Toradora! – It’s a Christmas Special (Manga Edition!)

Toradora! – It’s a Christmas Special (Manga Edition!)

Once again, it’s that time for cheer ~

Please don’t hold back. It only comes once a year ~

Last time we talked about an anime ~

Well, possibly to your dismay, we won’t discuss that today ~

This time we talk about Toradora, it will surely floor ya ~

Did you know this series had a manga adaptation? ~

Is it so bad you’ll want to take a vacation? ~

That’s what I’m here today to figure out ~

Finally, let’s take a look and see before these rhymes cause me to lose my internet clout ~


Wow, that was somehow even worse than last year. I once again don’t apologize. I own everything I do, thank you! I also wrote it in like three minutes so give me some credit at least.


If you couldn’t tell, we’re talking about Toradora today. I won’t go into the whole spiel about it, but basically, I love Toradora to death. It’s one of my favorite series of all time, and people like to experience the story around the holidays. Therefore, I talk about it for Christmas every year. 


Still, I don’t just want to discuss the same thing over and over again, so rather than talk about the anime for the second year in a row, I’d figure we’d take a look at a different adaptation. So this year, we’re taking a look at the Toradora manga!

Taiga being sad
(Get ready for cuteness)


Though I’ve talked about it a lot now, I guess we should still get into the story. So, Toradora is a love story where two friends love each other’s friends. So, it’s like a love triangle if it was actually a square, but then you take two of the lines and cross them over each other, so it’s like a love hourglass, and that’s fitting because it takes forever for the relationships to go anywhere.


But that’s kind of the point of the series. While it is very cute and heartwarming, the main theme of Toradora is what it means to love someone. That very simple yet intimidating premise is something Toradora tackles really well, and it’s because the characters go back and forth constantly. They’re all selfish people, and that’s part of why they’re great. Read the anime review for more info, or see my top 10 anime.


Point is, Toradora is a cute, mature, wonderfully deep and intriguing love story centered around a bunch of self-centered teenagers. Rather than discussing the actual story for the millionth time, I’m instead going to be looking specifically at the manga, and what it does differently, whether that’s for better or worst. So let’s go.

Taiga Crying
(My collection will also cry until this manga is finished)


Let’s get some information out of the way first. This manga is actually not finished yet, despite starting in 2007. As of now, we have nine volumes, with the next one on the way next year. That means the full story still isn’t adapted yet. We have up until the field trip, meaning it’s yet to adapt my favorite moment in the story and a lot of the bigger stuff, but we’ll get there, hopefully before I die.


The art is done by Zekkyo, who is extremely talented. There is a noticeable difference between the quality of her work and what I see from most other manga artists. I genuinely prefer her character designs to, I think, every design from the anime, especially Minori and Taiga, which is saying a lot considering I’ve watched the anime like six times and am fairly biased.


Every minor drawing of these characters in every volume looks better than most major key drawings of characters in other manga. The level of quality is baffling, and it makes me really happy to be such a big Toradora fan in a world where a manga that looks this damn good exists. It makes me understand how it still isn’t finished 14 years later. This doesn’t happen overnight. So Zekkyo, you rock. Your talent and commitment to this project are incredible. Also, bear in mind the color on the images here does not reflect the actual quality you get in the volumes. Looks much better there.

Taiga and Ryuji fighting
(Seeing these scenes in a new light is still cool)


Now that we know that it looks drop-dead gorgeous, that leaves one more thing to discuss. That’s what’s kind of nice about manga. You only really have art and story to go through. This is where my opinion gets a little more complicated, but for the most part, it stays the same. I like the manga a lot, if you couldn’t tell. Why try and hide that?


The pacing of things is a little different. It’s not bad by any means; it’s just the change in format is going to change how things work a little bit. Certain scenes that had the most impact for me just don’t feel quite as heavy in the manga. I’m sure it’s mostly to do with the lack of music (namely, Lost My Pieces) and the general way you read manga just being faster. 


Generally, I like manga because it’s faster, but if you’re trying to attack my emotions, I’m the type that needs a slow burn. You get me by slowly building up to something, punching me in the gut with sadness, and letting it sit for a few minutes. I’ll die on the spot if those conditions are met. So scenes that I’ve cried for in the anime every time I watched it didn’t really get me in manga form.

Minori and Ryuji Fireworks
(Pretend I could get a clean image of the page I wanted)


One of those is the Santa Clause scene. You ever want to see a man bawl his eyes out, watch that scene with me. I will die very quickly and efficiently as if a trained assassin killed me. The manga just doesn’t hit the same, though. Again, no fault of the manga; it’s just the way the story is. It hits me a little harder in anime form. That being said, the manga does do one thing much better.


One of the things I really like about Toradora is how subtle Ryuji and Taiga’s relationship is at times. Yes, it’s over the top. Taiga screams how Ryuji belongs to her, blah, blah, blah, but there are some moments that really show how comfortable they are around each other. One of my favorites, as odd as it sounds, is when Taiga asks Ryuji if she smells sweaty before seeing her dad. 


Little moments like that really sell how close they are to each other. It really hammers down the main focus of the story at large, which is the different types of love and how the characters deal with them. The manga actually does a really good job with Taiga’s character in general, also giving her a better relationship with Ryuji as a result.

Taiga's bruised legs
(These make a difference in her character)


There’s a part added where Taiga falls down because she’s a moron, and Ryuji notices a bunch of marks on her legs and comments that she must have fallen a lot without someone to pick her up. There’s another part with them crying together after Ryuji catches the flu bad. 


There are lots of little things that weren’t in the anime that adds to their characters. This is something that works better because of the format. You can have shorter segments like the flu bit without breaking up the flow of the episode, which would happen in an anime.


Taiga’s characterization is also a little better in the manga. Rather than coming off like a typical tsundere which people sometimes get from her anime portrayal, she comes off more like the very lonely girl she is. She still lashes out constantly, but her reasoning is a lot more understandable. If you don’t like tsunderes, you still won’t like her, but she is a better character in the manga overall, which is nice to see since that’s a big complaint from some anime watchers. I love her regardless, but I’m totally biased, so ignore me.

Taiga doing dishes
(We also get to see new outfits!)


How much of these changes aren’t a manga thing and instead just stuff that was changed from the light novel, I don’t know. Despite owning them for a little bit now, I still haven’t read through any of them, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s for next year.


All and all, I wouldn’t say the manga is really that different of an experience one way or another. It’s certainly not the same as the anime, but you get a similar vibe. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend one over the other since they both have their ups and downs. 


The anime is more of an emotional, slow burn that will stick with you for a bit. Meanwhile, the manga is beautiful, faithful to the story, and has better characterization in some aspects, so it’s mostly up to you. If I had to choose, I would still suggest the anime since I believe it’s a better experience overall, but the manga is still very good and is a good supplement. If you like Toradora, you’ll enjoy the manga.


Now, if we can just get it finished, but hey, you shouldn’t rush these things. It’s been consistently really good so it’s best to just let these things happen. I would like these yearly Toradora specials to be on different adaptations each time, but I don’t know how many years we can keep that up. At least two more, I think. I’ll see you next year for the light novel.


Thank you very much for reading

I mean, I’ll see you sooner than next year, but you know what I’m saying.

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