Toradora!, Vol. 7

By Yuyuko Takemiya and Yasu. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jan Cash & Vincent Castaneda. Adapted by Will Holcomb.

Despite the fact that it’s a Christmas volume, and it does feature the two leads realizing (if only to themselves) that they are in love, this is one of the more emotional, gut-wrenching volumes in a series that usually wears its heart on its sleeve to begin with. The premise involves the class (with Taiga now back after her two-week suspension) coming up with a Christmas party idea, helped along by Kitamura, who is newly popular after his very public confession and rejection. Sadly, Minorin is in a massive funk, refuses to talk to Ryuuji, and also says she won’t be at the party. Taiga decides that this is absolutely the time when she will finally get the two of them together, and pulls out all the stops to do so… only realizing after a visit from “Santa” that this isn’t what she wants at all. Meanwhile, Ami is merely sad that she arrived in the second book, too late to do anything about our tortured couple.

The astute reader knows why Minorin is in a funk, of course, as she too sees what Taiga and Ryuuji do not. Ami is merely somewhat melancholic about coming in second, though, Minorin is devastated – the narrative not helping things by having her errant foul ball destroy the class’s Christmas tree in a metaphor from hell. The final cliffhanger scene of the book is well-written but terrible – Minorin’s choice, and callback to the fourth book, is absolutely wrong and will be very bad for her. Speaking of Ami, she tries a bit here – her “you’re like her father” metaphor would work very well if Taiga and Ryuuji were not the endgame, but it obviously is so it’s wrong. I admit that I do find the leads’ codependency a bit worrying, but it’s obvious to literally everyone by now that they can’t live without each other.

Then there’s Taiga’s “good girl” act this book, as well as her discussion of Santa Claus. No question, the middle part of the book, with Taiga and Ryuuji at the post office, is one of the two highlights of the whole thing, showing off how far the palmtop tiger has come from just being a ball of rage and the loneliness – and desire to erase other’s loneliness. It allows Ryuuji to realize just how much his life revolves around her now. The other highlight is, of course, Ryuuji’s desperate run back to the apartment to be Taiga’s Santa – something she knows immediately, of course, but buys into anyway. It’s unbelievably sweet and lovely, and makes her emotional devastation after he leaves to go find Minorin even harsher. (I wonder why he was hospitalized afterwards and she wasn’t, given she ran into the cold in bare feet? Possibly he spent the entire night just staring into the air and losing core temperature.)

So yes, we are reaching peak realization. Sadly, everything is terrible as a result. We’ve got three more books till the end, so I know we can’t fix everything in Book 8, but can we at least fix something? This was a fantastic book, and hurts so good.

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