Toradora! – 21
The class has arrived at the ski resort, and while everyone else is having fun, Ryuuji struggles to figure out how to ski. Taiga doesn’t know how either and tries sledding instead, but she ends up crashing into him. Afterward, the two see Maya trying to get close to Yuusaku, but Taiga doesn’t get pissed off like Ryuuji thinks she would, causing him to suspect that something happened between Taiga and Yuusaku. Taiga admits that she ran into him during New Years, and she gets angry at Ryuuji when he wants to know why she didn’t tell him. At the same time, Maya gets into an argument with Noto because he’s interfering with her and Yuusaku again, and Yuusaku and Minori try to calm the two down. That night, Ryuuji is thinking about how Yuusaku didn’t say anything either about seeing Taiga when Minori comes to talk to him. She claims that it’s about a secret, but she actually just wants to make things better between Noto and Maya.
In the process of talking about this, however, she reveals how she thinks that Noto mistakenly thinks that Taiga likes Yuusaku. Ryuuji knows that this isn’t a misunderstanding and tries to say that there are things that Minori doesn’t know about Taiga, but Minori believes that she knows everything there is to about her friend. Minori then takes out the hair clip that Ryuuji had wanted to give her for Christmas and explains that Taiga had given it to her and told her to treasure it. Ryuuji comes away from this feeling that no matter how hard he tries, it’s impossible for him because Minori is treating what happened on Christmas Eve and his feelings as non-existent. He retreats to his room and buries himself under a blanket, but Yuusaku, Noto, and Haruta find him and convince him to tell them what’s going on. They are surprised to hear that he got rejected by Minori, and since Ryuuji doesn’t understand why, Yuusaku decides to find out.
Yuusaku thus leads the guys to the girls’ room, but the girls aren’t there. Ryuuji is overcome with the urge to clean up the messy room, however they almost get caught when Taiga comes back. The guys manage to hide in the closet, and right as the other girls are returning as well, Ryuuji grabs Taiga and puts her in the closet with them. Keeping Taiga quiet, the five of them are able to stay hidden from Maya, Nanako, Ami, and Minori, and they can’t help but listen in on the girls’ conversation. The girls wonder where Taiga went and start talking about who Taiga likes, but Minori declines to say anything about whether it’s Yuusaku or Ryuuji. Minori’s general attitude rubs Ami the wrong way, and it leads to her revealing that Ryuuji actually likes Minori but she rejected him. Ami points out that Minori is pretending that she forgot and that she’s a natural airhead so that everyone can remain friends and stay as they are.
Minori responds by questioning when Ami saw her acting as if everything was fine, and she thinks that Ami can’t possibly understand her. She also feels that this has nothing to do with Ami, but Ami reaches further by bringing up Minori’s feelings of guilt as why she rejected Ryuuji. Ami threatens to go tell Ryuuji that Minori rejected him purely because she hates him, and though her taunting succeeds in getting Minori angry, Minori still maintains that Ami can go do what she wants. Maya and Nanako break things up before the argument can get any worse, and the two girls appear to reconcile. The girls then leave to go look for Taiga, and that allows Ryuuji and company to escape the closet. The next day, Ryuuji finds Ami by herself out on the slopes, and she confesses that she might be responsible for Minori rejecting him because of something she said. Ami admits that she gets irritated by how Minori won’t reveal her true feelings, and she hates herself for what happened.
The two’s conversation gets interrupted when Taiga and Minori’s sled suddenly crashes out of nowhere into Ami. A furious Ami accuses Minori of doing it on purpose, and this quickly develops into a fight with both girls hitting each other. Although it is eventually broken up, one of Ami’s punches dislodges the hairpin that Minori was wearing, causing it to fall down the side of a steep incline. The only person who sees this is Taiga, and she goes after it on her own. Ryuuji soon notices that Taiga is gone, and it becomes a big deal when Taiga doesn’t return to the lodge that night. With a blizzard coming down now, Minori, Ryuuji, and Yuusaku decide to go out to search for her, and they find the spot where Taiga might have fallen. Seeing the hair clip, Ryuuji goes down the steep incline by himself and grabs it, all while thinking about how he left Taiga alone again. He resolves to never be separated from her again if he finds her, and moments later, he spots her snow-covered body. Taiga is injured but still alive and semi-conscious.
As Ryuuji carries her back to the lodge, Taiga touches his ski goggles and thinks that he’s actually Yuusaku. Given this, she admits that she thought that Ryuuji would have been the one to come rescue her, and she feels that her prayer to Yuusaku – the self-proclaimed deity of broken hearts – wasn’t answered. She had wanted her feelings to disappear so that she could become stronger, but no matter what, she likes Ryuuji.
Wow, I’m speechless. That was one helluva episode. As much as it made for a ton of drama though and an actual physical fight between the two, I don’t like the way Ami picked a fight and taunted Minori. Her darker side certainly isn’t very becoming of her, and it was out in full display here. This might already be a forgone conclusion, but I don’t think there’s any way Ami ends up with Ryuuji now, even if she did rehabilitate her character a bit by coming clean to Ryuuji about how she might have pushed Minori to reject him (with what she said to Minori about the guilt back in episode 16) and by explaining how she’s irritated at how she can’t get Minori to show her true feelings. At the same time, Minori doesn’t come off in the best of lights either, and while I don’t like the way Ami approached it, what Ami actually said was mostly right. If there’s going to be a Minori ending, then she’s going to have to eventually come clean with both Ryuuji and Taiga.
That might be a moot point though. The story was doing a good job of moving back and forth between Taiga and Minori, but I have to believe now that the confession on Taiga’s part moves things toward her again. Ryuuji’s own feelings even seem to reflect this since he realized that he left her alone again and felt that they should be separated anymore. The more he thinks things like that, the more I think that those feelings have to count for something more than just as a father figure. Plus, the way the episode went about a minute longer and blended more than usual with the ED and credits felt special and gave a lot of emphasis to the importance of the Taiga and Ryuuji pairing. All this is leading me to believe that although the story might swing around a bit more in coming episodes, the final pairing (if there is one) will likely be those two. For the time being, I’m curious to see though how Ryuuji reacts to Taiga’s confession.