working at a hostess bar, which requires her to drink copious amounts.
- Hidden Depths: Haruta makes a professional-level script for the cultural festival.
- Ryuuji uses the more intimate yobisute version of Taiga's name (using no honorific at all) at the end of the second episode, leaving her quite pleased. You know, after she beats him down again. Of course, she never once bothered to use an honorific for him.
- Except earlier in Episode 2, when she calls him "Takasu-kun" as she relieves him of his "dog" duties. But that's the only time.
- Ami and Yasuko frequently refer to themselves in third person with the honorific "chan", which is part of what makes them Kawaiiko (see below).
- Mostly averted with Yasuko. Even Ryuuji calls her by her first name instead of "okasan".
- Haruta calls Ryuuji Taka-chan and variants, which indicates a much closer friendship than what we see onscreen.
- Hopeless Suitor: Several examples:
- Ami towards Ryuuji. Probably justified, since she's introduced later on, and her attitude rubs some of the characters the wrong way early on.
- Ryuuji towards Minori. Although Minori did like Ryuuji, by the time they tried to spend time together, Minori noticed that Taiga was beginning to also like Ryuuji, making her use I Want My Beloved to Be Happy on Taiga and Ryuuji and rejecting him when he finally tried to confess to her. Not that doing it was easy on Minori, who cries after finally letting them be together at the end.
- Taiga towards Yuusaku. Although she did like him after initially rejecting him, by the time she really got to spend any meaningful amount of time with him, her feelings for Ryuuji were also beginning to blossom, and he was also beginning to like Sumire, the student council president.
- Yuusaku towards Taiga and Sumire. Probably the most tragic example in this series, since Taiga initially rejected him, but then grew to like him but always had trouble letting her feelings to him be known properly. After Taiga's rejection, he begins to admire Sumire, who liked him as well but rejected him because she was leaving for America and didn't want him to screw his future up for her.
- Note: at the end of the series it is mentioned that he is going to America to study abroad which implies that he's going after her and hasn't given up.
- Kihara towards Yuusaku. She even tried to actively pursue him after Sumire turned him down, but by that point, Noto tries to hook up Taiga with Yuusaku. Although that doesn't work out because Taiga is beginning to have strong feelings for Ryuuji, and later it turns out Noto liked Kihara, so tried to keep her from hooking up with Yuusaku.
- Hot-Blooded: Minori can get quite like this.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ryuuji and Taiga.
- Identical Grandson: Despite being almost identical to his father, Ryuuji also resembles his grandfather on Yasuko's side of the family.
- Idiot Ball:
- Painfully so. A lot of drama could have been avoided if Ryuuji had asked some very simple and basic questions during the Drama Bomb.
- Or during the time with Taiga's father. Almost all of the awkwardness and silence between Ryuuji and Minori probably could have been averted if he just asked, "Wait, why do you hate Taiga's father so much? What has he done?" when Minori found out, instead of exploding at Minori that she didn't know anything. Because, y'know, Taiga's oldest friend might have an idea what's up. Or conversely, that Ryuuji never knew his own father and wouldn't understand why someone wouldn't want to meet their father.
- Indirect Kiss:
- When Minorin enjoyed an indirect kiss with Takasu off her fist, after sending him out after Taiga.
- When Yuusaku suddenly takes a bite of the crepe Taiga is eating, she gets flustered and impulsively shoves it into Ryuuji's mouth, saying "you have some too!" Afterwards, she complains that Ryuuji stole her indirect kiss with Yuusaku. She seems to have missed the point that, since she had already been eating it, she forced an indirect kiss with her on Ryuuji.
- Informed Attractiveness:
- Ami. She is apparently so gorgeous that people stop in the street to stare at her (and she is even a model in-verse), but she looks no different from the other characters in the series. Most likely a side-effect of The Beautiful Elite and Generic Cuteness.
- This is softened a little bit by the fact that she is taller and has noticeably longer legs than the other female characters, a common trait of models, and by the fact that Taiga used to have a similar effect on boys, at least until they learned to fear her.
- For comparison, Taiga, Minori, and Ami have a short cameo in Okami-San. Taiga and Minori are pretty much depicted as in Toradora!, but Ami is notoriously taller, curvier and more adult-looking.
- Insult of Endearment: Taiga's nickname for Ami, "stupid chihuahua".
- Irony: At the end of Episode 24 Taiga remarks that she's bought more mature food than what she usually eats, after running away from home.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
- To the degree that the Love Dodecahedron keeps on going because half its contenders don't try to resolve it to their advantage out of fear of denying someone else their happiness.
- The real kicker is that, near the end of the story, both primary love interests are mostly aware of the other's intentions and feelings. Thus it turns into a weird bizarro love triangle where the contest is who can give Ryuuji to her opponent first. Minori "wins".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ami, after a bit of Character Development. Ryuuji is also one of these for the rest of the school once they learn that he's not as fearsome as he looks, although being the viewpoint character the viewers know this from the get-go.
- Kawaiiko: Both Ami and Yasuko. With Ami it's a mask she's developed to get by in the modeling industry and is now afraid to take off because she doesn't think anyone will like her real self; with Yasuko it seems to be her real personality, but it may be a case of Becoming the Mask. Interestingly, with Yasuko, who is well above the age where it should be acceptable, it's endearing, while with Ami it's the thing that makes her Alpha Bitch.
- Last Confession Wins: Averted. Minori deliberately withholds her confession until after Taiga's. However, the corollary holds in that Ami's the first to express her feelings towards Ryuuji.
- Licensed Game: Toradora Portable is a visual novel for the Playstation Portable. It was made by Namco Bandai in 2009. The first English Fan Translation patch was released in 2013. It had bugs, but a follow-up patch in 2014 corrected them.
- Lost in Translation: NIS America's official English subtitles make some interesting translation choices:
- The girls' nickname for Kitamura is Maruo, after the bespectacled student council president in Chibi Maruko-chan. The subtitles replace that with "Four-Eyes". The English dub uses Maruo, but because the nickname is never explained in the Japanese-language version of the show — Chibi Maruko-chan is a massively popular franchise in Japan so no explanation was necessary for Japanese viewers — there's no opportunity to explain it within the show for English-language viewers who are likely unfamiliar with it.
- Taiga's Insult of Endearment for Ami, "baka-chi" (dumb chihuahua), appears in the subtitles as "Chi-Chi".
- In Episode 20, the subtitles suggest that Taiga is merely mispronouncing "biscuit"; in fact, she's mispronouncing "chinsuko" (a sweet biscuit sold in Okinawa) as "chinkosu" (penis), which is why Haruta is getting such a charge out of it (and why Taiga gets embarrassed and angry).
- Love Confession:
- The whole story is built around characters trying to confess their love, but they're usually so tongue-tied that the other party doesn't realize what they're being told, or upon realizing it stop the other person from finishing. The more notable examples:
- Taiga to Kitamura, though she's so flustered that he thinks she's confessing to loving Ryuuji.
- Kitamura twice to Sumire.
- Ryuuji tries to confess to Minori, but she stops him.
- Minori to Ryuuji after she knows he's chosen Taiga.
- A non-romantic version when Yasuko declares Taiga to be part of the family.
- Taiga to Ryuuji, though she's half-conscious, suffering from hypothermia and believes she's talking to Kitamura about her love for Ryuuji.
- Ryuuji to Taiga. He doesn't actually manage to say, "I love you," until the very last scene of the series, but he's made the message clear before that.
- Love Dodecahedron:
- Ami likes Ryuuji, who is in love with Minori, who thinks that he likes Taiga (and likely has some feelings for Taiga herself), while Taiga really likes Yuusaku. It only gets worse as the series progresses.
- And later in the series, we find out that Yuusaku once thought Taiga attractive, but now likes Sumire Kanou, who in turn apparently likes him back but can't because of high school graduation...
- Overturned again towards the end, when is revealed that Taiga has fallen in love with Ryuuji. And her love is fully reciprocated by Ryuuji. Thankfully, that puts an end to the mess.
- By the end of the series it's so all-pervasive that the revelation that Minori was in love with Ryuuji too had viewers wondering if her issues weren't something deeper than just another I Want My Beloved to Be Happy. They weren't.
- Or were they? Minori isn't sure whether she lost Ryuuji to Taiga or Taiga to Ryuuji.
- Love Letter Lunacy: Taiga attempts to give Yuusaku a love note, but ends up just giving Ryuuji an empty envelope instead, which kicks off the plot.
- Love Revelation Epiphany: A major plot point is that Taiga was confessed to by Kitamura and only started to develop feelings for him after that.
- Lower Deck Episode: The short story "The Palmtop Tiger of Happiness", included at the end of Book 3, is told from the perspective of a freshman who believes Ryuuji is a junior yakuza who's keeping Taiga as some kind of love slave. His attempts to rescue her backfire spectacularly. The anime adaptation abandons this almost entirely, reducing the freshman to a role no larger than Haruta and Noto.
- Man Child: Ryuuji's mother Yasuko refers to herself as "Yacchan", and makes childish requests like wanting her name written in ketchup on her omelettes.
- Marshmallow Hell: Yasuko to Taiga, in a warm and fuzzy manner.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Ryuuji & Taiga: the former is a soft-hearted romantic-natured Neat Freak, the latter is a skilled tsundere kendo practitioner with a hair-trigger temper and a near-textbook Napoleon complex.
- Matchmaker Crush: Originally Ryuuji offered to help set up Taiga with Kitamura, with the understanding that later she would help set him up with Minori. Due to the amount of time they spend together however, it becomes pretty clear who they're going to really end up with.
- Meaningful Name: Ryuuji (Dragon) and Taiga (Tiger), explicitly called attention to in Episode 2.
- Metaphorgotten: Ghosts and love, Minori even keeps using this code with Ami, who wasn't there when the discussion started.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- Mundane Made Awesome: The Ramen shop worker from Episode 22 is WAY too into serving ramen.
Eternal Circle of Transmigration!
- Name's the Same: In-Universe: While they only share the same first name, Taiga lampshades that Ami "has the same name as Sailor Mercury".
- Nausea Fuel: In-universe; Inko is considered to be this by Taiga.
- Neat Freak: Ryuuji fits this trope to a T. If he sees anything unsanitary, dirty, or messed up clothing, he usually drops whatever he was doing in order to clean/fix it. Becomes a Running Gag later in the show, such as when they go to the girl's dorm during the ski trip, and the first thing he does is start sorting out socks strewn about the messy room.
- New Transfer Student: Ami.
- Nice Guy: Ryuuji. According to Kihara, lots of people in the class think Ryuuji is one of these. Once they get used to his evil looks, that is.
- Minori gets one from trying to suggest that they do a haunted house for the school culture festival.
- Seems to happen a lot with Minori, though the above example is the only one caused by being turned on. "Nosebleeds are the tears of the heart!", indeed. And later played more seriously: "I did learn one thing today. When you trip in the hallway, you get a nosebleed. When you trip in life, you cry."
- Obfuscating Stupidity:
- Ami. She puts on an innocent airhead persona, except to her true friends who knows how she's really like but accept her anyway.
- In the summer vacation episodes, Minori gives hints to the viewer - a secret smile here, a cryptic comment there - that she knows precisely what's being planned, as well as knowing how Ryuuji feels about her. Her uniqueness means she can dismiss whatever she says as either more inane babbling or refine it into an honest statement.
- And in the same episode, Kitamura's lame tricks are supposed to cover his true plan. Which leads to a hilarious exchange in the novels:
"In the cave, it was nothing but a string of failures. Didn't you think 'there’s no way that Kitamura could be this unreliable' or something?"
"Ah, not really, I just thought, 'so this guy really is an idiot?'"
- Odd Couple: Friendly, nice neat freak with the face of a thug and short, angry completely messy ball of cute.
- Official Couple: Taiga x Ryuuji. For Pete's sake, it's one of the show's alternate titles.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: "What can you say about a person calling herself airheaded?"
- Otaku: Ami gets stalked by one.
- Parental Abandonment:
- Taiga apparently lives separate from her parents, who bought her an apartment all for herself just to get her off their backs. Later on her father asks for her to come back and one actually sees what kind of father figure he is.
- It quickly becomes apparent he is not much of a parent at all.
- Turns out that Ryuuji's missing father isn't dead- he's just a deadbeat. He didn't even stick around until Ryuuji was born.
- Pet the Dog: Ami gets a few, like bringing out Yuri-sensei out of her depression.
- Pixellation: The contents of the kitchen sink in Taiga's apartment in the first episode.
- Platonic Life Partners: Ryuuji and Taiga pre-Relationship Upgrade.
- Playing Cyrano: And as usual, it utterly fails.
- Portmanteau Couple Name: Right there in the title. To elaborate: "Taiga" is tiger, phonetically transcribed from English into Japanese, whereas Ryuuji is a name dealing with dragons (which would be ryu). These are flipped for the title, so we get "Tora" the actual word for tiger in Japanese, and "Dora" comes from "Doragon", which is the Japanese transcription of the English word dragon. *
- Pose of Supplication:
- Ryuuji and Yasuko do this to beg forgiveness from Inko.
- Yuusaku takes this further than he has to in Episode 17, when he thanks Taiga for her willingness to defend him from what she thought was Sumire's bullying.
- And Minori does it too at the beginning of the series, believing Ryuuji and Taiga are an item and begging the former to bring hapiness to the latter. Done in a Shout-Out way to Hyûga's famous Pose of Supplication scene in Captain Tsubasa, right down to the pre-PoS Badass stance.
- Post-Victory Collapse: Minori finally breaks down after Ryuuji, Taiga, and Yuusaku leave Ami's house in the second-to-last episode.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Ryuuji looks scary, but he cooks, cleans, sews dresses (Taiga's outfit at the beauty contest), and makes breast pads for Taiga.
- Don't forget his pink boxers!
- Red String of Fate: Class 2-C's legendary secret treasure!
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship:
- Minori and Taiga's relationship has some elements of this, especially from Minori's side.
- In Episode 24, Minori confesses to Ami that she doesn't know whether she's sad because she's lost Ryuuji to Taiga or Taiga to Ryuuji. Ami later comments that Minori, Genki Girl that she is, broke down after being dumped by both Ryuuji and Taiga.
- As one can imagine, Minori and Ami start to develop this kind of relationship after said event.
- Running Gag:
- Inko struggling to say her own name.
- Yuri's age/single status becomes one.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Kitamura does Gendou glasses when luring the others into scare "traps" he laid in a cave during a Beach Episode, as well as several other times during the series.
- School Festival: Gets a whole novel/three episodes devoted to it.
- Share the Male Pain: After Taiga's Groin Attack on her father, Ryuuji can be seen cringing and instinctively covering his own family jewels.
- Ship Tease:
- So much that some fans want an "After Story" featuring either Ami or Minori with Ryuuji. Although on another note, one wonders if many did forget that the series started from both Taiga's and Ryuuji's narrative - which implies that the other ships are already destroyed before they can be built...
- Subverted, in the Visual Novel where you play as Ryuuji, thanks to the games multiple endings, you can either end the game with Taiga, Minori, or Ami, so there still hope for fans!
- Since Minori at one point states to have feelings for Taiga as well, even a Taiga x Minori route would be thinkable.
- Shipper on Deck: Everyone, to everyone, at one point or another.
- Shiritori: The cast is playing this on the bus to the ski resort, at least until Minorin drags it way off track.
- Minorin makes a duel about looking at School Festival pictures.
- This is just the tip of the iceberg; Minorin is a veritable fount of bizarrely out of place refrences: "Sigh GET!" and a Yu-Gi-Oh version of her pudding bucket; "ORA ORA ORA" when choosing which pictures to buy; pretending she's Golgo 13; Nozumo Itoshiki's lectures being the inspiration for her multiple jobs; she has a Twitter Whale cup, etc.
- She sings a lyric-altered version of the Princess Mononoke theme song at the beginning of episode 17.
- Minori references Fist of the North Star a few times. At one point in volume 7 she delivers rapid-fire taps to Taiga's forehead while imitating Kenshiro's AH-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA battle cry, and then starts singing a lyric-altered version of "You wa Shock" (FOTNS' first opening theme) to Ryuuji afterwards. Her "Divine Fist of Convenience Stores" is also a parody of Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken ("Divine Fist of the North Star") attack.
- Kana and Touma from Minami-ke are shortly seen walking by in one scene.
- On a snowy night, leaning on a bridge's rail, Ryuuji wonders if Yasuko's life wouldn't have been better if he hadn't been born. Angel Taiga has clearly seen It's a Wonderful Life and overreacts a bit.
- In Episode 4, Taiga and Ryuuji go to Sudoh Bucks (Starbucks Coffee).
- The neighbour of the aforementioned Sudoh-bucks is Furukawa Bakery.
- Taiga once refers to Ami that her name is written exactly the same way as Sailor Mercury's.
- The music playing during Taiga's learning to swim montage is an obvious knock off of the theme from Chariots of Fire.
- Taiga's overenthusiastic "Oha!" greeting to Kitamura in Episode 4 is done in the style of "Shingo Mama", a character played by a cross-dressing Shingo Katori (member of the boy band SMAP), and demonstrated in the song "Shingo Mama no Oha Rock".
- Shower of Awkward: Subverted, as when Ryuuji walks in on Ami in the shower, she's actually fully dressed. But then played straight when Taiga walks in on her a few minutes later.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Between Taiga and Ryuuji at the very end.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender:
- Taiga is often a victim of physical comedy.
- In particular when Ryuuji hits Taiga in the head with a broom (accidentally).
- Slasher Smile:
- Ryuuji does this whenever he's cleaning.
- Of course, for Ryuuji any smile looks like a Slasher Smile...
- Ami gets in a pretty good one, too, when she's stomping her stalker's camera to pieces. That the expression freaks him right the hell out is icing on the cake.
- Taiga lacks nothing in this department, as Episode 3 shows.
- Even their teacher gets one when they choose wrestling as theme of the festival. Looks like Toradora! is the non-action anime with the greatest number of slasher smiles.
- Slow Clap: During the School Festival, Ryuuji starts this up with Minori's help after Taiga's Jerk Ass father ditches her during the beauty pageant. Played realistically in that nobody joins in until they realize that it's the delinquent Ryuuji clapping, and he looks ready to kill someone, so better go along.
- Spit Take: Beautifully synchronized with Ryuuji and Taiga in the fifth anime episode: they both take sips of water to calm down after seeing Ami come into the restaurant, then spit it out together when Kitamura walks in and greets her.
- Spoiler Opening: Ami Kawashima appears in the opening from the first episode on, even though she doesn't first appear until the fifth episode.
- Spring Cleaning Fever: Ryuuji.
- Stepford Smiler: Minori is a Type A.
- Student Council President: Sumire, who acts very close to a Drill Sergeant Nasty by bellowing out orders to the students with a megaphone.
- Super-Deformed: Toradora SOS!, four mini-episodes created as bonuses for the Japanese DVD releases, featuring the main characters as chibi-fied versions of themselves trying out various foods. Cuteness ensues.
- Super Drowning Skills: Taiga has this, though she can kick really well.
- Supporting Harem: As it is suggested by the title, this is more of a romantic comedy with two extra girls than a Harem Anime.
- Tempting Fate: When Minori and Ryuuji are in a dark storeroom, Minori comments that it'd be interesting if they were to suddenly get locked in there. Cue door being shut by the manager who thought she left the door unlocked.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ami gives a particularly harsh one to Minori during the ski trip. It seems to legitimately piss off Minori for the first time ever, and while it seems they let it slide, the next day Ami seems to keep getting hit by the sled ridden by Taiga and Minori. It's likely that this happened because Ami likes Ryuuji, but was told in an earlier episode by Taiga not to interfere with him while he tries to confess his love for Minori. But Minori continues to hide behind her Genki Girl facade, and act as if nothing happened. Considering all the mistakes and slip ups Minori was making in earlier episodes, Ami has reason to be angry, since she can't stand Minori not being true to her feelings, and at least giving Ryuuji a clear answer so in the event she rejects him, she could then legitimately move in on him.
- Those Two Guys:
- Noto and Haruta.
- Those Two Girls - Kihara and Nanako.
- Through Her Stomach: Ryuuji's main method of taming Taiga is feeding her.
- Tiger Versus Dragon: Thrives off this. The title itself is a combination of Japanese for tiger (Tora) and the Japanese transliteration of the English word dragon (dora(-gon)). The main characters are even named Taiga (referenced in her nickname "Palmtop Tiger") and Ryuuji (dragon child/character). Ryuuji himself references the symbolism in an early episode.
- Training Montage: Ryuuji teaches Taiga how to swim. Comes complete with a Chariots of Fire sound-alike and a balancing exercise on a pole against a sunset!
- Tranquil Fury: During their first meeting, Taiga calmly slaps Ami when she tires of her bitchy behavior.
- Trash of the Titans: Taiga's apartment when Ryuuji visits her the first time.
- True Companions: Yes, it's a Love Dodecahedron, and yes, they ''all'' have issues, but the Five-Man Band really do care deeply about each other.
- Two-Teacher School: Yuri-sensei and the Phys Ed teacher "Muscle" Kuro.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: This series is rather fond of this trope. Taiga falls for Kitamura after rejecting his initial confession; too bad by this point he's moved on to pine after Sumire. Towards the end of the series, Minori finally admits that she returns Ryuuji's feelings for her - right after he's realized that he's moved on and is in love with Taiga instead.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Ami and Taiga. Ami and Minori appear to have this kind of relationship by the end of the series.
- Waif-Fu: Despite her frail, doll-like appearance, Taiga manages to put up quite a fight against strong adversaries.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Minori. She practically rivals Touya Kinomoto for all the part-time jobs she's taking. In a variation, she keeps all these jobs because of something she heard from one of Nozomu Itoshiki's lectures.
- Wilhelm Scream: Last episode of the specials uses it.
- Will They or Won't They?: Taiga and Ryuuji. Pretty firm on the 'They Will' side, though, given that the show's title means 'Tiger and Dragon' (Taiga x Ryuu, in other words).
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Minori, although its hard to tell what genre she thinks she's in. Probably all of them.
- Yaoi Fangirl: In the novels, when the boys propose a Cosplay Café for the School Festival, several unnamed girls counter with a Yaoi Cafe:
"Instead of drag, how about we have a 'BL Cafe'? The butler will be seme, while the slightly haughty waiter will be uke. They’ll be affectionate and mean to their customers simultaneously… How's that? Kya! I've said it!"
- You Are Not Alone:
- In Episode 2 when Taiga throws a fit about how nobody understands her, Ryuuji joins in and kicks the light pole with her to show her that, yes, there was somebody willing to understand her. Crowning Moment of Heartwarming ensues.
- In "The Palmtop Tiger of Happiness" episode, Ryuuji chides Ami for her diet, gives her an extra pork cutlet (since they come in a pack of four and he's only feeding three) and says she acts like a kid. This comes after a day in which Yuri and Minori have both praised her for her maturity and she's received a call from her agent begging her to return to modeling full time. The episode ends with Ami telling her mother she wants to remain in school. Towards the end of the series, she confesses to Ryuuji that she stayed because she'd finally found someone who understood her and liked her for who she really is, even if he doesn't love her.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Taiga, most obvious in the first opening.