With Ami joining the main cast, the relationships between everyone is slowly starting to change. While she is not the catalyst, there were already a lot of hints as I mentioned in my first post, she helps to stir things up and make them progress much faster than without her. Includes spoilers about episode 07-08!
Ami’s intentions throughout Toradora are not really given much light, so it is hard to make anything out of her as a character. Is she only teasing people, is she simply lonely or is it something completely else? You never know what she will do next because of this, which makes her a very interesting character. She is also the “observer” of everyone else, meaning that she knows everything that is going on between them. We will come back to this in the next post.
After some teasing with Ryuuji and more from Ami’s side, Taiga is seriously annoyed at her and considers her a rival. So when Ami invites Ryuuji and Kitamura to her vacation home, it is only natural that they decide to duel. Taiga wants Ryuuji to stay home, Ami wants Ryuuji to come with her. A class draw decides that there will be a 50-meter swimming match. Lucky for Ami since she is a beast at swimming, not as lucky for Taiga as she cannot swim. Now, this is when, once again, the serious side of Toradora comes to the surface.
First off, there are three very specific moments with first Kitamura, then Ami and lastly Minori. They may seem small, but as a whole, they play a big role in how everyone perceives each other.
The encounter with Kitamura is on the outside the most simple of them all, but in reality it is not. While the rest of the class is cheering for Ami, Kitamura decides to show his support to Taiga by giving both her and Ryuuji tickets to a public pool, so that they can go train swimming. But think about it for a second. He never mentioned from where he received the tickets and when “asked” (not literally though) if he could go instead of Ryuuji, he does not answer. Instead he walks away, wishing them good luck, with the smile of a planner.
My take on this is that he bought the tickets for Ryuuji and Taiga. Not only to train, but also to let them share time together, to help them develop their relationship. Kitamura is a mysterious person and you do not know how he thinks, but he always has something up his sleeve. It is as if he has noticed how perfect Ryuuji and Taiga are together and has decided to make them a pair, despite Taiga repeatedly mentioning how much she “loves” him. Often in the show, it is as if Kitamura is actively avoiding Taiga!
Next, we have the encounter with Ami. Meeting her at her favorite place in between of two vending machines, she and Ryuuji have a talk about her behavior and such. It is very amazing that they talk to each other so casually, like they understand each other perfectly! During this little chat, Ami says “jealous Taiga is cute”. This is what I meant by her being an observer. She knows that Taiga is jealous of her, teasing Ryuuji and so on. She being an observer is especially obvious in the following episode.
And then we have that short moment with Minori. She comments on how much Ryuuji is helping Taiga and therefore is leaving her in his care. This is actually the very first time we see a more serious side of Minori, which may at first seem a bit out of character. Normally she is the energetic and cheery one, not the serious and sad one!
One line during this conversation that stood out is seen on the picture above. All the small things, cleaning, ironing clothes, are what make it great. Might it be love she is talking about? What do you believe?
Later when training at the public pool, it suddenly starts raining. Not only does it give off a very gloom atmosphere, but it also fits perfectly, reflecting the situation! This scene plays on so many different levels that it is not possible to comprehend it correctly here. It has a lot of misunderstandings between Ryuuji and Taiga, involving internal conflicts and feelings. I would not hesitate to call it one of the best scenes in the series.
Ryuuji acts as if he knows why Taiga is doing all this, but is all wrong. Not getting the chance to tell him, Taiga becomes pissed. If there is one thing she really cannot stand, it is people acting as if they understand her. And this time she does not even understand herself…
The next day it is time for the showdown at the school pool. Being slightly better friends than yesterday, Ryuuji is now doing his best to help Taiga and cheer her on. After some foul play from her side, she gains the lead and is about to win. This is not what happens though. Instead, a bunch of guys fall over Ryuuji and makes him unconscious. No one else is noticing this except Taiga, since they are instead focusing on Ami and her model body, who immediately tries to save him. What follows is one of the most emotional scenes in Toradora. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
Losing the duel, they all decide to go to the vacation house together. Even Taiga is allowed!