Toradora! – OVA
「弁当の極意」 (Bentou no Gokui)
“Secret of Bento”
Even though it’s not the sequel OVA that everyone hoped for, this unaired episode of Toradora! was nevertheless a great reminder why this series is one of my favorites.
Toradora! is particularly special for me because it was one of the shows that drew me back into anime after a hiatus. I didn’t even know what a tsundere was at that point; much less any played by Kugimiya Rie, so watching Aisaka Taiga’s antics was like discovering a whole new personality type. Her spunky and lovable best friend Kushieda Minori was also responsible for sparking my appreciation for Horie Yui’s awesome voice. Perhaps one of the ways that Toradora! influenced my anime tastes the most was due in no large part to how likeable the male lead was. Nowadays, I find myself comparing almost every male lead with Takasu Ryuuji (Majima Junji), especially if the show is a romantic comedy.
With the entire episode focusing on Ryuuji’s efforts at making bentos to beat Miya, Kitamura Yuusaku’s (Nojima Hirofumi) grandmother, all of you Taiga fans might have been disappointed by her lack of screen time in this episode, or the simple fact that this OVA wasn’t a sequel. While I am curious about where Taiga and Ryuuji’s relationship ended up, I don’t mind that this OVA is set during the timeline of the original series because: A) I like food/cooking, B) Taiga made some cute faces, and C) all the best characters made appearances as the way we remembered them – right in their prime, so to speak. Everyone was at the top of their form: Ryuuji with his delinquent eyes, Kawashima Ami’s (Kitamura Eri) smirks, Minorin’s all-around awesomeness, and Taiga being one of the best examples of a tsundere there is.
It could just be the nostalgia speaking, but I’ll always fondly remember this series for its ability to strike nearly a perfect balance between romance and comedy. This OVA was no exception either, seeing as it was basically an unaired episode. Not too much romance to get in the way of the comedy, but also not too little romance to make you forget about that it exists. This episode had just the right amount at the end to make you say “D’aww”. How many shows these days can you say that about?