Toradora!, Vol. 7

By Yuyuko Takemiya and Zekkyo. Released in Japan by ASCII Media Works, serialization ongoing in the magazine Dengeki Daioh. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I’ve frequently heard companies asked why they don’t get closer to Japanese release dates, and why they think ‘caught up with Japan’ means still being one or two volumes behind. Well, Toradora! is an excellent answer in and of itself. Here is a series where we are definitively caught up. The manga came out in Japan in February, and SS has it out at the end of June. That’s an amazing turnaround. But Volume 6 came out in February 2014, and given that the 8th volume is not remotely close to being out in Japan, we could be looking at Fall 2016 to resolve the plot points this volume introduces. It’s hard to keep a fanbase with 16-month breaks between releases. Especially with the anime long done, and the light novels all fan translated – and also done.


And this is a shame, as the manga adaptation is really excellent. We resolve the tortuous cliffhanger from last time, with Taiga’s father being the worst man ever. I was particularly happy that my critique of Minori from last volume was called out… by Minori herself, who admitted she didn’t tell Ryuuji about Taiga’s father as she was jealous that she wasn’t Taiga’s first choice for comfort. (The OT3, always strong on this title, was particularly strong here, particularly given the results of the footrace to be King of the School). As for Taiga’s dad, his end seems oddly fitting – after we realize what he’s really like, he’s simply forgotten about.

The rest of the book begins to adapt the 6th light novel, meaning we’re finally past the halfway mark of the series. The strong, confident woman on the cover would be Kanou, the queen of the school and class president, who I’m sure we’ll get to know better soon, but for the moment seems to be a bit cold and harsh. The other mysterious boy on the cover is, surprise, Kitamura, who has a complete breakdown on learning Kanou is transferring overseas in a week, and it leads him to pointlessly “rebel” by dyeing his hair blond. Kitamura has shown occasional hidden depths throughout the series, but this is the first time we’re really seeing what makes him tick – unsurprisingly, like the rest of the cast, he has a lot of internalized issues he avoids.

As for the rest of the volume, it’s exactly what you would want from Toradora!. There’s a lot of hysterical comedy, much of it involving Ami. There’s many heartwarming and tearjerking moments, such as seeing Taiga beat herself up when she realized that Kitamura is suffering and she hadn’t seen it. There’s also a reminder that our lead couple are in fact still supposed to be in love with other people – the rumor that Taiga and Kitamura are dating both angers and delights her, and Ryuuji and Minori have never felt closer. Not that anyone suspects this title will end – whenever it does end, possibly in 12 years time – with anyone but Ryuuji and Taiga. For a title that is theoretically a harem manga, it’s the sort of harem manga you could happily introduce to your parents, so to speak. Pickup this volume and remind yourself why it’s great.

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