Toradora! – 05
Ryuuji convinces Taiga to go with him again to the family restaurant where Minori works, but unfortunately for him, she’s taken the day off. However, to both their surprise, Kitamura shows up there with a fashion model named Kawashima Ami whose photo Taiga had just been looking at in a magazine. When Kitamura sees them, he and Ami come over, and he introduces Ami as his childhood friend. Ryuuji and Taiga immediately notice how the two refer to each other by their given names, and the four sit down together. Ami at first seems like a very nice and kind girl and even refers to herself as a natural airhead, but all that changes when Kitamura and Ryuuji go to the restroom. The two guys don’t actually go to the restroom though, and Kitamura instead has Ryuuji watch what Ami does when they’re away. Her attitude has become that of a bossy and selfish princess, and she thinks she can take Ryuuji from Taiga, though – without even looking up from her magazine – Taiga reveals that Ryuuji isn’t her boyfriend. It’s not until Ami starts commenting on Taiga’s small size that Taiga finally reacts by slapping her. Taiga claims afterward that there was a mosquito, but Ami is pissed off now. That anger changes to tears when Kitamura and Ryuuji return, and Kitamura takes Ami home.
Taiga also expresses her anger to Ryuuji later that night, to the point where she says she hates Ami. She doesn’t believe that anyone honest would refer to themselves as a natural airhead, but she also thinks that she won’t ever see Ami again. Much to Taiga’s dismay, Ami shows up at school the next day as a new transfer student and uses her beauty and her nice act on the class to win them over. Kitamura reveals to Ryuuji that he didn’t say anything about the transfer earlier because he wanted Ami to show her true nature to them. He actually doesn’t hate her true nature and just wants everyone to know who she really is so she won’t lie anymore. Ryuuji keeps all this in mind when Ami talks with him later about what happened in the restaurant with Taiga. Saying that it was her own fault, Ami claims that her airheadedness got Taiga irritated, and she asks Ryuuji not to tell anyone about it. Ryuuji agrees, and Taiga’s not happy after she sees the two return to the classroom together. She writes him a note during class asking about it, but Ryuuji crumples it up. He then gets a different note from Minori. It turns out that Minori is suspicious of what he’s doing with Ami, and she promises punishment if Ryuuji abandons Taiga. Ryuuji responds with a note asking what Minori thinks of someone who refers herself as a natural airhead, and Minori answers this by forming an X with her arms.
After class, Taiga has Ryuuji clean her locker because she spilled her drink in it. While she’s waiting in the classroom for him to finish, Ami shows up. Ami claims that the teachers were worried that she’d be bullied by Taiga, so Taiga counters by saying that it’d be easy to expose Ami’s true nature. That would be boring though, so Taiga instead decides that she’ll always be watching over her. Ami responds by attributing Taiga’s attitude to how Taiga doesn’t have any friends, but it’s not until she mentions Kitamura that Ami hits a nerve. Ami claims to have told him everything about what happened at the family restaurant and suggests that he probably hates Taiga. This shocks Taiga so much that she goes home and holes up in her room until Ryuuji comes by to check on her. Since Taiga is so distraught, Ryuuji explains that Kitamura knows about Ami’s true personality and about what actually happened at the restaurant. He also points out that Kitamura isn’t the kind of person who hates someone because of something like this. Taiga is still frustrated with her own height and weird name in light of Ami’s advantages, but this is all interrupted by the sound of Ryuuji’s mother wailing from across the balcony about not having tonkatsu sauce. The two go to the store to buy some, and while there, Taiga reads in a magazine that Ami is taking a break from modeling for school. While returning home, the two happen to see Ami walking alone in a disguise, and noticing the groceries that Ami is carrying, Taiga realizes something and smiles because she saw something interesting.
I didn’t think I could enjoy a Toradora episode this much, but Ami’s introduction featured a lot of laughs (much of it admittedly due to Minori’s antics). Kitamura Eri did a good job making the distinction between Ami’s nice public face and her true nature, and I enjoyed seeing the way her two-faced character interacts with Taiga. She keeps Taiga’s attitude in check, meaning that Taiga spends less time pissed off at Ryuuji, and the two girls’ dislike for each other could produce a lot of showdowns like the ones here. On the other hand, the potential mark against this episode was that it again raced through a lot of the original novel material. I’ve only skimmed through the second volume, but I can understand why some people might not be happy that the J.C.Staff crew didn’t fully develop all the scenes. At the same time though, this episode appears to have hit on all the important stuff, and as I said, I really liked it. I’m looking forward to seeing how Taiga and Ami’s rivalry (or hostility as it may be) continues into next week and how Taiga plans to strike back against her.