Review: Toradora Christmas Special

Release Date
DVD / Blu-Ray
MVM Entertainment
Japanese / English
Running Time
617 minutes

Ask me to name you a Christmas movie and I could name dozens, but a Christmas anime? Well, I’ll have to go with Toradora . Not only is Toradora an outstanding show, it’s also fitting for this festive time of year.

Toradora focuses on a variety of topics including love, friendship, growing up and relationships with your family. Christmas is a time to spend with others, but sadly not everybody has a family to be with or maybe you’re not in the mood this year, but it’s okay to not want to celebrate it every year. You might be wondering how exactly Toradora is at all festive, but it’s due to having many major revelations happen during the shows Christmas arc – we won’t go too into detail as we fully recommend that you check the show out yourself, but it’s an important part of the story that many will be able to relate to.

Personally, I’m not feeling Christmas this year, and it’s for a lot of the reasons that the main characters Ryuuji and Taiga share. I’d watched the series quite a while ago but I’ve been re-watching it recently and it hits all the right notes, and it’s bringing some well-needed Christmas cheer.

Toradora begins with Ryuuji and Taiga meeting on their first day of the new school term, where Taiga punches him straight in the face for bumping into her in the hallway; she’s nicknamed the ‘Palmtop Tiger’ due to her violent nature. Ryuuji is feared too as people believe that he has ‘gangster eyes’, which he inherited from his father, and so he has a naturally bad reputation and a lack of friends. Both characters come together after finding out that each has a crush on the others best friend, and they work together to make magic happen.

It might sound cliché at first but it really isn’t, and the way everything unravels is unique and wonderful. The love stories take center stage in Toradora but all characters have their own troubles to cope with, such as Taiga living alone due to family issues, Ryuuji who is at odds with his mother who wants him to study and not take on any unneeded work and gorgeous model Ami who has to deal with stalkers and not being able to be who she truly is. Ami is my favourite character in the show, and I felt that she best portrayed what it’s like to be a confused teenager. These issues are handled with maturity and really toyed with my heartstrings, and it’s these moments that really stuck with me.

Yuyuko Takemiya, the author of Toradora, is one of my all-time favourite authors who also penned the brilliant Golden Time (which you’ll soon come to learn is my favourite anime!) She has a wonderful way with words and, in my opinion, tells realistic love stories where the characters deal with difficult issues on a daily basis, and Takemiya clearly knows that love doesn’t come easily.

Toradora comes with its own catchy Christmas song, dubbed “Holy Night”, which I’ll be listening to over Christmas this year. It may be best to hold fire on searching the song on YouTube, as it can be considered a spoiler that you may want to find out naturally as the show progresses. The Christmas arc does deal with plenty of mature issues that hardly make for a cheery time of year, but the resolutions and turns the story takes show what Christmas is all about, and it’s being able to be with your loved ones.

I hope I’ve explained that the show is great, as it truly is one of my favourite anime, and the visuals give it life in such a beautiful way. I do recommend that you pick up the Blu-ray release if you plan on buying it, as the colours are vibrant and crisp, even though it’s fairly old now and wasn’t created in HD and so it’s only really been upscaled; it looks much better than the DVD though, and Toradora deserves to be shown off in the most brilliant format possible.

Toradora makes me wish I was fortunate enough to attend a Japanese school as the buildings look so homely and less artificial than what I attended in the UK. I adore school settings and feel that it’s a perfect time for characters to find themselves and what they truly want in life, but it’s not all set in schools as there’s the expected beach episode! It isn’t an anime without one, right? It helps to break up the setting a little and gives our eyes new visuals to feast on, along with the characters homes and local area.

Oh ho ho, Yui Horie. Her voice is almost a Christmas gift all by itself and she’s one of my favourite voice-actors and singers! She provides vocals for many of the OP’s and ED’s featuring in the show, as well as some character tracks. She also voices Taiga’s best friend Minori Kushieda and does a great job of it along with the rest of the cast. Honestly, I prefer English voice-overs as I find that when I understand the language better, it’s much easier to remember and replay scenes in my head. I found the English dub to be well directed and each voice-actor and actress fit their roles well.

It's still the Christmas period, so there's still time to binge through the series' 24 episodes and its OVA! You can manage that in a day if you try, and it could very well be the best gift that you can give yourself this season. I hope you come to love it at least half as much as I do, and you might find it becoming a yearly Christmas edition for you and whoever you might spend the holidays with. It's the time of year to spend with your loved ones, especially if you're unable to see them very often, so make it count. "We all live under the same sky. If each of us learns to shine, it won't matter how far apart we are. We'll be able to see each other."