Toradora is getting dark. I LIKE IT. It's about time the story has thrown away its total comedy policy and give us some serious drama and development. I was surprised when Kihara started becoming really aggressive in attempting to be with Kitamura, though I don't see her having any plan to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, the entire class has been lagging on the love tangle that's going on now and it's not helping.
The story thus far now has had Ami built up enough jealousy and frustration to vent out on other people. Ami seems to be pushed to the limit now as she resorts to taunting Minori, knowing full well that they now have feelings for each other. It is common behaviour for teenagers that have a crush to do irrational things when their relationships are going nowhere, and we are certainly seeing some of that in Ami.
Her taunts seem to be baseless, but we all know that Ami's been trying to get close to Ryuuji for a while now, but is being far less than open about it. This is the thing that really impresses me about Toradora. The latent feelings that arise from other characters' reactions, and the elephants in the room are NOT ignored. Usually in such anime, one could just do something to frustrate another, but then it suddenly gets ignored and all the characters act as if nothing happened, and the main characters live happily ever after.
Toradora however, is beyond simple plotlines. Every action a character makes in the story has an effect on the plot, and thats what makes it real. Its impressive how the scriptwriters managed to give the audience the feeling that Minori really is hiding something, and then finally bring it out as a result of another character's actions. Her secret feelings for Ryuuji were never spoken out loud, but were implied by the atmosphere of the various scenes she is in.
With Ami taunting Minori, this is the first time we see her shell slowly break apart. She finally loses her cool with Ami this time, and for good reason. Ami has been pushing Minorin hard while talking to her this episode, and she was pushing it where it hurt. I was expecting Minori to run out laughing saying Ami's a joker, but we all know now how much it meant to Minori to reject Ryuuji, and how annoyed she is when Ami brings that up. Also, I get the feeling that "that bastard Ryuuji's been tellin' everyone I rejected him eh" was going through her head that moment.
The episode then proceeded to its climax when Minori finally broke down and started getting physical with Ami. Likewise, Ami, having finally drawn Minori out of the closet, starts to retaliate, and the entire thing starts to become an ugly catfight between the show's two main supporting characters. They fought and exchanged punches and wrestled one another to the ground.
It was shocking, and also interesting and amusing to watch at first. But after that, you realize that that's what a normal teenager would do when pushed over the edge. Minori and Ami are after all, normal highschool students, no different from you and me when we were back then, when we were full of pride and headstrong. The drama however, came as a relief after that, because it was healthy for the plot. Taiga and Ami are now officially rivals. The amazing thing is, the harem theme was mixed in pretty well since we had Ryuuji standing in the background, and we know why the relationship of the two were getting tense.
While it may be amusing for us to watch them all start getting more human, it is interesting to not that if you were in that situation, its not all that amusing. Actually, everyone will start going all busybody and start to tell the two who are fighting off and trying to cite all sorts of proverbs and wisdom that they make up and generalising do's and dont's to each other.
But no one ever helps solve the real issue except the two who are fighting.
So we have our long awaited drama, but there was another part of the plot that was left unresolved after the Christmas episode, and the scriptwriters have made a very good decision to take their time in pursuing a resolution. Taiga's feelings for Ryuuji is now a big unknown to the class, and most of everyone in the story for that matter. But who's to blame? Taiga didn't realize it herself either, but anyone would have a hard time believing that all that kindness Ryuuji has shown to Taiga would not end up with Taiga actually warming up to him.
Ami realized this too, and has tried to push Ryuuji to stop being with Taiga but to no avail. I believe that Ryuuji was actually feeling quite comfortable with Taiga since, to put it in Ami's words, they "talk to each other as equals". A Chinese proverb goes: Those involved are lost, but the spectators see the whole picture. Ryuuji, Ami, Taiga and Minorin will continue to fight their way through all the unknowns that they are too afraid to ask each other, and try to take whatever action they think would be neccessary from now on, just to keep their own pride. Of course this would certainly provide us with more drama and also give us spectators a more involving story. How it will end? Factoring out reading the manga, is anyone's guess.
But Ryuuji's got the upper hand now. Since Taiga confessed.