Monday, May 19, 2008

Kill Time Reading at Work #2: Toradora

Toradora is a light novel series that's going to be an anime series at some point in the future--and unless the B team from Doumu gets a hold of it, I definitely sense a winner. The first four chapters have been translated at Baka-Tsuki, and in the interest of lowering productivity a little while back I went and read it at work, and it's amazingly good so far.

The male lead of the story is Ryuji, a guy with fierce-looking eyes that make it look like he's glaring at the world--and accordingly he's outcast because almost everyone assumes that looking like that he's a dangerous delinquent. On the inside though, he's actually a nice guy, a really good cook, is great at cleaning and sewing, and no, that doesn't make him a hanayome trap (I think). The main female character is Taiga, a short girl who at a glance seems cute, but in reality is quick to snap at people and has earned a reputation as the fearsome "Palmtop Tiger." She has a crush on Ryuji's best friend Yusuke, while Ryuji in turn likes Taiga's best friend Minori--but through various things that happen Ryuji and Taiga end up teaming up to help each other get to be with the one they like. The smart money says Ryuji and Taiga will end up liking each other instead, but even if that path's predictable it should be fun to read.

Where I think Toradora has a lot of potential for greatness is the interaction between Ryuji and Taiga--the dialogue between them is really well written, and even through only four chapters, it's interesting to see them getting to know each others' true selves behind the perception that everyone else has. Taiga in particular has Saimoe Champion written all over her--she's got a complex personality in that she definitely has a fierce side, but can also be clumsy and painfully shy around the guy she likes. I'm sure she'll be labeled a tsundere, but I don't think that's an accurate label for her--she's definitely difficult to approach for most people, and can swing from homicidal to vulnerable, but she isn't tsun-tsun around the guy she likes at all. Ryuji is also an interesting character in that his home life makes him fulfill the stereotypical 'mom' role to a large extent, and he has Iron Chef-level cooking skills--unlike, say, Junichi in Da Capo, who no matter how bad Nemu's cooking is never entertains the thought that maybe his ass could cook something (unless Nemu's coughing up sakura petals).

I'm hoping that more companies will bring light novels over to the US, because I'm pretty much a sucker for them. Light novels fill a gap between manga and full-length novels that I'd expect would be popular on this side of the Pacific too, especially since we live in a short-attention span world where not everyone wants to or has time to read 800-page novels they can barely lift.

There have been a bunch of light novel-to-anime adaptations I've liked lately, from Suzumiya Haruhi to Shana to Spice and Wolf and others I'm sure I'm forgetting--here's hoping Toradora will also be a really good anime series.


Hypernova said...

I read toradora because I'm bored out of waiting for the new volume of Haruhi, and I agree that it's a good read so far. I'm worried about the fact that there is only a single person doing the translation though. I sure hope that there will be more after the anime is aired or someone pick it up and release it in the US.

Since you mention about it, I want to say I feel a little bit annoyed when all these characters was group up as tsundere, almost to the point that make me think back when I learn the word "generalization", and "prejudice" back in my early college day.

suguru said...

Ah, didn't know only one person's working on it--hopefully they keep it up, though, since it's a good read so far. It'd be great if it came out in the US, it seems like more light novels are making it over these days, so can always hope...